OPEN THREAD: Best Concerts Ever. Go.

A few people on formspring have asked me to list my all time favorite concerts, but I’ve decided I’m only gonna show you mine if you show me yours. I’m calling an OPEN THREAD.

I have a live music addiction. I’ve seen hundreds of concerts by all kinds of bands and artists, from Lady Gaga to Guns ‘N Roses, Tool to Tegan & Sara, Muse to Missy Higgins, Britney Spears to Sufjan Stevens, Rammstein to Robbie Williams, and the Deftones to Hilary Duff. I’ve seen artists like Kaki King, P!nk, Holly Miranda, Uh Huh Her and Green Day more times than I’ve seen my own mother, which is why I owe my first son to Visa and also don’t have any friends.

Most of my ‘top 5’ are from the last two years, which is more likely a reflection of my barely existent long-term memory and not the quality of performances witnessed prior to 2007.


5. The Dead Weather


Photo: Wallendorff

This was the evening I fell head over heels for Alison Mosshart. Spending most of the night behind his drum kit, Jack White allowed Mosshart the spotlight all to herself. She prowled around the stage like a tiger, jumping up on the monitors and working the crowd with rockstar confidence and deadly charisma that I had no idea she possessed. The entire performance was gritty and unpredicable and damn thrilling.

Highlight: Tied: “60 Feet Tall” and “I Cut Like A Buffalo”.


4. Cold War Kids


Photo: Stef Mitchell

The Cold War Kids didn’t bring any production to the Enmore Theatre, just their instruments and just enough lighting to aluminate the small space they occupied on the huge stage. They didn’t need to. As they delivered beautiful, slightly macabre narratives about characters so real they haunt, it was everything Autostraddle contributor Stef Mitchell had promised – understated, captivating and electric. Every second of their set shook me to the bone.

Highlight: The encore included “Saint John”, a jaunting piece about a man on death row, possibly the most intense performance of a song I’ve witnessed. Frontman Nathan Willett looked possessed.


3. P!nk, I’m Not Dead Tour


In my mind, P!nk‘s I’m Not Dead tour raised the bar for stadium pop. Comparatively it made performances by seasoned stars like Britney Spears and Lady Gaga look like high school productions, and because of that I haven’t enjoyed a pop concert by any other artist since. While the more recent Funhouse tour superseded I’m Not Dead in terms of pure spectacle, this one was the game changer.

Highlight: The smokin’ hot performance of “Fingers”, complete with net acrobatics. As P!nk hung unharnessed, metres in the air, the saucer-eyed pop star beside me turned and said, “should I just quit now?”


2. Holly Miranda


Photo: Prudence Upton

I scrambled to buy the last single ticket for Holly Miranda‘s final, sold out show at the Sydney Festival, even though it was my birthday and I’d already seen her perform just two nights prior. I was befriended by some sweet, slightly more mature ladies in the front row who asked me awk questions about this show called The L Word and made me choke on my vodka.

I’ve already written about my appreciation for Holly Miranda’s music, some may say ad nauseum. So I will just tell you that Holly and her band – Timmy, Will and David – absolutely slayed the Famous Spiegeltent, and it was the second greatest musical performance I’ve seen.

Highlight: It’s a tie between a heart wrenching cover of Yoko Ono’s “Nobody Sees Me Like You Do”, and Holly telling a blow job joke to the slightly reserved Sydney Festival crowd.


1. The Cure, Reflections


Photo: Clare Hawley (The Vine)

As part of this year’s Vivid Festival, The Cure did a concert at the Sydney Opera House where they played their first 3 albums: Three Imaginary Boys [1979], Seventeen Seconds [1980] and Faith [1981], plus a few B-sides and hits. I traded my kidney for a seat in the cheapest section but it was worth it – the show was mind-blowing, all 4 hours. Robert Smith still has it.

Highlight: They finished up the show with the “The Lovecats”. omg.

Your top 5 concerts, go!


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Founding member. Former writer. Still loves Autostraddle with her whole heart.

Crystal has written 320 articles for us.


  1. not necessarily in order of awesome:
    1.) pixies reunion tour, 2004
    2.) iron & wine / califone, 2007 (two of my favourite bands. one bill! HOLY SHIT)
    3.) weakerthans @ casbah, 2008 (in canada, these guys play much larger venues, but in san diego i was able to get up-close and personal)
    4.) rufus wainwright, 2003. (for the encore, the band dressed in witch costumes! it wasn’t even halloween)
    5.) great lake swimmers, 2006 (it was the first time i saw them, at a folk festival, and i fell in love with their moody alt-country)

  2. Sometime between 2003 and now:
    Sam Roberts – still my most favorite rock show I ever sawed
    Metric – Emily Haines head banged with her keyboard
    Mariah Carey – we go back like babies and pacifiers
    Lady Gaga – I was thisclose! :D
    Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings – her voice. holy crap.

    Eeeps! I would love love love to see Beth Ditto, Janelle Monae and the xx perform live!

  3. I’m not experienced enough a concert-goer for a top five, but my bestest everest ever is Amanda Palmer either 2010/2011 at Bodega, Wellington. Possibly the second one actually because she had Jason Webley accompanying her :D

  4. so jealous that you got to see the cure live! i think my top 5 will be

    5. Arctic Monkeys @ Melkweg, Amsterdam (2007)
    They had just released their second album and played a small gig for only 1500 people.
    4. Kings of Leon @ Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam (2009)
    It was perfect. They were their arrogant selves and they were so good.
    3. The Fray @ Paradiso, Amsterdam (2007)
    Went to see them with one of my best friends. We left with two plectrums, a drumstick and a playlist. Isaac Slade is amazing.
    2. Tegan & Sara @ Paradiso, Amsterdam (2010)
    My first T&S concert after I sold my ticket for their 2008 show in Melkweg. They played a lot better in Paradiso than in Melkweg I’ve been told so it was a good decision.
    1. Wende Snijders (2008)
    Dutch singer of French songs. Went to see her twice, got her autograph. She’s so powerful and in control on stage but when I met her after the show or when she’s on television, she’s very shy and nervous which I think is pretty cute. Anyway you should check her out on YouTube :)

    Adele and Justin Bieber are still on my wish list.

  5. Luna Sea (a very well known Japanese rock band) was my favorite band ever as a teenager (not to mention the reason I took up the guitar), and they’re still one of my favorites today. Unfortunately for me, they disbanded in 2000, before I was able to see them live.

    Then, a decade later in 2010, they announced a reunion world tour – with a stop in Los Angeles, at the Palladium. I’ve never had a concert mean that much to me before, ever, and it was amazing.

    Honorable mention goes to another Japanese band, Dir en grey, whom I’ve seen twice – they put on an absolutely amazing show, particularly the vocalist.

  6. Don’t know if it counts as a concert, but Carte Blanche this past weekend at the Parklife weekender were amazing. For 2 DJs, they put on an awesome show. 2 cute roller skating girls with awesome dance moves and complementary outfits. They sounded amazing too.

  7. WoW!..Thank you so much for sharing. I feel a slightly religious type of moment happened after you introduced me to Holly Miranda. Uh…AHHHHHHHHH *choir of angels in MAhead*

  8. hmmmmm
    -Radiohead , open air concert in Vancouver a few years back.
    -Hawksley workman (at hillside festival many years ago)
    -Ani Difranco a couple years back at Calgary Folk fest
    (woman’s music NEEDS to be listened to in open air, not sure why…an anamoly of sorts)
    -Jeff Healey (R.I.P.) same Calgary Folk Fest. he was playing with a huge band and WOW! not usually my style but totally unbelievable.
    -Little Scream a few months ago…blew my marbles at the Horseshoe Tavern. WOW! oh oh oh yes yes yes check her out!

  9. 5. Duncan Sheik (Manila 2003)
    4. Adam Lambert (Manila 2010)
    3. Backstreet Boys (Manila 2010)
    2. Lady Gaga (Manila 2009)
    1. Kylie Minogue – Aphrodite Tour (Manila 2011)


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  11. Tegan & Sara at the Lifetime Pavilion in Columbus, the lezzie capital of the world. We managed to get spots on the left side of the hall, as far front as we could go and not be in the pit. We’re seeing Ani there in September! Can’t wait!

  12. Pingback: Weezer Wsg Cold War Kids – Saturday, July 15, 2017 (outdoors), July 15

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