Friday, December 13, 2013

Best of 2013: Favorite Toronto concerts

Family and life circumstances have drastically cut down the number of concerts I could make it out to, so I had to be a bit more picky about the quality of the acts.

Here were my favorite concert experiences this year:

5. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Massey Hall, Mar 23
Cave never fails to deliver a drama-filled, intense performance.  His latest album, Push The Sky Away, is a little more subdued, so this set was as well.  It was still breathtaking.

4. TURF, Fort York, Jul 4-7
The inaugural Toronto Urban Roots Festival delivered an incredible line-up, with Neko Case, The Lowest of The Low, and The Hold Steady among the highlights.  It all culminated in a muddy yet exhilarating set from Belle & Sebastian.  The festival also marked my 2-year old daughter's first concert experience.  Congratulations Larry & His Flask.

3. The Lone Bellow, Horseshoe Tavern, Nov 23
Despite battling some technical difficulties, The Lone Bellow did a masterful job of shifting dynamics, which had the audience eating out of the palm of their hands.

2. Josh Ritter, Studio Space, Feb 17
Okay, so this gig actually took place in Hamilton, but it was so spectacular that it warranted inclusion.  Ritter was spot on musically and charming personally.  The results were a beautiful and fun intimate show.  He's quickly made my list of 'must-sees' every time he comes through town now.

1. The Replacements, Fort York, Aug 25
Sure it wasn't the full original line-up, and sure I suppose there were other acts on the festival bill that day (Iggy someone, and something about a young Dinosaur) but everything was overshadowed by the thought of seeing the first reunion show of the legendary Replacements.  The show beat the hype and managed to exceed the wildest dreams of the band's devoted fans.  It was the biggest day for rock n' roll in Toronto in a long time.

Honourable mentions:

I was jacked by the opening of Placebo Space early in the year.  It provided a spot where I could see great local acts without having to trek down through Hipster-infested Queen St.  It started strong with solid shows from Shawn Clarke and The Jessica Stuart Few, but petered out by the time summer hit.  Bummer.

It was also a strange experience seeing Guns N' Roses at the Sound Academy.  People made lots of jokes about it, but if you saw a happy Axl gig in such a small venue, you would've had a different opinion.

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