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Music, Year in Review 2014

Year in Review: The Best Concerts of 2014

 

Best Concerts of 2014For the third year in a row, we are proud to share our year-end list for the best concerts of 2014 from Aesthetic Magazine’s team of contributors. 

Every one of these lists is vital to what we do, and represents the various ways in which our contributors interact with the global music scene on behalf of Aesthetic Magazine. Our contributors come from a variety of backgrounds, but our passion for music brings us together to inform, engage, grow, to learn from each other, and to share our experiences with our readers everyday through reviews, interviews, and photography.

Thank you for reading Aesthetic Magazine, and see you all in 2015!

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Artist: Arcade Fire
Venue/City: Parc Jean Drapeau, Montreal
Date: August 30

Arcade Fire.The entire Reflektor tour was a huge success for Arcade Fire, proving the band is more than cut out for massive tours and stadium shows as spectacle – bright lights and confetti included. Their last show on the tour in Montreal, in Parc JeanDrapeau where good old Osheaga takes place annually, was a special one. They were playing for their hometown crew, with a solid mix of old favourites from Funeral, the Suburbs and Neon Bible that kept the thousands of fans on their feet and dancing. ‘Wake Up’ was the final song of the night, and had everyone “oooh oooh”-ing along together, in one of those perfect concert moments that audience members – myself included – won’t likely ever forget.

– Laura Beaulne-Stuebing

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Artist: Rich Aucoin
Venue/City: House of Targ, Ottawa
Date: October 2

Rich AucoinRich Aucoin shows seem to get better every time I see the Halifax electro-experimental-dance aficionado live. His stop at Ottawa’s pinball and pierogi house, a fab little venue, was tiny and sweaty and life affirming, as always, but the tiniest and sweatiest show I’ve been to in recent memory. New songs from his latest album Ephemeral got me dancing so hard my feet hurt. Rich surfed on the pinball tables and arcade machines. The parachute came out and we partied together underneath it, and took a family photo with Rich when the show was over, all of us smiling ear to ear. Fabulous night.

–  Laura Beaulne-Stuebing

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Artist: The War on Drugs
Venue/City: Ottawa Folk Festival, Ottawa, ON
Date: September 14

The War On DrugsI had pretty high expectations for The War on Drugs’ stop in Ottawa in September – I’d listened to Lost in the Dream over and over since March and really loved the album, and saw their performance of ‘Red Eyes’ on Letterman, which was just so damn good. And I, along with probably everyone else at Hog’s Back Park, was not disappointed in the slightest. I was blown away with the energy, the quality of the performance and that mad baritone saxophone in ‘Under the Pressure.’ Fans who’d never heard of the band, or who’d never listened to them, agreed. It was a great show.

–  Laura Beaulne-Stuebing

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Artist: The Unicorns
Venue/City: Metropolis, Montreal
Date: September 21

The UnicornsI didn’t think it could happen, but in late September this year, the Unicorns brought me back to high school. I expect they did for most of the crowd at Metropolis. 10 years ago we were probably all nerdy awkward kids, drawn to the Unicorns’ quirky and weird Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone? And in their headline show in their hometown, the last show on their reunion tour 10 years after an unexpected and disappointing (for fans) break up, the Unicorns proved why we love them so much. It was a messy, fun, weird and kooky show. Nick Thorburn, Alden Penner and Jamie Thompson played the music of our youth – the familiar catchy hooks of ‘Jellybones’ and ‘I Was Born (A Unicorn)’ – as projections from 90s computer games and Windows screensavers carried on behind them. We danced and sang along to every single song, nostalgic to the end

– Laura Beaulne-Stuebing

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Artist: Constantines
Venue/City: Arboretum Festival, Ottawa
Date: August 23

ConstantinesHow lucky were we this year? The Unicorns and the Constantines reuniting? Looking back, I can hardly believe we were so lucky. The Cons’ reissue of Shine a Light and subsequent reunion tour felt like a long time coming, and was so incredibly welcome in the Canadian indie music world. Their first show at Field Trip in Toronto was excellent – you could feel the anticipation in the crowd as we waited for the band to get on stage, and when they did, the Cons rocked it hard. They headlined Ottawa’s Arboretum festival in August and the show was just as good, but smaller and more intimate. In a tiny courtyard behind the Ottawa Art Gallery, it was Ottawa’s little arts scene embracing a special thing we were experiencing together, singing with Bry Webb during ‘Young Lions ’ and ‘Nighttime Anytime (It’s Alright).’ It was undoubtedly the highlight of the festival. The Cons could have kept playing for hours and hours, and we would’ve been right there with them.

– Laura Beaulne-Stuebing

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Artist: Kings of Leon
Venue(s)/City: Air Canada Centre/Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto
Date(s): February 26, 2014/August 5

Kings of LeonI was lucky enough to see Kings of Leon twice this year. So rather than have them on this list twice, I’ve grouped them together. Touring for the fantastic Mechanical Bull album, these brothers just seem to get stronger and stronger in their presentation with every tour. Every note was so tight and impactful and front man Caleb Followill haunted each crowd with his vocal performance. The first show at the Air Canada Centre had a slightly stronger set list, but the second show at the Molson Amphitheatre came with support sets from Young the Giant and Kongos, for a full evening of talented rock performances.

– Adam Harrison

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Artist: Foster The People
Venue/City: Massey Hall, Toronto
Date: May 13

Foster The People. (Photo: Adam Harrison/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto)Take a talented band with catchy songs like Foster the People, pair them up with an equally talented and catchy band like St. Lucia, put them in a venue with incredible acoustics like Massey Hall and you’ve got one heck of a show.

– Adam Harrison

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Artist: Band of Skulls
Venue/City: The Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto
Date: April 24

Band of Skulls. (Photo: Sarah Rix/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto)I first discovered this three-piece band on my way to Lollapalooza in 2012. They were so impressive, especially for a mid-day, side-stage performance. I instantly fell in love with their style. Then when they released their latest album, Himalayan, which blew my mind, I made sure not to miss their show at The Phoenix. The set list was solid, every song sounded bang on and the crowd of niche supporters really got behind the band. There was jumping, hair whipping, fist rising and sing-a-longs all night. Needless to say I did not leave disappointed.

– Adam Harrison

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Artist(s): Nine Inch Nails & Soundgarden
Venue/City: Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto
Date: July 27

Nine Inch NailsThis was one of the biggest parings of the summer and one of the first shows to sell out the Molson Amphitheatre in 2014. Each band drew in so much support, everyone wondered who would play first. But alas due to the enormity of Nine Inch Nails’ light show, they would take the headlining spot. What was a hot and humid day turned into a frigid and drenched evening. But despite shivering for upwards of four hours, not a single soul left dissatisfied. Two of the 90s most enormous grunge acts in one night, how could that possibly get any more awesome?

– Adam Harrison

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Artist: Arcade Fire
Venue/City: Air Canada Centre, Toronto
Date: March 14

Arcade FireArcade Fire is a tremendously talented and creative band. Everybody knows that. What makes their shows so fantastic is the uniqueness. There were about a dozen people on the stage, which looked like the inside of a box of mirrors. There was a disco ball hanging from the arena ceiling and they encouraged everyone to show up in costume and dance with one another. Even if you’re not a fan of Arcade Fire’s bizarre style, you couldn’t help but have a good time.

– Adam Harrison

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Coachella 2014
Venue/City: Empire Polo Grounds, Indio, California
Date(s): April 18, 19, 20th

CoachellaI’m in my mid-thirties. I could give a shit less about molly and silent discos and ironic t-shirts. I’m also losing my tolerance for sprawling crowds faster than my hair. Clearly, these are the last years of my life where this kind of experience is even feasible – much less survivable.

Over three days in Indio’s Empire Polo Grounds, I saw 60 bands play their faces off. I saw artists I’ve loved half my life and some I’d never heard of – who I’ve loved ever since. I met hundreds of people and heard hundreds of stories. I paid $8 for an avocado and a cup of coffee and I’ll be damned if that wasn’t one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever eaten. I did what is sure to be long-term damage to my ears, knees, ankles and back, but I’d do it all again if I could.

Forget what you’ve heard about the selfies and the celeb sightings and the fashion faux pas. Coachella is the gold standard for music festivals (yes, that one with the bands I haven’t heard of is good too) and it’s a magical Goddamned experience. Go before your mounting responsibilities and joint pain consume you.

– Daniel Gerichter

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Artist: Tanya Tagaq 
Venue/City: The Carlu, Toronto
Date: September 22

Tanya Tagaq. (Photo: Curtis Sindrey/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto)Inuk singer/genius Tanya Tagaq owned this year’s Polaris Prize gala. Not just by winning the storied prize itself, but also by making the sold-out crowd forget about the rest of the night’s performers with her transcendent 10-minute performance. By now, you’ve heard all the words used to describe it; visceral, guttural, heartbreaking, surreal. It’s all true, but as Tagaq herself so eloquently put it “if you liked what you saw, come see the show”. Thousands saw one of Canada’s most precious artistic assets lay claim to her throne. Other excellent performers shared the stage with her, but by the end of the night, hers was the only name on people’s minds.

– Daniel Gerichter

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Wolfe Island Music Festival 2014
Venue/City: Wolfe Island Community Centre, Wolfe Island Ontario
Date(s): August 8th, 9th

Bry Webb. (Photo: Daniel Gerichter/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto)Hey, I know what I said about Coachella and how awesome it was. Now take the full day’s worth of travelling to the grounds and divide by six. Take the cost of the event and… do that same thing. Divide the crowd by almost 50 but keep the same diversity and quality of performers, and you’ve got Wolfe Island: one of Ontario’s best kept secrets. Here was a chance to unpack your tent to the sounds of Rural Alberta Advantage (they headlined the main stage on the Friday night), or take in Alvvays on a small scale before they begun taking over the world, or hear Bry Webb’s haunting sounds in what felt like its natural element, or to be part of the cheer section for the fest’s MVP, Shad.

– Daniel Gerichter

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Artist: Houndmouth
Venue/City: The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto
Date: March 19

HoundmouthSometimes, if a friend says “we should go see these guys, it only costs $10” you just have to agree, whether you’ve heard of them or not. That was my experience with Indiana’s Houndmouth, alt-country heroes whose sold-out set was one of the most enjoyable live music experiences I’ve had at The Horseshoe. Despite some sound troubles early on (which the band handled with grace and humour), Houndmouth kicked out an outstanding show, bringing the best of their choral, twangy sound and filling a small space with a huge sound.

– Daniel Gerichter

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Artist(s): Atmosphere w/ Prof, Dem Atlas
Venue/City: The Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto
Date: May 30

Atmosphere. (Photo: Lauren Garbutt/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto)Slug and Ant, inseparable duo, have delivered consistently for fans of under-the-radar hip-hop for over a decade now. The alpha dog among label Rhymesayers’ star-studded roster, Atmosphere rolled into thePhoneix with mates Prof and Dem Atlas. Prof absolutely dazzled the sold-out crowd with his humour, and weird blend of sung/rapped vocals. After hearing about Atmosphere’s live show for years, it was something else to finally experience it. Hip-hop’s version of Springsteen, Slug’s energy starts and stays at 10. There’s a reason this group have gone from Minnesota club-rats to festival headliners. Southsidersfurther proves that to experience some of the industry’s most enduring talents, you have to do some of the legwork yourself.

– Daniel Gerichter

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Artist: Local Natives
Venue/City: Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica California
Date: September 26

Local NativesPart of me thinks this was the greatest show because they are my all-time favorite band. The other part is because it truly was a phenomenal show. These guys sounded so great, and I was so impressed since it was an outdoor show. They had so much energy and so did the crowd. Taylor Rice stage dove at the end of the show and I definitely got elbowed in the face but it was so worth it.

– Julio de la Torre

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Artist: The Oh Hellos
Venue/City: The Troubadour, Hollywood California
Date: November 14

The Oh Hellos. (Photo: Julio de la Torre/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto)This was my first time seeing The Oh Hello’s and I left the venue amazed. I was so close to buying tickets to their show the next day. Seriously, the energy in that room was insane. So many people shared that stage and sang their hearts out together as one band.

– Julio de la Torre

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Artist: Moses Sumney
Venue/City: Random backyard, Echo Park, California
Date: November 16

Moses SumneyThis show was one of my favorites because it was my first backyard show. It was so intimate and small. Moses Sumneyon the other hand, has such a beautiful and unique voice. His use of his voice is insane and he hardly ever has to play his guitar. After the show he recognized me from a past show and we talked about his music and how incredible it is. If you’ve never heard any of his music, you need to. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever heard before.

– Julio de la Torre

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Artist: Flight Facilities
Venue/City: Regent Theater, Los Angeles
Date: December 5

Flight Facilities. (Photo: Julio de la Torre/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto)This show was such a blast. Everywhere I went I saw people laughing and dancing their hearts out. These guys really know how to put on a show. They had guest vocalists Owl Eyes and Everett Fitzpatrick performing the vocals to their songs and had such a strong presence on that stage. They were just fun to watch sing and dance. They ended the show by playing “Shout! Put your Hands Up!” and everyone went crazy!

– Julio de la Torre

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Artist: Cold War Kids
Venue/City: The Observatory, Santa Ana, California
Date: November 18

Cold War Kids. (Photo: Julio de la Torre/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto)I love watching these guys live, but this show especially was great. They performed so much of their older songs and I’m so glad they did. I sang every song as I got photos of the show and loved seeing everyone enjoy themselves so much. They played Saint John as their encore and everyone in the venue shouted the lyrics from the top of their lungs. I drove home and replayed that song over and over at least 10 times before I got home.

– Julio de la Torre

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Artist: Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks
Venue/City: Lee’s Palace, Toronto
Date: April 19

Avey Tare's Slasher FlicksGlow-in-the-dark skulls, great energy, and an enthusiastic crowd made this show great.

– Maria Sokulsky-Dolnycky

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Artist: Mac DeMarco
Venue/City: The Danforth Music Hall, Toronto
Date: November 6

Mac DeMarco. (Photo: Morgan Hotston/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto)Mac DeMarco electrified the crowd as he climbed up onto the balcony of the venue, performed a cover of Kelis’ “Milkshake”, and generally gave a raucous performance. Easily the wildest, sloppiest show I’ve been to all year.

– Maria Sokulsky-Dolnycky

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Artist: Angel Olsen
Venue/City: Lee’s Palace, Toronto
Date: May 7

Angel OlsenHer performance was raw and beautiful, and her vocals were on point.

– Maria Sokulsky-Dolnycky

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Artist: Deerhoof
Venue/City: Lee’s Palace, Toronto
Date: November 13

DeerhoofAfter being around for 20 years, this band knows how to put on a show. Amusing banter, great energy, and straight-up stellar musicianship made this show amazing.

– Maria Sokulsky-Dolnycky

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Artist: Real Estate
Venue/City: The Opera House, Toronto
Date: March 23

Real EstateReal Estate’s set was easy breezy and devastatingly chill.

– Maria Sokulsky-Dolnycky

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Artist: Die Antwoord  
Venue/City: The Danforth Music Hall, Toronto
Date: June, 4

Die Antwoord. (Photo: Jason Hodgins/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto)I have never seen a crowd react to a band like they did that night at the Danforth. Everyone was jumping up and down dancing and singing, Ninja was crowd surfing, even the people in the balcony section were up and dancing. It may even be one of my favourite shows of all time.

– Jason Hodgins

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Artist: Death From Above 1979 
Venue/City: Edward Day Gallery, Toronto
Date: September 3

Death From Above 1979. (Photo: Jason Hodgins/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto)This was my second time seeing DFA live and this time I was one of around 150 lucky people who got to see them at their 1st pop-up shop/ secret show. There were free tattoos by Aaron Hill of Speakeasy Tattoo in Toronto and lots of newmerch. The lighting was great and they were so loud that they even apologized to the neighbours near the end of their set.

– Jason Hodgins

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Artist: Skinny Puppy  
Venue/City: Sound Academy Toronto     
Date: February 18

Skinny Puppy. (Photo: Jason Hodgins/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto) I have been a fan of Skinny Puppy for over 25 years and this was my first time seeing them perform. The first three songs were fast and the lighting was crazy but they put on an awesome show that night! The visuals and props used such as a plastic skinny dog, projections of the current US debt and lots of strobe lights also added greatly to the performance.

– Jason Hodgins

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Artist: Placebo  
Venue/City: Sound Academy Toronto   
Date: October 15

Placebo. (Photo: Jason Hodgins/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto) Placebo is another band I have listened to for years and I never thought I would get the chance to see live, or even get a chance to photograph them. I wasn’t expecting a crazy rock show, but I was pleasantly surprised at how great that show was. They played mostly songs from their latest album “Loud Like Love” and a few older more familiar songs as well.

– Jason Hodgins

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Artist: Johnny Marr  
Venue/City: The Danforth Music Hall, Toronto    
Date: November 20

 

Johnny Marr. (Photo: Jason Hodgins/Aesthetic Magazine Toronto) I have been a fan of The Smiths since I was 13 years old. Seeing Johnny Marr at The Danforth was definitely a highlight this year. I not only got to hear songs from his newest album “Playland”, but he also played a lot of smiths songs including “Bigmouth Strikes Again”, “How Soon Is Now”, “Panic”, “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” and “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out”. If you’re a Smiths fans, you need to see Johnny Marr live.

– Jason Hodgins

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