Listicles Week starts today with my Favorite Concerts 2015 Halftime Edition – a list comprised solely of NYC shows I’ve attended for free (the only kind of shows I’ve seen this year). I will drop my Favorite Songs and Albums of 2015 later this week.
In the meantime here are my 10 favorite concert performances of the year listed in alphabetical order according to the artist’s first name. Click the performer’s name to read my original review. Enjoy!
Against Me! @ Northside Festival, Brooklyn (June 13)
My misgivings about PepsiCo brand Mountain Dew sponsoring an Against Me! show aside, the venerable punk band fronted by Laura Jane Grace delivered a roaring set that kicked more ass than the mid-afternoon sun hanging over McCarren Park.
Charles Bradley @ World’s Fair Anniversary Festival, Queens (June 7)
“As in the other times I’ve witnessed Bradley, I came away from his Queens performance convinced the love and joy he manifests on-stage is a rare, beautiful and important force in music today. His spirit touched me.”
Cloud Nothings @ NYU Strawberry Festival, Manhattan (May 8)
“Primal and ferocious, the three men in Cloud Nothings roared through 13 songs from their albums, Here and Nowhere Else and Attack on Memory, in under an hour. They acknowledged the crowd with thank you’s and precious little else. They just melted faces …”
Courtney Barnett @ Bowery Ballroom, Manhattan (May 19)
“… Barnett’s predisposition to rocking the fuck out made the recorded product sound stripped down by comparison. That’s not to put down her album – I’ve come around to it over the past week – but live, Barnett amplified her woes and disillusionment with screams and solos and enough headbanging to risk a sprained neck.”
Janelle Monae @ Best Buy Theater, Manhattan (March 26)
“Monae’s willingness to use any platform, especially a corporate one, to promote an uplifting, positive message that beautifies and exalts women sets her apart from other pop starlets. She is the total package – entertainment and substance rolled into one.”
Laura Marling @ Warsaw, Brooklyn (March 23)
“The pale, sullen-faced image she projected in her late teens and early 20s had been replaced with a seasoned 25-year-old who seemed eager to play to and off the crowd, at times as the frontwoman of a would-be rock band. Yet, the Brit folk artist’s sweet spot during her hour-long set remained her quiet material, brimming with intricate tales of heartache and lost love.”
Lucius @ Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn (April 27)
“Whether performing in the crowd or on-stage, Lucius showcased a timeless girl-group and rock-fusing sound and electric presence that belied the fact they had not played songs from their first album, Wildewoman, in five months. The band’s dynamic two-as-one female lead vocals, wailing guitars and all hands on deck percussion combined to illuminate their young catalog in a breathtaking light.”
Matthew E. White @ Baby’s All Right, Brooklyn (April 6)
“The bespectacled frontman, whose flowing brown mane stretched down his mid-back, delivered an amplified set that showcased a dynamic range in his baritone—at times a whisper, at others a Pentecostal fervor—that has thus far been confined to quiet and smooth on his records.”
Radiation City @ Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn (May 22)
“On Friday night inside Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, Portland-based timeless pop/rock act Radiation City unlocked past glories/misadventures on Hoyt, Burnside, Belmont and many other streets and intersections whose names I forget. Of course these memories existed a continent away, if not a lifetime, but for the band’s half-hour set all of these ghosts felt present in one room.”
Rev. Kevin Anderson and the Love Choir @ Union Pool (May 11)
A Brooklyn institution, Rev. Kevin Anderson and his band, the Love Choir, made me feel like I had stumbled into a bar on Frenchman Street in New Orleans, with the frontman’s revival flair, his brass backing band and their wonderful cover of “This Little Light of Mine.”