Atwood Magazine’s Best Concerts of 2023!

Atwood Magazine's Best Shows of 2023
Atwood Magazine's Best Shows of 2023
aespa Agust D (Suga) Anesthesia & L’Orchestre symphonique de Québec Arctic Monkeys Beyoncé Blind Pilot Blur Burlington Jazz Festival Caroline Polachek Domi & JD Beck Dominic Fike Drain Eloise Guns N’ Roses with The Black Keys Hozier Inhaler Japanese Breakfast Jonas Brothers King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard Laufey Lollapalooza MUNA Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Taylor Swift The 1975 The National The Strokes The Wonder Years Unknown Mortal Orchestra Vance Joy

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From all of us here at Atwood Magazine, we wish you a happy and healthy new year!

2023 has been an inspiring year for music. Living legends have further solidified their legacies, whilst fresh faces have become new favorites.

Atwood Magazine has always had at its core the mission to celebrate music of all genres, and this year we continued our goal to be a space of inclusivity and representation by consciously highlighting art and artists from around the world. The year in music was made all the more exciting because of the broad range of music we featured and focused on – from those familiar names in the Top 40, to creatives in the most underground, indie, and alternative of circles.

For so many of these artists, music is more than a mere means of self-expression; it is a vessel full of awesome potential. In recent years, it has felt increasingly important to acknowledge and elevate those who use their art as a voice for the disenfranchised; the oppressed; the underrepresented; and the underprivileged. This year, we continue to recognize those who speak for more than just themselves, while at the same time indulging in the familiar, timeless themes of love, loss, hope, connection, courage, change, and the never-ending pursuit of happiness.

As the year comes to a close, our staff took a step back to honor the songs, albums, EPsconcerts, and artist discoveries that had the greatest impact on our lives. Without further ado, Atwood Magazine is proud to present our curated list of 2023’s Best Concerts of the Year, in alphabetical order by artist.

From Taylor Swift’s record-breaking The Eras Tour and Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour to breathtaking shows by artists like The 1975, MUNA, Arctic Monkeys, aespa, Caroline Polachek, Jonas Brothers, Agust D, Blur, and more, these are our favorites – the concerts that left us inspired, invigorated, and even more in love with the music than we were beforehand. Please join us in celebrating 2023’s contributions to the music world!

Mitch Mosk, Editor-in-Chief

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Atwood Magazine

Atwood’s 2023 Music of the Year 

The Best Concerts of the Year

Click on the artist’s name to skip right to their entry!

aespa Agust D (Suga) Anesthesia & L’Orchestre symphonique de Québec Arctic Monkeys Beyoncé Blind Pilot Blur Burlington Jazz Festival Caroline Polachek Domi & JD Beck Dominic Fike Drain Eloise Guns N’ Roses with The Black Keys Hozier Inhaler Japanese Breakfast Jonas Brothers King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard Laufey Lollapalooza MUNA Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Taylor Swift The 1975 The National The Strokes The Wonder Years Unknown Mortal Orchestra Vance Joy

Atwood Magazine's 2023 EPs of the Year

Out of the many K-Pop girl groups that have debuted within the last three years, aespa has earned their place in my heart as one of the best.

The four piece, composed of members Karina, Winter, Giselle, and NingNing, came down to LA for the penultimate show of their “SYNK : HYPER LINE” tour in August, where they managed to naturally go from dubstep anthems to heartfelt ballads in what seemed like a matter of seconds. It was also my first time getting floor seats at an arena concert, which definitely made for a more intense experience, audibly and energetically (or, should I say aenergetic-ally?). Being under SM Entertainment, infamous for housing vocal virtuosos, aespa’s live performances, as expected, did not disappoint; performing strenuous choreography, under beaming LED lasers and wearing inches-high platform boots, aespa made singing look effortless, as each song sounded near-identical to the studio recording. Energy and voices unwavering through the night, on the stage and off of it, the four girls, with their humility, charisma, and dynamic talents, made for a night that was truly unforgettable. – Isabella Le

In his first ever world tour solo, Suga set to tell the story of different versions of himself. The energy of the crowd was unmatched for all three nights. The audience echoed in screams between every song and rapped along his lyrics seamlessly in English and Korean. The concert walks you through his three personas; Suga of world renowned group BTS, Agust D his hard-hitting rapper alter ego and Min Yoongi the true man behind it all. All three nights proved that Yoongi is an incredible performer and artist, whether he is alone on stage or accompanied by his six best friends. The lights and stage production of the show is incomparable to any other current running tour. The uniqueness of his performance and his breathtaking stage presence makes the Suga | Agust D D-Day Tour one of the best tours to hit the United States in 2023. – Freya Rinaldi

* * *

Just days after the release of the third installment in his album trilogy, D-Day, on Saturday April 29th, Agust D or Suga (the BTS rapper, producer and songwriter) took to Prudential’s Stage to literally bring the house down.

Beginning the show with his latest single, “Haegeum,” the rapper came out with full energy to a sold out crowd of almost 20,000 people. That energy intensified as he played some of his greatest hits, as the crowd chanted back word for word, bar for bar. Whether those lyrics were in English, Korean or both languages. What made the show special is the duality of it all. It wasn’t just a high energy rap concert, but it also had some moments of what almost felt like moments of serenity as we watched the rapper be vulnerable as well. One second here is this powerful rapper spitting such powerful lyrics that make you truly think for a second, and in the a split second you find yourself swaying along as he strums his guitar or plays the keys on his piano. Needless to say, it was a very special show indeed. – Jada Moore

How do you top a trip to Canada that’s already included skiing in Mt. Tremblant, hiking in Parc de la Mauricie and Parc Jacques Cartier, an outing to the Montreal en Lumière winter lights festival, a stroll through the gorgeous lit-up Old Quebec neighborhood, and two memorable museum outings in MTL and QC?

You do this: head over to the Grand Théâtre de Québec, where the Orchestre symphonique de Québec and rock group Anesthesia have set up stage. Then, you see them embark on a whirlwind overview of Metallica’s music, raging through metal classics like “Master of Puppets,” “Sad But True,” and “Seek and Destroy,” then slowing things down a bit for Metallica’s gentlest song, “Nothing Else Matters,” only to come roaring back with “Enter Sandman” as a thundering encore.

Worth braving the 5 degree weather outside for the show? Absolument! This was possibly the greatest highlight of a winter Quebec trip packed full of them. – Josh Weiner

There is simply something to be said about the magic of Alex Turner’s vocals. He can take on any song and make it either happy or sad. Arctic Monkeys has had one of the most successful tenures in alternative rock music, and with good reason. They are performers, and not to deduce it down to that simply, but they’re amazing at it.

On September 7th, the band took to the stage at Merriweather Post Pavilion on an installment of their “The Car” tour. The air felt different at this show. Perhaps it was even the atmosphere that felt very different. Maybe that had to do with being under the heated Maryland sky (the heat index was in the hundreds) or perhaps it was the collective excitement that carried through the packed venue. As the band played their latest and greatest hits, there was never a single moment where the energy dipped. If this isn’t testament to the legacy they’ve cemented then what else can prove it? – Jada Moore

Because who else can travel through realms of space and time and look flawless doing it? Beyoncé’s RENAISSANCE World Tour was a testament to her artistry and unfaltering dedication to her craft. Everything was obviously painstakingly chosen — from the setlist to the set pieces (the bed transition from “Cozy” into “Alien Superstar?” Are we kidding?)

Queen Bey even got the audience involved with the “Everybody on Mute” challenge. Some cities did better than others… I’m not sure how Metlife fared in the competition… but it was fun regardless. Overall, seeing the *iconic* Mother of House of Renaissance was an unforgettable and, honestly, inspiring experience. 10s across the board. – Julia Dzurillay

I‘ll always enjoy the exhilaration and euphoria of singing along to my favorite songs in an arena with 10 to 20,000 people… but nothing compares to the magic of a truly intimate concert experience. I came of age at venues like Rockwood Music Hall, The Bitter End, Knitting Factory, Pianos, Mercury Lounge, and Rough Trade – small New York City clubs where 25 to 200 people (depending on the space) could gather to enjoy everything from acoustic folk to funk, experimental rap to indie rock, R&B, and synth-pop. Last year I was serenaded by one of my favorite artists, The Staves, on a beautiful farm outside London – and this year, I enjoyed an equally intimate experience up at Levon Helm Studios, the beautiful space pioneered by The Band’s Levon Helm, out in Woodstock, New York.

The halls were decked with Christmas lights (it was post-Thanksgiving, after all), and there was a warm buzz about the two-floor studio as we awaited the Oregon-based indie folk band. Acoustic duo Viv & Riley delivered a gorgeous folk set as the opener, and what struck me most – aside from their compelling lyricism – was just how stunning the quality of sound was, bouncing elegantly around the wooden Lincoln Log-like walls that surrounded me.

Needless to say, Blind Pilot’s performance was breathtaking. The band played a concert of half-beloved catalog songs and half-new, unreleased material; the show itself was one of only four they had booked in the Northeast, as they were gearing up to go into the studio and record their fourth album the next week. The idea was to use this mini-tour as a rehearsal for the upcoming sessions – a road test to see how the songs felt onstage first. Most of these songs don’t even have names yet, so I won’t trouble myself (or the reader) with trying to describe them, but what I will say is how soul-stirring and spine-shivering Israel Nebeker’s poetry feels, his tender voice welcoming like a hot fireplace on a cold winter night, supported by the sweet, wondrous harmonies of his bandmates Luke Ydstie and Kati Claborn. From hits like “Half Moon,” “The Colored Night,” and “Three Rounds and a Sound” to new songs – some of which I know will be my “future favorites” – Blind Pilot created a truly moving and unforgettable night for everyone in attendance. Their performance is a reminder that you don’t need massive arenas, pyrotechnics, or really props of any kind to capture the magic, the wonder, and the beauty of music. – Mitch Mosk

This summer saw some true British legends take themselves on tour around the stadiums and festivals of Europe, with huge, expensive shows to thousands of people. But something about Blur’s weekend at Wembley felt cosier, intimate even. They had taken over three decades, but they had finally arrived on the most prestigious stage in the country. Over two warm days in July, the Britpop kings treated London to a bumper performance spanning their entire discography. Blur knew what the people wanted, and came with a set bristling with hits and fan favourites from their mid-90s output, dedicating half the performance to covering the Britpop trilogy of albums which launched them into the Cool Britannia landscape.

With an obvious adoration for their fans and their music, the band gave so much with such energy and joy. As day turned to dusk, Blur’s endless hits rattled on. There were emotional ballads and big singalongs, followed by huge riffs. There was a little bit of chaos too, with the increasingly-obscure Phil Daniels coming out (to no-one’s surprise) each night to join the band for Parklife. It all came together for a weekend which felt cathartic, long-awaited, and ultimately very British. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another 30 years for a show like that. – Adam Davidson

How about this for a Best Weekend of the Year candidate?

1) Friday June 9th: We drive up from Boston to Burlington; see Zambian rapper sensation Samba the Great deliver a scintillating set in Waterfront Park; then head to the Vermont Comedy Club for a jazzy aftershow and camp out at North Beach Campground.

2) Saturday June 10th: We wake up; hike the tallest mountain in Vermont, Mt. Manfield; return to Burlington for lunch; catch WITCH (We Intend to Cause Havoc) and Cory Henry’s impressive sets at Waterfront Park; and then witness the World’s Greatest Saxophonist, Kamasi Washington, deliver with a mind-blowing performance with his band, capping things off with an exhilirating rendition of “Fists of Fury”; go back to the Vermont Comedy Club for a rockin’ jam session; and then, lo and behold, have Kamasi & Crew walk in the room and come onstage to take part said jam session!

3) Sunday June 11th: We wake up and take down our tents; bike 20 miles alongside sparkling Lake Champlain; return for the Block Party, in which several local bands perform some more jazz at City Hall Park; and drive back to Boston, stopping to see the glistening Vermont State Capitol building en route.

Hard to top that one! Thanks for the memories, Burlington, and hope to catch you again in ’24. – Josh Weiner

When Caroline Polachek sang “Welcome to my island / Hope you like me / You ain’t leaving”, I didn’t think she meant it literally, but it’s been months since I’ve had the pleasure of seeing her and the thought doesn’t begin to leave my mind. To this day, I still sometimes picture in my mind her singing live gems like “I Believe” and “Hit Me Where It Hurts”. She’s a unique, intense, sensual and ethereal performer – the list of positive adjectives could go on and on, but I will stop here. She is the pop star we deserve and needed, a stage animal even (indeed, a real tamer). One of the most fascinating performances of this edition of Primavera Sound, definitely. – Dimitra Gurduiala

The Coachella crowd roared as the unexpected happened. Thundercat and Anderson Paak surprised the tent to perform alongside this duo. The stage lineup for that day was full of pop acts and DJs, Domi & JD Beck jazz set themselves apart. The two-piece are great musicians with an obvious knack for bringing to life sounds in a new way. They were a must-see at the famous music festival and had the entire crowd grooving. – Freya Rinaldi

Heat beating down from the California rays and fuzzy outdoor acoustics, Dominic Fike’s “Don’t Stare at the Sun Tour” brought the environment and energy of Naples, Florida to the Frost Amphitheater.

Through drive-heavy guitars, a makeshift set design, and improvised vocal tricks Fike crafted a physical experience for his album Sunburn, bringing its songs and aesthetics to life. If it wasn’t hot enough in August, his sunburnt show included a flirtatious performance of “Bodies” and a grungy rendition of “Mama’s Boy.” Fike’s dynamic setlist also highlighted tracks from his debut studio album What Could Possibly Go Wrong including a sonically shattering arrangement of “Why” based on his Coachella set, and a poignant encore of “Wurli.” Vast in sound, yet personal in delivery the tour encapsulated all sides of Dominic Fike. – Sofia Sar

Not to add yet another piece to the countless “Hardcore is having a moment” thinkpieces that crowded music journalism in the past year, but seeing Drain perform at the Brooklyn Monarch is a reminder that heavy music never really dies. Touring in support of their excellent new album Living Proof, the band (fronted by former Gulch drummer Sammy Ciaramitaro) brought a murderer’s row of some of the most exciting bands making music right now: Drug Church, Magnitude, Gel, and Combust.

Throughout the evening, there was not a moment of calm. Whether it was Magnitude’s sing-alongs or Drug Church’s wordy anthems, the crowd was ready to move. When Drain came on, it was a reminder that even though hardcore is often a genre that takes itself too seriously, people were ready to have fun. While screaming along to tracks like “FTS (KYS)” or covers of Descendents classics, people donned shark outfits and threw pool noodles around, bringing the metaphor of a moshpit as an ocean to a new type of life. During the band’s final song, the stage was crowded, and people were finding the highest points in the venue to stage dive from. Even though trendy 20-somethings may eventually stop driving the prices of Turnstile tickets up, there will still be kids finding a reprieve where they can get wild in the hardcore community. – James Crowley

I cannot remember when, but a while back one of my good friends introduced me to the wonderful world of Eloise (no not the one at the plaza, I’m talking about the musical savant that is Eloise) and I have been forever hooked and thankful since. To gush for a moment, her take on intertwining that classic call of jazz with the flow of R&B and the undeniable pull of pop is simply incredible. After listening to Eloise’s absolutely irresistible catalogue and having the absolute privilege of interviewing her during her press run for her album, ‘Drunk on a Flight,’ I just knew I had to catch her live. And I did.

At the Marquis Theater in Denver, Eloise played one of the grooviest shows I have ever attended, and I will be quick to attend another show from her as soon as I get the chance. If you think her recorded vocals sound good, her live vocals are that much better and more impressive. She just seemingly effortlessly floats and beams in a way that is so utterly captivating and breathtaking. – Brianna Corrine

When the sun started to set over beautiful Los Angeles on Wednesday, November 1, people began to pile into the iconic venue perched in the Hollywood Hills. Gathering in leather jackets, boots and t-shirts featuring the band they had all come to see, they talked and smiled over drinks by merch booths and cocktail tables. Guns N’ Roses were finally playing the Hollywood Bowl! Around 6pm, smoke began to seep out of the dome-shaped stage, colorful hues of lights turned on and the distorted guitar riffs of The Black Keys filled the speakers and poured onto the thousands of fans running to their seats. The Black Keys took the stage with a bang! Playing all their hits such as “Gold on the Ceiling,” “Howlin’ for You” and “Little Black Submarines,” they did not disappoint. As they sang the words, “I got a love that keeps me waitin,’” from “Lonely Boy” the stage went dark again.

But not long after, the screams of Axl Rose broke the silence. From rock ‘n’ roll wails to Slash’s unparalleled guitar solos, the 1985 rock band put on an unforgettable three-hour show. It was only a matter of time before the tune of “November Rain” washed over the crowd. And as Axl made his way to center stage and sat at the piano, a loud roar surfaced from the crowd. There is nothing like hearing that song live and belting the lyrics on the top of your lungs on the first day of November with roughly 17,000 people. Guns N’ Roses performed about 30 songs including “Welcome To The Jungle,” “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “Live And Let Die,” but closed out night one of their two-night stand with “Paradise City.” It was the epitome of rock and an absolute night to remember! – Lauren Turner

Hearing Hozier and his mega band (made of 8 people!) live was… Overwhelming, to say the least. One of the best concerts of my life, perhaps the only one where every single song sounded so much better live than in the studio version. I remember coming home with my head spinning, my hands trembling and my heart racing, in disbelief that I had witnessed such a show. I could not stop worshipping this man and his performance, and at the same time I felt adored by his music – does that even make sense? I know it doesn’t feel like it, but it’s something you can tell just by seeing him live. His voice (absurdly powerful!) sweeps you up and never leaves you, holding your attention firmly in its grasp from start to finish.

As if I didn’t then feel privileged enough, there’s also the fact that Hozier wanted to premiere the two parts of “De Selby,” a month before the release of Unreal Unearth. Nothing and no one could describe the chills felt by the audience at that moment. If we then add to all this an evocative location such as the Anfiteatro del Vittoriale, a majestic amphitheater, such a result is not surprising at all, but still. Hearing Hozier live seriously made me see the world with new eyes, with a renewed curiosity, amazement and immense love for even the smallest things. Seeing him is seriously good for the soul. – Dimitra Gurduiala

Something has to be said about the Dublin music scene; amongst its diversity and immense history, Inhaler have risen. This group of young lads have something uniquely magical that I believe sets them in direct conversation with the likes of established bands like Arctic Monkeys and The Strokes. Their chemistry with one another is undeniable and on stage is where they really come to life. Now, don’t get me wrong, their albums are stunning and some of my most listened to, but their live shows are where they shine the brightest.

I had the honor of seeing the boys’ show at the Summit in Denver in March during their Cuts & Bruises tour, and it was phenomenal. Easily one of the best shows I’ve ever had the privilege of attending. Not only was the crowd electric and attentive to every motion made by the band, but the boys know how to put on a show. Between their charisma and the tightness of their set, Inhaler are establishing their legacy, and I for one am counting down the days til I can catch another show from them. – Brianna Corrine

Armed with a full band, a full gown, and her gong, Michelle Zauner went out with a bang at Radio City. Technically this was Japanese Breakfast’s last performance on the Jubilee Tour, as Zauner explained she would be getting blackout drunk for the Philadelphia hometown show and probably wouldn’t remember it.

The most breathtaking moment was when this group covered Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy in New York.” The background spelled “NYC” in twinkling light bulbs, while Zauner strummed away at her guitar. Everyone’s already said it, but it’s worth repeating: this tour and album are pure Jubilee. – Julia Dzurillay

Dodger Stadium is home to the Los Angeles Dodgers, but on the night of September 9, the stadium became home to the Jonas Brothers and 56,000 fans. The trio performed all five albums in one night on their world tour, “The Tour.” From 2006 to 2023 and even to the year 3000, the Jonas Brothers took their fans down memory lane.

Walking into the stadium, fans were given lit up wristbands. They filled in the floor and colorful seats scattered around the stadium, as they made new friends and passed around friendship bracelets. Before the concert even started, the energy was high. So when smoke began to creep over the stage, a countdown popped up on the jumbo screen and the Jonas Brothers rose up from center stage, curdling screams of hysteria echoed through the entire place. And boy did they know how to put on a show! Nick sang his iconic words “red dress” during “Burnin’ Up,” while Big Rob surprised the crowd, fireworks blasted through the sky during “Lovebug,” and on top of five albums, Joe and Nick even sang songs from their other career avenues such as “Jealous” and “Cake By The Ocean.” It was a night full of dancing, singing and reminiscing on all the boyband had accomplished, while still embracing the current times and looking forward to the future. – Lauren Turner

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are primarily a studio band, but their live performances are following in the steps of legendary acts such as Phish and The Grateful Dead, whose taping and bootlegging community are the beating heart of their fanbase. The band encourage independent labels to press favoured live performances to vinyl for fair-use distribution, so you know they take their concerts seriously. Their show this March in London was a faultless performance, spanning well in excess of two hours that heralded the end of their European spring tour. The crowd was delightfully varied – Music nerds clutching their newly-purchased vinyl, crusty old hippies who’d been doing this since before it was cool, super-cute girls in leather jackets, and tie-dye and beards everywhere you’d care to look. The weirdo swarm all came together that evening to see something beautiful.

The setlist varied greatly from the previous night’s outing at the prestigious Alexandra Palace, with a cross-career selection of songs. There were psychedelic rock singles, heavy metal thrashfests and ambient jams. After a decade of constant touring, King Gizz are so in-tune with one another on stage they make improv sections sound like years-old favourites. To witness a group of musicians at such a special stage in their career is a privilege, and the capacity crowd in the charming south London theatre soaked up every last ounce of the positive vibe coming from the stage that night. – Adam Davidson

I like to think I’m a prophet of sorts, so when I heard Laufey’s debut EP, Typical of Me, for the first time in 2020, I knew it wouldn’t be long before she became music’s next ‘it girl.’ 2023, as many are probably aware, proved me right in all the best ways and more.

I really only became conscious of the ‘bad’ when time for concert ticketing came around, where I realized I’d have to battle thousands of other people for tickets to the Santa Ana show on November 17th. By the grace of some higher power, I secured three tickets to the show at face value, and it wasn’t long after until they sold out. I had never seen a performer so dynamic until I saw her perform that night, alternating between playing cello, piano, and guitar through a roughly one-hour set. Time felt frozen, yet was moving so fast at the same time, as she effortlessly commanded the attention of everyone in the audience through not only her talent and artistry, but her wit, charm, and elegance. Through that (albeit short) hour, Laufey had proven me right in all the best ways, yet again, for loving her “From the Start.” – Isabella Le

This was my third Lollapalooza outing, so I knew I was in for something special. But this time was even better than my previous two, since (a) I got to go to three days of the festival for the first time ever, and (b) I got my parents to come along with me! Plus, the range of music was as fantastic as ever. All three of the main headliners I got to see— all from Los Angeles, incidentally— Billie Eilish, Kendrick Lamar, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, simply dominated their sets, and the same could be said for the other performers I saw throughout those three days. From well-established acts like Shaquille O’Neal (aka DJ Diesel!) and Portugal. The Man, to up-and-comers like Holly Humberstone and Josh Fudge, everyone I encountered at Lollapalooza throughout those three days made it a festival worthy of remembrance. And my parents— older than practically everyone there by four decades or more— had just as much fun as I did! That part was key. – Josh Weiner

This three-piece pop group has taken 2023 by storm. From gracing the Coachella stage, opening for Taylor Swift and having their own headlining tour, performing was a huge part of their year. MUNA has a captivating stage presence that grasps you while you dance along to their disco pop anthems. I have had the pleasure of attending MUNA shows for six years and the growth and love they put into their work shines every time. One of MUNA’s first shows was at SXSW in 2016, where I attended and there was about 20 people in the crowd. This year the band filled up Stubb’s Amphitheater in the same city. The crowd sang along to their new hits as well as songs from their first album “About U.” MUNA is a must-see live act for anyone who’s looking for fun, good music and to feel the warmth of three best friends living the dream. – Freya Rinaldi

In what could easily have devolved into a a boozy Barclays Boomerfest of half-remembered lyrics and past-their-heyday performances, the revue at the 2023 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction was a masterclass in live pop magic and a testament to the songwriting prowess of its inductees. Firing on all cylinders, the all-star class included the likes of Sheryl Crow, Chaka Khan, Missy Elliot and Willie Nelson, plus some world-class guests. Jimmy Page emerged unannounced to shred on Link Wray’s “Rumble”, Elton John teamed with Brittany Howard and Chris Stapleton for a tribute performance of “the Weight” and Chaka Khan and Missy Elliot stole the evening with exemplary mini-sets that emphasized the hall’s reappraisal of black women in popular music. Bernie Taupin caustically quipped that he was honored to be inducted amongst “perfectly articulate” women and performers of color, invoking the comments which got former board member and Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner ousted from his post. Marred solely by some head-scratching tribute performances- Adam Levine’s bland version of “Faith” to induct George Michael- rousing calls to action from Tom Morello and, of all people, Dave Matthews cemented this night in the annals of rock history. – Aidan Moyer

It almost goes without saying that the Eras tour was the best show of 2023. Nothing has quite hit the pop-culture zeitgeist like the Eras tour during the summer of 2023. Every update, mistake, surprise song, note change, outfit change, etc (you name it) that occurred during this show over the summer was documented, magnified and celebrated. I think it’s a moment of time that will be pocketed forever.

I was lucky enough to attend in Pittsburgh with “The Story of Us” and “Seven” complete with Aaron Dessner as my surprise songs and it was everything you would hope for it to be and more. Singing every lyric of “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version)” with 70,000 humans is a euphoric experience I wish everyone could have at least once. All the hype that surrounded this show honestly almost didn’t even do it justice. It was a once in a lifetime experience and I feel so lucky to have had it. – Kelly McCafferty

No one does visuals like The 1975. The meticulously curated color schemes, the references to old music videos, the “box” symbol easter-egged into the scenery. For those scrolling through X or Reddit, it’s understandably hard to gauge where the theatrical caricature of Matty Healy ends and where the sincere, real Matty Healy begins. (This tour featured a brand deal with BetterHelp and a naked wax figure of the frontman himself.)

After seeing the Still… At Their Very Best tour in San Francisco, Newark, New York City twice, and Philadelphia, I can confidently say Madison Square Garden Night 2 was magical. During “I’m In Love With You,” Healy noticed a crying fan by themselves in the front row. Healy started crying, explaining to the crowd he related to that unconditional love of music. And after so many controversies and cancellations, 1975 fans truly understand this band to their core. That’s what makes every surprise song, every surprise guest, every moment spent with The 1975 so special. – Julia Dzurillay

There are bands seemingly geared to reach certain heights — bands that break the mold, smash through the ceiling and write their own destiny. These bands, whether on the back of a hit song or a breakthrough album or a moment in time (or all three), practically have a banner hanging in the rafters of a place like Madison Square Garden. You could say that about The Strokes or Arctic Monkeys or even LCD Soundsystem across the past two decades, but for a band like The National, the road to glory has been more arduous. Through 20 years of methodical albums and relentless touring, The National cultivated a following that hung on lead singer Matt Berninger’s every word with rapture. Itwas poetry in motion and onstage, with moments of clarity and catharsis always within reach at a show by the acclaimed indie band. But never before had they graced the stage of “The World’s Most Famous Arena” — it was a night for the ages, to say the least. The most striking part? In spite of near-deafening buzz that some of the band’s most famous collaborators might take the stage at MSG, the well-dressed group took the show home themselves from start to finish. It was endlessly satisfying, extremely emotional and suitably memorable — a fitting achievement for a band that’s never been more deserving. – Beau Hayhoe

It used to be the case that sightings of The Strokes onstage were rare – or at least, becoming more and more rare, outside of major festival gigs. That meant fans had to seize the opportunity and take the good with the bad – the band might be late, the sound might be off, the setlist might be short. But on those rare times it all came together, the impact was nothing short of magical. The great news — yes, improbably, incredibly great — seems to be that since the release of 2020’s acclaimed The New Abnormal, the generational NYC band has defied those conventions more and more.

That is to say, you’ve got more than four chances a year to catch the game-changing band, and a balmy August night in New York was one of ’em. It wasn’t just any old Strokes show — sure, the band were late and yes, some lyrics by irascible, iconic singer Julian Casablancas were flubbed — but when they’re “on,” they’re very, very ON. When it all comes together, The Strokes remain one of the best bands on the planet — just witness the sweet nostalgia of “Someday” or the raucous outro of “Last Nite” — and rejoice in the knowledge that it won’t be your last time to see them live. – Beau Hayhoe

To be quite honest, there were many points in the day where it didn’t seem like the show was going to happen. The Wonder Years were set to kick off the 10th anniversary tour for their most well-known record with their biggest hometown headlining show in Philadelphia, but a rainy forecast forced every other band to play inside. As anticipation and anxiety grew while each band played inside of Franklin Music Hall (formerly The Electric Factory), it eventually gave way when The Wonder Years took the mainstage outside for a perfectly clear late summer night (with just enough of a fall chill). It was those types of days and nights that so many people fell in love with The Greatest Generation.

In a year where so many bands (The Hotelier, Foxing, Deafheaven, TWIABP, The Front Bottoms, Citizen) toured for 10th anniversaries of bands that felt so vital in late teens and early 20s, The Greatest Generation remains one of the best. It a strives for excellence in its messaging that some other bands wouldn’t have been courageous enough to pursue. The record’s message feels just as timely 10 years after the fact, and the fact that The Wonder Years are continuing to try to push the scene forward by bringing new and exciting bands on tour with them remains a testament to their enduring commitment to the scene. – James Crowley

After taking a four-year hiatus from the live stage, I really didn’t know what to expect with New Zealand bred psychedelic phenom Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Led by frontman Ruban Nielson, the group immediately captivated a sold out 9:30 Club audience the moment they took the stage. It was one of those moments where there was a collective agreement amongst the crowd that a show was about to take place would potentially transcend understood capabilities and restrictions of live music. A certain treat – Nielson’s father Chris on saxophone – provided a second layer to the already synth-heavy style of the band’s work. There was a harmonic fusion of saxophone and synth that left me having to guess which instrument I was hearing – only to realize it was an intertwinement of both.

An excellent lighting display furthered the “psychedelic experience” the band shoots for, but I was seldom able to take my eyes off of Nielson’s guitar neck, as his fingers ran up and down the fretboard while he simultaneously belted lyrics (which, if unfamiliar with the musician side of things, playing lead guitar and singing vocals is very impressive). The band, composed of Nielson’s father on saxophone, his brother Kody on drums, Jacob Portrait on bass and Christian Li on keys, achieved a level of effortless chemistry on stage, entering epic all-hands-on-deck jam sessions that only added to the intensely kaleidoscopic experience, leaving the crowd stunned. I left sharing the sentiment of that show being quite possibly one of the best I’ve seen – and jumped through endless hoops to acquire a ticket to the very next show. – Miles Campbell

Vance Joy embarked on his “In Our Own Sweet Time” tour this year, making his stop in the city of angels on March 11 at the YouTube Theater. The Australian singer-songwriter walked onto stage with the biggest smile on his face and immediately had the crowd’s attention. His blissful vocals filled the venue as he strummed his guitar and played songs off all three of his albums. Whether he was playing one of his upbeat tracks like “Riptide” or one of his more romantic and slower songs such as “I’m With You,” his voice and the vibe he brought to the room was breathtakingly beautiful.

Something that really stuck out at his concert was the way he interacted with the crowd. He was so intentional on connecting with his fans and making it a great night for everyone. Regardless of if he was sharing a personal experience, a story connected to his music or getting everyone to clap during a specific part of a song, he made the show so special for everyone there. Along with his classics such as “Mess Is Mine” or “Missing Piece,” Vance Joy also sang a cover of “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” by Abba. And it got the whole room moving! Vance Joy brings warmth and happiness to his music and to his shows. The people and fans that attend are some of the nicest individuals you’ll interact with. It was a beautiful night that radiated with euphoria. – Lauren Turner

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