Top Ten Live Shows of 2015

Posted on Dec 1, 2015

As the live experience becomes more and more important in the music world, artists of all genres, established and up-and-coming, are finding new ways to impress discerning audiences. I saw a ton of great shows in 2015 – that Godspeed You! Black Emperor stands tall amongst these shows doesn’t diminish the excellence of every other band on the list. I also made an Apple Music playlist of selections from these bands, if you’re interested.

The Best:

Godspeed You! Black Emperor at Music Hall of Williamsburg

Since their unlikely reunion, I’ve seen post-rock genre pioneers Godspeed You! Black Emperor twice, both in hardly ideal circumstances – the first a stage between two EDM acts at Coachella, the second opening an arena show for Nine Inch Nails. So it was with great anticipation that I arrived at the tiny (for them) Music Hall of Williamsburg, and the band exceeded my expectations. The intimate setting (you could hear the hum from their visual artists’ film projectors) allowed the bands’ quiet moments to stew in anticipation of their legendary climaxes. And not only were we treated to their great new record Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress in its full, contiguous glory, but Godspeed also played plenty of old classics and, thrillingly, an epic new track that shows them still breaking boundaries with their sound.

 

The Rest:

  • Caribou at East River Park

Dan Snaith’s mesmerizing indie-dance band played a perfect summer night at the picturesque, packed outdoor bandshell East River Park

  • High on Fire at Music Hall of Williamsburg

Matt Pike’s fretwork once again astonished at Music Hall of Williamsburg, where High on Fire turned the entire floor into a gnashing mosh pit

  • My Morning Jacket at The Beacon Theater

Their Governor’s Ball set, filled with new tracks from “The Waterfall,” was great, but their first of four rarities-filled Beacon shows was a true fan delight

  • Screaming Females at Rough Trade

New Jersey’s stellar, explosive three piece rockers boast the tiniest, and possibly best, guitarist in indie-rock in Marissa Paternoster

  • Six Organs of Admittance at Baby’s All Right

Ben Chasney’s side project, on record, is known for virtuosic acoustic guitar-work. In concert, Six Organs unexpectedly rocked, and blew the doors off Baby’s All Right

  • Stars of the Lid at Saint Agnes Church

The ambient greats played a rare NYC show in the gorgeous Saint Agnes Church. Stars filled the space with insinuating low-end and staggering visual projections

  • Tame Impala at Radio City Music Hall

The up-and-coming superstars brought serious vibe to Radio City, co-mingling bass-heavy grooves from the current Currents, old favorites, and mind-bending visuals

  • Thee Oh Sees at Bowery Ballroom

John Dwyer retooled the touring line-up of Thee Oh Sees, and the new, two-drum set-up changed their already world-class live show into an in-your-face rawk marathon

  • “Weird Al” Yankovich at The Fox Theater

A living legend, on a victory lap for the well-regarded Mandatory Fun, brought dozens of costume changes, a panoply of hit songs, and a rock-solid band to an absurdly entertaining show at the Fox Theater

Selections from the Top Ten Live Shows of 2015

 

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