This is one of my favorite things to write every year, as we get to look back at all the great shows we attended this year. While we no doubt love listening to music in our cars, at work, or with friends, undoubtedly the preferred method remains live music, as it is something that will never go away. One last quick disclaimer: we are only able to see so many shows between the three of us, and not all three of us went to each of these shows, so of course this list is a bit flawed. But with that note aside, our ten favorite live acts.
Probably the biggest surprise show for me, Todd and I saw the Toronto power trio at Lincoln Hall this past spring, and I came away with my mind blown, and Todd came away with a broken and bloodied nose. Just proof they put on the most violent and energetic rock show I have seen in a long time.
9. R Kelly
Another huge surprise for both Todd and I, we caught the Chicago R&B crooner during a midnight show for Bonnaroo, and Todd caught him a second time at Pitchfork this year. R. Kelly may not be my cup of tea musically, but he pulled out all the stops and is a natural born entertainer.
8. Sleigh Bells
Todd caught Sleigh Bells at the Metro about a month back, and the noise rock duo has retooled their live show with a band to back them, and can now tour on the strength of three good albums.
7. Ghostface Killah
Austin and Todd saw Ghostface Killah perform his melodramatic latest album 12 Reasons to Die with Adrian Younge and his band and were blown away.
6. My Bloody Valentine
World-renowned for being the noisiest band on the planet, the Irish shoegaze legends did not disappoint in the slightest. Todd and I caught them at Aragon Ballroom, and I have never before seen a venue force concertgoers to take earplugs, which was much needed with the 15 minute shroud of guitar noise the band closed their set with.
I saw Parquet Courts and Savages do a free Sound Opinions show at Lincoln Hall this summer, and while Parquet Courts impressed, Savages simply mesmerized the crowd. The all-female postpunk band has to be one of the most promising young bands in quite some time.
4. Sigur Ros
Sigur Ros stands as one of my five favorite live acts I’ve ever seen, and my latest go-around seeing them did nothing to change that. The new album’s thunderous sound really brought a new element to their live show, with percussion front and center, and their light show now stands as one of the best I’ve ever seen.
Not only did Will Wiesenfeld aka Baths release one of the most sneaky good albums of the year, but he also perfected the live show for his new tour, which Austin caught in St. Louis.
2. Animal Collective
The only band on this list all three of us saw (and each for the first time), Animal Collective truly impressed all three of us live with their weird, wild, and brilliant live show.
1. Paul McCartney
I am a Beatles apologist to the core, but I couldn’t even expect what an experience it would be to see Paul McCartney in a sea of 80,000 people at Bonnaroo this year. From the fireworks of “Live and Let Die” to the greatest singalong I have ever participated in with “Hey Jude”, Sir Paul gave me a memory I will remember for a lifetime.
Todd – Atoms for Peace
Todd saw Thom Yorke and Flea’s supergroup in Chicago this fall, but having seen them before with Todd, I can vouch for how dynamic this band is.
Wes – The Rolling Stones
Another night seeing music legends I will remember forever (but for very different reasons), I really enjoyed Mick Jagger and company on their 50th anniversary tour.
Austin – Killer Mike
Austin went to see Big Boi, one of his favorites for the first time, but came away more impressed with the larger than life Killer Mike.