Completing graduate school in May 2017 was exciting for many reasons, but an increase in time away from the home office was one of the top. That additional freedom allowed me to get out and see more live music than I’ve witnessed in at least 4 years. Below is a list of my favorite live shows of 2017.
1. LCD Soundsystem-Masonic Temple-11/3/17
The hype hangover from seeing LCD at Wayhome in 2016 could have been enough to create unrealistic expectations for James Murphy & co.’s return to Detroit. Instead, they blew me away with a raucous set that included their best tracks from American Dream and old favorites without repeating the WayHome set list. This was also probably the earliest I’ve arrived at a show and was somehow able to stand closer than the prior year.
2. The xx-Masonic Temple-5/2/17
This is now the second time I have witnessed the xx, but the first where I was seated. The floor at Masonic was overwhelming with people, so we retreated to the balcony seats. Normally, this would be a disappointment, but Jamie xx set the pace for the show and nearly everyone seated near us was up dancing by the midpoint of the show. Romy’s vocals soared, while Oliver’s had his trademark sway with the bass guitar across the stage. Jamie xx was the clear band leader though as he made subtle, upbeat remixes to new and old favorites.
3. Run the Jewels-Royal Oak Music Theatre-2/18/17 I saw RTJ twice in 2017. Their abbreviated set at Mo Pop was solid, but you can’t really top an RTJ theater show. The earth shaking bass of tracks like “Call Ticketron” and “Close Your Eyes and Count to F…” cannot be matched. Jamie and Mike remain the best bro-mance in music and their stage work is the best mix of family, comedy, rage, energy, and timing you’ll find in live entertainment today. DJ Trackstar remains an underrated third member of the team with precise cuts and scratching.
4. Michigan Rattlers-Parliament Room at Otus Supply-7/6/17 It is hard to match a show at Otus Supply’s Parliament Room. The stellar sound, ornate decoration, excellent beer selection, and intimate setting made for a special night with Michigan Rattlers. The show had a friendly vibe that felt like an insider’s treat before the band’s popularity is soon to erupt and acted as a hometown show with family and friends making up the majority of the crowd. The alt country/Americana duo commanded the small stage with just an upright bass, rotating guitars, geographic narratives, and smiles abound. Look out for Michigan Rattlers at a venue near you soon.
5. JD McPherson-Magic Bag-11/14/17 I’m fortunate to live within walking distance of 4 solid music venues in Ferndale. Another first occurred at the JD McPherson show. As we happened to walk into the venue and nearly front row as JD was kicking things off #perfecttiming. The intimate theatre was the perfect size for JD’s throwback blues rock sound.
6. Bruno Mars-The Palace of Auburn Hills-8/12/17
I don’t attend many big, arena shows these days because of the costs, vibe, and quality of theatre and small venue shows. However, Bruno Mars did not disappoint with a cavalcade of hits that had the entire Palace moving for nearly every moment. Each hit from “24K Magic” to “Locked Out of Heaven” was punctuated by fireworks and the most entertaining dance crew in pop music. The night was even more memorable when Bruno announced a major donation to the Flint water crisis. That man has class and style.
Don’t mind Brit Daniel and the rest of Spoon as they blister through hit after hit on the Fillmore stage. Fueled by new album Hot Thoughts (one of their best, imo), the crisp set had a fiery tone with more keys than anticipated.
8. White Reaper-Mo Pop Festival-7/30/17 Young upstarts White Reaper probably had the most fun on stage of any act I saw, others than Bruno Mars. I honestly didn’t know much of their music prior to that day, but their energetic early afternoon set at Mo Pop showed confidence and featured plenty of blistering, if not glam rock guitar riffs. Besides, “Eagle Beach” is an even more enjoyable summer song live as the Detroit River sits in wake.
9. Bonobo-The Majestic Theatre-8/31/17 It was very surreal to see much of one of my all-time favorite DJ sets come to life. Even better when it came with live percussion, keys, haunting vocals, and epic visuals with insane landscapes to match. Bonobo created his own planet at the Majestic with electronic music that you’d be dead not to feel.
It seemed impossible that I’d never seen Phoenix live prior to this year, but that was remedied with a hit-filled show at Fillmore in October. The Frenchmen’s 15-20 song hit parade spanned each of the band’s albums and their latest, Ti Amo, blended well with classics like “Listomania” and “If I Ever Feel Better”. The stage set up was one of the best I’ve seen for a theatre show.
Girl Talk-The Crofoot-9/8/17 It’s tough to really rank a Girl Talk, especially if it is your 10th time. However, I’m pretty confident I won’t get a chance to see a Girl Talk club show ever again, so that pushes this show at nearly the top. 10 years after where it all began for me (technically next door at the former Eagle Theater, but still) Gregg blasted through “classics” and new mashups that I’m dying to hear on a new album. At least 3 songs from Big Boi’s latest record were utilized (“Kill Jill” with Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up” was particularly great), plus “Black Beatles” & “What’s My Age Again”. My personal favorite was the combo of Vince Staples “Norf Norf” and Kanye’s “Fade”. Gregg – do me a solid and at least drop that track for all to enjoy!
PUP- Mo Pop Festival-7/30/17
Insane energy and probably my first punk show, but it was mostly great when your friend ends the show looking like this: