Our favorite performances from 2019

Best live shows of 2019 - Usher, Kacey Musgraves, Local Natives & Empire of the Sun

Ah yes, it’s that time again. Time to wave goodbye to another year, a hectic one that forced us to scale back our coverage toward the latter half of 2019. But before we officially ring in a new year and decade, it’s time for us to revisit the last 12 months at Showbams. For all intents and purposes, this space has provided us the access to witness so many amazing moments in live music, and even though we can’t show love to every performance we covered in 2019, we still managed to see some great ones.

Trimming down the list is never an easy task. Those who didn’t make the cut but still deserve to be mentioned here include the following artists, DJs and bands (in alphabetical order), all of whom we either covered at their own show and/or at a music festival this year:

Albert Hammond Jr., Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals, Ari Lennox, ASTU, AURORA, Bea Miller, Bebe Rexha, Beirut, Big Wild, Bobby, Bob Moses, Caroline Rose, Cherry Glazerr, Choker, The Claypool Lennon Delirium, Club Night, Coke, Counting Crows, Crumb, CupcakKe, Daniel Caesar, Denzel Curry, Derek Ted, DJ Koze, The-Dream, DREAMERS, Ella Mai, Film School, FITNESS, Foxtail Brigade, Ginger Root, Half Alive, Hozier, Illuminati Hotties, In the Valley Below, Judah & the Lion, Justin Martin, Kali Uchis, Kamaal Williams, Katzù Oso, KONGOS, Lapel, Leon Bridges, Leven Kali, The Lil Smokies, Lil Wayne, LPX, machineheart, The Marías, Max Frost, Melvins, Michigan Rattlers, Mikey Mike, Miserable, MNEK, Mother Mother, Nicotine, (((O))), ORB, Outer Embassy, Princess Nokia, Puddles Pity Party, Queens D.Light, Raveena, Ravyn Lenae, RL Grime, Robyn, Rose Droll, Santigold, Sea Moya, SOAR, Stonefield, Super Unison, Tia Nomore, Tony Danza, Toro y Moi, Twenty One Pilots, Uni, Winnetka Bowling League, You Me at Six, Yuna

Now, it’s time for The Bam Team to present our favorite performances from 2019.

The Bam Team’s 5 Favorite Shows, Albums & Songs of 2019

Listen to The Bam Team’s favorite songs of 2019:


Best of 2019 - MØ

Date: February 9th
Location: Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland

MØ’s performance, meanwhile, was even brighter than LPX’s with the colors just completely all over the place and smoke coming from behind her as the lights created larger shadows of the 30-year-old’s body against the back wall. Karen Marie Aagaard Ørsted Andersen went on to perform all five singles — “Imaginary Friend”, “Nostalgia”, “Sun in Our Eyes”, “Blur” and “Way Down” — off her sophomore album and even showcased her 2017 collaboration “Don’t Leave” with British electronic duo Snakehips. -Karina Kristensen, photo by Karina Kristensen


Best of 2019 - Bob Mould Band

Bob Mould Band

Date: March 2nd
Location: The Fillmore – San Francisco

Bob Mould has had a lengthy, fruitful relationship with Noise Pop and the packed Fillmore demonstrated that in spades after recently releasing his rather well-received, and 13th, solo album Sunshine Rock since disbanding Hüsker Dü and intersplicing Sugar releases. Mould is nearing the age of 60, but you’d be hard-pressed to think that when he frantically paces back and forth onstage while firing off his characteristic take of punk-leaning alternative rock. -Kevin Quandt, photo by Mike Rosati


Best of 2019 - Modeselektor

Modeselektor

Date: April 4th
Location: Echoplex – Los Angeles

At LA’s Echoplex last Thursday, we didn’t have the fortune of getting another surprise cameo from Yorke, but it was intriguing to see a sold-out crowd welcome Bronsert and Szary back to the City of Angels under the Modeselektor moniker for the first time in a long time (and on a school night no less). And considering they were only stopping through two U.S. cities — LA and NYC the night before at Elsewhere in Brooklyn — on this tour, the show felt a little extra special for those of us in attendance due to the circumstances. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2019 - The Chemical Brothers

The Chemical Brothers

Date: May 15th
Location: Shrine Expo Hall – Los Angeles

Leading off with “Go” from their 2015 LP Born in the Echoes, The Chemical Brothers delivered a 24-song set that covered all nine studio albums, including their newest effort No Geography that dropped in April. They seamlessly transitioned from one banger to the next, keeping our spirits high and leaving us not a minute to rest our feet. The onstage production, meanwhile, was next level. With an arsenal full of lights and lasers as well as a massive projection screen mounted behind them, Rowlands and Simons created a scintillating audio-visual experience to remember and one of the best we’ve witnessed in a while. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2019 - T-Pain

T-Pain

Date: June 15th
Location: The Queen Mary – Long Beach, CA

The sun finally came out for none other than T-Pain. Bouncing onstage like Tigger, T-Pain made a case for deserving a later set time (and was probably indirectly responsible for the wave of people passing out around 6 p.m.). The man is a party in a human body, and he’s aging like a fine wine — his music, his dance moves, all of it. It’s clear he belongs on that stage, whether it’s 2:15 or 10:15 p.m. -Rochelle Shipman, photo by Rochelle Shipman


Best of 2019 - Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu

Date: June 15th
Location: The Queen Mary – Long Beach, CA

As the sun set over the Pacific Ocean, the crowd swelled in front of the festival’s main stage, waiting for our lord and savior Erykah Badu. We waited. And we waited. Finally, 30 minutes later, Ms. Badu walked out and surveyed the scene before all was forgiven. Her shortened set was still probably more than the sun-dried fans could handle, with her vocals perfect and her vibe far-reaching and unmatched. As she threw her body left and right, jutting her limbs into the air and even jumping down to clasp a few lucky hands, you could feel a collective healing washing over the grounds. Before she left, she even thanked us for waiting for her, as though we had done her a favor. Psh. -Rochelle Shipman, photo by Rochelle Shipman


Best of 2019 - Usher

Usher

Date: June 15th
Location: The Queen Mary – Long Beach, CA

How do you follow Erykah Badu? I didn’t think it could be done until about five seconds into Usher’s performance. He came out swinging, energy and choreography at 110 percent, so fast and fierce that I yelped, “Holy shit!” I grew up listening to Usher and respect him for days, but I didn’t expect him to put on one of the most enjoyable shows I’ve witnessed in 2019 so far. To say “he’s still got it” wouldn’t nearly be enough. So, just trust me when I say “you’ve gotta get yourself to an Usher show.” -Rochelle Shipman, photo by Rochelle Shipman


Best of 2019 - Middle Kids

Middle Kids

Date: June 22nd
Location: Hollywood Palladium – Los Angeles

The Aussie rockers have been making a name for themselves on the festival circuit of late, and they did a fine job filling up the Palladium’s expansive floor. With Hannah Joy cementing the power trio’s sound on guitar and vocals, it was a performance that seemed to catch so many spectators off guard. Middle Kids’ songs possess the perfect amount of 90’s nostalgia to keep things catchy while remaining unpretentious and accessible, so expect big things from them in the future. -Zach Bourque, photo by Zach Bourque


Best of 2019 - Local Natives

Local Natives

Date: June 22nd
Location: Hollywood Palladium – Los Angeles

The band’s subdued lighting setup let the music do the talking and echoed its simple formula for success. Sometimes three amazing vocalists singing in harmony is all that you need to sell out a 5,000-person theater. While Local Natives haven’t taken a whole lot of risks over the last decade, including on the 10-track Violet Street, they still know how to hit you right in the feels every time. Nonetheless, time will tell which room they can sell out next. -Zach Bourque, photo by Zach Bourque


Best of 2019 - Empire of the Sun

Empire of the Sun

Date: June 25th
Location: The Regency Ballroom – San Francisco

We showed up for the second of three Bay Area performances only to find the crowd anxiously awaiting the group’s arrival onstage. When lead vocalist/guitarist Luke Steele finally emerged through all the smoke donning his usual headdress and face paint however, it quickly came to life. Complemented by a pair of backup dancers and plenty of eye-catching on-screen visuals, Empire of the Sun kicked things off appropriately with “Standing on the Shore” and between multiple costume changes and instrument swaps, completely blew us away before uncorking the LP’s title track to close their headlining set. -Karina Kristensen, photo by Karina Kristensen


Best of 2019 - Jim James

Jim James

Date: July 3rd
Location: The Wiltern – Los Angeles

That said, one could argue fairly easily that James’ songs are a bit more accessible than The CLD’s, and with that in mind, it wasn’t hard at all to understand why the man who has also put out music under the pseudonym Yim Yames assumed the closing duties for this tour. It became even more evident once James took the stage, shredding his way through tracks on Uniform Distortion like “Over and Over” and “You Get to Rome” before going to an acoustic guitar for “A New Life” from 2013’s Regions of Light and Sound of God. James would end up performing almost all of Uniform Distortion, but the real standouts of the show were in fact slightly altered versions of the Marvin Gaye-inspired “Here in Spirit” and the ever-haunting “Same Old Lie” to close what felt like a roller-coaster set full of peaks and valleys — and of course, plenty of screeches and squeals emanating from his Gibson ES-335, too. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2019 - COMMON

COMMON

Date: July 25th
Location: Apogee Studio – Santa Monica, CA

That’s what COMMON does — he spreads love to each and every person his music reaches. As KCRW DJ Anthony Valadez pointed out during his sit-down interview with the emcee midway through the evening, COMMON has lots of songs about love, and you could quickly find more than enough evidence to assert that fact by looking at the setlist alone. Of the seven tracks he showcased off Let Love, five had the word “love” in its title, starting with “Show Me That You Love” that opened his set. The album, which is inspired by COMMON’s new memoir “Let Love Have the Last Word”, remains a departure from the political deliberations that dominated his 2016 LP Black America Again and spawned out of our most recent U.S. presidential election. I don’t think we need to revisit that moment in history right now, so let me stick to the script. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Brian Lowe


Best of 2019 - The Raconteurs

The Raconteurs

Date: July 27th
Location: Santa Barbara Bowl – Santa Barbara, CA

On a Saturday night at the picturesque Santa Barbara Bowl — which we’ll argue is the best music venue in Southern California and where we caught White’s first-ever show there last year — The Raconteurs brought those songs to life as they stormed onstage and unleashed total sonic bliss on our ears with a 90-minute performance highlighted by Consolers of the Lonely tracks “You Don’t Understand Me” and “Carolina Drama”, the latter of which came during an extended encore that was capped off by the quartet’s biggest hit “Steady, as She Goes” and what ultimately inspired White and Benson to form the group back in 2005 as a couple of longtime friends from Detroit. All of this, of course, without having access to our mobile phones after locking them in a Yondr pouch and Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age, The Dead Weather) assisting on keyboards and guitar as a touring member. -Josh Herwitt, photo by David James Swanson


Best of 2019 - FKJ

FKJ

Date: August 5th
Location: Shrine Expo Hall – Los Angeles

2019 has already been a banner year for Venton in several ways. Besides making his debut at Coachella less than four months ago, he partnered with livestream media company Cercle to release this jaw-dropping live video that sees him performing on the world’s largest salt flat. Plus, he married Marieezy in March after previously working with the Filipino songstress. So with Marieezy by his side and fan bases in both Europe and North America now solidified, it appears that FKJ is ready to share his one-of-a-kind live show with the rest of the world. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2019 - blink-182

blink-182

Date: August 9th
Location: Golden Gate Park – San Francisco

Though these 90’s pop-punk kings may be short an OG member, that didn’t stop them from a summer shed tour alongside Lil Wayne. Sure, we all miss Tom DeLonge, and yes, Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio remains a considerably solid stand-in, but how effective is this nostalgia act in 2019? That’s a tricky question we won’t answer because at the end of the day, festivalgoers of all ages still love singing along to “What’s My Age Again?” and “All the Small Things”. It’s really as simple as that to be honest. Does frontman Mark Hoppus’ silly onstage banter work even as he approaches 50? That’s a whole other can of worms I won’t unpack here. -Kevin Quandt, photo by Marc Fong


Best of 2019 - Childish Gambino

Childish Gambino

Date: August 10th
Location: Golden Gate Park – San Francisco

As one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend, Childish Gambino (born Donald Glover) was an absolute highlight of OSL 2019 and it could very well go down as one of the best sets over the festival’s 12-year run. Minutes before making his grand entrance on the main stage, Glover was informed that he had induced the largest crowd in OSL history. When he finally dismounted from his disco platform in the middle of the polo fields, he shared the news and the audience’s energy from that point forward was palpable. Catching Childish Gambino on his current touring schedule is not only rare, but also few and far between. This year he has been mainly headlining festivals, and rumor has it that this cycle will be his final one billed under the “Childish Gambino” moniker, which made for an even more monumental event in SF. Glover dove straight into an aggressive set of songs from Because the Internet and notable cuts on 2016’s Awaken My Love while being accompanied by a backup band and rotating cast of creative support, including a full choir and crew of dancers/performance artists. More of a conceptual art piece than a typical headlining set, Childish’s masterpiece is one that we will remember for a long time. -Molly Kish, photo by Marc Fong


Best of 2019 - Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves

Date: August 11th
Location: Golden Gate Park – San Francisco

Kacey Musgraves is arguably one of 2019’s top artists. Her fourth LP Golden Hour has received incredible accolades since its release in 2018, eventually nabbing the highly coveted Grammy for Album of the Year. That said, it was little surprise that Musgraves was able to fill the main stage with fans. Her subtle, yet powerful opener “Slow Burn” could not have been more ideal as she took in the immense crowd. She cutely quipped about playing the Sutro stage in 2014, and you could tell she was well-aware of the moment’s gravity. She naturally leaned heavily on Golden Hour, making sure to include fan favorites such as “Butterflies” and “High Horse” during her set, and at this rate, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before this alt-country breakout star finds herself in big font at the top of festival posters. -Kevin Quandt, photo by Marc Fong


Best of 2019 - Paul Simon

Paul Simon

Date: August 11th
Location: Golden Gate Park – San Francisco

Now that OSL has casually cruised into its 12th year, some musical traditions appear to be in place. Sunday night has become the “legacy artist” slot for many years now, and while these may not be the highest-attended sets of the weekend, they have become a quintessential part of the event. Simon was no different in all circumstances referenced above. No one should be upset that his live retirement barely lasted a year, as the 77-year-old came out jubilant and as entertaining as ever. He quipped about his past musings and even invited a Bay Area legend onstage. As the sun began to set on a shockingly sunny August day, Simon waltzed out there and opened with “Late in the Evening”. Other classic hits like “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” and “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” were featured early. “Graceland” kicked off his encore, which saw the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir join in on the Simon & Garfunkel tune “The Boxer”. Although Weir didn’t tackle any major vocals, it was a unique moment to see the two share the stage. And in a fitting way, “The Sound of Silence” served as Simon’s closing song before the masses strolled into SF’s Outerlands one last time. -Kevin Quandt, photo by Marc Fong


Best of 2019 - King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

Date: August 13th
Location: Greek Theatre – Los Angeles

All jokes aside, as these Aussie weirdos continue to explore other creative avenues, catching a King Gizzard show remains a fairly unique experience in its own right. You can usually expect at least one mosh pit, if not more, to form, but with the Greek only having a small floor area at the front of the stage, the lively audience that showed up on a Tuesday night could only get so rowdy with most of it resigned to the venue’s seated sections. That, however, didn’t stop these mates from delivering the goods. Over the course of a 90-minute set, they touched upon seven of their 15 albums, including opening and closing with three straight tracks off Infest the Rats’ Nest. There was “People-Vultures” from 2016’s Nonagon Infinity, plus a version of “Wah Wah” that featured a snippet of “The River” at the performance’s midway point. I’m actually a little surprised that they didn’t throw us a couple of curveballs before saying goodbye to be honest, because for as prolific and unpredictable as they’ve become lately, King Gizzard might be one of the most versatile rock bands on Planet Earth, too. -Josh Herwitt, photo by Josh Herwitt


Best of 2019 - Maribou State

Maribou State

Date: October 16th
Location: The Regency Ballroom – San Francisco

When Maribou State walked off stage for their encore break, it was almost as if the crowd immediately expected an encore. But no one left until they came back out and performed “Turnmills” from Kingdoms in Colour in honor of the London club that closed in 2008. We really couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend a fall night in The City by the Bay. -Karina Kristensen, photo by Karina Kristensen


Outside Lands 2019

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