Best Shows Of 2014

By Will Oliver, February 4th 2015 — with 1 comment Best Of List Concert Photos Concert Reviews

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I saw more shows than ever before in 2014. The number sits somewhere well over 200, not to mention various festivals and CMJ/SXSW showcases. There was a lot of great music seen, and a lot of great memories shared. We had to say goodbye to Glasslands, Death By Audio, and 285 Kent in one year, which will change the live music landscape in Brooklyn more than we will ever realize.

With so much live music seen, making a list of the best shows is a nearly impossible task. But I sat down, shifted through all my photos, recaps, and foursquare/swarm check ins (very useful in keeping track of shows), and compiled a list of the top 50 shows that I saw last year. Inevitably, a lot of good shows missed the mark, which just reinforces how great those were that did make the cut.

There are a lot of factors that go into this sort of thing. But at the end of the day, these were the shows that made an impression on me throughout the year, the sort of shows that I will want to relive again.

I got a few more posts coming, including some of our favorite live photos taken at these shows, as well as my long overdue best songs and albums. Stay tuned for that. But for now, enjoy my list of the best 50 shows that I saw in 2014.

50. Alvvays at Rough Trade (July 28)

49. Operators at Baby’s All Right (June 13)

48. Tuneyards at Firefly Music Festival

47. The New Pornographers at Hammerstein Ballroom (November 17)

46. Real Estate at Music Hall of Williamsburg (April 4)

45. Death Cab for Cutie at The Capitol Theatre (May 22)

44. Angel Olsen at Bowery Ballroom (December 9)

43. Foxygen at Music Hall of Williamsburg (October 8)

42. Parquet Courts at The Acheron (January 14)

41. The Drums at Bowery Ballroom (September 20)

40. Portugal. The Man at Central Park (September 16)

39. Tobias Jesso Jr. at A Williamsburg Loft (November 20)

38. Blake Mills at Le Poisson Rogue (October 1)

37. Yellow Ostrich’s Last Show Ever at Glasslands (December 8)

36. Wild Beasts at Music Hall of Williamsburg (March 4)

35. Beck at Hammerstein Ballroom (June 30)

34. Cut Copy at Terminal 5 (March 22)

33. Spoon at Central Park (September 10)

32. Alt-J at Rough Trade NYC (September 4)

31. Outkast at Firefly Music Festival

30. Queens Of The Stone Age at The Capitol Theatre (July 16)

29. Karen O at The McKittrick Hotel (September 9)

28. Panda Bear at Warsaw (May 18)

27. Future Islands at House Of Vans (August 7)

26. Julian Casablancas + The Voidz at Hammerstein Ballroom (November 25)

25. Foals at Terminal 5 (May 6)

24. Weezer at Firefly Music Festival

23. The Last Show at Death By Audio (November 22)

22. Slowdive at Terminal 5 (October 25)

21. Jack White at Governors Ball Music Festival

20. St. Vincent at Celebrate! Brooklyn / Prospect Park Bandshell (August 9)

19. Royal Blood at The Marlin Room at Webster Hall (October 16)

18. The Strokes at Governors Ball Music Festival

17. Arctic Monkeys at Firefly Music Festival

16. The Knife at Terminal 5 (May 1)

15. Ty Segall at Death By Audio (November 14)

14. Death From Above 1979 at Rough Trade (September 8)

13. Neutral Milk Hotel at Webster Hall (January 28)

12. Interpol at The Temple Of Dendur (September 2)

11. Tame Impala at The Beacon Theatre (November 10)

10. The National at Celebrate! Brooklyn / Prospect Park Bandshell (June 17)

Matt Berninger started bleeding after he cut his head coming down to the crowd. That didn’t stop him, as he continued on into the crowed as the band ripped through “Terrible Love.” A set that features “The Geese Of Beverly Road,” “Santa Clara,” and “About Today” is not one that any fan of The National can deny.

9. Wilco at The Capitol Theatre (October 30)

I was fortunate enough to catch two out of the three Wilco shows at The Captiol Theatre this year. They didn’t repeat a single song throughout the residency, making each song an event within itself. One of my favorite live moments of the year came from this show, where Nels Cline ripped into a soul-piercing guitar solo on “Impossible Germany” that left Jeff Tweedy and the rest of Wilco just as surprised as the rest of us.

8. Kanye West at The Prudential Center (February 15)

This was my first show at The Prudential Center, and I don’t know if it will be topped. It was Kanye being Kanye, fully locked in and delivering the finest performance that I’ve seen from him yet. He ran through his entire catalog with a rapturous energy that I don’t think I’ve ever seen at a hip-hop show before. I still have flashbacks of him singing “Coldest Winter” while laying down on his center-stage mountain, or the lengthy performance of “Runaway” that hit way too close to home.

7. Ty Segall at Webster Hall (September 18)

This is one of the three Ty Segall shows to take up space on this list, which should speak for itself about the kind of performer that he is. I don’t know if I ever saw more people stage dive at a show than this show, and I’m still wondering if the kid who did a full flip into the crowd is ok. Either way, seeing Ty Segall perform an entire song while being held up by the crowd (who also held up his mic for him) is something I’ll never forget. It’s the sort of thing that we go to shows for.

6. Arcade Fire at Barclays Center (August 24)

Arcade Fire played three nights at Barclays Center, and I found my way to all three of them. It was my first time ever going to a complete set of shows like that. It was the right one to do so, as every night seemed to be even better than the last, with the third show sticking out in my memory by just a hair. They changed the setlist up again, and brought out David Byrne. Honestly all three shows deserve to share this spot. Arcade Fire proved their worth as a stadium band, and everyone who thinks otherwise is just missing out.

5. Foo Fighters at Irving Plaza (December 5)

Foo Fighters nearly caused a riot with their handling of selling tickets for their insanely intimate show at Irving Plaza. The band hardly fit onto the stage with their normally arena friendly gear, standing a mere couple of feet from us. While most bands would probably play a mini-set of 13-15 songs, the Foo Fighters powered for nearly three hours straight. I probably won’t ever get to stare Dave Grohl in the eyes as he’s screaming the lyrics of “All My Life,” so I’d say that this show ranks pretty damn high.

4. Fat White Family at Baby’s All Right (CMJ)

The last show of my CMJ ended up being the most energetic of them all. Fat White Family nearly destroyed Baby’s All Right along the way, delivering a dirty, sweaty set that saw frontman Lias Saoudi strip naked and jump into the crowd. Beer was flying every where, thrown back and forth by the band and its crazed attendees. It was a full out shit show, a ruckus that perfectly summarizes the glorious experience that is Fat White Family live. These guys are onto something.

3. Ty Segall at Street-Legal Guitars (SXSW)

Sure SXSW has become a highly corporate event, but if you look hard enough, you’ll be surprised at the great shows that you can find. Such as Ty Segall playing in a tiny room of a Austin guitar shop. There was no stage, leaving Ty Segall and his band to tear through their set with the crowd literally around them. There was one point of the show where I nearly got pushed onto drum kit of Emily Rose Epstein. If that doesn’t sum up this show, than I don’t know what will. It’s insane to think back on this show and then see him sell out two shows at Webster Hall, but the guy is one of the best musicians in live music at the moment.

2. The Strokes at The Capitol Theatre (May 31)

This show was the live return of The Strokes, and at the amazing and immaculate Capitol Theatre no less. It seemed as though every other person was repping their vintage Strokes t-shirt, which sounds like something you’d see in Dazed and Confused, not at a concert in 2014. Rock and roll doesn’t pump out bands like The Strokes anymore, which made this show a truly special moment at one of the last remaining “rock bands.”

Not only did they play almost everything you’d want to hear (as well as Comedown Machine material for the first time), but the band were sharing smiles with one another, looking ecstatic to be sharing the stage together again. We as the audience fed off this energy, and became one as we screamed back every lyric. It was the first time I lost my voice at a show in a long while, something that I forgot could happen.

1. Future Islands at Death By Audio (November 18)

It’s only fitting that the band who had the craziest year ended up topping my list. I saw Future Islands five times last year, with all of them leaving a lasting impression on me in their own way. But seeing them rock the tiny Death By Audio one last time felt like a dream considering they were lined up for two sold out shows at Terminal freaking 5.

I was in the heart of the crowd that didn’t stop moving at any point of the show. It was a wave of people pushing, moshing, and dancing all in one. One crowd-surfer ended up doing a flip and kicking me in the mouth, but I was too lost in the bliss of the show to even care. Only at this sort of show could you high five Sam Herring as his tore through “Tin Man,” or try to survive during the epic finish of “Vireo’s Eye” which saw William Cashion surf on top of the crowd, as a sea of pink balloons were released.

It was Future Islands at their essence, perhaps the last intimate look that we’ll get of them in New York. If it is, that’s ok, because I don’t know if it will ever be topped.





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