The Best Gigs of 2015: AU Contributor’s Picks

As we look toward another top year of live shows and musical discovery, our contributors have been ruminating on the best shows of last year, the ones that have stuck out and have set a standard for the following year to come.

Dan Turner (Photographer)
#1 Gig of 2015: Ben Frost at the Sydney Opera House

Melbourne expat and experimental artist Ben Frost put on one hell of a show at the Opera House in January. He was cloaked in darkness for the entire performance and you could only catch glimpses of him in between the pauses of the relentless strobe lighting. I closed my eyes for nearly all of his set and it felt like I was transported into another dimension.

2. Mercury Rev at the Oxford Art Factory (December)
3. Swans at Manning Bar (January)
4. Ministry at Metro Theatre (February)
5. Royal Headache at Hermann’s Bar (September)

(Credit: Johnny Au)
(Credit: Johnny Au)

Dylan Marshall (Journalist)
#1 Gig of 2015: Gang of Youths at the Oxford Art Factory

They’d released their debut LP, The Positions, less than two weeks before the set, but everyone in the crowd knew every song. They tore through the album like they’d been playing it for years, before throwing in a couple of their non-album tracks. As a hometown show, you could sense the band really wanted to put it on for the crowd. It wasn’t until they closed with “Vital Signs” that I truly appreciated how well crafted the entire album was, let alone the opening track. It was a delicious set that geniunely set them up for the bumper year they were about to have.

2. Paolo Nutini at the Enmore Theatre (March)
3. First Aid Kit at the Enmore Theatre (March)
4. Smith Street Band at Splendour in the Grass (July)
5. Belle & Sebastian at the Enmore Theatre (January)

(Credit: John Goodridge)
(Credit: John Goodridge)

John Goodridge (Photographer)
#1 Gig of 2015: KISS at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre

A true performance with fireworks, glam rock, make up and songs that showed why they’ve been around so long.

2. The Drones at The Gov (September)
3. Philadelphia Grand Jury at Jive (October)
4. Tex Perkins at the Festival Theatre (June)
5. Billy Idol at A Day on the Green (March)

(Credit: Ben Morse)
(Credit: Ben Morse)

Jennifer Quinlin (Journalist)
#1 Gig of 2015: Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls at the Corner Hotel

Always a brilliant experience seeing these guys live, but it was abonus to be treated to my favourite FT album, England Keep My Bones, in full. The energy on stage was matched by the crowd and it was the absolute standout show for me of 2015, even with a crowd surfing related kick to the head and an ambulance ride home after the show – worth it!

2. Chris Cornell at the Palais Theatre (December)
3. Foo Fighters at Etihad Stadium (February)
4. Jon Toogood at Cherry Bar (November)
5. 2Cellos at the Palais Theatre (January)


Lucy Inglis (Journalist)
#1 Gig of 2015: Buddy Guy at Legends (Chicago)

My favourite gig of the year was the incredible Buddy Guy at his own blues bar in Chicago, Legends. There to celebrate his 80-somethingth birthday (I had a slice of his cake), he jumped on stage to play a short but electrifying blues set broken up by stories of his childhood in Louisiana. Unforgettable.

2. St. Paul and the Broken Bones at Lollapalooza, Chicago (August)
3. Fanny Lumsden and The Thrillseekers at Newtown Hall (November)
4. Gary Clark Jr. at Metro Theatre (April)
5. Lucinda Williams at the Enmore Theatre (December)

(Credit: Stuart Sevastos)
(Credit: Stuart Sevastos)

Stuart Sevastos (Photographer)
#1 Gig of 2015: Blur at Perth Arena

It was one of the best sets I’ve photographed; you can feel the energy coming from singer Damon Albarn, he was bouncing around the stage like a kid, giving the crowd what they wanted and he even got up close and personal with a few of them. The band were having fun and everyone was enjoying it, which always makes the experience much better.

2. You Me At Six at Groovin’ the Moo Bunbury (April)
3. Kingswood at the Capitol (March)
4. sleepmakeswaves at The Rosemount Hotel (May)
5. Jebediah at The Astor Theatre (June)

(Credit: John Goodridge)
(Credit: John Goodridge)

Manuel Lainas (Journalist)
#1 Gig of 2015: Sticky Fingers at Groovin’ the Moo Oakbank

Even during and after singer volume troubles at the start of their set, the boys still went nuts and had the crowd struggling to keep their feet in the muddy mosh.

2. The Hives at Adelaide Oval (November)
3. Dune Rats at The Gov
4. The Delta Riggs at Fat Controller (November)
5. A$AP Ferg at Groovin’ the Moo Oakbank (April)

(Credit: Tony Proudfoot)
(Credit: Tony Proudfoot)

Tony Proudfoot (Photographer)
#1 Gig of 2015: Courtney Barnett, Adalita, Jen Cloher & Gareth Liddiard’s Patti Smith Tribute at Melbourne Town Hall

All gigs in 2015 paled in significance when compared to the Patti Smith tribute, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the release of her debut album Horses, as part of the Melbourne Festival at Melbourne Town Hall. Featuring Courtney Barnett, Adalita, Jen Cloher and my own personal man-crush, Gareth Liddiard, and a cracking backing band, this show was a masterclass in the art of channelling the subject.

Jen Cloher’s version of “Land” was sooo Patti Smith, as to leave you wondering whether she was indeed channelling the Grandmother of Punk. Incendiary. Enervating. Spine-chilling. Electrifying. She had every single person in the room in standing, mouth agape in adulation and sheer exaltation. I haven’t felt a rush of endorphins and euphoria at a gig since I was moved to tears at the Portishead set at the first Harvest Festival. I’m not going to add a second, third, fourth or fifth best to this list – there simply is no point.