The Best Shows of 2018 (January-June)

Oliver Ackermann, A Place to Bury Strangers, DC9 (5/24/18)
My birthday is almost officially the halfway point of the year, and what better time to catch ones breath and take stock of the events of 2018 than at the middle of the year?

The world at large has gone off the deep end, but as long as there's great music to soak in there'll be a light at the end of the tunnel. That's certainly true of the first half of 2018, both in terms of global insanity as well as live music. I've been lucky enough to experience more spectacular shows already this year than I truly know how to process, and these 13 shows are my runaway favorites of the year (so far).

Each of these shows is incredibly special to me, so instead of ranking them I've decided to list them in chronological order. If you haven't already seen these bands live, I hope you'll get a chance to do so. They're all worth seeing as often as possible.

The Fuzzy Logic 7th Anniversary Party f/ Pete International Airport + Guiding Light + Venn (1/28/18 @ DC9): Celebrating 7 years with the musical stylings of such talented folks is basically as good as it gets. Noisy local 'gazers Venn joined up with the gloriously blissful Guiding Light and Pete International Airport on this dream bill for yours truly, and a cameo appearance by BRMC's Robert Been was the best possible surprise.

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds (2/12/18 @ The Anthem): My first concert ever was Oasis, all the way back in the 1990s. It's safe to say that gig changed my life. Seeing Noel Gallagher live, as an established solo artist, may not have had quite that impact but it was an experience I won't soon forget. The man commands the stage, and the cavernous Anthem was a perfect fit for Gallagher the elder's impressive tour de force. I was smiling for days after this one.

Paul Draper, Electric Brixton (3/8/18)

Paul Draper (3/8/18 @ Electric Brixton, London): I actually saw four shows on the former Mansun mainman's March tour, but there was something magical about the tour finale in London. Draper played a full set of solo material before playing the first Mansun album, Attack of The Grey Lantern, in full - a record I would never have imagined hearing live. The Brixton crowd was superb, and Draper and his band made it a night to remember.

LO MOON (3/25/18 @ DC9): Seeing the exceptional dreampop of LA outfit LO MOON in person is cause for celebration. For being such a relatively young band, they're incredibly impressive up close and in person. Frighteningly good already, this has the potential to be an "I was there" show, because the sky should be the limit for this band.

The Black Angels/The Black Lips (4/9/18 @ 9:30 Club): Surely it was only a matter of time before Austin's psych juggernaut would hitch wagons with Atlanta's rowdiest psych rock brats? It's well-documented on FL that The Black Angels is one of my very favorite live bands, and The Black Lips also knocked it out of the park. This inevitable pairing made for a hell of a night, though I did keep wondering why it hadn't happened sooner.

Alex Kapranos, Franz Ferdinand, 9:30 Club (4/11/18)

Franz Ferdinand (4/11/18 @ 9:30 Club): Perhaps the most fun I've had at a show this year, the Glasgow boys can still throw a heck of a party at their shows. Alex Kapranos is one of the best frontmen in the business, and the band as a whole was on fire all night, and it was out of control.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever (5/6/18 @ DC9): One of my most highly-anticipated shows of the year turned into one of my favorites. These Aussies bowled me over with their irrepressible jauntiness and a preponderance of excellent harmonies.

BRONCHO (5/9/18 @ DC9): It was a sweaty good time at DC9 when BRONCHO rolled into town. This four-headed monster played for what seemed like hours, though it was all over far too soon.  I had an inkling that this would be a good show, but the Oklahoma guys and gal exceeded every expectation with their scuzzed, raunchy rock shenanigans.

Damon McMahon, Amen Dunes, The Anthem (5/18/18)

Fleet Foxes + Amen Dunes (5/18/18 @ The Anthem): The weather outside was frightful, but the show was beyond delightful. I'd wanted to see Damon McMahon's Amen Dunes project for years, and I was rewarded for my (im)patience with a set that was simply stunning. Fleet Foxes, too, wowed me - even after many years Robin Pecknold's folk mastery can still knock my socks off.

Liam Gallagher (5/19/18 @ Lincoln Theatre): Gallagher the younger came, saw, and conquered. This mix of solo material with some Oasis favorites was worth the months of waiting after the November '17 date was canceled. The swagger is still present and accounted for, as is that perfectly sneering voice.

A Place to Bury Strangers, DC9 (5/24/18)

A Place to Bury Strangers + Prettiest Eyes (5/24/18 @ DC9): APTBS is a band I could see every night for months and still not get enough. Seeing them at the same venue I'd seen Oliver Ackermann's noiseniks a decade or so ago was incredibly special. Fog, strobes, and an endless barrage of sonic sturm und drang made for one of the best shows of the year. LA's Prettiest Eyes added their own special psych freakouts to make the night even better.

Gomez (6/9/18 @ Lincoln Theatre): Gomez made one of my favorite records of the 90s with Bring It On, and the idea of seeing that record performed in full to celebrate its 20th birthday felt almost too good to be true. Turns out, it was better than I could even have hoped. That goes for both the band and the crowd, who engaged in a number of enthusiastic singalongs to cherished favorites like "Tijuana Lady" and "Get Myself Arrested."

The Horrors, Rock & Roll Hotel (6/12/18)

The Horrors (6/12/18 @ Rock & Roll Hotel): I might still be relatively speechless about this one, though it's been a few days now. I'd say this show stands a serious chance of being my show of the year. With one of the best frontmen in music today, not to mention one of the best guitarists, The Horrors live show is just about perfect.

And there you have it, y'all. My list of favorites. I can't wait to see what the second half of 2018 will bring.

[all photos copyright Megan Petty]

[posted 6.15.18]              


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