Let’s just jump right into this, all of these shows were amazing!
10. WAR ON DRUGS, SHAKY KNEES
On day two at the Atl based Shaky Knees, a brief rain shower slowed the festival down for a little while. After it concluded, the opening of War On Drugs greeted the fresh aired, hazy aftermath of an afternoon shower. The colors in the sky were incredible, with blue and pink hues flowing through the air. The band sounded marvelous as the field opened up and the crowd truly gave themselves to the band for the duration of their hour long set.
9. THE NATIONAL, SHAKY KNEES
I’ve seen them four times now, and this was by far the best. The closing band of the fest, it was a departure from the bombast of the previous night, yet the members of the band truly showed that they can viably close and headline for a festival. The brothers Dessner, Devendorf and single Matt Berninger all delivered their best, and with humble moments like “Fake Empire” not to mention the closing beautiful two song combo of “Terrible Love” and the haunting “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks,” made for a truly moving end to a night, and a weekend.
8. SLEEP, CIVIC
When the chance came to be able to witness Matt Pike and his Sleep cohorts, it seemed like a no brainer. It turned out to be just the right choice. Minutes before the show, NASA messages were plugging away, but by the time the band opened with their magnum opus “Dopesmoker,” the crowd was fully exposed to the power of the trio. For nearly two hours they plugged away, and the let up never ceased. It was easily the heaviest show I saw I saw this year and it lands at number eight on the Ten Best shows of 2018.
7. MUMFORD AND SONS, VOODOO FEST
Mumford is a band that often gets a bad rap, but this hit after hit set that drove into a field of thousands on the opening night of Voodoo was stiff even cynics couldn’t deny. These guys know how to put on a rock show. Hits like “The Wolf” soared while newcomers “Guiding Light” only set the stage for the rock festival powerhouse that is “The Wolf.” Sure it’s somewhat cheesy at times, but they believe it wholeheartedly and that enjoyment from the band sells it like few can.
6. KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD, REPUBLIC
This being my second time seeing this fearsome prog rock titans, I knew some of what to expect, but it was still great. Choosing to focus most of the evening on their insane discography (Even if you just count last years 5 albums) the set delivered on the ridiculously heavy and trippy King Gizzard showed they’re ready for even bigger shows in the near future. I believe they can get there sooner rather than later. My lady might hate this band, but to see them play classic heavy prof rock like “Rattlesnake,” “Crumbling Castle” And “Vomit Coffin,” continues to be a joy.
5. ODESZA, VOODOO FEST
As the bubble of EDM continues to burst, we’ve not only found our way back to great electronic music, but also groups of artists that are able to cut into the mainstream and deliver something more than what we have been accustomed to. Odesza's Saturday night set at Voodoo was nothing short of spectacular, with high energy lasers, fire and guests vocalists showing up to energize the crowd. It was both refreshing and energetic, and comes in at number five on the list of the best shows of the year. It’s the type of music you might not always be down for, but in a festival setting they absolutely dominate.
4. NINE INCH NAILS, SAENGER THEATER NIGHTS
Having recently just spent two nights seeing Reznor and his cohorts, the shows are still fresh in my mind. Because both shows were so different and great though, I’ve combined them into one jumble. Both shows delivered plenty of tracks that aren’t in the normal rotation, but standouts like night 1’s “All the Love in the World,” “And All That Could Have Been” And the in your face “Last” from day #3 all helped to showcase that these middle age men can still blow away the younger bands in terms of sheer intensity. It’s not every day you get to see Reznor, Ross, Fink, Cortini and Rubin mix it up in an intimate venue, which makes it even more awesome and memorable.
3. ARCTIC MONKEYS, VOODOO FEST
Over the last ten years, Alex Turner has transformed himself and his band mates into an undeniable rock staple capable of pulling in big crowds. As the closing act on the final day of Voodoo, Turner and his Arctic Monkeys showcased their British tinted rock act, with plenty of smiles and rocking out to go around. Tracks like the blindingly fast paced “Brainstorm” mesmerized the crowd, with a shaven headed Turner eating it up throughout the over ninety minute set. It was my second time seeing them, but when you get virtually every song you were hoping for like “Crying Lightning,” “R U Mine?” And “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved the Chair,” it’s hard to walk away not being utterly blown away.
2. ST. VINCENT, CIVIC
The last year for Annie Clark has been nothing if not engaging and experimental. It’s a testament to how great this show was seeing as it happened in only the second month of 2018 and is still filling my brain with excitement. She captivated the crowd with older tracks like “Actor out of Work,” “Cheerleader” and the mammoth “Digital Witness” for the first half of the show, then set forth to spellbound the crowd with a full performance of “Masseduction,” which actually topped my year end albums list in 2017. So many songs were incredible it’s hard to pick one, but surrounded by friends dancing the night away proves to be a memory that is still filling my brain. High concept for sure but her conquering of the alternative music scene is nearly complete. It’s also rare to see a 90 minute one woman show captivate and deliver as well as this did, but she’s incredible so it’s to be expected.
1. QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, SAENGER THEATER
Shows featuring my favorite bands are always a hard thing to judge, but when a band is this good, it’s hard to deny its enjoyment. Playing Nola about 8 days before their Shaky Knees show, Homme, Jon Theodore, Dean, Troy and Mikey proves why they continue to be one of the best rock bands on earth. Sticking around on stage for two and a half hours also ensured that the sold out crowd was left with nothing left to beg for. Taking tracks from all of their eight studio albums, the band poured through a magnetic set that you couldn’t turn away from. I’ve seen them several times now, but this was by far the best, deep cut heavy set I’ve ever seen the band play. When you get delivered rare tracks like “Lost Art of Keeping a Secret,” and the raucous newer track “Head like a Haunted House,” it’s hard to walk away unsatisfied. Simply put, it was the best show of the year, and because of that, they secure the number one spot on the “Top Ten Shows of 2018.” I hoped you’ve enjoyed this and I’ll be back with Best songs of the year, as well as the Top 20 Albums of the year in a few days time. Thanks for reading!
Landon Murray is a New Orleans native, who thrives on painting the world he interprets through the useful forms of all types of art he feels connected to. He's seen over 1000 bands, and had loved mostly every minute of it. He has an amazing 10 year old dog, and is loving life.
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