The Top 20 Concerts We Caught in 2016
  • WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 07, 2016

  • Posted by: Baeble Staff

One of, if not the biggest, perks of being a music journalist is the concerts. Of course, it can be tiring - lugging to show after show every night, standing on your feet for hours and dealing with crazy crowds... Ah, who are we kidding? We love attending shows, and when we get to see an act we really love, it's extra special. Looking back at 2016, we realize it was a fantastic year for concerts. With LCD Soundsystem reuniting, Arcade Fire paying tribute to Bowie, Tame Impala playing every track off of Currents, and more, it was hard to choose favorites, but we finally narrowed it down to our top 20.

20. The Revivalists - PlayStation Theatre - 11/5

The Revivalists' performance at the PlayStation Theatre in Times Square had concluded the band's Strangers in The Bright Lights fall 2016 tour. This was the type of show that was overwhelmingly crowded, yet somehow very personal. You not only felt a connection with the band, but also with the people compressed beside you. There's something about the 7-piece roots rock band that allows this sort of connection to happen. Perhaps it's their humility that allows us to feel close to them, and to their fans. Singer David Shaw brought uplifting energy to every upbeat song, and undeniable passion to every melancholy song. Shaw was not the only one to shine. Electric Pedal Steel Guitarist, Ed Williams and Guitarist, Zack Feinberg fired up the crowd with their insane, harmonic solos. And where do I even begin with the horn section? Rob Ingraham on the saxophone and Michael Giradot on the trumpet brought the audience to actual tears. Pretty much everyone in the audience were passionately singing and dancing along to the music. It's no surprise that this was the most fun I've had at a show all year. - India Allouche

19. Local Natives - Terminal 5 - 10/25

There isn't an easy way to explain why Local Natives are so good live other than the fact that they simply have an incredible energy. It sounds vague, but it's truly enough to win you over. As soon as they came out on stage at the horribly-packed Terminal 5, Taylor Rice was bouncing all over on stage with his electric guitar and Kelcey Ayer was singing with every bit of soul left in his body and suddenly, Terminal 5 wasn't pissing me off anymore. When all of the members sang together, they visibly gave it their all, and somehow kept the energy at that high level for the entire duration of the show. - Kirsten Spruch

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18. Sunflower Bean - The Music Hall of Williamsburg - 10/7

Curious, uncertain, but nevertheless excited, I had anticipated Sunflower Bean to be just another typical Brooklyn-based rock band but boy, was I wrong. In an energetic head-banging moshing crowd-surfing show, Sunflower Bean delivered psychedelic waves throughout the audience, pulling in everyone's attention and channeling their inner metal head. The three-piece band consisting of lead singer Julia Cumming, guitarist Nick Kivlen, and drummer Jacob Faber performed one of the most exciting shows I've ever been to despite the intimacy of the music hall. With Cumming's ethereal voice and Kivlen's brash tones, the band produces sublime and gorgeous sounds. Sunflower Bean put on such a memorable and breathtaking show that they instantly became one of my favorite bands. - Amy Tang

17. Foals - United Palace - 11/4

Foals' performance at United Palace was one of those nights that came pretty close to perfect. The striking beauty of United Palace in Harlem had everyone taking photos to try to capture the regal architecture and bright-colored murals. However, photos did not do this place justice; you just had to be there. While the venue was seated, most people had run to the front up to the stage, acting hypnotized by the electric guitar played by Yannis Philippakis, and the rhythmic percussion coming from Jack Bevan. It felt like we shouldn't have been allowed to scream that loud and dance that vivaciously at this type of seated venue, but the irony of it all made it that much more alluring. Philippakis stage dove too many times to count. This wasn't a head-bobbing type of show, it was an eyes-closed, arms-wailing, foot-stomping sort of show. Foals' music allows their listeners to lose themselves in the best way possible, which is why this was one of the greatest shows I've attended all year. Everyone left United Palace with a brand new glowing energy than what they originally entered with. - India Allouche

16. Aurora - The Bowery Ballroom - 4/19

Aurora proves during her live shows that she is one mysteriously whimsical, beautiful creature. Sporting light grey-silver gloves, she graced The Bowery Ballroom and flung her arms around in every direction. The flailing of her arms and the way that she performs is truly art and she knows exactly what she's doing. Or maybe even better yet, she's not aware of it at all - she feels the music and acts out every lyric with her body and facial expressions. Watching her perform is a contagious form of freedom. - Kirsten Spruch

15. Nothing But Thieves and July Talk - Irving Plaza - 10/19

Sure, July Talk opened for Nothing But Thieves, but both performances were so good and complimented each other so well, that we're including them both together. The two bands are so incredible in their own separate ways - July Talk put on a captivating show like nothing we've ever seen before. The two singers Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay have this weird sensual tension between them as they sing back and forth to each other - one voice acting as an angry bark, the other voice acting as a sweet glimpse of purity. Fay dances around the stage like a ballerina as Dreimanis plays with her hair. It's kind of uncomfortable. It's also kind of amazing. And, as for Nothing But Thieves, singer Conor Mason has one of the best voices in rock music right now, and he only helps prove it during their live show. If you're a fan of Jeff Buckley, hearing Mason sing live will be a spooky treat. - Kirsten Spruch

14. The 1975 - Barclays Center - 5/17

Along with The 1975's latest album, I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it came a beautifully bright stage. Symmetrical rectangles that glow in every color and pattern along with the band's slightly 80's-inspired outfits made for a real treat for the eyes. One song called for a very real image of the New York City skyline, another called for hot pink, another for deep green, and the list goes on. I'll never forget when the band came out on stage and started with their blazing lead single "Love Me." Matt Healy wearing a suit and reading glasses, Adam Hann rocking on the guitar, George Daniel on the drums, and Ross MacDonald on the bass and keys. All of them effortlessly dancing around. It was electric. - Kirsten Spruch

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13. Disclosure & Anderson .Paak & The Nationals - Forest Hills - 6/18

Oh, Disclosure. I can never get enough of seeing those brothers perform live. But when I saw that Anderson .Paak - one of my favorite new-ish hip-hop artists - was opening up for Disclosure at Forest Hills Stadium, I didn't hesitate to make the trek out to the legendary stadium in Queens for this one. Anderson .Paak & The Nationals blew my mind. First thing I noticed was Anderson .Paak's outfit because he's always rockin' the sweetest fits but his energy level was all the way up from start to finish. I'm so obsessed with both Venice and Malibu and since the show wasn't quite sold-out (seeing as the stadium holds 14,000 people), I had all the room to sing and dance up down the rows. Disclosure came on ready to continue the party that Anderson .Paak & The Nationals started. They played more than two hours of all of the hits - only pausing to get on the mic to hear the screams from sweaty, dancing fans. But I don't think this show would've been the same in any other location. The seating at Forest Hills Stadium is so efficient - I was seated towards the back of the bleachers and could still see the stage and hear the show perfectly (the sound is so clear there!). Not only that, but the lighting was really good and Disclosure put on quite a visual show between the strobes and graphics. It was an unreal. - Mandi Dudek

12. Christine and the Queens - Terminal 5 - 10/10

Whenever I'm asked, "What are some good shows you've been to this year?" Christine and The Queens is always the first one to come to mind. I've never been to a more inspiring and empowering live show until I saw Christine and The Queens at Terminal 5. It was so much more than just a musical performance. Christine (and her Queens) provided a safe space for all the freaks and weirdos to come together and be whoever they wanted to be. There weren't any labels or judgements and you felt an immediate sense of community inside of the venue. The Queens performed choreographed dances with Christine (real name Heloise Letissier) that were beautiful and artistic as they went through the songs of Chaleur Humaine,. I pretty much left Terminal 5 that evening and wanted to change the world - it was pretty damn powerful. - Mandi Dudek

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11. Kaytranada - Terminal 5 - 10/5

Kaytranada 99.9% is one of my favorite albums to be released in 2016 so I was determined to catch him live at some point this year. At Panorama, the Parlor tent reached capacity while I was covering a set at a different stage - so I missed him. Luckily, I caught a few months later at an extremely sweaty and entertaining show with some insanely creative graphics. The visuals would change from various illustrations of random objects like balloons, snakes, and skulls to VHS-quality videos of people on a beach. As he play hits like "Glowed Up," "Leave Me Alone" or my all-time favorite "LITE SPOTS," Kaytranada would dance around the stage throwing out the goofiest moves. I wish I could relive this show every weekend. - Mandi Dudek

10. Alabama Shakes - Panorama - 7/28

For the past couple of years, Alabama Shake's album has been my most played one and still circulates my playlists. Sound & Color pretty much lived in my record player until I knew all the words to every song. So it was a big bucket list item until this year's Panorama Music Festival. Even though Panorama had one of my favorite line-ups of the year, Alabama Shakes was one of my most anticipated acts of the weekend. Brittany Howard has a voice that is so f*cking powerful and soulful that it's hard to believe she's a real human. Throughout the set, you could hear the whole crowd singing along to each song and a huge highlight was "Gimme All Your Love" and "I Found You." Alabama Shakes is a band that sounds just as good - if not better - than they do on recording. Hard to believe, I know. I'm pretty sure I had goosebumps for the whole set. - Mandi Dudek

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9. Sufjan Stevens - Panorama - 7/23

I was curious going into my first Sufjan Stevens show. With an orchestral album like Illinois and a minimalistic acoustic album like Carrie & Lowell, I was wondering where Stevens' live performance was going to fall... And boy, was the answer a surprise. He essentially rearranged every song on the set list, not to anger fans, but to prove to them that yes, somehow, his songs can sound even better than they already were. Adding bigger instrumentation, choreography, and insanely fun costumes (like enormous and scarily authentic angel wings), Stevens came prepared with a memorable show that felt like ecstasy. - Kirsten Spruch

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8. Arcade Fire - Panorama - 7/22

Although Arcade Fire wasn't in the middle of an album cycle, their much-needed performance came at the most perfect time. Shortly after David Bowie's death, the band began paying tribute with parades and marching band-inspired covers of the legend's hits, and when the time came to play Panorama, they didn't let the large festival setting stop them. Instead, they took the opportunity to expose the music to a larger crowd. After going through their regular set which is noteworthy by itself, they jumped off the stage and into the crowd, forming a line and singing Bowie's "Heroes" with a megaphone, cow bell, and some other small instruments. Everyone in the crowd frantically marched around them and followed, loudly wondering when they were going to exit, except they marched around for a solid half hour before they finally said goodbye. Looping around other stages in the festival field and keeping us on our toes, it wasn't a party trick. It was a sincere part of the show. - Kirsten Spruch

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7. LCD Soundsystem - Bonnaroo, FYF Fest, and Panorama

Well, this is a big one for obvious reasons. LCD Soundsystem came back this year and they came back stronger than ever. Headlining every major festival, we were extremely lucky enough to catch them three times this summer (I have to stop being so ungrateful). Now ain't that a season to remember? In addition to the shows I caught, they also headlined Coachella, Austin City Limits, Outside Lands, Lollapalooza, and Glastonbury (excuse us while we catch our breath). And their life on tour showed - they put on an incredibly danceable show fueled by disco beats and catchy choruses so catchy that if you're not even a real LCD fan, you can still dance. No one will have to know you're a poser. Hiatus or no hiatus, LCD is a band you must see live. - Kirsten Spruch

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6. Adele - Madison Square Garden - 9/20

I mean, it's Adele. What more do I have to say? She's all charm and charisma. And it's just one sing along hit after another with her. Plus, I love banter. LOVE. IT. And I've never seen an artist talk more than Adele. Seriously, it's almost half her show. She's funny and fowl and basically trying to connect with as many people in the audience as possible. She brought a drag queen dressed as herself on stage. She spent 10 minutes in the middle of the show taking selfies with as many people as possible. And she told story after story about how much the night meant to her...how much New York meant to her. - David Pitz

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5. Tame Impala - Prospect Park Bandshell - 6/15

Tame Impala dropped 2015's best album (Currents) and The Prospect Park Bandshell is this city's best summertime venue. Which makes anointing this show one of the best we saw this year easy. Currents is so summer-ready, it's not even funny. I remember sitting out on my front porch listening to Kevin Parker and Co. play night one of a two night run in the park...the distant bass lines of "The Less I know The Better" floating in the breeze were unmistakable. I sat there, cold beer in hand, grooving in my seat just a bit, knowing I'd be a lot closer to the action the following night. Sure enough, the band's batch of easy-breezy, pop-psychedelia was a perfect summer primer. - David Pitz

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4. Bloc Party - Empire Garage - 3/18

When I booked Bloc Party to play our SXSW Day Party in Austin this year, I never really felt like we had the band 100% locked down. SXSW is crazy like that. It's a hyper-competitive place for talent. Bands confirm and drop out or decide they don't want to make the trip in the weeks leading up to the festival, and you scramble to replace them. In 2015 I managed to book one band I was absolutely thrilled about and when I started sending details to them, their booker was totally confused. "We never confirmed them. They have another show." I also lost my headliner two weeks before the party. SXSW 2015 was a good time guys! So even though we had Bloc Party locked down weeks out, I held my breath through every correspondence with the band. I was sure it was too good to be true...that they would have to cancel on me. But, guess what? On March 18th, the band brought songs from their fifth studio album, Hymns, by our party, closing out our sweaty, day long fiesta in style (seriously...check out Kele's board shorts). Watching it all unfold from the side of the stage, I finally believed it was real, and I might have shed a tear or two. - David Pitz



3. Chance The Rapper - Flash Factory - 3/31

This show was a pleasant surprise for me since I had no idea I was attending until a few hours prior. Flash Factory is tiny, plus, not opening the event to the public (due to it being a private event thrown by SoundCloud) makes for a pretty comfortable room. Of course, I got shoved a few times, but seeing Chance The Rapper in such an intimate setting was basically monumental, given his rapidly-growing success. It's no secret that by this time next year, Chance could potentially be the next Kanye, and the fact that the next Kanye performed two feet away from me in my face is pretty damn cool. Chance also came with his full band, and having a full band automatically makes the performance better. With drums, keys, guitar, Donnie Trumpet, and Chance's incredibly positive attitude, this show also earned the right to be one of the greatest this year. - Kirsten Spruch

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2. James Blake - Radio City Music Hall - 10/3

James Blake at Radio City Music Hall is one of my all time favorite shows - not just of this year. He, along with two other band members, put on a performance unlike anything I've ever seen before. It felt more like a science lab with music and the people in the audience were observing - they weren't there to "pipe it up." Blake was calm and composed as he sat behind his keyboard and effortlessly whipped out minimalistic electronic sounds that built up to gut-wrenching sonic explosions. He'd have jaws dropped on the floor by the end of each and every song, and as if that wasn't enough, his deep, wavering voice sounded even better in person. There was something religious about the performance as well - at the end, Blake created a loop of gospel a cappella vocals and then walked off the stage as they continued to play. Still playing, the audience then walked out of Radio City Music Hall's beautiful theatre - truly making it feel like church on a Sunday (but way better). - Kirsten Spruch

1. Pearl Jam - Wrigley Field - 8/20

Wrigley Field is my happy place...which is a funny thing in itself. Up until about a month ago, Wrigley was mostly associated with a special Cubbie brand of futility. All that, of course, changed in the wee hours of the morning of November 3rd, when the Cubs downed The Tribe in a Game 7 for the ages to become the World Series Champs...which is a totally weird thing to actually write down. Eddie Vedder has been one of those very visible Cubs fans of late, publicly beating the drum for his childhood team over the last two seasons. I suppose being friends with Cubs President Theo Epstein doesn't hurt. Even before this magical season started, I somehow managed to score tickets to one of PJ's shows at Wrigley, so my wife and I flew out to Chicago, dropped our son at his grandparents, and rode the L over to Wrigley. It was weird being in the stadium with no baseball on the agenda. But once the show started (precisely at 8PM, no opener) it was clear the band was right at home playing classics like "Jeremy," "Daughter," "Black," and "Alive" in center field. It was a three-hour long show, chock full of tunes from their entire career, a few classic covers ("Comfortably Numb," "Masters of War," "Surrender," and "Baba ORiley") and the highly apropos, penultimate moment, "Someday We'll Go All The Way" (A Song Eddie wrote back in 2008 for the Cubs), complete with tributes to the current team and a chorus sung by Ron Santo's family. My favorite moment though came when the band brought out former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason (read up on him if you have time...he's an inspiration) to introduce "Inside Job," from the band's 06' self-titled album. It was a song I had never heard before (I checked out on the band for a while there). But Gleason's poignant intro, it's mystic mood, and the rapturous chorus ("How I choose to feel/Is how I am!") is my lasting memory from a show that was a special part of the best goddamn baseball season of my life. Someday is today. The Cubs are World Champions...and Pearl Jam is still one of the best bands in the world. - David Pitz



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