As you can probably tell from my Instagram page, 2018 was an incredible year for live music, and makes me wonder how this year will top it!
After watching hundreds of shows, I could easily make a much longer list of amazing acts, but I'm here to hand pick my 20 unforgettable moments that really stood out on stage. Here we go, in alphabetical order!
3TEETH at Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Ringing in NYE with Rammstein is really the perfect way to say goodbye to 2018, made only stronger by a 1-2 knock out of performances starting with Industrial-metal gems, 3Teeth. Although this is the second time I've watched these lads open for the german pyro monsters, it was an entirely different presence all together. Comfortable on a massive stage, they ripped through their saw-wave infused wall of heavy and commanded the crowd in a sea of cheers and hand-clapping. Truly a great moment for this growing band!
AMENRA at Saint Vitus Bar
Belgium's Amenra brought their monumental block of thunder upon Saint Vitus and simultaneously crushed my soul and blew my mind. Complete with visuals that enhance their already awe inspiring music, it was simply an unforgettable set made only better by its intimate setting at Saint Vitus.
BEHEMOTH at Playstation Theater
Behemoth released an opus album this year, and it was followed by the largest headlining set they've ever attempted this side of the Atlantic Ocean. I'be been fortunate to see their first ever live show in the U.S. 15 years ago, and what a tremendous ride it's been to watch them flourish into a world wide mainstay that pivoted their career with this very show, a sold out night at NYC's largest theater. Suffice to say, they came, they saw, they conquered all!
CELTIC FROST Set By Triptykon at The Wiltern
This year's Decibel Magazine Metal And Beer Fest was a total family reunion, and all around killer time, not to be outshined by the insane talent assembled for the fest. Every band was firing on all cylinders, but the crowning moment was of course Triptykon, lead by legendary Tom G. Warrior, to perform an entire set of Celtic Frost! It was fucking flawless in every way, and something I never thought I'd see in my lifetime.
CULT OF LUNA & JULIE CHRISTMAS at Roadburn Festival
Roadburn Festival had so many incredible bands I just couldn't miss, and the final performance of Cult Of Luna with Julie Christmas was easily one of them. My second time watching the pair perform their opus collaboration, Mariner, was just as good as my first, complete with all the hair standing tingles and heart swelling moments.
DEPECHE MODE at Barclays Center
Having seen DM several times between the early 90's and now, I knew I was in for a great performance, but as they churned out favorite after favorite, it's clearer than ever that they'll forever be one of the greatest acts you'll ever find on record, or on stage.
EMPEROR at Heavy Montreal
Having flown overseas to see Emperor before, why wouldn't I drive to our friendly neighbors in the north to see this legendary band perform their seminal LP, Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk in its entirety!? As the band were about to take stage, a massive downpour came down and completely drenched everyone in attendance, causing no one to leave, but collectively scream, roar, headbang and cheer Emperor to take the stage. They went on to provide the crazy wet crowd with a performance of a lifetime!
GOJIRA at Heavy Montreal
I'm reaching dangerous levels of how many times I've seen the kings of French groove on stage, but I could easily do it 100 more. Pinned in the middle of the pit, I took off my glasses and had the time of my life screaming and jumping alongside hundreds of others, as we celebrated one of the highlight bands at Heavy Montreal this year. I particularly love watching them outdoors, because their festival set up includes lots of bigger pyro, enhancing their already flawless show.
GRAVE PLEASURES at Roadburn Festival
Grave Pleasures was one of the bands I most looked forward to at Roadburn, having been a fan since their Beastmilk days, and them never playing the States, it was finally time. Naturally, they did not disappoint! As they slid from catchy song to catchy song, with a stage dressed in skulls and natural born rockers, their charm was simply infectious. It doesn't hurt that their 2017 release was one of my favorite albums of last year, so the setlist was ripe!
IGORRR at Roadburn Festival
I have flown out to see Igorrr at festival settings in the past, so I already knew what a tremendous show they put on, but their vigor at this year's Roadburn festival was something for the books. Even the company around me were literally left with their jaw open, how many times do you actually see that legitimately happen in real life!?
INSOMNIUM at 70,000 Tons Of Metal
Although I've seen amazing Insomnium sets so many times before, they took the stage at this year's 70,000 tons with a vision to stomp every other band on the ship. As they went through each song like a Mike Tyson combo, they became the center of everyone's attention, captivating every onlooker that gave them a single moment, and concluded with what was probably the best show I've ever seen them perform. Way to steal the show!
ISIS at The Wiltern
The passing of Cave In's Caleb Scofield was a terrible tragedy that shook the metal world, and remaining members have been doing their part to raise money for his family since. The Los Angeles edition of their tribute included the one night reunion of Isis, under the moniker Celestial, and it was spine tingling perfection! The reunion managed to bring people from all over the world under one roof, and it did not go unnoticed by the band, as they crushed their way through songs we all wanted to hear and missed so dearly. They were so on point you would have never known it was their first show together since 2010, proving that kind of chemistry is simply untouchable.
MISFITS at The Prudential Center
WHAT AN EXPERIENCE! Truth be told, I'm a huge misfits fan since I was a little kid. My house reeks of memorabilia from all my time in the Fiend Club. So when they announced the limited reunion was coming back to NJ, where the band started, I went ape shit! I tossed in some contacts, wore some run down clothes, and went to the pit on my own without any friends. Who the fuck needs them when you have thousands of other screaming, pushing, jumping maniacs belting out Misfits lyrics along with you? Simply put, I had the literal time of my life at this show, it transported me back to my early teenage years, of course with the addition of an iPhone so I could secretly snap this Danzig-unapproved shot you see.
NINE INCH NAILS AT Kings Theater
After last year's NIN take over in NYC, many questioned how they'd do it again. Welp, they wasted no time with a series of underplay shows in two boroughs of NYC that saw them perform over 75 songs from their catalog, as I point out in my post. I was fortunate to catch their set at the legendary King's Theater in Brooklyn, where Trent & Co. took the crowd on a ride through the years and phases of their discography. It was so fucking good, I did it all again the very next night!
PARADISE LOST at Gramercy Theater
Paradise Lost has always been one of my favorite doom bands in metal history. It's so rare that a band is so unique you can tell them apart from just a couple notes, but PL really is that sort of package. For their 30th anniversary tour, the band assembled a set list that visited every era of their discography in one unforgettable night that included songs I havent heard them perform since the 90's and some never before!
SATYRICON at Gramercy Theater
It's never easy to say farewell, and doing so to one of black metal's finest is simply cruel. Such is the case with Satyricon who conducted their farewell to the United States tour this year, since their last appearance here 9 long years ago. Running through a set list that amassed the last 25 years of the band's existence, it was perfect in every damn way, and the crowd only made it better with thunderous roars that would wake up Satan himself!
SLAYER at PNC Bank Arts Center
Some of the biggest news of the year has been the farewell tours surrounding Slayer's long career. Simply put, metal seems unimaginable without the legendary band, but when it's time, it's time. In true Slayer fashion, the band crushed their final NY area performance not with a whimper, but with a massive bang! If you've seen Slayer in the last couple years you already know what to expect, relentless fan favorites, upside down crosses, a performance of a lifetime from legendary dudes, and enough pyro lathered on everything to make Rammstein blush. If you missed it, the band has just announced a few more dates recently for the "B market" cities, so better get on it before it's finally over!
SUFFOCATION at Gramercy Theater
Of all the final shows to roll through NYC this year, it was Frank Mullen's farewell gig with Suffocation that really shook the city to its core. I've been watching this band for 25 fucking years, and have never seen anything like it. Fans old to new all packed the room for a proper send off, a final glimpse at seeing That Thing Frank Mullen Does With His Hand, and the band reciprocated by pummeling through their set with such intensity that it was impossible to stand still. Arms and legs flung through the air like a 16 car collision, and rounded out a night that felt both like a celebration and funeral in one. It was easily the best set I've ever seen from Suffocation, and the best possible send off I could imagine for one of death metal's greatest vocalists.
THE ARMED at Saint Vitus Bar
My love for The Armed is certainly no secret on this website. Their batshit crazy antics and mesmerizing music finally made its way to Brooklyn this year, and it was everything I've ever hoped and dreamed for. At one point I found my jaw literally dropped, possibly from the sensory overload of being a voyeur to a swamp monster living life, while the band thrashed around like their medical bills are all expensed, during a sea food buffet, DEP-eque lightshow, smoke and folding tables involved… I'm still baffled by what happened that night, but it was easily one of the greatest god damn things I've ever experienced. I left the venue humming the words "WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED!?" only to wish I had a time machine to see it all over again.
TRIBULATION at Elsewhere
The vampiric kings of all things beautifully eerie returned to the states to support their opus, Down Below, and filled the room with their succulent vibes of a darker world. Complete with their usual fare of moody lights, smoke machines, and fabulous showman ship, they lead the audience down a dark fantasy with a set list that read like the greatest hits of Tribulation. Whether you've seen them a dozen times, or it was your first, there is no confusion that they are one of the greatest live bands around today!
WORMROT at Saint Vitus Bar
Singapore grind masters put out one of my favorite albums of 2016, and this year saw their return to the states for a handful of North East shows. The band smashed their way through the set in a fury I'll never forget, as the crowd simply went bananas for it, all within Brooklyn's Saint Vitus walls. It was fucking glorious!
YOB at Le Poison Rouge
The mighty Yob returned this year with Our Raw Heart, the band's emotionally driven album after frontman Mike Scheidt almost passed away. It was an honor to speak with Mike about the experience, only fortified by the vigor and emotion he displays each and every night. It was truly amazing to watch this trio create art together on stage a couple times this year, and their monster sound goes unmatched!
Zeal & Ardor at Copérnico in Spain
I've been fortunate to follow, report and watch this band since humble demo days, but watching Manuel & Co perform their first show ever in Madrid, Spain made it clear they are no longer the new kids on the block, but a mainstay for progressive thinking music. An impeccable sound, light show, and fan to artist connection, it was truly an epic and sincere moment to watch these guys soar. I couldn't be happier to watch it happen to these great group of guys.
Shout out to these other amazing live bands who would be on here if my list were longer: Yautja, Vampillia, Wadruna, Gatecreeper, Revocation, The Black Dahlia Murder, Jonathan Hulten, Cave In, Spotlights, Gost, Wolfheart, Gatecreeper, UADA, Mors Principium Est and so many more!