Now let's get the ball rolling with my top 10 live performances of the year:
10.Skeletonwitch (10/27, The Met, Pawtucket, RI):
Skeletonwitch is one those of bands I could see a thousand times and I still wouldn't get sick of them. Their music really hits the next level in a live setting thanks to their relentless energy and the flow of their setlists, which see them consistently keeping the crowd amped while barely taking time to come up for air. Few acts have the intensity and stage presence that Skeletonwitch and that's why I will continue to see them at every possible chance I get.
9.Kanye West (11/17, TD Garden, Boston, MA)
Say what you want to about Kanye West as a person, but the man knows how to put on a show. His brash demeanor and supreme confidence is especially present in his live performance. The show that he put on was an absolute spectacle thanks one of the most elaborate stage setups I've ever seen (a giant rotating mountain with various, bizarre props and setpieces that only Kanye could think of appearing throughout the night) and a setlist that captured a vast range of emotions and flowed better than just about any other setlist I've ever seen. West's live show perfectly fits his over-the-top personality and I will gladly play a pretty penny to see him again the next time he tours.
8.Run the Jewels (8/13, Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA)
El-P and Killer Mike really are hip-hop's dream team. Both these guys are good on their own (as they demonstrated with their solo sets earlier in their evening) but when they come together as Run the Jewels, they are quite simply a force to be reckoned with. They have this battle-rap rapport with one another that makes their pairing so special. They are on the same team, but they are constantly trying to one-up each other and it gives them this really fun edge that you don't see in hip-hop very often in the modern era. Killer Mike and El-P really step up to the next level when they're on-stage together and the dynamic the two of them have together made this one of the impressive hip-hop performances I've ever seen.
7.The Dillinger Escape Plan (8/3, The Palladium, Worcester, MA also saw on 4/20)
Summer Slaughter marked the fifth time (and second time of 2013) that I had seen The Dillinger Escape Plan this year and once again, they delivered the goods. The new material from One of Us is the Killer absolutely destroys in a live setting and this show marked the crazy stunt I've seen Greg Puciato pull as he jumped off the VIP balcony at The Palladium. The Dillinger Escape Plan is just the epitome of live chaos and are always a treat to see live.
6.Danny Brown (5/9), Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge, MA)
I went to a lot of hip-hop shows in 2013 and no one impressed me more than Danny Brown. He was the first rapper I'd ever seen perform his songs all the way through live, which sounds like nothing to non hip-hop fans, but a lot of rappers don't finish their songs so it was awesome see someone actually do that. More importantly, Brown had this crazy energy that just lit up the entire room and did a lot of cool improvised things to make his material pop off even more live. I don't know if it's because of his raw sound in the studio or it's just the fact that's he an incredibly-talented MC, but Danny Brown is the uncontested best live rapper I've ever seen.
5.The Black Dahlia Murder (10/27, The Met, Pawtucket, RI also saw on 7/11)
Like Skeletonwitch, who opened the show for them, The Black Dahlia Murder is a veteran metal band that has made their mark in the scene with their consistently excellent live shows. This was the third time I've seen them headline (and sixth time seeing them overall) and each and every show is special. These guys always strive to step their game up and get tighter and tighter as a unit as the years go on, despite an insanely long list of lineup changes over the years. The Black Dahlia Murder are about as entertaining, precise and flat-out fun as a death band can be in a live setting.
4.Revocation (8/3, The Palladium, Worcester, MA also saw on 7/13 and 11/2)
Revocation has been one of my favorite bands for the past three or four years, but it wasn't until this year that they finally lived up to my expectations as a live act. They toured a bunch this year in support of their new album and apparently that consistent touring over the past year made them an elite live act. Their music video shoot at Great Scott in July was cool as hell due to the intimacy and sheer insanity of the crowd but the sound issues held it back from being a landmark show. Summer Slaughter stood out to me the most because it had the same raucous energy and wild crowd response as the Great Scott show, just with a great sound mix to back it up. Revocation continues to step their shit up as a live act and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see them get even better in the near future.
3.Killswitch Engage (6/8, Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom, Hampton Beach, NH)
Being a Killswitch Engage fan for almost 10 years now, this show was special to me. It not only marked my first time seeing them since February 2010, but it was also the first time I got to see the band perform with original vocalist Jesse Leach. Leach has absolutely rejuvenated the band and their live performances are better than ever. It was surreal hearing all of the Alive or Just Breathing material with Leach on vocals after years of hearing Howard Jones do them and he also did an excellent job with the Jones-era material. Seeing Killswitch with Leach back in the band was a dream come true and it made for one of the most enjoyable shows of the year by far.
2.Between the Buried and Me (3/14, House of Blues, Boston, MA)
Every time I see Between the Buried and Me live, it reminds me why I'm a BTBAM fanboy. Even in front of a polarizing crowd opening for Coheed and Cambria, they brought down the house with the same intensity and precision that they have at their headlining shows. The Parralax II material is just as dense and satisfying live as on-record and hearing "Selkies: The Endless Obsession" live again pretty much made my concert-going year. I've seen Between the Buried and Me eight times now and I can't wait to make it nine in February.
1. Every Time I Die (3/15, Royale, Boston, MA)
This was one of those performances that was so special that it almost didn't seem real. I had seen Every Time I Die twice before at Warped Tour 2010 and 2012, but nothing could've prepared me for just how insane they were when they headlined. The lack of a barrier brought the band and crowd energy to a level of bat-shit insanity (so much crowdsurfing and stage diving) that it had to be seen to be believed. It also helped that the setlist was incredible and loaded with a majority of my favorite tracks from their most recent record Ex Lives and the fact that Keith Buckley sounds so god damn amazing vocally. This performance from Every Time I Die was chaotic, hilarious and borderline euphoric. Not only the best performance of 2013, but one of the best performances I've ever had the pleasure of seeing.
Honorable Mentions: Coheed and Cambria (3/14), After the Burial (4/20), Darkest Hour (6/8) Mac Lethal (7/11), Rob Zombie (7/16), Machine Head (7/16) Battlecross (7/16, 11/2), The Ocean (8/3), Unearth (8/3), Death Angel (11/2), High on Fire (11/16)
8/9 Summer Slaughter