While 2017 didn’t seem like such a special year for shows, especially compared to last year, while looking at my concert pictures I realized that I’d been to quite a few good ones. In fact, there were still some memorable gigs that didn’t make the cut…but that’s not why I’m expanding this list from 10 to 15.
Y’see, some of the best gigs I saw this year could not be considered heavy metal by any stretch, so rather than comparing apples to oranges–or sludge metal to country, as the case may be–I’ve added a bonus list of my Top 5 Non-Metal Concerts. But let’s leave that one to the end, shall we.
TOP 10 METAL CONCERTS OF 2017
10. Unsane/Big Brave @ Hard Luck, December 16: My last show of the year just sneaks onto the list. Although I missed the first two bands entirely, I got more than my money’s worth from Unsane!
9. Windhand/Satan’s Satyrs @ Horseshoe Tavern, May 19: Two of the best bands from Virginia shared the bill in a somewhat unlikely venue, and much heaviness ensued. I’m looking forward to their upcoming split next year!
8. Elder/King Buffalo/Ol’ Time Moonshine @ Velvet Underground, October 14: Elder is a freakin’ amazing live outfit. Their expert musicianship is matched only by their on-stage intensity. The only downside is that this show started so late that the opening acts didn’t get much time to play. But I still walked out of there at 2 am with my mind sufficiently blown away.
7. (tied) Truckfighters/Kings Destroy @ Hard Luck, January 22 + Truckfighters/Telekinetic Yeti @ Hard Luck, October 9: Swedish stoner rock stalwarts Truckfighters graced us with their presence twice in 2017. It’s hard to pick a favourite between these two shows–they really brought it both times!
666. Iron Maiden @ Budweiser Stage, July 15: As Iron Maiden gets older, their on-stage pyrotechnics become more impressive–at least, that’s the impression I got from their last two gigs. I did prefer the atmosphere of seeing them outside versus the cold confines of the ACC, mind you.
5. Dirkschneider @ Mod Club, January 10: Accept was one of my favourite metal bands growing up, and this vintage set of Accept classics was the best show I’ve seen either U.D.O. or Accept play these past few years. I said at the time that I would never need to see another Accept show again…but now I see Udo and company coming back in February. I’ll probably be at that one, as well.
4. Cult of Luna with Julie Christmas/Whores @ Mod Club, August 22: Now, I liked Mariner, the latest Cult of Luna album with Julie Christmas, but they took it to another level when they played it live. Their non-stop, note-perfect performance lasted less than an hour, but left everyone fully satisfied. And Whores really impressed with their opening set, even though it got cut short when their singer busted his leg.
3. Arthur Brown/Acid King/Jex Thoth @ Barracuda, Austin, TX, February 25: Now, I dug Arthur Brown and his whole crazy deal when he played Vegas last year, but the main reason I went down to Texas (besides the beef brisket) was for the opening acts, neither who whom play live very often on this side of the pond. Acid King crushed everything, but Jex Thoth was probably the highlight…even if she got her already-too-short set cut down to 24 minutes.
2. Neurosis/Converge/Amenra @ Danforth Music Hall, August 2: Truly great triple bills can be few and far between, often the result of a de facto “co-headlining” deal. Last year, I saw a couple good ones, in Napalm Death/Melvins/Melt Banana and COC/Brant Bjork/Mothership — but is does not get much heavier than this Neurosis/Converge gig back in August.
1. Days of Darkness Festival @ Ram’s Head Live, Baltimore, October 27-29: Despite all the synthwave, the inaugural edition of this doom/sludge spinoff of MDF was a musical success. Now, if they could only move it to a city where they don’t shoot doomsters next time, that would be great…
TOP 5 NON-METAL CONCERTS
Not every great gig I attended in 2017 was of the heavy metal variety–although a couple of these ones kinda come close. Here are my top five non-metal concerts of the year:
5. April Wine/Trooper @ The Arena at TD Place, Ottawa, November 25: What could be more Canadian than seeing these two classic rock icons play a packed hockey rink the night before the Grey Cup in the nation’s capital? Though they’re definitely getting up there, Trooper still put on a lively, energetic show, while April Wine seemed a little tired by comparison. (They probably could’ve raised a little more hell.)
4. Eric Church @ Air Canada Centre, March 2: In an era when we’re lucky to get a 90-minute set from some arena acts, country superstar Eric Church played two full sets, then came back for two more encores. They practically had to escort him from the premises…
3. Aerosmith/Macklemore/Blink 182 @ Final Four Fan Fest, Phoenix, AZ, April 2: This bizarre clusterfuck bill was brought to you by Capital One, primary sponsors of the Final Four. I happened to be in Phoenix for the basketball, but was pleasantly surprised by this free, outdoor concert. I mean, I wouldn’t pay to see Aerosmith, but the price was definitely right for this one!
2. Chris Stapleton/Margo Price @ Budweiser Stage, August 17: You don’t really have to be a country fan to appreciate Chris Stapleton. The man has a bluesy, soulful voice that’s sorta like Joe Cocker in his prime–and with tunes like “Them Stems” and “Might As Well Get Stoned,” he’s got plenty of stoner appeal, too. Oh, and Margo Price put out my favourite album of any genre in 2016, although I have not heard her new one yet. There was only one gig that could possibly top this…
1. Friday Night Opry @ Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, August 25: They don’t call it the Mother Church of Country Music for nothin’. Even though there weren’t any major superstars playing this evening, the Grand Ole Opry just has a special vibe. An old-school radio show, each act is only offered two to three songs, with different legacy artists acting as hosts between segments, giving you the best of both worlds. And man, I would love to hear more from the Turnpike Troubadours (pictured above) sometime soon!
Anyways, that’s all for me for this year. Look for more of my shitty pictures in 2018!