So here it is folks! My final 5 best live performances of 2017. The following shows were the absolute best shows for me. It was really difficult to select only 10 performances but I genuinely feel as if the following shows were the best of the best. I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for me.
5. Zeal & Ardor – Saint Vitus Bar NYC 08/23/17
The show was completely sold out that night and you could sense the anticipation was high for this one. Zeal & Ardor had been on my radar for a long time and I was not going to miss the chance to see them. After some technical difficulties and a broken kick drum the show was ready to proceed. Clothed in black hoods they started things off with “In Ashes” and the vibe felt as if they were putting the crowd into trance. No room for anyone to move, body against body, heads began nodding up and down in mechanical motion. Guy next to me looks at me and says “Holy shit man! This is nuts!” I had never seen or felt so many humans crammed into one venue before but nobody seemed to care. Manuel Gagneux looks out in awe and says “This is kinda nice!” remarking to the amount of people so charged up to witness this. It was dark and hypnotic, it was everything I had hoped it would be. Got the chance to chat with Manuel a bit outside after the show, met some cool new friends and I was also the only photographer granted access! So overall it was an amazing show experience from start to finish! Zeal & Ardor will undoubtedly have a busy 2018.
For more on Zeal & Ardor check out:
4. Tropidelic- Night Lights Music Festival 08/25/17
Tropidelic have that unique talent as a band to get any crowd moving. I had previously never heard of these guys until I wandered up to the stage for them during Night Lights Music Festival. With Horns blasting and a guitar player that looked as if he was about to go on tour with Iron Maiden, these guys moved the crowd more than any band that weekend. They had the hip hop punk feel of 311 mixed with the Cali vibes of Sublime. I found myself headbanging one minute and wanting to back flips the next, all while I tried to take as many pictures of these guys as I could. I highly recommend them to anyone who prefers their shows to be off the F*#king hook! They recently released a full length album called “Heavy is the Head” and it’s awesome! Check their new album now and if you are so lucky, maybe they will be playing in a city near you.
For more on Tropidelic check out:
3. Congo Sanchez Disc Jam Music Festival 06/09/17
Congo Sanchez happened to me completely on accident. I was wandering around the grounds of The Disc Jam music Festival, looking down at my camera screen scanning through photos from the day. I look toward the other end of the grounds and I remember seeing a bunch of people jumping up and down and I could hear a distinctive tribal beat start thumping. I got closer and and it felt as though a bomb had gone off. I was hit with a shock wave of music that immediately grabbed hold of my senses. I felt like a kid on the playground about to watch a fight go down. You feel that initial “Ooooh damn! Shit is about to go down!” and then I ran for help! The sound was so good and so infectious that I sprinted to the tent my friend Ian was hanging at, grabbed him and everyone who would listen and told them they needed to leave immediately to see this band. We ran back over to the stage and they basically tore the roof of the place. Hip Hop mixed with insane jungle type drum beats, it was one of the best things I have ever witnessed musically. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know one word of any song, they made sure you MOVED. The phrase “Took you to church” is often used to describe when someone totally destroys you in a fight and so you are so terrified you start changing your life and going to church. This music made me want to change my life! Strangers with arms around strangers jumping up and down while encircling Flex and Haile Supreme. I have spent the better part of this year hoping they would tour anywhere close to me. DEFINITELY not a show to be missed!
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2. Clutch- Rochester Dome Arena 07/21/17
Clutch has been a “Bucket List” band for me for many years. It seemed as if no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t make a Clutch show for one reason or another. I remember standing in the photo pit looking at the instruments and wondering what they would open with. The opening notes from “Crucial Velocity” rang out and the rest of the set was a blur. The universe immediately went full Star Wars Warp speed on me. I remember having to continually remind myself that I was there to take photos and not head bang. I kept getting so into the songs that I felt compelled to start a mosh pit with the other photographer. He wasn’t impressed. It was intense! I felt drunk on the music, as if I had one too many and I wanted to sprint around the arena waving my T shirt over my head screaming. Clutch put on a performance I will never forget! I screamed along to every song and ended up blowing out my voice but I didn’t care. I feel like Clutch is one of the most underrated bands in music today and for me, they proved it on that stage. They didn’t need pyrotechnics or fancy LED screens, they simply went out and rocked that crowd the old fashioned way. If you haven’t seen Clutch live….I feel sorry for you.
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1. Parov Stelar Terminal 5 NYC 10/27/17
Have you ever attended a show with absolutely no frame of musical reference? I don’t mean someone invited you to a Hip Hop show, so you sort of know what you are getting yourself into. I mean, google searching the band as you walk into the venue because you randomly end up at a photo shoot with Goldfish on an October afternoon and they happened to be opening for someone called Parov Stelar at Terminal 5. The description said “Austria” and “Electro Swing” and I pretty much just hoped it wouldn’t suck too much. My initial pessimism would quickly be erased by one of the greatest performances I had ever witnessed. Every single song on their set list was played to perfection! I had never felt anything like this and I am not sure I ever will again. I am still not sure how a band that I had never heard of could immediately capture the #1 show for me but they did….EASILY. I scored each performance on the lasting effect it had on me. This one stayed with me for a month after and I will be a lifelong fan of this extremely talented group of musicians. I am making it a personal mission for myself to see them again when I travel to Europe next year.