Highlights of 2018: my favorite concert moments of the year
Yup, here's a Spotify playlist I made just for you...
Every year I sit down and write a list of all the shows and incredible artists I've seen that year. It's such a great way to reminisce and relive those moments. Now that I run a music blog and spend almost every spare moment sitting in the pit, schmoozing at a local show, photographing, writing or editing photos of live music, that's become somewhat an insurmountable task. In 2018 I've been blessed to see so many incredible shows and meet talented musicians from all over the world. From sitting on the back of a Uhaul with Yungblud in Houston, chatting about tattoos and writing, to having my eyebrows almost singed off under the Fremont Stage canopy during Alison Wonderland's pyrotechnics-heavy set in Las Vegas. I floated myself down a river in San Marcos, beer in one hand and Grandson playing a raucous set just over the hill at Float Fest. I somehow found myself with a Grey Goose & lime hanging out in the VIP box next to Busta Rhymes (and yes, he's super chill). I sat in the sand with some of my best buddies, sipping straight whiskey because it was freezing on Huntington Beach as The Offspring brought all sorts of pop-rock nostalgia back into our lives. I stood on a street corner next to Jared Leto, singing my little heart out and trying not to drool too much. A little was inevitable. Paul McCartney made me swoon, The Weeknd made my knees weak, and Ivan Moody spat his water all over me (really... thanks dude, but not necessary). It's been one hell of a year.
Here are my nine favorite music and concert moments of 2018.
1) Getting almost trampled in the circle pit at Metallica on Weekend Two of ACL 2018. I found myself way too close to the front. It got rowdy. I got out *just* in time... but seeing Metallica on a stage of this scale with oh, 40,000 other fans? Mega bucket-list item; Nothing Else Matters.
2) Every single moment of the Arcade Fire set at Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas. This show is a production like no other. They slap each other, they destroy (many) things, run through the audience, they're crazy, insanely, perfectly batshit. They're also immaculately talented musicians with a streak for creativity, flair and... well... destruction? Love it all.
3) Nothing More opening for Five Finger Death Punch and Breaking Benjamin. This whole show was great, really... but Nothing More were the wildest; throwing down an animalistically raw set complete with a giant steampunk animatronic drum under the baking sun. Jonny Hawkins' vocals are terrifically beautiful and their set was nonstop insanity. This one was a "holy shit, I can barely catch my breath" set. I want more. Nothing More, perhaps ever. If these pictures don't make you want to check out their show, their Spotify might just...
4) Seeing Greta Van Fleet, not once, not twice... but four times. I first encountered them early in the year as a relative nobody playing an opening set at Welcome to Rockville in Jacksonville, FL. They were so incredible, they made every single little hair on my body stand up. I emailed their PR lady 30 seconds after their set was over, and was lucky to be invited to their Austin shows, a Dallas show and to catch them at ACL as well. dRiFFt named them "Band of the Year" a month before they received all of those Grammy nominations, and deservedly so.
5) Backflipping with Panic at the Disco... finally. Always the old school emo pop-punk princess, I saw Panic at the Disco twice this year, and both shows were incredible. Brendon Urie is always predictably fantastic, but the first show happened to be a small-venue popup show in Austin at 3tenACL (PATD and an audience of just 300? Yes, please!). The second show in Dallas resulted in the infamous backflip photo... FINALLY. I had only attempted this very shot a meager four other times before actually managing to capture it. Win?
6) Ludacris. Because who doesn't love Luda? I was invited to Circuit of the America's rallycross show featuring the one and only... and, well, the last time I saw Luda was when he performed alongside Brittney and Justin (yes, THAT long ago).
7) Mad Caddies, who are my favorite of all Ska/punk rockers and just came out with the perfection we know as Punk Rocksteady. I caught them early in the year at Punk In Drublic; which is just as rowdy and derelicte as it sounds (seriously, channel your inner punk rocker and go drink some beer with this fest in 2019), and later managed to party alongside an inflatable T-rex in the circle pit. Later in the year, I got to see them again at Surf City Blitz and like always, they were predictably pitch-punk-perfect in the ska-est of ways.
8) Welshly Arms and Charming Liars at The Troubadour. These two bands are the newest best thing you (maybe) don't even know about. Incredible talent, musicianship beyond all musicianship you know and love, copious quantities of black leather and a show that can't be rivaled. It was just my luck that they toured together late in the year, and I got to see them together not once, but twice; first in Austin at Antone's and the next week in Hollywood at the legendary Troubadour. I was also lucky to interview, photograph and write up Welshly Arms at Life Is Beautiful and Charming Liars live at The Troubadour in West Hollywood. Troubadour was so much a bucket list thing and Welshly made me fall so hard for them, I may just have skinned my knees.
9) Ozzy Osborne at Rockville. Because.... Ozzy. Because that needs no other explanation except for the part where he's rock royalty, and nowhere, on any planet, can you go wrong with a party of 50,000 metalheads in Florida, all screaming along to Crazy Train late at night. No bats were harmed in the making, except for Zakk Wylde who is slightly batty but also supremely wonderful at being my favorite retro rocker. I could watch them both all day.