Before I get my five favorite shows, here are some of the concerts I attended that didn’t make my Top 10: Bastille at the Warfield, The Cure at BottleRock Napa Valley, Foster the People at Live 105’s BFD, Tom Petty and Macklemore at Outside Lands, Chvrches at the Fox, Fleetwood Mac at Oracle Arena and Weezer at Slim’s. I list those to show that there was a lot of competition, and I didn’t treat the “all-stars” better than other acts. And it took more than a fancy production to make my list.
Here are 5 through 1.
5 – AUGUSTINES – the Independent – Feb. 10.
Three guys and a roadie (who, really, should just be made an official member of the band) who wear their hearts on their sleeves and give everything they’ve got to each verse, song and gig. They may be too sincere to gain the hipster vote, but they’ve got mine.
4 – HAIM – the Fillmore – April 9.
I finally got to interview the Haim sisters this year, and it was one of my most interesting conversations with musicians. This Fillmore show (and reportedly the second one the following night) was one of the most buzzed-about shows of Fauxchella. Haim flew through most of the songs in their repertoire, pausing briefly only to joke about their experiences growing up and the excitement they were feeling. From the opening number to the appearance the gals’ parents in the encore, my ears are still ringing.
3 – ST. LUCIA – the Independent – Feb. 6.
I saw both of St. Lucia’s two shows at the Independent and while the first show would have found its way somewhere lower on this list, the second night felt more cohesive. and celebratory. For someone so new to the pop stage performance world, Jean-Philip Grobler is very convincing as a frontman.
2 – FRANZ FERDINAND – the Fox Theater – April 28.
Had I been a complete homer I would have called this my favorite show of the year because they’re my second-favorite band and I didn’t see U2 in 2014. But no, the No. 1 band impressed me more. But what Franz Ferdinand showed on April 28 was that they don’t care what the music industry considers success, because they want something else. They have no intention of changing just to get another radio hit. Instead, they produce heavy angular guitar rock, song after song after song.
1 – BIFFY CLYRO – The Great American Music Hall – Feb. 12
A band I’ve never seen live before (no expectations!) and knew little about before preparing for an interview earlier this year took the top slot in my list. Whether they’re performing a driving rock song or a bittersweet ballad, Biffy does it with a strong connection to its audience … while shirtless. They’re not as popular in the U.S. as overseas, where they fill stadiums, but you have my seal of approval to check them out the next time they pass through.