Jessica’s Favorite Performances of 2014

It was a bit harder this year to really narrow down my top performances. I saw 114 different bands in 2014 (thanks mostly to a couple of great festivals) so you can see why it might have been a bit of a task to narrow it down to just 10 like I did last year. I found that it was fitting to do the top 14 performances for 2014.

14: Silent Lions
This Columbus duo pack quite the wallop in their live performance proving that even on the smallest stage you can still melt faces. It was quite amazing to see SiLi grow over the past year from their small performance at the Secret Friends Fest in January to a rather impressive crowd when they opened up for Electric Six at Saint Andrew’s Hall a couple of months ago. I’m a bit sad that I couldn’t make it to their last show as Silent Lions but excited to see what the guys have in store for the future.

13: Hollow & Akimbo
Hollow & Akimbo’s self-titled album will probably be making my favorite list this year so it only makes sense that their live performances would as well. Their hometown show was not to be missed and it was a wonderful surprise to see the guys added to the second day of Chill on the Hill as the opener. What truly surprised me and earned the duo a place on this list was how well their intricately layered sound translated flawlessly into their live show.

12: Prawn
I was very excited to see that one of my favorite new discoveries of the year was making a stop in Michigan. The guys played in one of my favorite venues and because it’s so small you can almost imagine that they are there playing just for you. I think Prawn managed to cover all of my favorites off of Kingfisher in their too short opening set and left me wanting much more after they left the stage. Here’s hoping for more new music and another tour in 2015.

11: Flint Eastwood
Another local band that had a big year was Flint Eastwood. I got out to see these guys just about as often as I could this year because no matter how I feel they can always find a way to lift me up and make me feel infinite. Their live show rivals any other band’s that I’ve seen both big and small and I’m certain that it’s only a matter of time until Flint Eastwood is selling out large arenas. Rumor has it that there’s a full length LP coming our way in 2015 and I can’t wait to get my greedy little hands on it.

10: Tunde Olaniran
Part of what made the Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. show so amazing was opening act Tunde Olaniran. He got the crowd up and ready for the evening ahead with his set which is just as much about the visual performance as it is about his music. Olaniran does an amazing job complimenting his catchy beats with choreographed dance which is more like performance art than anything else. After catching him three times this year I feel confident saying that it won’t be long before we see Tunde Olaniran headlining his own sold out shows.

9: Band of Skulls
Possibly one of my most anticipated shows of the year and one that I was happy to get to share with my mom. Everything about that night was perfect from the atmosphere that filled Saint Andrew’s Hall to the great setlist the British trio put together. The crowd was one of the best I got to experience, they were excited to see the band and it was just one of those shows where everyone seemed to be friends. Strangers were dancing and singing together and it made the show a must for this list.

8: Motion City Soundtrack
It’s been a while since I’ve gotten to see MCS play live and I can’t describe the excitement I felt when I saw that they’d be coming in for Metro Times Blowout this year. It was great to walk in to the small, intimate venue and see members of the band scattered among the crowd, talking to fans and just enjoying the evening before their set. I managed to get a great spot close to the stage and sing and dance my heart out to one of my all time favorite bands. The evening was pure magic and writing about it reminds me that I still need to get tickets for the their Commit This to Memory Tour coming around this year.

7: Jeremy Messersmith
I loved seeing Jeremy Messersmith so much in February that I instantly bought tickets for his June show as soon as they went on sale. Heart Murmurs was another favorite album of the year, staying on repeat for weeks after it was released. The setlist didn’t vary much for the second show, but honestly I didn’t care because so many of my favorite tracks were on it. If I’m lucky, he’ll tour again in 2015 and if the odds are ever in my favor, he’ll hit Detroit twice again.

6: The Offspring
Chill on the Hill was a pretty epic set of days with so many bands that I was very excited to see live. The Offspring were near the top of that list and the amount of time I waited to finally get to see them live was well worth it. If you left early that night, and a lot of people did, you really missed out an an amazing performance. After powering through one of their best albums, Smash, they played another long list of personal and crowd favorites. I don’t think there could have been a better way to end day one of that amazing weekend.

5: Bastille
These guys just happened to come to town right when I was obsessed with their album, Bad Blood. It was one of my first shows of the year and a great way to kick off 2014. There was so much energy packed into the Royal Oak Music Theatre that night and because there was only one opening band, there weren’t many songs that Bastille didn’t play. Jaci got to see them again a few months ago and said that the setlist was the same as when we saw them but I don’t think that I would have minded getting to experience that marvelous evening again.

4: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
I’ve actually seen DEJJ before, a couple of summers ago at Arts, Beats, and Eats but I don’t really count that night. First of all it was so hot and humid that it was hard to even breathe without sweating let alone enjoy live music. Most importantly whoever was doing the sound that night was failing miserably. Thankfully the Detroit duo more than made up for it with their show this year. They had an amazing opener (see number 10) to get the crowd pumped and then kept that energy going all night long. I’m sad I missed their shows at the Crofoot a few weeks ago but I’ve promised myself that those will be the last DEJJ shows that I ever miss.

3: Say Anything
I can safely say that any year that I get to see Say Anything is a year that they will make my top performances list. The experience of seeing them live is one that I chase every time I get out to a concert. There’s so much love shared between the fans and band that it’s infectious to anyone that attends whether they love them or not. Getting to hear …Is A Real Boy from start to finish would have been good enough but, of course getting treated to an encore of favorite tracks from across the band’s discography made the night even better. Now that I’ve been spoiled with at least one show a year from Say Anything, I don’t know what kind of withdrawals I’ll go through if I have to wait longer than that to see them again.

2: Mo Pop Festival
I know this list is titled “favorite performances” of the year but there were just too many great ones that I experienced at Mo Pop Festival that I could fit them all on this list. Plus it’s my blog and I can do whatever I want. The lineup was packed with old and new favorites so I knew it was going to be a great day long before I even set foot inside Freedom Hill. Granted, there were a lot of bands that I would have loved to see a longer set for, most of all Tokyo Police Club, but shorter sets meant seeing more amazing bands so I was okay with it. Most of all, Young the Giant and City and Colour closed out the evening perfectly.

1: Alt-J
Perhaps the only easy slot to fill on this list was number one. I knew as soon their show started that night that this spot was reserved for Alt-J. To be honest, I knew as soon as I secured my ticket that they would show up pretty high on this list. Their album, An Awesome Wave, was easily my most played album of the year and I’m sure that This Is All Yours is right up there with it. The performance was both a musical and visual spectacle that had me captivated for the entire evening, further cementing Alt-J as one of my favorite bands of all time.