tourfilter recommendations?
April 15, 2007 3:04 PM   Subscribe

Which bands/artists put on the best live shows?

Having seen a string of excellent concerts in the last year or so, I'd really like to go see some more. The shows that really do it for me are the ones where the performers have a great deal of energy, where they really seem to be enjoying themselves onstage, and where the crowd really gets into the show. Good stage banter is a plus, as is a general sense of showmanship, but not to the point where it seems gimmicky or forced. Bands that I would include in this class are Guided by Voices (sadly, no more), the Tragically Hip, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, the Violent Femmes, and Flogging Molly. The kind of bands where after you see their show, you and anyone else who was there feel like you shared an experience. Bands that you would see again and again each time they come through town. The kind of bands that naturally develop an intensely loyal fan base that comes out to see them each time too.

I'd appreciate hearing about fairly well known bands that totally rock out, but the budget is somewhat limited, so bonus points for somewhat obscure bands that do all this for under $20. They should be big enough to come through LA though. Mainly interested in straight-up rock, but not rigidly so.
posted by SBMike to Media & Arts (102 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
The Robert Randolph Family Band.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:16 PM on April 15, 2007

The World/Inferno Friendship Society, without a doubt.

I don't know if they tour outside the NYC area, though.
posted by nasreddin at 3:21 PM on April 15, 2007


Harry and the Potters
posted by cadge at 3:21 PM on April 15, 2007

I'd say The Flaming Lips would be worth checking out.
posted by Doug at 3:21 PM on April 15, 2007

Though they are not as well-known as the bands you've listed, I'm opting for the "bonus points" of a somewhat obscure band: BoyJazz (myspace link. band site can be found here). I cannot say enough good things about them. They are freaking AWESOME.

[disclaimer: though I know them, BoyJazz nonetheless certainly meet your criteria: they put on a great show, are really energetic (the bassist uses a wireless connection to his amp, and will often jump up on the bar, or dance in the crowd while playing!), and seriously ROCK! Each show is memorable, and I go out of my way to catch every show they play in the LA area. Tickets for their shows rarely exceed $10.]
posted by numinous at 3:21 PM on April 15, 2007

Best lower-priced show I have seen in forever: Alice Cooper. No lie. Blew me away. I think the tickets here in Montana were about $25 last summer. I'm sure he will be in your neck of the woods at some point, but he travels non-stop, and will be in Europe for a while. Even though I was a fan back in the day, the show was better than my expectations. And my teen daughter went with me. She was not familar with much of his music, but she was blown away as well. TONS of fun, great energy, and great musicianship.
posted by The Deej at 3:23 PM on April 15, 2007

The Bellrays
Man Man
Explosions in the Sky
Danko Jones
Arcade Fire
My Morning Jacket
2nd the Flaming Lips

all immediately come to mind. I go see all of them every time they play my town.
posted by dobbs at 3:23 PM on April 15, 2007

I saw Wilco about 10 years ago and they were just awesome. I would imagine anything with Jeff Tweedy's name on it is good.
posted by 4ster at 3:26 PM on April 15, 2007

Flaming Lips, Mogwai (outdoors, indoor experiences had made my ears feel like they are bleeding), Broken Social Scene, Richard Hawley, Super Furry Animals, Lambchop
posted by twistedonion at 3:27 PM on April 15, 2007

Oh, for no banter but an absolutely amazing live performance go see Spiritualized
posted by twistedonion at 3:28 PM on April 15, 2007

You wouldn't necessarily guess it from his albums, but Beck is amazing live. I've seen him twice and paid dearly both times, but it was absolutely worth it both times. A girl from my school went to the same one as I did the first time, and we met eyes the following day and were both pretty much at a loss for words. I think that was an exceptionally good show (acoustic tour), but think on this: that was at a venue with seats. We felt that way and we hadn't even gotten to dance. Really, I didn't even like Beck that much before I saw him live and I think I've bought every album he's released since.

Also, pretty much everyone I know has seen and enjoyed Jason Webley. I think that fool must have played every college in the lower 48. Definitely knows how to work a crowd.
posted by crinklebat at 3:31 PM on April 15, 2007


Wha? One of my favorite bands but Kurt hardly has "energy". I've seen them 5 times and he sits in a chair the whole time.

I'll second Mogwai but I've only seen them play indoors as I hate outdoor gigs.
posted by dobbs at 3:32 PM on April 15, 2007

Adult. (imagine Kraftwerk as a punk band gone evil)

Fischerspooner (the show is lip-synced but they acknowledge
it and just put on an AMAZING dancing-light-etc. show)

A Silver Mt. Zion (incredibly moving)

Gogol Bordello (they play forever with more energy than you'd think was possible and everyone is dancing like crazy)

Devendra Banhart (he gets a pretty big group of people to play with him and it's just terrific)

You know, I saw the Violent Femmes play live and I was not impressed at all

Also: If Country Joe and the Fish (y'know, from Woodstock) ever come around, definitely see them
posted by griphus at 3:33 PM on April 15, 2007

Oh god, also Estradasphere. Saw them in high school and it was like being at the circus. One guy played, if I recall correctly, a trumpet and a cornet at the same time - like, with the same mouth. They're a bit weirder than standard rock, but so much fun.
posted by crinklebat at 3:36 PM on April 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

the faint is the best I've ever seen (and I've seen a lot -- in the thousands). they're touring now, too.
posted by c:\awesome at 3:38 PM on April 15, 2007

I saw The Cat Empire in Montreal and they were outstanding. They sold an amazing# of CDs to people who'd never even heard of them (myself included).

Gil Mantera's Party Dream is a complete trip to see in concert. Gimmicky, perhaps, but hysterical.
posted by smackfu at 3:43 PM on April 15, 2007

Neko Case and / or The Sadies, either together or separate, put on terrific shows. Neko not only puts on a great show but she's funny and her banter is very engaging. And The Sadies are the hardest working boys in Canadian old-time-alt-country; they play for hours and you can tell they absolutely love it.
posted by boomchicka at 3:44 PM on April 15, 2007

Seconding Gogol Bordello and Robert Randolph. Blues Traveler has great energy live, too.
posted by thejoshu at 3:46 PM on April 15, 2007

DeVotchka. My Brightest Diamond. Of Montreal.
posted by rbs at 3:47 PM on April 15, 2007

i saw the thermals a few months ago and it was an amazing live show
posted by phil at 3:48 PM on April 15, 2007

Slint's recent tour was the best show I've ever been to, and I've been to many shows over the years. Second place goes to Fugazi (with Faraquet opening!); third goes to Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder.
posted by saladin at 3:50 PM on April 15, 2007

you seek explosions in the sky.
posted by nathancaswell at 3:52 PM on April 15, 2007

Balkan Beat Box. It's this Jewish big band techno rap... thing. I would call it "fusion" but I feel like that might be an insult. Their CDs are unbelievably subdued compared to their live performances, where everything gets turned up to eleven and everyone's jumping and dancing and having a crazy good time.
posted by brett at 3:53 PM on April 15, 2007

Detroit Cobras
posted by dobbs at 3:54 PM on April 15, 2007

Not exactly rock, but Rabbit In The Moon puts on one hell of a show. They come to LA all the time.
posted by neilkod at 3:57 PM on April 15, 2007

Yo la Tengo
posted by J-Garr at 4:05 PM on April 15, 2007

Wha? One of my favorite bands but Kurt hardly has "energy". I've seen them 5 times and he sits in a chair the whole time.

heh, yeah I was getting carried away thinking about the best live performances I've seen and forgot about the energetic bit!
posted by twistedonion at 4:07 PM on April 15, 2007

Bare Naked Ladies!
posted by hannahq at 4:12 PM on April 15, 2007

not rock, but every Ben Lee concert i've ever been to has been an overwhelming and awesome experience. i've actually come to recognize a group of people who attend Ben Lee shows in and around southern Ontario, because his shows are addictive.

also, Bloc Party.
posted by gursky at 4:12 PM on April 15, 2007

Flaming Lips put on a fantastic show, but they're not a cheap small venue band. You do get your money's worth, though. For them I'd put out the extra cash and try to get up close.

Art Brut are still playing small venues and have a great audience interaction vibe.

The Kaiser Chiefs put on one of the best live acts I've seen to date.

The Polyphonic Spree have enormous energy and an uplifting stage presence, but you might find them too upbeat-- a whole show by them is like having candy for dinner.
posted by justkevin at 4:18 PM on April 15, 2007

Second the Kaiser Chiefs, amazing show. Probably the best touring live band I've seen. The Subways have some crazy energy going, I had a great time at Maximo Park as well.
posted by mikw at 4:23 PM on April 15, 2007

Supagroup is like AC/DC, but pocket-sized. Cute headbanging fun. Their shows are not to be missed.
posted by Haruspex at 4:23 PM on April 15, 2007

El Vez
posted by kirkaracha at 4:25 PM on April 15, 2007

Belle and Sebastian put on a surprisingly (to me) engaging live show.
posted by nixxon at 4:37 PM on April 15, 2007

Apollo Sunshine. You'll never forget it.
posted by punishinglemur at 4:43 PM on April 15, 2007

Alejandro Escovedo, Feist, Joel Plaskett.
posted by smorange at 4:43 PM on April 15, 2007

OK Go puts on a great rock show, and then follows it up with a hilarious encore. After their shows, I've seen them do a mock boy-band dance to their song "Cinnamon Lips", the infamous dance to "A Million Ways", and a scene from Les Miserables.
posted by donajo at 4:51 PM on April 15, 2007

I will second the Joel Plaskett Emergency (Plaskett's solo stuff is good but I wouldn't necessarily consider those shows energetic). I went to see him all through college and the man is a minor legend—really easy going, lots of rollicking sing-a-long rock songs, just plenty of fun.
posted by chrominance at 5:04 PM on April 15, 2007

I second Gogol Bordello, and add in Ozomatli. Fun vibe. Tons of dancing. And I still love how they leave the stage still playing like a live conga line.

Le Tigre (RIP). Synchronized dancing rules.

And Nine Inch Nails. The production is enormous and almost too polished now, but it's impossible to sit down during one of their shows.
posted by faunafrailty at 5:05 PM on April 15, 2007

The Twilight Singers. Greg Dulli (of Afghan Whigs fame) heads up this band and he is just sex and rock and roll in human form. Amazing stage presence and overall amazing show.
posted by awegz at 5:13 PM on April 15, 2007

posted by betty botter at 5:22 PM on April 15, 2007

Butch Walker.
posted by philad at 5:25 PM on April 15, 2007

Seconding Robert Randolph. Can't believe this is only a second. The guy is frickin' amazing live.

Red Hot Chili Peppers, although the "arena rock" thing they've turned into kinda sucks.

Allman Brothers

The Roots (even if you think you don't like Hip Hop, give them a shot...GREAT live)
posted by jckll at 5:27 PM on April 15, 2007

Another vote for Mogwai, I've seen them loads of times and they do not disappoint.
posted by fire&wings at 5:38 PM on April 15, 2007

Taku Sugimoto

Radu Malfatti


Otomo Yoshihide (turntable solo is more visually interesting than his solo guitar stuff)

posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:46 PM on April 15, 2007

Seconding World/Inferno. They get out to the west coast about once a year.
posted by milquetoast at 6:09 PM on April 15, 2007

a few come to mind here:

Umphrey's McGee
Tea Leaf Green
I have to second the vote for The Flaming Lips

Too bad my beloved Phish still isn't around... that's the best live show ever.
posted by jimmyhutch at 6:10 PM on April 15, 2007

and I almost forgot, THE DISCO BISCUITS!
posted by jimmyhutch at 6:10 PM on April 15, 2007

1. I don't know what kind of music you like, but the Roots are known for putting on amazing shows with all kinds of surprise guests. Pretty amazing stuff.

2. Definitely Yo La Tengo. That shit was amazing.

3. The Donnas! I saw them when Get Skintight was out (I guess that was 1999 or so?) and it was one of the most energetic, fun, outrageous shows I've been to.

4. I saw Weird Al in 8th grade (15 years ago) and he was amazing.

5. On the other hand, I saw Smashing Pumpkins in high school and stupid, cranky, narcissistic Billy Corgan berated the audience for requesting "Landslide." Like it was our fault that one of his best songs is a cover. Pshaw.
posted by sneakin at 6:23 PM on April 15, 2007

John Spencer Blues Explosion is a great live band.

Belle and Sebastian are very good, but only if they aren't playing in Japan. Ditto Radiohead.

But I doubt any of them will be putting on a sub $20 show.

Interpol will be touring soon. They might fit under $20.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 6:24 PM on April 15, 2007

Television is amazing. Unfortunately they don't get around much, though.

For fun audience-baiting antics, try Oxes.
posted by equalpants at 6:28 PM on April 15, 2007

Andrew Bird. Every show is unique... you never know what he'll come up with.

Seconding Gil Mantera for the experience.
posted by tmcw at 6:32 PM on April 15, 2007

Mardo - Saw them open for King's X and they made King's X look like a bunch of pussies. As much as I love me some King's X, live, they bore the shit out of me.

Buddy Guy - If you get a chance, see him. His stage show is a religious experience. He genuinely enjoys what he does and it shows.

It's funny that Spiritualized was mentioned once. I had free tickets and lasted 20 minutes at their show before I succumbed to utter boredom. It really is a subjective thing I guess. One man's transcending experience is another man's psychic barbiturate.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:35 PM on April 15, 2007

Ben Folds
Michael Franti and Spearhead
Flaming Lips (which I realize I'm umpteenthing)
Nine Inch Nails

I may post later when I can think of more ...
posted by twiggy at 6:43 PM on April 15, 2007

I've been fortunate to have seen lots of amazing live music performances from small, medium, and large bands over the past 25 years (holy fuck I suddenly feel old).

A couple of weeks ago I saw LCD Soundsystem perform in NYC and they were fucking fantastic. They're on tour now and I HIGHLY recommend you check them out.

You might see them classified as "punk" and then you might note that they have the #1 album on Billboard's Electronica charts right now. It was a rare concert where the energy emanating from the stage was raw and fantastic and everyone--even the most hardened hipster--was dancing.
posted by donovan at 6:47 PM on April 15, 2007

Basement Jaxx put on a suprisingly great live show, they filled the entire stage with funky madness.

...a more 'traditional' band though they could never really be called that, who put on a fucking insane show were Wevie Stonder. Towards the end of the set the main guy put on an enormous penis hat, which at the climax of the song he pumped a handle on it to make it spray water into the crowd. When you catch something like that at 11 in the morning at glastonbury, you know you've witnessed something special.
posted by 6am at 6:49 PM on April 15, 2007

If anyone reading the thread is interested, check out the Mountain Jamfest up at Hunter Mountain in NY, first week in June. A lot of the bands mentioned here are playing.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:50 PM on April 15, 2007

The Hold Steady
The Weakerthans (I always walk out of a Weakerthans show a bit giddy)
Total seconds on the Constantines (whose recorded music I don't even like that much, but are great live) and The Sadies.
posted by SoftRain at 6:51 PM on April 15, 2007

If you can handle the nerd-factor, Aquabats are pretty fun.
posted by Zaire4Ever32 at 7:04 PM on April 15, 2007

I've really enjoyed Sloan live, and they're on tour in the States now. Great Big Sea, although perhaps a little peppy on their studio albums, also does a great live show.
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:05 PM on April 15, 2007

My taste may lean a little too much toward hippy rock for you, but I've seen a ton of shows--these are my favorites:

Comets on Fire (all out rock and roll assault and under $20)
Pearl Jam (unless you hate Ed's voice, then don't bother)
My morning jacket
Neil Young & Crazy horse
Green Day (big on the pyrotechnics, but oh so fun)
The Damned (capt. sensible = my fave underrated guitarist)
Pink Mountaintops/Black Mountain
Widespread Panic
Secret Machines (I think maybe they broke up?)
Built to spill
Meat Puppets

I must be the only person who has ever seen a bad Flaming lips show, but I'm willing to give them another chance.
posted by culberjo at 7:09 PM on April 15, 2007

Firewater, Firewater, Firewater. AMAZING, energetic, noisy live sets.

Brenga Astur -- saw them at a Celtic festival in MD, they weren't as well known as some of the older Scottish and Irish acts but by the time their set was done, they had the crowd eating out of their hands.

Dick Dale. He is THE MAN, oh yes indeed -- there are twenty-year-old rockers out there who only WISH they could put on a show with half the intensity he has. Not to be missed.

James McMurtry, with the caveat of making sure it's an electric set with his band; when he's playing solo acoustic the vibe is very very different and probably not what you're looking for.

Alas, most of the other bands who are on my short set of "best live shows I've ever seen" are either broken up (Midnight Oil, Rise Robots Rise") or "on indefinite hiatus" (Sleater-Kinney).
posted by Smilla's Sense of Snark at 7:16 PM on April 15, 2007

Not technically rock, but Caribou put(s) on a wicked live show. Best show I've seen since the Polyphonic Spree.

Also Mudhoney still kick out the jams, even in their (probably) 40's.
posted by doublesix at 7:17 PM on April 15, 2007

Battles: Live sampling, 2 guys playing the keys & guitars at the same time (each), and a rock solid, machine like drummer....amazing!
posted by Jon Mitchell at 7:18 PM on April 15, 2007

A lot of the above are awesome. The only band I'd add is They Might Be Giants.

I haven't really gotten into their last couple albums, but their shows are always fun.
posted by chimaera at 7:22 PM on April 15, 2007

Gomez. Tom always looks so damn happy that people are there to see them play, like he's just really thankful for how life has turned out. You can't help loving the guy. The rest of the band are all fun-loving guys too, and you really get the sense that they like each other and the music. And the crowd is typically dancing and singing along and loving every minute. It's energetic, it's happy, it's mind-blowingly fun. Go see them before Grey's Anatomy turns them into another overplayed, stadium-filling band like the Fray. Quick!
posted by vytae at 7:47 PM on April 15, 2007

I've only seen video, and heard some great live recordings, but I'm keeping an eye on the Old 97s tour dates in the hopes they come to Seattle this year.
posted by Good Brain at 7:52 PM on April 15, 2007

The list is good. One comment: Radiohead was heads and shoulders above any other band that I've seen live.
posted by stratastar at 7:58 PM on April 15, 2007

If you like music (of any kind) and have never seen the Roots, you have no idea how thrilling a live show can be.
posted by arco at 8:02 PM on April 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

They're Australia-only, and probably no longer touring, but TISM (This Is Serious Mum) puts on some absolutely spectacular live shows. You can snag a copy of The White Albun [sic] on eBay nowadays for under $20 shipped to the US, and it includes a DVD of a concert they did for the release.

They always perform anonymously and have new costumes regularly, which is why they look the way they do, by the way.
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:11 PM on April 15, 2007

nthing Yo La Tengo
Sonic Youth (not so much the banter, but holy crap they're amazing)

The Mekons
The Eternals
posted by hydrophonic at 8:15 PM on April 15, 2007

The Posies, plus previously mentioned the Faint and the Kaiser Chiefs- all very good shows.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:17 PM on April 15, 2007

Southern Culture on the Skids.
posted by washburn at 8:24 PM on April 15, 2007

I saw Holy Fuck opening for Wolf Parade and they blew WP out of the water. They're a band of skinny sweaty Canadian hipsters who play electronic music on analog instruments. No lyrics, but otherwise a good show like Ted Leo is a good show.
posted by jessamyn at 8:29 PM on April 15, 2007

I thought of another one.

I have seen both the Harlem Boys Choir and the Harlem Girls Choir. I know, I know, it's not rock and roll, but each was one one of the best performances I have ever seen in any genre.
posted by 4ster at 8:36 PM on April 15, 2007

Asylum Street Spankers

Fantastic live band.
posted by D_I at 8:38 PM on April 15, 2007

Alan Sparhawk, the lead singer and guitarist is a very charismatic and compelling performer.

Pink Mountaintops
Crazy rocking out, weird, driving, high energy.

Red Sparowes
Best rock and roll show I've seen in years (and an LA based band). Three guitars, a bass, and drums. No words, no banter, but intense energy and showmanship. An experience I won't forget. Great.

All bands would fit your budget (or they do in their NYC gigs).
posted by extrabox at 8:47 PM on April 15, 2007

posted by greasepig at 9:02 PM on April 15, 2007

Allow me to second the amazing Man Man. Five guys in tennis outfits, all playing percussion, all hooting. And there are horns. The record provides no sense, none at all, of the extent to which they rock out. And in Madison they played free!
posted by escabeche at 9:03 PM on April 15, 2007

Rooney, Kaiser Chiefs, Ben Kweller, Kanye West, and nthing Wilco, oh, and TV on the Radio was fantastic was Belle and Sebastian
and Ben Folds
and Corn Mo, the fucking weird band that opened for Folds, played a great show
posted by weaponsgradecarp at 9:24 PM on April 15, 2007

coming late to the party, but seconding the votes for firewater and the cat empire.

sadly, i've not seen firewater live myself, but have heard them raved about by so many people that i'm dying to get the opportunity. they've got a great sound and a great energy.

and the cat empire is a great live show. they've got a very jam-band quality, in that their live performances of songs often deviate pretty wildly from the original recordings, with a lot of on-the-fly improvisation. definitely the most high-energy and exuberant live performances i've seen; one of the few bands that seems to genuinely love touring and performing. they'll be playing LA a few times in the coming months.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 10:36 PM on April 15, 2007

Blind Guardian is at the top of my list. Their performance is so engaging that you can get lost in it, emerging at the end and feeling like the time just flew by. And I've only seen them at small club shows -- I can only imagine (with a little help from the DVD) what they'd be like a festival with 80,000+ people!
posted by DrSkrud at 11:27 PM on April 15, 2007

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Dave Matthews Band.

And I 2nd Barenaked Ladies. So fun.
posted by clh at 11:31 PM on April 15, 2007

Prince and The Roots are significantly better than nearly every act listed here. Prince charges a lot for his tickets, but the Roots do not, and they'll make you want to broaden your interests well past the rock leanings you have now.
posted by anildash at 11:46 PM on April 15, 2007


Andrew Bird.

Did I mention Radiohead?
posted by Windigo at 12:38 AM on April 16, 2007

Dead Moon are astonishing; my friend Meghan says she goes to see them instead of going to church. Damn, checking their website, it appears that after 20 years, they've thrown in the sweat-soaked towel.

And the Go-Betweens are no more, since Grant has died.

I guess that leaves just one not-to-be-missed artist on my list: Steve Wynn & the Miracle 3.
posted by Scram at 1:03 AM on April 16, 2007

I also was a devotee of GBV's live show so we should match up fairly well, live show-wise. Here's a short list of my favorites from the past few years:

Dengue Fever: Chhom Nimol is seriously one of the best singers I've ever heard perform and the band's energy is incredible.
Rockfour: I'm not sure when they'll be in the US again, but it's so worth watching for -- it's like psychedelic Iggy Pop, an amazing combination of top musicianship and charisma.
Neko Case: Backing up boomchicka, I've seen her many times and she always sounds great, but she's also hilarious. No one's ever made me laugh more at a show.
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings: It was summer and the club was a swamp but that's not the only reason I sweated myself dead. Even if you are a stoic head-nodding sort of show attendee you will look down in surprise at your own ass shaking itself off. It's straight-up soul.

I hope Belle and Sebastian make it back to the states. You may expect some glazed twee shoegazer bullshit but those people seriously fucking rock. I've also seen The Donnas a few times and they were fun. I've only seen Arcade Fire once but I was impressed. And yes, go see Flaming Lips and Yo La Tengo, you just must. And I saw every one of these bands for under $20 and in many cases for under $10.
posted by melissa may at 2:27 AM on April 16, 2007

The Arcade Fire is by far the most outstanding live act I've ever seen. Their electrifying energy is contagious and makes you feel truly alive. Whenever they play Wake Up, crowds go wild. They also often play impromptu songs outside after a concert.

Hawksley Workman is not only a brilliant singer-songwriter but he also has the best banter I've ever heard on stage. He sometimes even pauses right in the middle of a song to tell hilarious stories and interact with the crowd.
posted by Kirjava at 2:57 AM on April 16, 2007

George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic -- Incredible
Flaming Lips
Beck (I've seen both the acoustic and non-acoustic sets -- both great)
Polyphonic Spree
Old 97s
posted by jmevius at 7:10 AM on April 16, 2007

Lyle Lovett is great in concert.

Eddie From Ohio does a great show.

I saw Tom Petty play last year. The power for almost all of his lights went out about halfway through the opening song, and the band didn't miss a beat. They didn't get everything working until the show was almost over, and he had a great attitude about it.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:14 AM on April 16, 2007

91 answers and no mention of Dillinger Escape Plan? I am not impressed.

They inspire a lot of intense loyalty from fans. I went to see them the first time around without too much previous knowledge of their music. It was the most amazing concert I had ever been to. Since then, the only band to top them in 'kicking ass live' has been, well, themselves. Smaller venue, fans-only gig a year later. I have seen them three times (gigs in the UK are few and far between) and every time they have been consistently amazing. A DEP concert is not for everyone, but if you want to lose yourself in a live performance and crazy moshpit there ain't nothing better. No matter how crazy the audience goes, the band is guaranteed to do crazier.

I rate every single band I see against DEP. Some come close, but no one has been better.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:10 AM on April 16, 2007

I'll Nth Pink Mountaintops and Mekons but I gotta say I'm baffled at the Radiohead recommendations. Only saw them once but they're one of a handful of bands I've walked out on. I took my then-girlfriend for her birthday (she's a huge fan) and she's the one who suggested leaving. If you go, bring a good book.
posted by dobbs at 9:36 AM on April 16, 2007

Response by poster: Wow, thanks for all the great suggestions. Certainly enough here to keep me busy (and my wallet empty). Some of the bands mentioned I've actually already seen and could have easily been examples themselves, so I have a good feeling about this list. Maybe I'll see some of you at the next show.
posted by SBMike at 9:54 AM on April 16, 2007

Response by poster: And by the way, radiohead has come up a lot. Is there any way I'd dig their show if I am not even remotely a radiohead fan (not since the bends anyway)?
posted by SBMike at 10:13 AM on April 16, 2007

Both are either disbanded, or in hiatus mode, but The Dismemberment Plan and The Catherine Wheel both put on awesome shows. The lead singers of both bands, Travis Morrison and Rob Dickinson respectively, have been doing solo shows. I haven't seen TM yet, but Rob Dickinson is well worth your money.

If you hadn't mentioned The Tragically Hip, I'd have added them to the list above.
posted by backwards guitar at 10:40 AM on April 16, 2007

Anything Mike Patton is involved with.
posted by slenderloris at 11:24 AM on April 16, 2007

I see about 200 gigs a year and dislike spending more that $15 on a show. There are some really crappy suggestions in this thread, but I won't point them out... ok, for one: Wilco? Seen them a few times. Expensive, requires large venue, and not nearly as compelling as their records would suggest. Bobby Bare Jr. does Alt-Country better as in he knows how to rock out on stage. Wilco weakly jams. Arcade Fire and Flaming Lips are to go-to easy answer for awesome shows. They are, but they'll also set you back $40-50.

I used to think the best live band ever was United State of Electronica [and they still might be]. Recently Matt & Kim have demolished my notions of how awesome a live band can be. They play:

May 30 2007 @ The smell Los Angeles, California
Jun 1 2007 @ The echo Los Angeles, California

If I were you, I'd go to both. If you listen to them and can't see why they are so awesome, I don't blame you. But I've never seen a more frenzied crowd go apeshit for something so innocuous.

Speaking of innocuous, LCD Soundsystem are intense. Mucho dancing and revelry. Also see: !!!, Hot Chip, the Rapture, Shout Out Out Out Out

Like to rock? Can't go wrong with Les Savy Fav, Hold Steady, The Thermals, or the Wrens.

Best 'quiet' bands live: Final Fantasy, Doveman, Elvis Perkins.
posted by yeti at 11:42 AM on April 16, 2007

I haven't seen them, but I'm told Bishop Allen puts on a great show.
posted by jmevius at 2:29 PM on April 16, 2007

Many many bands do.

I think KISS is a great live act.

Barenaked Ladies are great live. Marillion also puts on a very good live show.

KISS and BNL are probably outside of the $20 range, tho, and Marillion doesn't have any US dates coming up. I saw them at the Fillmore in SF a couple years ago.
posted by drstein at 3:05 PM on April 16, 2007

Coming late to this thread, I would have to say Dave Alvin gave one of the best gigs I've seen in recent years.
posted by essexjan at 3:52 AM on April 17, 2007

So who's your favorite band?
posted by sophist at 10:08 AM on April 17, 2007

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