The Best Gigs of 2015: AU Editor’s Picks

Last week we published our contributors’ picks for the best gigs of 2015, bringing up memories of some diverse, amazing shows by local and international artists alike. Below we’ve got some memories from our editors from the year past, taking in shows both in Australia and abroad. Roll on 2016…

Sosefina Fuamoli

#1 Gig of 2015: Marlon Williams at Jive (July)

Marlon performed a blistering live show in Adelaide in December, which was amazing, but easily the highlight of my year of attending live shows in Adelaide and around the traps was seeing him for the first time back in July. I’d been a fan for ages but had missed every chance I’d had to see the New Zealander play until his Jive headline show. Everyone had gone on about how wonderful Marlon’s voice is (rightly so), but hearing “When I Was a Young Girl” performed live with Marlon shrouded in darkness, I didn’t realise what a gift he harnesses. You could hear a pin drop in the venue and it felt like we were all waiting for him to let us know it was okay to exhale again.

2. Gang of Youths at the Exeter Hotel (May)

This was the first time I had seen Gang of Youths live and it just so happened to be that they were playing in the beer garden of my local pub. I was apprehensive as to how a band like this would go at the Exeter, so rocking up early worked well in my favour, as trying to cram over 200 people in a small space went as well as you’d expect it to. I remember being stood on a bench right next to a speaker for much of the night, so any technical criticisms of the audio I could offer went out the window quickly but it didn’t matter. The soul and the heart that came through every wail, guitar thrash and sing along was enough to have everyone in the near vicinity captivated.

3. FKA twigs at the Laneway Festival (February)

FKA twigs stepping out on to the stage during the early evening portion of the Laneway program in Adelaide last year was something to beheld. All I remember is that voice cutting through the smoke and her tiny but incredibly figure standing strongly on the stage while the rest of us plebs suffered in the sweaty heat below. She’s such an interesting artist to watch move around the stage, it was obvious that when she performs, twigs goes to another place in her head – you’d have to, to be able to channel that type of energy.

4. Run the Jewels at The Belmont during SXSW, Texas (March)

Run the Jewels weren’t supposed to play The Belmont this night. Doctors had warned Killer Mike off any further live shows following his altercation with some wanker a few showcases earlier that day, but the duo rocked up as if nothing had happened and delivered a set that blew my mind. They performed after Hannibal Burress had done a stand up set, so nobody was really amped up for a blistering rap set but it didn’t take long for Killer Mike and El-p to whip everyone up into a frenzy and start mosh pits in the small area allocated for punters.

5. SEEED at Lollapalooza, Berlin (September)

I’d never heard of SEEED before arriving at the festival and on the final night, I was weary but ready to party to some music I’d no expectations of. The multi-piece instantly reminded me of the Melbourne Ska Orchestra in terms of the fun they bring to their live shows but the sampling of popular hits at the time (“Turn Down For What” etc) mixed in with live percussion and urgent call-response sequences in German just made the experience something else entirely. SEEED were the penultimate act on Lollapalooza’s program on this particular side of the festival site, with Muse scheduled to headline, and I’d honestly say there were more people walking away afterward not even caring if they saw the headliners or not.

Larry Heath

#1 Gig of 2015: Paul McCartney at Lollapalooza, Chicago (July)

The ultimate bucket list performance did not disappoint. He played so many of my favourite songs, was accompanied by an incredible backing band… it felt like the show I had been waiting my whole life to see. Alabama Shakes performed right before him as well, and the whole atmosphere was just buzzing… and by the time McCartney started, there was barely a dry eye in the house. You can read some more words about the performance HERE and HERE.

2. Neil Young in his first ever show in Vermont, USA (July)

This was a pretty special show to witness. In what was Neil Young’s first ever show in the US state of Vermont – which was a pretty big deal for fans of the artist. But it had even more signifcance as Vermont was the first State in the US to pass legislation making GMO labelling mandatory. And given his most recent album – The Monsanto Years – tackles that very subject, this is something close to Young’s heart. Given this, he delivered the best show I’ve ever seen from the great artist – jamming and shredding his guitar alongside Willie Nelson’s kids (Promise of the Real, his backing band) and showing no signs of slowing down. You can read more about the show in the article I penned for Noise 11 HERE.

3. Gang of Youths at BIGSOUND (September)

Having known the band for many years, and seeing them in various settings – where the audience was anything from disinterested to reasonably impressed, it was a BIGSOUND I finally got to see them with a crowd appreciated for how amazing they are. There was an incredible vibe in the room, as they sung along to every word of The Positions – which was finally getting the traction it deserved.  Dave and the band were on point, too. I have to say I was a bit emotional about it all – and it’s gigs like this you never forget.

4. TV on the Radio at the Sydney Opera House (June)

What a band – and what a show! Here’s a bit taken from my original review:

They delivered the sort of set that the venue deserved, and it wouldn’t be the last time they would grace its stage, but really all this just reinforced to me what a solid live band they are. Over the years – some 10 now that I’ve been watching them perform – they’ve never disappointed. And tonight was no exception.

5. Slaves at The Great Escape (May)

It’s a performance that has stuck with me all year – this rowdy UK group delivering an intense show that ended up closing out my Great Escape Festival for 2015. One of the bands you need to add to your “must see” list. Here’s a bit of what I said about the show at the time:

I ended my festival witnessing one of the most talked about bands of the event, Slaves (not to be confused with the Jonny Craig project of the same name). This two piece deliver classic UK punk with HUGE energy, hilarious banter and were easily the most entertaining band I’d see all weekend. A spectacular note to end it on, with tracks like “Cheer Up London” and “Where’s Your Car Debbie?” proving particularly fun on the VEVO stage, and “Feed The Mantaray” seeing a Manatray crowd surf  – before the band joined in themselves. It was so much fun that I want to experience it all over again.

Plus special mentions to: Mew at the Manning Bar and at SXSW, Royal Blood on The Island (Sydney) and at Laneway Singapore, Sufjan Stevens at the Opera House, Hot Chip at the SXSW Samsung Party and Father John Misty at the Opera House!