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My concert schedule for this year is just about wrapped up, so I’ve compiled a collection of some of my favorite shots I got this year. These aren’t necessarily my favorite show (or even shows I liked, for that matter), but they were all memorable for one reason or another. Ok, here they are:
Evanescence @ Sony Centre
The band’s concept of re-doing old songs into a blend of orchestral + dubstep was a pretty interesting, so the show ended up being pretty decent. The crowd though- what an unruly bunch of degenerates. Not only was this show played with a full orchestra, but it was also at the prestigious Sony Centre. This is not a venue for the “rawk on!” crowd.
U2 @ Rogers Centre
You know how bad the sound at Rogers Centre is? So bad that even U2 sound tinny in the arena, though they did sound loads better than openers The Lumineers, whose rustic folk does NOT translate to arenas at all. It was a genuinely exciting moment to be able to experience the world’s biggest band play all their hit singles, but by the time they got to the middle of the set (the second, non-radio half of The Joshua Tree) it got to be kind of a slog. Luckily the encore was crammed with some of the band’s “newer” (after 1987) hits…but also a whole lot of Bono preaching.
Cage the Elephant @ WayHome
WayHome wasn’t so great this year- that’s an established fact by now. There were a few great performances though, and Cage the Elephant‘s was one of those. Matt Schultz writhes around like a madman, and the band’s now found a fully realized niche in their retro-rock sound.
Imagine Dragons @ WayHome
Everyone laughs when I say this (and for good reason), but I was legitimately excited to see the Gatorade commercial soundtrack band. They are good at the whole adrenaline thing, and I assumed that it would translate into an entertaining live show. It did have its highlights, but the band is a lot…gentler…than you’d expect from their jock rock anthems. Looking around at the crowd at the front of the stage during their set I saw nothing but families. Like, full on families with moms and dads and their young kids (all of whom I conspicuously did not see anywhere at any other point during WayHome???). It was like I was at a wholesome American Idol taping. There’s a slick commercial sheen to the band, and they’re more closely related to OneRepublic than they are any alternative act.
Muse + 30 Seconds to Mars @ Budweiser Stage
Man, Jared Leto is such a buffoon. The entire set was about five and a half songs, and almost all of them were latter day dreck that finds the band firmly in Lite Rock territory. As he’s done at literally every other show, he went out into the crowd to play (half of) an acoustic version of “The Kill”, only pausing a few times to fill the air with more of his proselytizing banter. So we get a few choruses of the song, max. He then spends the rest of the night delivering more of his empty “global hug” speeches and pretending to record the crowd for a brand new single. But I got a cool shot of him in his ridiculous Pope Randy Savage get-up.
Muse were ok I guess.
Father John Misty @ Royal Alexandria Theatre
While the concert wasn’t especially extravagant (though a rock concert at a venue that typically holds stage plays is pretty cool), it does hold the distinction of literally changing my worldview. This show and the latest season of Better Call Saul completely changed who I was this year. Also, Josh Tillman isn’t nearly as curmudgeonly as he comes off in online interviews.
Fall Out Boy @ Air Canada Centre
This is not the same Fall Out Boy from under the cork tree. This is a well-oiled corporate machine that features levitating platforms and jets of fire during every other song. This is the band that made “Centuries”, an NFL highlight reel soundtrack played on a 50,000 gigawatt screen amped up on supersize Coca Colas. It was pretty fun I guess, but maybe try smiling once during the show Pete Wentz?
Guns N Roses @ Air Canada Centre
“Welcome to my household / please take off your shoes!”- Axl Rose, now looking like a cross between Donald Trump and Neil Young. At least I can say I’ve seen G’N’R now?
Depeche Mode @ Air Canada Centre
Ok Dave Gahan, we get it, you are a real rocker and you have moves like Jagger.
Coldplay @ Rogers Centre
Speaking strictly from a visual perspective, this was hands down the best concert I’ve ever seen. The band literally hacked the CN Tower to light up in time with their stage. This was in addition to the lights, fireworks, lasers, confetti, balloons, and the entire crowd being transformed into an extension of the concert with the use of glowing bracelets. And this was just the first song. The sound was surprisingly good as well, but I guess when you have a billion dollars to pour into a tour you can make even the worst venues sound great. Chris Martin was also very funny with his whole self-effacing British charm thing.
Billy Talent @ Air Canada Centre
Definitely my favourite show of the year. Not only did the band play an incredible cover of The Tragically Hip‘s “Nautical Disaster”, but then they dropped a pre-encore surprise that blew every single mind in the arena. It wasn’t them who returned to the stage after their main set, and when the lights went up thousands of people simultaneously flipped out upon seeing legendary post-hardcore act Alexisonfire on stage instead of Billy Talent. Ben Kowalewicz and company would return after Alexis’ mini-set, capping off the night with a few more of their frenetic punk hits.
Papa Roach @ The Danforth Music Hall
This is a band who knows what their legacy is, know what their strengths are, and aren’t afraid to have fun with themselves. It might not be high art, but it was a fun night.
Good Charlotte @ The Danforth Music Hall
Scripted banter might work well if you’re a corporately assembled pop act playing a massive arena, but it comes off as awkward and stiff when you’re a punk band playing a midsize venue. The Madden brothers traded rehearsed jabs as preambles to their early 2000s jams, and more often than not came off as incredibly tired. The songs were pretty good though.