As promised last week when I posted my Top 5 Albums of the Year, this week we’re talking about my Top 5 Concerts of 2017! Anyone that knows me, knows that I’m an avid and very frequent concert-goer. I mean, it’s the only way to FEEL the music you love, up close and personal with those who make it, while being surrounded by those who love it just as much as you do. In 2017, I was lucky enough to have the chance to see so many amazing artists and bands that narrowing this list down to only 5 was quite difficult. These five shows are the ones where not only did the band put on a performance worthy of a standing ovation, but also helped to cultivate a warm community at the show and made me feel the most sense of belonging.
5. Alt-J @ Massey Hall, October 2017
Alt-J’s tour this year was in support of their newest album, Relaxer. Although this album was a bit disappointing for me compared to their previous releases, their show made up for it. They played all of their most popular songs including Fitzpleasure and Breezeblocks, but what really made this show stand out to me was the lighting. I would even go so far as to compare their light show to that of Sigur Ros’ (whom I have also had the pleasure to see live), which says a lot, seeing as how Sigur Ros has won an award for Best Lighting at the Knights of Illumination awards in London. Nonetheless, Alt-J sounded amazing live like I knew they would, and the lights contributed to the dark and mysterious ambiance. How fitting, since the show took place over Halloween weekend.
4. Third Eye Blind @ Echo Beach, June 2017
Ahh, what an exciting way it was to kickoff this past summer, with none other than seeing my favorite band of all time play their self-titled debut record live from front to back, for their Summer of Gods tour. Third Eye Blind being my favorite band automatically means that I go to every single show of theirs whenever they’re in town, and this year it was no different. Their Summer of Gods tour was to promote the 20th anniversary of their self-titled album in which they played the entire album from front to back, something that they’ve never done before. For me, this was so exciting, given that this would be my first time hearing them play some of my favorite songs live, songs that they don’t normally play live! Pretty sure I was almost in tears as soon as they played “I Want You” – this is a song that means the world to me, so much so that I even had part of the lyrics tattooed on my back. Of course, they also played their hits off the album such as Semi-Charmed Life and Motorcycle Drive By which had the crowd in such a good mood, singing along at the top of their lungs. You can definitely say that this show was more for nostalgic reasons, but still hands down one of my favorite 3EB performances ever.
3. Benjamin Francis Leftwich @ The Mod Club, February 2017
BFL is someone that I have listened to for many, many years, but for some reason, never had the chance to see live. This year it changed though. We saw him play on a cold winter day, but the show itself was anything but cold. BFL’s performance was simple – no fancy gimmicks, backing band, or even a backdrop at his show, it was just him and his guitar, and he rocked it. I love it when artists do stripped down shows because it really shows off their talent – raw and heartfelt, the way their music was meant to be heard. BFL has one of those soothing, smooth, deep voices that I feel like can cure almost anybody. That voice with just his guitar made it such an amazing and intimate performance. There was a point where he even jumped into the crowd and sang and played, with everyone just circling him. You could make out the crowd singing along, low under their breaths. BFL was definitely one of the most raw and beautiful performances of the year.
2. Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness @ The Opera House, April 2017
Andrew McMahon is hands down my favorite musician to see live. He has this way of making each and every one of his shows so upbeat, positive and full of energy that it’s easy to leave all your troubles at the door. I always have the best time at one of his shows. This time around when I saw him back in April, there was a lot of personal stuff going on in my life, stuff that made me anxious and uncomfortable. But that night, it felt like I had no care in the world for any of that. I felt free and happy, singing and dancing along to all of his songs, just like everyone else in the crowd. Not once did those things that were bothering me even come to mind that night. At one point, Andrew even rode on top and through the crowd in an inflatable duck – something so fun, unique, and interactive that only he would come up with and only he could get away with. The majority of the show had Andrew playing a ton of songs off his new record which also came out in 2017, but also some old classics from his Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate days as well. You may remember from an older blog post (read it here!) how much Jack’s Mannequin’s music has meant to me over the years, especially during my high school days. Every time that I see Andrew McMahon live, it literally makes me feel like I am back in high school, young and free spirited with still an entire world out there just waiting to be discovered.
1. Local Natives @ The Danforth Music Hall, March 2017 & Osheaga Music Festival, August 2017
This may seem a bit biased and perhaps it is, seeing as you all know by now how much I love Local Natives. But aside from creating great music, these guys also create an amazing, dream-like show. This past year I was so fortunate to have the chance to see Local Natives twice – the first time at the Danforth and the second time at Osheaga music festival. Prior to this year, the last time I had the chance to see them was in 2014, so it had been a long time coming, also making it one of my most highly-anticipated shows of the year. And boy they did not disappoint. What makes a Local Natives show amazing is their synchronized vocal layering – something you hear in their songs, but is even more impressive and beautiful when heard live. On top of the great energy that they clearly have with each other and on-stage presence, it’s just not possible for these guys to put on a bad show. I remember at Osheaga while we were waiting (front row, of course) for Local Natives to come on, the couple beside us asked if we had ever seen them live and if they were any good. I excitedly told them that they are amazing live and that they would LOVE it. Right after Local Natives ended, the couple turned to me and said, “You were spot on. Those guys were awesome!”. I could not have agreed more, even telling some of our friends afterwards that I wish that I could “just die and live in that moment with them playing, forever and ever – my version of heaven.”
What a wonderful year of live music. I am so excited for all the upcoming shows and music festivals in 2018. What was your favorite show of 2017? I would love to read your experiences too!