It’s that time of year again. Time for me to break down my year in live music, and attempt to rank them as best as I possibly can. This year was yet another busy one!
Let’s get right to it! Here is Part One!! (Psssttt… don’t know who the bands are? Click the link to hear a tune!)
44) Future – July 30th, 2016 (Osheaga)
This was so bad on so many levels. First off – he was late. Second, we all had the false hope he would bring Drake onstage. He didn’t. Third – related to him being late, we were stuck with a couple of “DJs” attempting to keep the crowd entertained. We got some repetitive beats and a few “WOO” and “ARE YOU READY?” shouts. Yeah. We were ready twenty minutes ago! Finally, when Future came out – it was a huge let down. He didn’t rap much, mumbled through most of the set, and considering he kept saying “Are you ready Canada?” we were also partially convinced that he had no idea what city he was in. We should have went to see Lana Del Ray close out the main stage instead.
43) Gramatik – July 31st (Osheaga)
Okay – before I express my boredom, I do have to say, I hadn’t PLANNED to see this group at Osheaga. They were a last minute replacement for Disclosure who didn’t make it to their set on time from Lollapalooza. So, a bit unfair of me to harshly criticize them, when they had to quickly step in and fill some shoes. However, Sean & I both found their set repetitive. There were large portions of their set that just felt like the same song over and over. It was disappointing. But, I readily admit they are not really my cup of tea to begin with – so they did have an uphill battle.
42) Wolf Parade – July 29th (Osheaga)
I went to check these guys out due to curiosity. I had heard Arcade Fire cover their song “I’ll Believe in Anything” in Montreal a couple of years ago, so figured I’d give them a listen. I didn’t walk away a fan, but I can see why they have a loyal following. They have a great sound, and they’re from Montreal – but it just didn’t leave any sort of memorable impression on me.
41) Half Moon Run – July 29th (Osheaga)
This is probably the most shocking entry for me. I had high expectations for these guys after seeing them perform at Field Trip a couple of years ago. I mean, they were one of the last bands up on a Friday night – and playing at home! But something about their set didn’t click for me. I found it slow. I found it, dare I say it, a bit boring. Their new album is fantastic, but it didn’t resonate for me in that setting. Perhaps I would have enjoyed them more at their recent show at Massey Hall.
40) Dragonette – July 29th (Osheaga)
I had no idea this band were behind “Hello” and a few other dancey hits (like the one linked with Gallantis). I enjoyed hearing the hits, but the rest of their time onstage didn’t grab my attention. Same with some other criticisms I have for dance/electronic bands, I often find some of the subtleties of their songs get lost in outdoor shows. After awhile, it all sounds the same.
39) Banners – July 29th (Osheaga)
Banners was the first act I saw at Osheaga – and they were good! It’s hard to place these guys, because I liked their sound, and it’s always tough to be the first act of the day. While I wasn’t blown away, they are on my list of “bands to eventually check out and listen to more”.
38) The Lumineers – July 29th (Osheaga)
Okay – full disclosure. I went into hearing their set expecting to be as equally blown away as I was last year with The Avett Brothers. And I shouldn’t have done that, because I was left disappointed. The Lumineers were good, but they weren’t that good. Again, like Half Moon Run, I found the set dragged, and again I really only enjoyed hearing their hit songs. Other than that, I wasn’t left walking away thinking “man, I need to get some more of their music”. It felt quite average, and I guess after last year I was expecting a lot more “oomph” from the last few closing main stage acts.
37) The National – June 4th (Field Trip)
I am sorry to all of my friends who LOOOOOVE The National. But I just can’t get into them. And seeing them live didn’t reallllly change my opinion either. I just find them a weeeee bit overrated, and that much of their music sounds the same. Which I know is a weak argument, because you can say that bands I am ranking higher on this list, but for me, they just don’t click. SORRY. DON’T SEND ME HATE MAIL.
36) Ra Ra Riot – June 5th (Field Trip)
I really enjoyed Ra Ra Riot, and have to admit I did find myself most curious about their music, out of all the new bands I saw this year that I hadn’t listened to before. Pretty great indie rock band, and I would definitely see them again.
35) Cypress Hill – July 29th (Osheaga)
I ran over to see Cypress Hill only so I could hear “Insane in the Brain” live. And it was just as awesome as you would expect it to be!
34) Hollerado – December 17th (Corona Theatre)
These guys were an awesome opener for Sam Roberts and really brought the energy! Their show was a great mix of rock and punk and set the tone for the night. They even told a couple of lame jokes! Perfect way to set up a Saturday night of rock music.
33) Haim – July 30th (Osheaga)
These chicks are just.so.cool. Their presence onstage is so infectious to watch, and their talent is undeniable. My biggest complaint? I need some new material ladies!! They also did a pretty kick ass cover of Prince and “I Would Die 4 U“. I was really happy I hustled over to see them after quickly shoving some food down my throat!
32) Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires – June 5th (Field Trip)
Charles was a difficult one for me to position. I appreciated his talent, his band, and enjoyed the set. But it’s hard to rank him higher than some of the other bands I know and love. That being said – his talent is incredible. There was also something magical about listening to him as the storm clouds cleared over Fort York.
31) Santigold – June 4th (Field Trip)
This chick is pretty badass. I really liked her set! It’s sometimes difficult to rank the bands you enjoyed, had fun listening to, but didn’t rush out and buy more of their music. I always feel like putting someone like Santigold so low is an insult – but really, it’s just because I didn’t know her music better! I hope to listen to more of her music, and then hopefully get another chance to enjoy her talents live.
30) Grimes – July 31st (Osheaga)
Oh Grimes. This was an… interesting set. She admitted to the crowd she was fighting a stomach flu and an injured ankle – which helped explain to me why something felt “off” during her first couple of songs. I have to give her full credit for performing sick, if that was the case. I am in love with her latest album “Art Angels” so I had high hopes. Her set was good, it’s just hard to fully judge her when you know you’re not getting a full performance. This girl does have pipes, and can scream alongside any heavy metal band. Hopefully I’ll get another chance to see her when she’s not throwing up between songs!
29) Lord Huron – July 7th (Danforth Music Hall)
I love these guys. They are my summer soundtrack for music that makes you feel like you’re out in the country, sitting by a fire, and looking up at the stars. I have to say, I enjoyed them outdoors at Field Trip a couple of years ago a liiiiiitle more, versus this time inside the DMH, and it’s for those aforementioned reasons. To me, this is a band you need to hear outside, as the sun goes down, cold drink in your hand, surrounded by friends. Not saying this was a bad concert by any stretch! And they did sound excellent on this July night – just a shame we couldn’t enjoy a summer night sky while listening to them!
28) Couer de Pirate – July 30th (Osheaga)
Believe it or not, my parents actually introduced me to this artist. She has a beautiful voice – both in French and English! Even though with some songs I have no idea what she is singing about, her voice still resonates. She captivated the crowd at the Scene de la Vallee on Saturday night, and she didn’t disappoint.
27) Jason Collett – March 9th (Mod Club) & June 5th (Field Trip)
I was lucky enough to see Jason Collett perform twice this year, and his new album “Song and Dance Man” is one of my favourites from this year. If you like John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, or the type of sound that takes you back to classic rock in the 70s – please give Jason Collett a listen. I also enjoy a lot of his casual banter at his shows, and he is always very well dressed! Just a great showman, who also puts on a great rock concert. The most memorable thing for me, though, about seeing Jason this year was from Field Trip. I was sitting there, on the grass, sipping on a beer, listening to him perform a great set. Then suddenly – the clouds rolled in, and the heavens opened up. It absolutely poured with about half of Jason’s set still to go.
26) Silversun Pickups – July 29th (Osheaga)
Hard to top seeing a great rock band on a Friday night! I’ve seen them before, opening for Muse a whole bunch of years ago, and they lived up to the high expectation my faded memories had set. I love “Lazy Eye” and they did an outstanding job with it live. So much energy! Dare I say it, but they should have performed in the slot The Lumineers had and led us into the headliners.
— Okay kids!! That’s it for Part One!! This year’s top contenders were really difficult to rank, and I am still tinkering with the list!!!
Tomorrow I will reveal the Top 25!