2016 had a lot of problems that I don’t even need to go into right now, but enough good has happened to keep me satisfied throughout the year. What started out as a year where I was going to try limiting the shows I went to transformed into a year where I’ve seen some of the best shows I could ever imagine. Narrowing down my top ten performances is actually a lot harder than I imagined, because I just saw so many performances that I feel in absolute love with. However, I did it, and here’s the list. Let’s get this shit going.
10. B L A C K I E @ Trans-Pecos: January 9th
Kicking off our list was a performance from the first show I saw this year! While there were some really fantastic performances that night from hip-hop legends Dalek to harsh-noise artist Dreamcrusher, it was one of noise hip-hop’s pioneers who really took the cake. In his roughly twenty minute performance, B L A C K I E brought nothing short of pure intensity and rawness, and the crowd was going absolutely apeshit. This was a performance that just stuck with me throughout the year, and that’s how it found it’s place on my list.
09. Wolves in the Throne Room @ The Marlin Room of Webster Hall: September 11th
When I was 15, I yearned for the day that this band would tour again. Five years later, I finally got to see them perform, and I was far from disappointed. They played roughly two hours, and it was nothing short of a loud, intense wall of noise. There were some moments, especially when they played songs off their magnum opus Two Hunters, where I was just overwhelmed with emotions. They are really a band that I feel absolutely privileged of seeing live, and I really hope they perform again soon. Also, I saw my English teacher from my high school at that show, so bonus points!
08. The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die @ Palisades: June 10th
This was my first concert after I recovered from being bedridden for a month’s time, and the show was stacked with great emo and post-hardcore acts, including Two-Inch Astronaut. However, the reason I was there for was TWIABP, and they were beyond fantastic. A great thing about them is during their set, the group includes a bit of improv that is absolutely insane and creative. While it does get very loud, it’s not just senseless noise, and is paced pretty perfectly. They played a good amount of material from both their LPs, which I really appreciated. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t tear up a bit. It was nothing short of a magical night.
07. Touche Amore @ Terminal 5: September 8th
I’ve been wanting to see this band since 2013. Every damn time they came to New York City, I missed them. When I finally saw them, I was beyond pleased. Jeremy Bolms is, by far, one of the most passionate performers I have ever seen live, especially when they were performing songs off of Stage Four. The rest of the band gives off pure passion and energy, from the songs on Stage Four to the tracks they played off of ...To the Beat of a Dead Horse. When they started performing “Honest Sleep,” I really could not tell you how intense the crowd got, both physically and emotionally. I really hope to see these guys again next year, because man were they fucking great.
06. Meek is Murder @ ABC No Rio: January 16th
There is no way to see my favorite local band than at my favorite DIY space, which is exactly what happened at this show. I haven’t seen these dudes since 2013, so seeing them again earlier this year (and a bit later also, but that’s not relevant) was really kickass. The group’s light setup is only matched by how intensely they perform. Mike Keller was jumping around like crazy, screaming his heart out while playing guitar. Frank and Sam kept a steady rhythm. They performed songs from their brand new LP, which wouldn’t be released until July of that year, so fuck yeah to that. They would close their set out with tracks from their EP Onward, which really got the crowd going. Overall, this show was truly something I am happy to have seen.
05. The Body & Full of Hell @ Market Hotel: September 9th
I wrote a review for this concert, which you can read right here. To summarize it though, it was easily the loudest show I’ve been to this year. It sure as hell was the angriest, also - I actually felt a serious sense of anger at the show, and I just unleashed it all. The sound they produced on One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache was totally conveyed through their live performance, more than making up for the fact that they bare fit on the stage. Check out the review for more detail.
04. Underoath @ Playstation Theater: April 14th
After three years, metalcore act Underoath returned to the stage, performing their monumental LPs They’re Only Chasing Safety and Define the Great Line in their entirety. Typically, when bands pull off gimmicks like this, you can tell that they are doing it for nothing more than a cash-grab. However, it was obvious that Underoath was out there to give as much of a show as possible. All the members were performing as if they were in their 20s again, which was a really refreshing sight to see. Obviously, the crowd was really acting up through these LPs, as it was obvious everyone in the crowd was having a nostalgia trip. Everyone bled passion, and overall, the night was completely fucking awesome. If you get the chance to see these guys, do not hesitate to take it.
03. The Saddest Landscape @ The Silent Barn: July 9th
To put it briefly, I was facing a pretty dark time when I went to this show. I was just having a lot of trouble with a bunch of problems in my life and got very overwhelmed. Of course, what would be better for me than a screamo and post-hardcore DIY show? This show would introduce me to the act Capacities, who I fell in love with, and Gatherers were beyond sick, also. However, very few can match up to what The Saddest Landscape has to offer. Andy Maddox would constantly show off his energy just by how he played his guitar or would scream his heart out through the songs on LPs such as Darkness Forgives and After the Lights. The icing on the cake, however, was when Andy threw his guitar on the floor and ran through the crowd screaming the lyrics to their final song. When I congratulated him on the beautiful performance, he replied “Thanks, we try really hard.” It certainly shows off, Mr. Maddox. I really hope they perform again soon.
02. The Fall of Troy @ The Marlin Room of Webster Hall: August 5th
Once it was announced that this show was moved into the smaller room of Webster Hall, my excitement went through the roof. The band played material I never thought I’d hear, from their EP Phantom on the Horizon to songs off of their brand new LP, OK. While hitting every fucking note perfectly, the members of the band were going absolutely fucking hard. I’ll never forget holding Thomas Erak in the air as he was crowd-surfing while completely shredding it on the guitar. The icing on this cake, though, was crowd-surfing for the first time in my life to their monumental song, “F.C.P.R.E.M.I.X.,” which was something that went a lot smoother than I could have ever expected. When I saw the band the previous year doing Doppelganger in full, I did not think that could be topped. However, this one proved me wrong. This was something that I could never forget, and despite my soreness after the show, I actually felt like a new man.
Honestly, after finishing that show, I thought that would be, hands down, the performance of the year. Topping this show honestly seemed impossible, and I was actually getting ready to list this one as my Number One. However… two shows actually did top it this year, but since it is the same band, I am counting them both as my Number One, which is…
01. The Dillinger Escape Plan @ Webster Hall’s Grand Ballroom: October 15th and The Webster: November 19th
I wrote a review for the former here. My colleagues on this site wrote a review for the latter here. Summarizing these shows in one paragraph is honestly impossible. What should I focus on more? Guitarist Ben Weinman jumping into the crowd from a cabinet during “Farewell, Mona Lisa,” or vocalist Greg Puciato falling off the balcony of Webster Hall during the outro to “Prancer”? Would I focus on Greg throwing himself onto the crowd during “Sunshine the Werewolf” and “43% Burnt” in Connecticut, or would I focus the crowd throwing themselves onto the band during those exact songs in New York City? Would I focus on how passionate the crowd got at both shows, or how passionate the band got? Honestly, these weren’t just the best shows of 2016. These were the best fucking shows I’ve been to, period. If I had to pick which one I liked more, it would be foolish to not say Webster Hall, but to say the one at the Webster Theater wasn’t amazing would also be foolish. I’ll never forget being on stage during the end of the set, moshing and crowd-surfing my heart out during the end of the night at Webster Hall. I’m honestly speechless and so fucking grateful a show like this happened in my lifetime. If I had to live a day in my life over and over, it would easily be living through these shows again.
And with that, my list is done! I already have some shows lined up for 2017, such as August Burns Red, ACxDC, and Deafheaven amongst others, so I am beyond stoked to find out what’s going to happen this year!