What’s The Best Show You’ve Ever Been To?

Music… I don’t know where I’d be without it. It helps me concentrate when I write, it helps me sleep at night, and it lifts my spirits when I’m down. To me, there’s not much better than live music. I feel most alive when I’m lost in a crowd of people, when the air is buzzing with sound waves and the only reality is just that moment. Your senses are so full that all other worries, fear and anxiety get pushed out and it’s just you and the music. Concerts are all so different, depending on the band, the venue, the size, etc…but I always love hearing about which shows left the biggest impact on people. Here, Jemma, Brigette & I share the best shows we’ve ever been to. What’s yours?


Julia: My Morning Jacket, Bonnaroo 2008

I was with my best friend and this was THE show we went to Bonnaroo for that year. They didn’t go on until midnight, and you could feel the anticipation in the air…the energy they came out with was unreal, and they didn’t stop ’till close to 4am. They played almost all of their songs and about 10 or 15 awesome covers… fans of the band all pretty much agree it was the most epic show they’ve ever put on.


Jemma: Phoenix, Washington DC 2010

Before I moved to America I listened to their album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix nonstop, then when I moved to America I met a boy who loved them also. We drove from work here in Philly all the way to DC and back in one night. The show was awesome!


Brigette: Feist, Prospect Park 2008

I’ll never forget seeing Feist at Prospect Park in Brooklyn in the summer of 2008. It was a beautifully hot summer day, and right before she came on stage, it just began pouring rain. The atmosphere created simultaneously by the summer rain and by her beautiful voice is something I’ll always remember.

Tell us, what’s the best show you’ve ever been to?

My Morning Jacket image source; Feist image source.


  1. Radiohead, Cleveland, OH 2012 – Everything was perfection. Their physical set (the lights!), the set list, the weather, our seats, and of course the band. I stood there in awe of Thom Yorke the whole show and loved every second of it.

  2. Umphrey’s McGee at SummerCamp Music Festival in Illinois 2012. The third night of the festival was unbeatable

  3. The Dead Rothbury Music Festival 2010
    Umphreys McGee Hoxeyville music festival 2011
    The Black Keys

  4. Mumford & Sons, Rome, 2013: The venue was much smaller than anything they’ve played recently in the United States or England, and the intimacy was amazing. Plus, it was their bassist’s birthday, so the entire room sung Happy Birthday in English and Italian.

  5. This last week I went to a super small venue in which Lord Huron was headlining.
    I’ve seen them once before, but the confidence they’ve gained since had a HUGE effect on their stage presence.
    In a good way.
    Best show yet.
    (Also, just to share – the band Papa opened. I have never been so impressed with an opening band IN MY LIFE. Please do yourself a favor and listen to one of their tracks, and see them live. The bass player’s moves rival that of Thom Yorke’s… you will LOVE them.) Let me know what you think!

  6. Mumford & Sons, Hoboken NJ, Pier A, August 2012
    Outside on the pier with my sister; full fireworks show afterwards on the water. They played for so long that the city of Hoboken had to remind them there was a noise curfew and to end the show, they would have played all night. We walked away lifetime fans..

  7. Last week, my husband and I got to see our favorite band, Sigur Ros, play in Boston–what a beautiful experience! :)

  8. Phish, Miami, NYE 2011… thousands of balloons raining down, amazing people hugging each other everywhere, and a giant disco ball. It was so full of love and excitement and pure joy. But I can’t discount all the amazing local music fests around my town. We have a bluegrass festival that just ignites my body and turns me into a dancing fool!

  9. Vanessa Carlton. San Francisco’s Castro District. 2011. It was autumn, and I was wearing my favorite Free People dress. The place was an abandoned church turned into a bar, and Vanessa was there promoting her newest album, Rabbits on the Run. It was just her, a piano, and a guy with a guitar. She went through all her best work and even did “A Thousand Miles.” This time, though, it was completely stripped down, and now that the song was ten years old, sounded completely different. This version seemed to be more about a woman who knows how horrible the world can be, yet chooses to focus on the positive, rather than a naive little girl.

  10. Fleet Foxes. April 2009. The food court of UC Santa Barbara. Makeshift stage across from Panda Express. Strange setting, but everything incongruous evaporated when the band began to play. We were transfixed and transported as though Divinity were in the room– it was the purest essence of what music can and should be. I’ve seen some awesome shows, but nothing comes close to that night.

  11. Bon Iver, Sasquatch Music Festival 2012.
    The venue at the Gorge Amphitheater is amazing; sitting on a grassy hill with the view of the caverns of the river, in the hot weather surrounded by thousands of people sharing the same passion for music as you do.

  12. The White Stripes at the Cleveland Agora, 2003. I was right up against the stage and Jack White was so close I could’ve touched him. Amazing. Now the White Stripes and the Agora are no more. Sad.

  13. Hearing about that My Morning Jacket set at Bonnaroo 2008 is what made me decide to go to Bonnaroo in 2010. I’ve been back once (unfortunately not when MMJ played in 2011) and will be heading back to the farm again this year!

    My first MMJ show at Merriweather Post Pavillion in 2010 is probably the best show I’ve been to. Everything was just perfect about it…even my one friend who got way too drunk on Jack Daniels and passed out mid-show couldn’t put a damper on that night!

  14. Daft Punk at Lollapalooza 2007, hands down. Hoping to see them again soon with the release of a new album in May!

  15. Fleet Foxes, October 2010…. unbelievable. It was in a 100 year old theatre that only seated about 300 people. I drank Shipyard Pumpkinhead beer and listened to some of the most amzing music I’ve ever heard. 4 part harmony… Some of the most talented people I’ve ever seen or heard.

  16. Best show I’ve seen was No Doubt on their seven night stand tour in December 2012! Most amazing show live. They played all of their hits along with their amazing new album. It was so cool seeing so many loyal fans & amazing to watch them rock out doing what they love to do

  17. Phish Madison Square Garden, so much energy and excitement and an unforgettable trip with my best friends!

  18. Bon Iver at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, CA. It was late september, and summer night air was still lingering as people huddled together in this crazy stone stepped, outdoor venue. It was magical.

  19. I have one that stands out to me, it is might not be my most favorite, but it is one of my most memorable. Our school brought a few artists to play in our tiny outdoor EMU amphitheater for free. Everyone was so excited and the majority of the university tried to cram into such a small space. Living in Oregon it was inevitable that it would start to rain, and during Yeasayer a small sprinkle started. The bright colorful lights bouncing off of the raindrops was the coolest thing I had ever seen, along with the wonderful music of Yeasayer.

  20. Mumford and sons and Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeroes in Melbourne, Australia. The quality of both the bands and their sound and stage presence is unreal. So much amazingness!

  21. phish ~ favorite shows..all time favorite band. looking forward to this summa tour and the gorge!

  22. Jemma, I was at that Phoenix concert! I agree it was a great one, plus I’d just finished my last day of classes for the semester and it was nice to let off some steam before finals, and dancing on stage at the end was amazing!

    I have 2 favorite concerts, I can’t chose! Dispatch’s Zimbabwe benefit concert at Madison Square Garden during the summer of 2007 is one. I discovered Dispatch after they’d already broken up and I was upset that I’d never get to see them live, until this reunion concert! I was sitting in the rafters and on a lot of medications because I’d just had surgery a few days before, but it was so awesome to be surrounded by people who were so passionate about both the band and the cause. I saw Dispatch again last year and it just wasn’t the same.

    The second is Imagine Dragons at Irving Plaza last year… they’d just gotten recognition at the VMAs that weekend and their first full-length album came out the day before, so it felt like I was catching them just on the cusp of making it big. I was so happy to be seeing them in such a small venue because I had a feeling that the next time they came to NYC they’d be in a much larger venue (which is true.) Plus my friend and I snuck into the VIP area, which was pretty fun :)

  23. Matt and Kim all the wayyyyy. Kim twerks on the crowd and Matt makes the best jokes!Its perfeeecctt

  24. Peelander Z at Red 7 and Fun Fun Fun Fest. I have never seen a band with more energy. Gotta love “Japanese action comic punk”

  25. Brett Dennen- Ram’s head live Baltimore, MD
    can’t get over his tye-dye shirts and bare feet!

  26. THE LUMINEERS-in Melbourne Australia this last weekend!!! they played at an intimate venue, but the room was full of love. and they asked everyone to put their phones away and just be in the moment. The crowd sang along with the band and you could really feel the music. half way through they hoped off the stage and played in the middle of the crowd. it was amazing.

  27. Fleet Foxes – Austin, TX. There was a huge drought in Texas that Spring and it was about 90 degrees as everyone waited standing for the show. 10 minutes before they came on it rained for the first time in 5 months and cooled everyone off. It was the gentle kind of rain too – made the atmosphere eerie and perfect.

  28. Bonnaroo 2010 Jay-Z was absolutely amazing!!!! He performed his heart out, and you could just feel that he was totally in that moment, embracing the whole vibe right along with you. It felt so intimate somehow, because the whole crowd was so captivated together. During his last song “Forever Young” my friend and I actually cried because it was just so special!!!

  29. Wilco at McCarren Park Pool in Brooklyn in 2008, Fox Theater in Atlanta in 2010, and at Prospect Park in Brooklyn this past summer. You have to see them live.

  30. Iron and Wine at the Rocky Mountain Folk Fest in Colorado last year <3 I even got to meet Sam Beam! I flew all the way from Florida to meet my best friend who goes to school in Colorado and I had planned the trip around this show. It was magical! There was this pretty little river near the mountains that bordered the show and the stars were so bright even though it had rained earlier. After he was done singing, we went around to the back and talked with the beautiful bearded man and got pictures with him! I walked away before I got too creepy and cried a little bit on the way to the car…

  31. Jack Johnson at Southside Music Festival (germany) 2010: It was my first out of three times going to Southside, the rain wouldnt stop, the mud came up to my knees and I didnt pack enough dry socks. My two best friends and I managed to climb through the crowd and snug some sweet spots in the second row. The set list was great, he is such a sweet heart when he talks to the audience, and he played a new song that became my circle of friends’ anthem for the year, “Girl I Wanna Lay You Down”. Everything was great, even with the rain and mud. But then, right as he started playing “Banana Pancakes”, everyone’s rainy day anthem, the sun started coming out! By the end of the song everyone was shedding their layers and dancing to the music facing up like we were solar powered. Best set ever!

  32. MGMT at House of Blues 2010 – MGMT was absolutely spectacular but that show led me to the discovery of my favorite band tame impala who happened to open for them, which leads to seeing Tame Impala at Fitzgeralds this year.. I’ve never gotten so lost (or found I should say) into the music as that show simply because their lyrics hold so many truths for me..

    Also Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2012 at the New Orleans Arena.. that show brought literal tears to me and my friends eyes haha you could feel this common emotion and unity throughout the crowd as we jammed together holding hands it was pure child-like joy!!

  33. Yonder Mountain String Band and Umphreys McGee at the Saranac Brewery – The venue it self it quiet small but the two bands threw down and played unbelievable sets and than together to close the night. Doesn’t matter the scene just go support live music!

  34. Phish Deercreek 2010 & MSG new years all nights that year. Always great energy and fun times with the Phish:)

  35. 1. Jack’s Mannequin at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago in 2007
    2. Cassino every time I see them in my hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas. They don’t tour much, but they are an amazing, highly underrated band
    3. North Mississippi Allstars! These guys invented the electric washboard if that tells you anything
    4. Frightened Rabbit in 2010 & I’m seeing them again next week :)

  36. RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS at the Oracle Arena in Oakland 2012! It was a dream come true to see them so close up, they are legends who kick ass live!! Nothing but LOVE that night! Also COLDPLAY at the HP Pavillion in San Jose, CA 2012!! I came out feeling like a better person, definitely spiritual and beautiful show! Shakira was amazing too in Oakland!!

  37. It’s going to be when I see FLEETWOOD MAC in June!!!! AHHHHHH! SORRY FOR ALL CAPS, I CAN’T CONTAIN IT!

  38. i saw feist at a tiny venue several years ago and it was amazing—the best was actually probably sam beam in athens ga though, just a year or so ago. he had a ten-piece band, at a small venue where we sat on couches, and beam’s sister even came along and duetted with him. it was so low key yet completely thought out—i want to do it all over again.

  39. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
    Charleston, SC 2012

    Their energy and involvement with the audience is incredible! So many good vibes!

  40. I agree that there’s nothing better than a live show!! My favorite show is always changing (among my favorites to see live are Passion Pit [2008, 2009, teeny tiny $7 shows, PACKED to the gills and sweaty], Tallest Man on Earth [2010, so sexy live], Girls [2010, had live flowers attached to mics and around the stage, and threw them into the crowd at the end!], Dirty Projectors [2009, 2012–such nice people! I’ve had the chance to talk to a few members after the show both times I’ve seen them, and can’t praise them enough]…but most recently I saw Desaparecidos in DC, and the energy was just INCREDIBLE. The opening band, Joyce Manor [http://joycemanor.bandcamp.com/] may be the best live band I’ve ever seen, and their eponymous album has been on repeat since I saw the show in February. Worth checking out if you’re a fan of 2003-era pop punk :)

  41. Also–how could I forget–WHY? puts on an AMAZING show, and their performances just been getting better and better as time goes on. I saw them at Le Poisson Rouge in 2009 and again recently, both shows felt oddly close to a religious experience. Yoni Wolf! http://www.myspace.com/whyanticon

  42. Last year, The Black Keys were at the Frequency Festival in Austria! The XX played there as well and it was amazing! It was the singers birthday and it was soooo cool, the croud sang happy birthday and their music is live, in that atmosphere, even more hypnotifying!

  43. Arcade Fire at Bonnaroo 2011, and Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown/Rival Sons show at Wooly’s in Des Moines, Iowa! 70’s rock vibe <3

  44. Leonard Cohen Old Ideas tour Dec 2012, london. ontario. Music doesn’t get any better!

  45. Foo Fighters at the Agora Theatre in Cleveland, May ’96. Dave Grohl needing to shed that “Drummer from Nirvana” stigma, proved his F’n point.

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