This is it… The Top 10 Live Bands From 2014!

Rural Alberta Advantage, Danforth Music Hall (photo credit: Me)
Rural Alberta Advantage, Danforth Music Hall (photo credit: Me)

It’s what you’ve been patiently waiting for… the Top 10!!

#10 Big Data @ The Phoenix December 17th 2014 (bigdata.fm)

I bought tickets to this show because #1 they were cheap, and #2 that single “Dangerous” is just so good. And wow, we were blown away by Big Data. This is still a new band but they have a full length release slated for 2015. I can’t wait. This was a fantastic show in every element – from the incredible talents of the drummer to the chemistry between Alan Wilkis and his female co-vocalist Liz Ryan. I heard bits of Talking Heads, Genesis, Depeche Mode, everything I love about the 80’s, and electronic-rock rolled into one great show. They were my surprise of the year. I went in expecting to rock out to one song, and instead I spent the whole show captivated. I cannot wait to see what 2015 has in store for these guys.

Best Songs: The Business of Emotion, The Stroke of Return, & Big Dater

#9 Dear Rouge @ Adelaide Music Hall March 29th 2014, Opera House May 8th 2014, & The Phoenix December 4th 2014 (dearrouge.com)

THESE GUYS. Yes, you’ve heard their song “I Heard I Had” a million times on the radio. But guess what, they’re insanely good live. Danielle McTaggart’s voice is so powerful and she has amazing stage presence. The rest of their catalogue is nothing but catchy-dancey-sing along in your apartment kind of music. They are synth-rock at it’s most fun. I am really pulling for these guys to hit it big. I could easily go see them three more times next year and still be entertained.

Best Songs: Thinking About You, I Heard I Had, Best Look Lately
Best Cover: Let’s Dance (David Bowie)

#8 Haim @ Kool Haus May 15th 2014 (haimtheband.com)

Okay, this is another one of those nights where emotion is coming into play. I was on a first date for this concert, with my current boyfriend Sean to be exact. Oh, and it was also a double date with John & Val! I had no idea who John & Val were before the show! It was this crazy last-minute-change of plans-first date with two strangers along for the ride. It was a night that could have been a total disaster. But instead it was a truly a night to remember. So Haim hold a special place in my heart. OK BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MUSIC NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR LOVE LIFE. Sorry. These girls kicked ass. “Falling” was the perfect opening song. And it remains one of my most vivid memories from that night. It was the perfect way to announce their presence to the crowd and kick things off. They also closed the night on a high note with the insane tandem drum solo the sisters performed during the final song. I honestly wasn’t expecting much from them, but they blew me away. They reminded me a lot of the “classic” rock bands I have seen over the years, these girls will easily be rocking out for years to come, showing young girls how to be rock stars.

Best Songs: Let Me Go, Falling, Days Are Gone

#7 Rural Alberta Advantage @ Danforth Music Hall December 18th 2014 (theraa.com)

RAA closed out my year in concerts, and it was a great way to end 2014. I was really excited for this band. What blows me away about them after seeing them live is how intense each song comes across but its three people, and the only guitar is an acoustic guitar. Just pure energy. I don’t know how lead singer Nils Edenloff has a voice after each show. Add in Amy Cole on backing vocals and she just balances out his intensity perfectly. The drumming by Paul Banwatt was second to none this year for me. And I loved their set up – where they were placed in a line on stage so each band member is equal. I love that in a set up. RAA are an indie band that I want to succeed because they deserve it. They are such a hard working group, and you can really see it on stage.

Best Songs: Tornado ’87, Terrified
Best Moment: Nils singing Two Lovers solo during the Encore

#6 Fast Romantics @ Adelaide Music Hall March 29th 2014 (fastromantics.com)

Mark these guys down as another band that I want to see hit the big time. Here is a band that definitely wins Best Cover Of The Year. Fast Romantics covered “Common People” by Pulp for their encore and it was BANANAS. Yes, caps lock required. It was probably the best cover I have ever seen. The place was a sweaty, dancing mess. Easily the most fun I have had during an encore. Lead singer Matthew Angus draws you in with his charisma and doesn’t let go until the last note. They also have one of the catchiest singles I have heard in a long time with “Funeral”. I cannot wait to see these guys again.

#5 CHVRCHES @ Field Trip Day Two June 8th 2014 (CHVRCH.es)

Fact: Lauren Mayberry is adorable but she is a powerhouse on stage with her voice. CHVRCHES were so much fun. You can tell they’re still figuring out their stage persona (see: Austra), but their chatter between songs makes up for it and draws you in with their Scottish charm. You can really sense how much fun these three are having on stage and it’s infectious. I was a big fan going in, and after seeing them live you can now count me as a superfan.

Best Songs: Lies, We Sink, Under The Tide
Best Moment: Lauren discussing her favourite Canadian things.

#4 Paolo Nutini @ Sound Academy September 15th 2014 (paolonutini.com)

My family are huge fans of this guy so it was a blast to have my entire family with me for this show, along with my friend Sarah. We lost my mom in the crowd (I have never seen the Sound Academy so busy). Paolo is not what you expect – he has an Italian name, but is Scottish & is barely in his late twenties but sounds like a weathered veteran of the music industry. He was incredible. His voice really lends itself well to a live environment because of its raspy, raw sound. He puts his heart & soul into the entire performance. Each of his albums are a little different from each other, so it was great that he played a good mix of his catalogue. Overall, I was incredibly impressed and have to admit my parents still have great taste in music.

Best Songs: Cherry Blossom, Iron Sky, Better Man
My Dad’s Favourite Song of the Night: Candy

#3 Sam Roberts Band @ Adelaide Music Hall February 13th 2014 (samrobertsband.com)

SRB are one of the best live acts this country has ever produced. Hands down. Sam brings an incredible energy to his shows. What I loved best about this show was getting to see Sam in such a small setting. Being about five feet from SRB was amazing. His music attacks you and this night in February was no different. This was the release party for his latest album Lo-Fantasy so I didn’t get to hear as much from his catalogue, but the new album is just so fantastic that it was still an outstanding show. Random note: one of my Christmas gifts this year was tickets to see him in Montreal – maybe he will top the 2015 rankings?

Best Songs: Human Heat, Shapeshifters, We’re All In This Together

#2 Broken Social Scene @ Field Trip Day Two June 8th 2014 (brokensociascene.ca)

Where to start. I am starting to lose count of how many times I have seen BSS live. It’s hard to really describe how incredible they are live in a short amount of time. It’s chaos onstage. People everywhere with instruments of each & every kind. Sean joked it was like watching a hockey team have shift changes on the ice. It’s a wonder they can mix the audio properly. This show may have been one of the best I’ve seen of BSS. If I could go off topic here for a second and just say WTF Emily Haines. Girl needs to start performing with them again. Anyways, what I love about them is how all that chaos onstage turns into something truly spectacular. It all works. And that’s really all I can say.

Best Songs: Superconnected, World Sick, Cause = Time, Meet Me In The Basement
Song I Wanted To Hear But Didn’t: Fire Eye’d Boy (COME ON GUYS THAT SONG IS THE BEST)
Best Moment: Gord Downie coming out to sing Texico Bitches with Kevin Drew

Arcade Fire, Jean Drapeau Park
Arcade Fire, Jean Drapeau Park

#1 Arcade Fire @ ACC March 13th 2014, and Jean Drapeau Park August 30th 2014 (arcadefire.com)

No one can touch Arcade Fire this year. No one. They had the best album of 2013, and now the best tour of 2014. I had the privilege to see them at the ACC in March, and at Jean Drapeau Park in Montreal on Labour Day weekend. I slightly favoured the set list from the ACC, but Montreal wins Best Atmosphere. This band is just a force on stage. As Sean eloquently put it “they’re a controlled chaos” in contrast to BSS’ total chaos at #2. These concerts will stick with me forever, “Here Comes The Night Time” will always evoke memories of standing outside in a crowd of some 30,000 with confetti raining down upon us. I just love the intensity that each member brings. How can you not be entertained by Will Butler’s antics? Call this band pretentious, arrogant, whatever, but when you see them onstage you get a sense of their passion for music and creating art. And that’s all I expect from a show is to be entertained and catch of glimpse of the real reason you strap on a guitar and get on stage.

Best Songs: Here Comes the Night Time, Rococo, Afterlife, It’s Never Over, Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels), Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains), Normal Person
Best Outfit of the Year: Regine, always. That girl rocks sequins.
Best Moments of the Year: Confetti for HCTN @ the ACC & Fireworks in Jean Drapeau Park for “Wake Up”
Best Cover: I’ll Believe in Anything (Wolf Parade cover in Montreal)
Most Questionable Song Choice: The Suburbs (I found it dragged the setlist down)

——–

Thanks for reading everyone!!! My New Year message – get out and enjoy live music. I’ve already starting purchasing tickets for 2015 and you should do the same! Make it your resolution (it’s way more fun than giving up junk food).

Special thanks to all of my friends, family, & Sean for coming along with me to so many of these shows.

And again, if you’re a total stranger feel free to follow me on Twitter: @TeslaMay & Instagram: @tesla_may for more concert adventures. Or just troll me in the comments.

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