Live Band Rankings 2015! Part Two: 19 – 1!

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Tame Impala at Massey Hall – where could they possibly rank?!

All right, this is it. The final countdown! (Sorry if that song is now stuck in your head).

Reminder – if you want to listen to any of the bands mentioned, and maybe find a new favourite artist – give my Spotify playlist a listen! It features all 40 artists! (Well… except Taylor Swift. She’s the lone hold out).

And if you missed Part One – it’s here!

19. Future Islands (Day Three Osheaga, August 2015)

I loved these guys! They were so much fun onstage! They’re such an odd mix of a band, but their music is so melodic and catchy. I don’t care that “Seasons” was “a 2014 song”, it felt awesome listening to it on a hot summer day in August!

18. The Rural Alberta Advantage (Day Two Osheaga, August 2015)

Another Top 10 bands from last year, bumped down again due to stiff competition. But make no mistake, The RAA are one of THE best live bands in Canada. Their energy is outstanding, and they are so talented. Please check them out if you ever get the chance.

17. Stars (Danforth Music Hall, February 2014 & Day One Osheaga, July 2015)

I was lucky enough to see them twice this year – both very different shows. Their show in February was in support of their new album “No One Is Lost” (which is fantastic BTW, and one of their best in a long time). That show alone would have garnered them this position. They played with a fantastic energy and passion. The second show was their Osheaga performance where they played their album “Set Yourself on Fire” in its entirety in honour of the album’s 10 year anniversary. In true Stars tradition, they had many guests come out to help perform. It was so awesome getting to hear non-traditional setlist songs, and of course “Your Ex Lover Is Dead” is one of the all-time greats.

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Stars at the Danforth Music Hall

16. The Decemberists (Day One Osheaga, July 2015)

I’ve never really fallen in love with this band, but always appreciated them. Seeing them live took it to a whole new level. Really outstanding set, and I still have “O Valencia” stuck in my head after hearing it live!

15. The Darkness (The Phoenix, October 2015)

Yes these guys are still around, and YES they are still putting out throwback rock & roll! Sean, John, Val, and Dan all speak highly of this band live, and I’ve heard endless stories of crazy on stage antics. While I am told this show was a “toned down” affair, it was still a blast. I’ve never fist pumped so much in my life! Check out their latest album if you need a fix of modern “classic” rock.

14. Interpol (Danforth Music Hall, July 2015 & Osheaga Day Two, August 2015)

Due to the snowstorm in Buffalo last year, I ended up getting to see Interpol twice in the span of two weeks. Which could have either been a bad thing, or a good things. Thankfully – it was the latter! I may even give the slight edge to the Osheaga show, since after all I was able to let loose, danced in the rain to their set, and let out my inner festival-hipster. These guys are highly underrated, and one of the best live bands going (IMO).

13. Mumford & Sons (Butler’s Barracks, June 2015)

OK. There’s a lot of backstory behind this concert. Mainly involving the ridiculous amount of time it took us to get out of the parking lot after the show, and onto the QEW so we could drive from Niagara back to Toronto. (I got into my bed at 4am… the show ended just before 11pm…) BUT, I still loved the actual concert. I fell in love with M&S after seeing them in concert, so I knew this was going to be good. The new album is also the perfect live record – and a nice departure from their earlier work. We did still get to hear some banjo, and they played a great mix of their older songs. Just next time…. don’t play in the middle of nowhere with only one road out of town…

12. Of Monsters & Men (Day One Osheaga, July 2015)

I’m still not 100% sold on them being a festival group, as I feel they are best enjoyed in a more intimate setting. But their songs did suit the Friday night sunset quite well, and they did a great job. For me, the best part of their shows is always the harmonies, and listening to their Icelandic accents. You also can’t beat the energy of their upbeat tunes, and getting to sing along with them. I guess in the end, they were a pretty perfect summertime show.

11. Matthew Good (Hamilton Place, December 2015)

I have seen Matt Good about 10x in concert, and I can honestly say amongst that group is only one show where I felt he was “mailing it in”. And this was not one of those shows. It was a unique experience for me in that I was coming off of my LEEP procedure, and couldn’t jump around, dance, or do any of the things I like to do during shows – especially MG shows. However, he didn’t disappoint with his usual snarky banter (ranting about social media, and getting the crowd to stand up), and a great mash-up of Load Me Up & Carmelina. And anytime I get to hear “Advertising on Police Cars” live is a wonderful experience. If only he’d play “The Boy Come Home” live and then I’d be in heaven.

10. The Arkells (Day Two Osheaga, August 2015)

Speaking of Hamilton, WOW, The Arkells really blew the socks off of most performers at Osheaga this year. I’ve heard for years that these guys are incredible live, and so I was so happy to finally see it for myself. It almost makes me sad that it’s taken me this long to experience it. If you love live rock & roll, and just want to party with a bunch of your buds – this is the live band for you. Oh, and their latest album is spectacular.

9. Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals (Day Two Osheaga, August 2015)

There was such a great mood leading into Ben Harper – over the horizon the rain clouds were creeping in, and led to an amazing sunset halfway through this set. He started out simple – just him, on stage with a lap steel guitar. We weren’t sure what to think. Then BAM the entire band joins him onstage and Ben Harper showed the youngins’ how it’s done. He is an incredible performer, whose passion really shines through on stage. Consider me a huge fan now.

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Osheaga on Friday – Day One

8. Father John Misty (Day Three Osheaga, August 2015)

You either love this guy, or hate him. His onstage persona is quickly becoming legendary for his sass, sarcasm, and just general “give no f***s” attitude. And he didn’t disappoint. My favourite part of the set was watching grown men sit on each other’s shoulders to get a better look. He is truly the King of the Hipsters. But really, aside from the schtick – it’s his voice that earns him #8 on the list.

7. The Avett Brothers (Day One Osheaga, July 2015)

My “come out of nowhere” winner for 2015 is these guys. WOW. Their set was beyond awesome. They opened with a song that grabbed you, and kicked your ass all at the same time. Everything about their performance was stellar – the vocals, their musicianship – especially their violinist. I wasn’t a big fan of theirs going in, but they are now on my “must see” list anytime they roll into Toronto. One of those bands that really shines live and makes you see their albums in a whole new light.

6. CHVRCHES (Danforth Music Hall, October 2015)

One of my favourite albums of the year is from this group, and my celebrity BFF (in my head of course) is CHVRCHES lead singer Lauren Mayberry. They are just so.much.fun! You can’t help but dance, shake, and jump around when they’re on stage. (In fact, I even jumped onto Sean’s foot by mistake). Even though so much of their music is generated from synths, you still truly feel like you’re getting a live experience from this band, and not “karaoke”. Plus – their Scottish accents are beyond cool.

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CHVRCHES at the Danforth

5. Alt-J (Day Three Osheaga, August 2015)

I still get goosebumps thinking about their set. Their music is moody, often slow, and has a lot of intricacies when you listen to it at home, so I was worried how it would come across live. But they nailed it. The sun set, the lights came on, and away they went. Plus – their drummer is 80% deaf which makes his skills live all the more impressive. It took my appreciation for this band up to a new level seeing them in person. If you have the chance to see them in a smaller venue, jump on it. You won’t be disappointed.

4. Noel Gallagher (The Sony Centre, May 2015)

I’ve been an Oasis fan since 1995. I’ve loved Noel’s music, lyrics, and voice for all of those years. And I still love his solo work. Seeing him live was truly a “bucket list” moment, and he did not let me down. I can’t complain about not hearing much Oasis, because as mentioned, I find his solo work is miles better than the last few Oasis albums. However – nothing beats singing along with an entire crowd to “Don’t Look Back in Anger”. I am amazed I didn’t cry.

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The one and only, your #3 artist…

3. Sam Roberts Band (Metropolis, March 2015)

This show set the bar high for 2015 right out of the gate. For my money, anytime I have Sam Roberts tickets he automatically becomes the one to beat. His show has everything – singing along, dancing, rocking out, fist pumping, bearded men, you name it. (He even has his own beer! COME ON HE IS SO COOL). Also, this show in Montreal was a blast. The crowd was responsive, and I wasn’t alone in dancing like a maniac. He played a well balanced set list as well, hearing many old favourite alongside his fantastic new album. I could go a Sam Roberts show every year and never get bored.

2. Tame Impala (Massey Hall, May 2015)

This is how tough 2015 was for these rankings – sitting front row at Massey Hall was not enough to get you the #1 spot.  If it weren’t for the #1 artist, this would be miles and away the best show of the year. Not only was it incredible being front row at Massey Hall, but Tame Impala put on a helluva show. Kevin’s voice was perfect, the psychedelic light show set the tone, and the sound was excellent. You really couldn’t ask for more. And PS – their latest album was definitely Album of the Year for me, so go buy it. It’ll knock your socks off. And then catch them in concert next time they’re in town.

…. DRUM ROLL PLEASE…..

1. Florence + The Machine (Day One Osheaga, July 2015).

What can I say? As I’ve detailed in a previous blog post, Florence is how I wish I could be in my everyday life. On stage, she is carefree, energetic, happy, and her voice just soars above everything else. You really can’t truly appreciate her talent until you hear it live. She is a true vocalist, and I hope she takes care of those pipes so she can continue singing for decades to come. One of my heroes, and one of the people whose music always touches my soul. Thank you for a magical night Florence!

That’s it! 2015 is a wrap for me in music!! And guess what, I’ve already started buying tickets for 2016! Get out there and enjoy live music any way you can. Just remember to pack your ear plugs.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and have a wonderful New Year everyone.

See you in 2016. 

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