2017 Best Shows

Best tickets we actually purchased

Britt (Bon Iver @ The Palace) – Okay, props to Aubrey because she was on her purchasing game for these Bon Iver tickets. The simplistic light display was all that accompanied Justin Vernon and his band on stage throughout the night, flashing and strobing in sync to each of Bon Iver’s indie, ethereal songs. The guy sitting next to me kept on saying to his friends how he couldn’t believe he was actually there to witness Vernon’s genius on stage, and I think that guy said it all.

Aub (same as above) – I’ve got to follow up on Britt’s description, because this, too, was the best show we actually purchased tickets for in my opinion. Honestly, it may have been my favorite show of the entire year. It was certainly a bucket list show for me, hence the good seats, and even with the hype Justin Vernon and crew lived up to my expectations. The show, though behind 2017’s 22, A Million, covered the gambit of Bon Iver’s work, putting slight twists on the staples we love. I was enthralled the entire time, completely present in the moment. The layered sound, the simple but choreographed lights, Vernon’s intense attention, and the sold out Palace made for an unforgettable night.

Best venue for a show

Britt (Zanzabar) – In case you’ve been living under a rock, Zbar underwent a MAJOR remodel that was finished this spring. The bar/venue separation is great for noise control (especially on those Saturday nights when the GlitterTitz crowd shows up early…), and the added bathrooms are *clutch* when the space gets crowded. Personally, my favorite parts include the woodsy murals and the fact that you can now actually see the bands on stage, even if you’re not in the front row. Well done, Zanzabar folks. OH, and shoutout to the Vectortone boys for always hooking us up 🙌.

Aub (same as above) – This is what I get for writing my parts second…but ditto to my lady Britt. Zanzabar has always been one of my favorite local spots for a show – the old space was intimate and very rock and roll. The new space still has the same Zbar feel but with a little more sophistication. The stage is raised enough that a shorty like me can see from almost anywhere, the sound is on point, and the new lights/murals create a nice little ambiance. What else could I ask for? We saw a lot of fantastic shows at Zbar this year and are confident those Vectortone boys will continue to bring it in 2018.

Best WFPK Waterfront/Winter Wednesday

Britt (Iron & Wine, James Lindsey, In Lightning) – Originally, White Reaper was set to headline this bill to make it a hometown event, but had to forfeit that opportunity because they were asked to open for Spoon (so, duh). LPM came through, though, with the Iron & Wine invite. This was hands down the most crowded Waterfront Wednesday I have ever been to, which ultimately was probably good exposure for James Lindsey and In Lightning. I&W busted out crowd favorites all night long for this August edition.

Aub (Strand of Oaks, Low Cut Connie, The Zach Longoria Project // River Whyless, John Paul White) – With the closing of The Clifton Center, there haven’t been any Winter Wednesdays to close out this season, but last year’s finale was a good one. River Whyless is a funky Asheville band that we enjoyed getting acquainted with, and John Paul mother effing White?! If that was the last show I attend at that space, I guess this is the kind of memory I want to have. The 2017 Waterfront Wednesday was also solid, with at least one local band being highlighted each month. Britt’s pick was maybe the largest WFW crowd I’ve ever seen and was a lot of fun, but I have to give it to the rock heavy July edition, including my personal fav Strand of Oaks.

Best freebie

Britt (Broods @ Mercury Ballroom) – This one sort of came up last minute, and unfortunately couldn’t stay for the whole thing, but it was a good time for the short amount of time I was there. Jeffrey invited me to dinner with the band beforehand, we chatted about New Zealand (because, duh), and they got me in to the show + a photo pass…tiiiight. Thanks, Broods! Come back soon, y’all.

Aub (All of the local summer series) – Warm weather has become synonymous with outdoor music in Louisville. Besides Waterfront Wednesday, there are a number of local monthly series that take place and showcase the music scene here. They are usually free, so we are always in there. From Rye Back Porch Sessions to The Local Lineup at Against The Grain to weekly gigs at Goodwood and other places around the city, we are appreciative of all the free stuff out there (cough cough you should be too).

8.31 PM
The Local Lineup | Against The Grain

Best show to snap some photos

Britt (Future Islands @ Mercury & Bunbury Music Festival) – So our photos didn’t come out that well for Future Islands because Samuel T. Herring has moves like a mothaf*cka, but we did get some dope boomerangs that we will treasure forever. And while the photo policies at Bunbury didn’t exactly make the festival all that enjoyable, some of the photos I got were my favorites for the year, so I have to give the riverfront fest some credit.

Aub (J. Cole @ Mercury & Lil Wayne @ The Palace) – Admittedly, Britt did a lot more of the photography this year…I’ll make it a new years resolution to get in there some more this year. That being said, two shows that stood out to me, not necessarily for the quality of the photos, but for the experience were J. Cole and Lil Wayne. Lil Wayne and I share a birthday and I’ll proudly admit he is one of my favorite rappers of all time…going waaaay back. J. Cole is one of the best on the scene right now. Both shows only allowed 3 songs of shots and then I had to dip out, but trust me I made the most of that short time in the near vicinity of the two talented artists. I was in heaven.

Best festival

Britt (Lollapalooza) – Aubrey, Leigh Anne, and Jeffrey can all attest that the weekend wasn’t perfect – between my boot breaking, evacuating Lorde’s set, some sound quality at various stages, the SHEER NUMBER OF PEOPLE – but overall, I had a damn good time at Lollapalooza. I understand why some folks are turned off by the short sets you’re given at festivals, especially if it’s an artist you haven’t seen before. Mostly, I love the festival atmosphere, and how you complain about seeing 10+ amazing bands in the same day, for four days straight?! The Red Bull area access didn’t hurt either – clean bathrooms ftw. All in all, this was a wonderful way to wrap up the summer.

Aub (Shaky Knees) – This is a little ceremonious as we will not be attending our 5th Shaky Knees this year – there is a scheduling conflict with DERBY YOU STUPID FOOLS. So I will shoutout the May fest that has been a staple for us the past 4 years. This year was a wonderful time, as always, including stellar sets by Whitney, Nick Murphy, The XX, J Roddy, and Hamilton Leithauser, to name a few. We will miss y’all ☹️.

Best festival set

Britt (Teddy & Friends @ Forecastle) – I honestly could not stop raving about this set after it happened. I realize everyone else at Forecastle was raving about Run The Jewels (and I’m very glad I caught their full act at Lolla), I just can’t help but love on the local talent that showed up and showed out on the Port Stage. Everyone who was part of the Forecastle Symphony core band to all of the guest appearances, it was all so wonderful. Bravo, Teddy and friends.

Aub (Chance The Rapper @ Bonnaroo) – I was lucky enough to see the man of the year twice this summer (Roo and Lolla) but I have to give the Bonnaroo set my best festival set award. I loved last year’s release, Coloring Book, and with all the hype, the independent artist had garnered since its release, the anticipation had built up and was finally released. Ya feel me? Earlier in the day, Chance came out to dance his portion of maybe my song of the year, “May I Have This Dance (remix)” with Francis and The Lights, but take two during his set was even better. I lost my damn mind. I was on such a high after this set that I couldn’t even pull it together for RHCP or the superjam later in the evening that Chance apparently also killed. That should tell you something.

Best show we traveled for

Britt (MoonTower Music Festival) – This wasn’t too far away, just a quick trip down 64 to Lexington, and it was our second time at the festival. The main act that we were stoked for was Benjamin Booker, and boy did he de-liv-er. Even when he broke the strap (& a string?) on his guitar, Benny Booker was undeterred. It was also fun to catch a glimpse of Del McCoury, who was there in support of his sons, and jam out to The Record Company, Todd Snider, Cherub, and Umphree’s. This little fest did good this year.

Aub (Middle Waves Music Festival) – This was the second year and second trip for us, and it was another wild success. There were a few big names on the bill, but it was the lesser known acts that made the day for me. I really, really enjoyed the retro vibes of The Lemon Twigs, who were unknown to me beforehand, Flint Eastwood was a ball of firey bad-ass-ness, Thao and The Get Down Stay Down were impressive in the musicianship, and MGMT was all the nostalgia you could imagine. I definitely am a little biased, but I can’t reiterate how exciting it is to see my hometown doing cool, innovative stuff.

Best Louisville find

Britt (Louisville Rock Lottery) – This national concept was just introduced to Louisville this year, and I’m already excited about the upcoming event in January. I’m not a musician, but I think it has to be exhilarating to have to form a new band and come up with a few songs together all in 12 hours. The first edition was hugely successful and the second annual show has a stacked set, once again.

Aub (Our Dope Dream) – The hip-hop scene continues to be vibrant and involved in Louisville. This collaborative is on the edge and doing some really cool stuff. They have played small shows at Tim Faulkner and Butchertown Social and HUGE ones like opening up for Migos at The Palace. 2017 was a great year for this crew and we expect 2018 to be even bigger/better!

Best bucket list show

Britt (U2 @ Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium) – Honestly, I did not realize that U2 was on my bucket list. In fact, if asked, I probably would have said that they were not on it. After being about 15 yards away from Bono on the floor of Cardinal Stadium, though, my mind has been changed, and I can say with 100% certainty that I’m glad I was able to see this bucket list band. Apparently, the stage took *days* to set up, and as a result, the crowd was granted pretty incredible video graphics for the iconic Joshua Tree tour.

Aub (Lady Gaga @ KFC Yum! Center) – I already mentioned Bon Iver above, and yes that was absolutely a bucket list show for me, but another biggie for me was the one and only Lady Gaga. She was a influential part of my college experience, with The Fame and Born This Way both released while I was an undergrad. She is a cultural icon and it was a huge deal to finally see her brilliance in person. Throughout the 2+ hour show, I couldn’t sit down and couldn’t stop smi-inging (smiling while trying to sing- I made it up). She is a beautiful, powerful, talented, intelligent, boundary pushing woman…everything I want to be. So praise hands for this queen and her continual reinvention.

Best solo show

Britt (Eagles of Death Metal @ Mercury) – Aubrey had already left for Strive at this point, so I biked down to Waterfront Wednesday and then over to Mercury Ballroom. Not knowing much about Eagles of Death Metal, I was prepared to stay for just a couple of songs and head out, but Jesse Hughes et al drew me in and I had no choice but to stay. The amount of energy provided by the band was escalated by the exuberant crowd, enough to make the solo adventure especially enjoyable.

Aub (Bonnaroo) – After all these years of hearing folks talk about their transcendental Bonnaroo experiences, I did it. I’m not a great outdoor, campy person, but I figured out a system. I didn’t go with anyone, but had friends around, and enjoyed the independence of festival-ing alone. I was there for four days, fully immersing myself, and although it was hot, it definitely could have been worse. I got to explore the grounds, see some favorites, catch some new stuff and generally had a really positive experience.  

Best vibes/dancing

Britt (Glass Animals @ Iroquois Amphitheater) – While I think I preferred their sold-out Headliners shows to this one at Iroquois (mostly because of the very  y o u n g  crowd at the amphitheater), the vibes were on point throughout the night. Obviously, the crowd went wild when Dave Bayley danced his way in and around the audience – especially those lil babies out there – and the young ones do have spunk that lasts all night long, so it made for a fun evening.

Aub (Son Little @ Zanzabar) – So this was always going to have good vibes…it was my birthday. But for real, Son Little brought it and reminded me what I love about soulful music. The smallish but very engaged crowd was swaying and feeling every moment of it. His 2017 release was played heavily on our Spotify. It doesn’t do the live show justice, but I think you’ll get what I’m saying.

Best small crowd

Britt (Kevin Morby @ Zanzabar) – If Kevin Morby’s album City Music isn’t on your list of 2017 favorites, you’re doing something wrong. This really wasn’t a small crowd, but it was at Zbar, which is comparatively small to other venues, so I’m including it here. From what I can recall, the audience was as into KM’s voice/musicianship as I am, so even more reason to include this one.

Aub (Ron Gallo @ Zanzabar) – Kinda like what Britt is saying about Kevin Morby and City Music, Ron Gallo’s 2017 release Heavy Meta should also be playing on your speakers regularly. We saw Ron Gallo for the first time at this year’s Shaky Knees, and when we heard he was coming to Zbar, we were thrilled. The show was on a Sunday night, but you all know that doesn’t stop us. RG had also just released some work with the openers, Naked Giants, who were some yung guns having a good time. It was worth a struggling Monday without question.

Best unexpectedly tight show

Britt (Tank and The Bangas @ Zanzabar) – For most other people at this show, I don’t think this was necessarily ‘unexpected,’ but considering I knew next to nothing about Tank and The Bangas beforehand, this was a no-brainer for me. I’ve seen Zbar packed tight on several occasions, but this was something else. Everyone was lit throughout the entire set, and T&TB even brought several fans on stage to join them for the final song. Talk about a great night.

Aub (The New Pornographers @ Headliners) – Okay this wasn’t really unexpected because I love The New Pornographers and have always dreamed of seeing them. On paper, this is one of those bucket list shows we keep talking about. Nevertheless, I think what surprised me is how good it was, especially considering it was late night after Forecastle. Usually those late night sets are tough for me because I use so much energy during the day at the festival. However exhausted I was Saturday night though was no match for what TNP were cooking. I remember not even yawning. How was that possible? Another show worth mentioning: Hamilton Leithauser at Zanzabar in February. It was one of the last times we saw the old Zbar packed like that, and for good reason: the show was amazing.

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