21 Shows of 2017 Ranked

It’s been a pretty great musical year for me. When it was all said and done I was able to see 21 acts this year (RIP bank account). It’s been a year of some upsets (see list below), misses (like Stevie Wonder, Tom Petty and the Foo Fighters), and a lot of firsts. I got to see and meet a lot of kick ass, talented bands this year. So with that, here’s the ranking/breakdown of my musical year.

21. All Time Low
Ok, I don’t even really know who these guys are. To be honest, they sounded like a lot of bands I used be obsessed with circa 2006. I’m sure if I had known any of the songs or if they stood out in any other way it would’ve been fine. I couldn’t shake the fact that I was weirded out because I seemingly went into a time machine and that “scene” kids are still a thing apparently.

Stand out moment:
N/A

Should you go see them?
Do you miss being a scene kid and want to feel like you’re in 2006 with your Motorola Razor again? If so, go. Otherwise, you could probably just pop in an old Fall Out Boy album and call it a day.

20. Alluna George
I didn’t really know who she was, but soon realized I actually did know a couple of her songs. She was charismatic, charming and pretty entertaining for an opener. I normally don’t come for openers, but I liked her.

Stand out moment:
She went on an empowering “women are badass” rant that was pretty all right in my book.

Should you go see her?
If she pops into the festival circuit? Yes. Otherwise, I wouldn’t go out of my way.

19. NE-HI
I only caught the tail-end of this show as they were opening for Whitney, but these guys rocked out. It was really fun and the vibe was positive. You can tell they love what they do and you love watching them do it.

Stand out moment:
They went on a political rant that ended up with the crowd shouting “F*ck Dick Cheney”. I can get behind that.

Should you go see them?
Yes.

18. Wilco
Sigh. You guys, this was my biggest upset of the year. I was so looking forward to seeing these guys. It was their first show on their tour after taking some time off and you could tell they were rusty. The ambience was just confusing and all over the place. While I know they are a jam band at the core it’s almost like they got lost within themselves. I can appreciate their talent, but I could’ve probably just listened to one of their many vinyls I have in my living room and been ok with that.

Stand out moment:
The jam session in the middle of “I am trying to break your heart”.

Should you go see them?
I think they probably got all of their cobwebs sorted out. Even though I would’ve passed on this night, I still say yes. I’m chalking it up to a bad night for them.

17. Usher and the Roots.
Ok, during this show I just kept thinking “Usher, I think you’re going through some things.” He popped up on stage disheveled and rocking frosted Sisqo hair circa 1999. The Roots are great, and Usher is great. But this was honestly an odd mash-up. It was like Usher singing his lyrics over beats by The Roots. I just didn’t work for me.

Stand out moment:
N/A

Should you go see them?
Individually, yes. Together? Nah.

16. Nas and the Soul Rebels

This was fun. I think the fact that it was during Jazzfest in New Orleans helped out a bit, but the vibe was easy and you honestly forget how many good songs Nas has. I really enjoyed it.

Stand out moment:
If I ruled the world

Should you go see him?
Yes.

15. Fitz and the Tantrums
I’ve been waiting to see Fitz since 2014. They didn’t disappoint. It was fun, it was entertaining and the on-stage chemistry between Fitz and Noelle is enjoyable to watch. It’s like going to watch Fast and the Furious. You know this isn’t winning any awards, but it’s entertaining as hell.

Stand out moment:
Fitz getting so into his closing song he fell on stage and played it off like an. effing. pro.

Should you go see them?
Yes. Worth it for a fun night out.

14. Marc Broussard
From the minute I heard Marc’s voice I knew I had to see him. His sweet southern charm and the soul that oozes from every inch of him when he belts out whatever it is he is singing was so electric through the speakers at home I couldn’t wait to see him in person. Yet, his performance was just ok. It was during the day at a festival, so I sort of knew what I was getting myself into. I wasn’t disappointed, but it didn’t live up to the hype I had built up in my head.

Stand out moment:
Come to me.

Should you go see him?
YES. He is still charming as hell, and he croons like crazy.

13. Explosions in the Sky
I wasn’t sure what to expect here because they are instrumental and we were at an outdoor venue that hasn’t really hosted acts like this before. I could really appreciate them and they put on a really ethereal show that ended up creating a perfect night. I do think a theater would’ve been a better-suited venue. However, the lights, the smoke, and the outdoors did create an ambience that made it all worth it though.

Stand out moment:
N/A

Should you go see them?
Uh, yes.

12. Future Islands
This group was fun. Their lead singer is this really interesting mix of masculine and feminine that draws you in with how enigmatic he is – but it somehow works. I only knew a couple of their songs, but that didn’t matter.

Stand out moment:
Seasons (waiting on you) and literally every dance move the lead singer has.

Should you go see them?
Yes.

11. Leon Bridges
He had an afternoon set the first day of Jazzfest and I was able to catch about half of it. I really enjoyed what I saw, but would love to see him in a smaller theater-style venue where you can really appreciate his presence and his soul.

Stand out moment:
N/A

Should you go see him?
Hi. It’s Leon Bridges. Yes.

10. Johnnyswim
Ok, this couple is goals. This show was such a treat. The chemistry between the two of them is undeniable and infectious. Gracie’s voice is unbelievable and when you combine that with Abner’s insane stage presence, it’s really enjoyable to not only watch, but you can feel it.

Stand out moment:
Abner telling us all that he treats shows like home and that we are all guests in his living room. They make you feel like it’s just you and them and not a sea of other people.

Should you go see them?
Yes. YES YES YES.

9. Big Thief
I went to this show on a whim with my friends and I’m so glad I did. I had never listened to them before and it didn’t matter at all. I love them now. It was in a tiny dive bar and I didn’t get a chance to actually see them up close until the end. It was every bit of ethereal heaven that grungy dive bar shows are made of. I ate it up.

Stand out moment
Their “encore” and listening to their lead singer strip down her voice to something really vulnerable and raw.

Should you go see them?
HECKIN’. YES. I hear they are on the festival circuit this year. You can’t miss them.

8. Amos Lee
Amos. Amos. Amos. His voice is more incredible in person than it is recorded. Everything about his performance was soul-touching. He told stories about his first experiences with Jazzfest, about why he loved New Orleans, about his life and faith and love. Shows like the ones Amos put on are why we gather in groups to watch live music. He had me all up in my feelings in tears in a sea of 10,000 people.

Stand out moment:
His rendition of The Chi-lites “Ooh Child”.

Should you go see him?
If you have a chance and you don’t, you’d regret it.

7. Whitney
This was one of the more enjoyable shows I’ve seen all year. It solidified the fact that I can go to a show alone and feel anything but. They created a vibe in this small bar that made you feel like you were among family.

Stand out moment:
Golden Days with brass was a party. Light Upon the Lake was stripped down and is now one of my favorite songs because you could tell a real moment was being created as they sang it.

6. Mondo Cozmo
This is the show that made me love going to shows alone. This show was in a tiny venue with no more than 30 people and I felt like I was soaring. This was a show for dreamers and lovers and it didn’t matter that there was hardly anyone there. The whole room felt full.

Stand out moment:
Hold on to Me and getting a chance to catch up with the band after the show. They’re so humble and down to earth. It felt like watching your friends play and just talking to them like business as usual after.

Should you go so see them?
Absolutely.

5. Blind Pilot
This show sounded like what falling in love feels like. It was emotional, it was intimate and it was real. Shows like this one are one of the reasons music and concerts have the power to make us feel alive and free.

Stand out moment:
A completely acoustic portion of their set where they had no mics, they just played strings.

Should you go see them?
Yes

4. Gregory Alan Isakov
This is an extension from Blind Pilot. This is one of the best pairings in a lineup I’ve seen. I liked him before I went in, but after I left I was obsessed. When Gregory Alan Isakov plays live that’s the kind of stuff that sinks and settles in your bones in the best kind of way.

Stand out moment:
Liars

Should you go see him?
You can’t miss him.

3. Beck
BECK. Honestly. I ended up going to this show at the last minute and it was one of the highlights of my year. Everything about this night was amazing. You forget how many good songs Beck has and he is a g-d dang professional. All you can really say to him is w- o- w. (la la la la) (That’s a reference for all you Beck fans.)

Stand out moment:
I can’t choose.

Should you go see him?
Yes.

2. Coldplay
You guys. There isn’t anything I can say that would explain what this show was like. It was literally a religious experience. I don’t think anyone will really get it unless they’ve been to a Coldplay concert, but Chris Martin is unreal. The show they put on is something that words will never be able to do justice to. My head is still spinning from this show and it was so long ago. Even if you don’t like Coldplay, I personally challenge you to go to their show and not feel SOMETHING.

Stand out moment:
I literally couldn’t pick. I was crying and having an out of body experience the whole time I think.

Should you go see them?
This isn’t a real question. You already know my answer is a hard yes. THE HARDEST YES.

1. Paul McCartney
Sir. Paul. McCartney. There was no way I wasn’t going to see him. How do you explain Paul McCartney as a performer to someone? You can’t. This is literally probably the best show I’ve ever seen. Period. He’s a Beatle for crying out loud. His voice is every bit as good as it was back in the day and he is so energetic. It was magic in real life. There’s no other way to describe it.

Stand out moment:
It literally blew my mind that Paul was telling us stories about a time that he was hanging out with Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton like we were sitting in his living room. To be in the same room with someone who has first hand stories of his experience with musicians like Hendrix is living history and a mind-blowing experience for any real music fan. Also, I loved when he sang Blackbird. The relevance this song still has and his explanation of why it was written had me in tears.

Should you go see him?
COME ON.

What were your favorite shows this year? Tell me about it in the comments below so I can be jealous!

 

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