Mike’s Top 10 Concerts of 2018
I just did a rough count off the top of my head of all the bands I saw in 2018. It was... a lot. I've probably been to more concerts in 2018 than in any other year of my life - and I look forward to trying to break that record in 2019!
It was tough to single out just ten shows that blew my mind, but I managed to do it - with a few honorable mentions of course. And remember, I only moved to Missoula in August, so a lot of these shows are all over the place, from New York to Washington and everything in between.
Honorable Mentions: Jenny Lewis at Hunter Mountain, NY; Alice Merton at Hunter Mountain, NY; Gin Blossoms at Paramount Hudson Valley, NY; Todd Rundgren at The Wilma, MT; Blondie at the Kettlehouse Amphitheatre, MT
10. AJR at the Orange County Fairgrounds, NY - This could have easily been one of the worst concerts I was at all year. It was raining heavily, there were massive delays, and then, at its lowest point, the power went out two songs into AJR's set. But AJR pulled through, putting on an impromptu acoustic show before the power finally came back and getting right back into a cool, energetic performance.
9. Sublime with Rome at Angry Orchard, NY - I'm a huge fan of Sublime, and even though Sublime with Rome is kinda a glorified cover band, they keep the spirit of the band alive and really deliver.
8. Beck and Jenny Lewis at Madison Square Garden, NY - I got to see Jenny Lewis do a full set earlier in the year at Mountain Jam in NY, which was incredible. Here, she did a solid job opening for Beck but then joined him onstage and it was so good. Beck's first time headlining MSG too!
7. Roger Daltrey at Bethel Woods, NY - The Who's Tommy is one of the albums that I latched onto when I was young and never let go - it's a formative album for me, and here Daltrey performed it in its entirety with a full orchestra behind him. (Bonus: Bethel Woods is where Woodstock took place, so there was extra significance in Daltrey playing there nearly 50 years later).
6. Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly at Kettlehouse Amphitheatre, MT - I've been a huge fan of both of these bands for so long and had somehow never seen them live. They both crushed it - you'll never have a more energetic crowd than a bunch of drunk people singing along to "Shipping Up to Boston."
5. Weezer and The Pixies at Jones Beach, NY - Like Matt Damon, when it comes to Weezer, I'm ride-or-die. And I'm pretty big on the Pixies, too. Put them together and you get something real special.
4. Weird Al Yankovic at the Bardavon, NY - Weird Al did a no-frills, stripped down tour where he played mostly originals and obscurities this year, and guess what, it was amazing. It was the first stop on the tour, too - it was rough and silly and funny and perfect for hardcore Weird Al fans.
3. Streetlight Manifesto (performing as Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution) at the Beacon Theater, NY - Streetlight Manifesto is my favorite band of all time. This was my fifth time seeing them, but this time was different than any other - they performed as their side band, which they hadn't done in over 15 years. And they had a full orchestra backing them. What a show.
2. Mad Caddies, The Interrupters, Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, Pennywise, and Bad Religion at White River Amphitheare, WA - The Scallywag Music Festival in Auburn was the longest I'd ever driven for a show (8 hours!) and totally worth it. I've seen Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish more times than I can count, and this was my second time seeing The Interrupters (I saw them in 2014, before they were cool, just saying). But my first seeing Mad Caddies, Pennywise, and especially Bad Religion, who were absolutely amazing and actually played their entire first album in its entirety.
1. Andy Frasco and the U.N. at Hunter Mountain, NY (and at Bearsville Theater, NY and at The Top Hat, MT) - These guys are my favorite discovery of 2018, and I saw them by accident. I got the schedule wrong at a festival called Mountain Jam in New York and thought I was there to see Alice Merton. Turns out, Andy Frasco came on, and delivered more energy in a live show than I've ever seen. The crowd size began as relatively small, and then by the end of the set they took up the entire mountain. I saw a man strap on a tuba and climb the rafters of the stage, I saw a jam battle between a saxophone and a fiddle, I saw them chug a bottle of Jameson onstage. They're nuts. I saw them again two months later where they played for 3+ hours, and then I saw them again here in Montana where they opened for Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. The point is, GO SEE THIS BAND.