California Rocker Names Best Concerts of the Year 2017




Ty Segall Best Concerts 2017 - Balancia
Ty Segall has several shows on the Best Concerts 2017 list - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

By CALIFORNIA ROCKER STAFF

While it was a tough year, raging live performances brought out the best concerts of 2017. CaliforniaRocker.com presents what our staffers selected as the 50 best concert events of the year.

Leading the charge this year is Ty Segall, who simply cannot be stopped.  The talented musician plays a range of styles and instruments and has proven he’s more than a great Rock and Roller.  He’s played all the fests and finished out the year with an impressive, if uncharacteristically mellow set at at The Teragram Ballroom with OCS and Shannon Lay.

This year also brought us the return of Gilt Lily with Jody Hamilton taking over the front woman spot for her late sister, Carrie.  The group made its live debut at Molly Malone’s.

Aimee Interrupter fronts The Interrupters - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Aimee Interrupter fronts The Interrupters at The Fonda – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Best Concerts of 2017

Coachella saw Lady Gaga and Radiohead take top bill in the desert, but it was the addition of acts in a new tent on site that stole the show.  The Interrupters, The Lemon Twigs and Car Seat Headrest were among the popular performers in Indio.

With 88.5 FM moving into a bigger listening audience with its expansion throughout Southern California, there was a lot to celebrate. Gary Clark Jr. and Nathaniel Rateliff were among the performers who played to intimate audiences comprised of devoted radio listeners.

Veterans Nick Cave, Iggy Pop, Wire, Depeche Mode and Gary Numan brought out music lovers, while youngsters Pow! Ho99o9, Dreamcar and Dead Cross all made their mark.

Tom Petty at Arroyo Seco Festival last summer – Photo © 2017 Alyson Camus

Tom Petty

MusiCares honors Tom Petty

We lost one of the greats this year, but the Recording Academy made a stellar move in honoring Tom Petty with its MusiCares Person of the Year honor.  This event, which raised more than $8 million for MusiCares brought superstars of rock like Jackson Browne and Lucinda Williams to the convention center to honor one of their own.

Aloe Blacc at Swing House Studios - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Aloe Blacc at Swing House Studios – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Aloe Blacc at Swing House Studios

Aloe Blacc wowed the crowd at Swing House Studios for the annual Christmas party. While billed as a “Super Secret” appearance, it was loud and clear Blacc is at the top of his game.

Dream Syndicate 

The LA icons paid a visit to the hometown throngs and delighted the masses.  Dream Syndicate has a steady following but clearly got the nod of the younger fans.

The Shrine at The Echo 

There is no reason why Josh Landau and company should not be front and center in the music business. Blame it on an oversaturated market, but this act is a must-see.  Feels, who opened for The Shrine, continue to impress.

Josh Landau of The Shrine - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Josh Landau of The Shrine – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Gilt Lily, Pow! and Gary Numan

Gilt Lily at Molly Malone’s 

Jody Hamilton and friends put on a benefit performance at Molly Malone’s that blew doors. It’s not easy to step into the shoes of a beloved front woman, but Jody took the reins for her late sister, Carrie, who founded the group with Loren Molinare.

Rodney Bingenheimer’s Holiday Party at La Luz

Rodney Bingenheimer knows how to throw a party. In honor of his curated album Santa’s Got a GTO 2 the beloved veteran DJ brought together some pals including Clem Burke of Blondie, Kevin Preston of Prima Donna, and Christa and Rik Collins of The Woolly Bandits, who collectively debuted as the new supergroup, Glitter Critters.

Glitter Critters debut at Rodney's Holiday Party - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Glitter Critters debut at Rodney’s Holiday Party – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Pow! at Teragram Ballroom

Pow! explodes onto the scene and the audiences love it. The unique alternative band with the dynamic guitar opened for The Dandy Warhols recently and stole the show.

Gary Numan

Gary Numan’s music was the heart and soul of the 1980s.  Watching him perform it all in the new millennium gave inspiration and good vibes.

Gary Numan - Photo by Craig Hammons
Gary Numan – Photo by Craig Hammons
Prettiest Eyes at The Echo

This is one of those bands that you either love or hate and in most cases it’s love. The gyrating antics of Marcos and the killer chops on the kit by Pachy make this an unusual and excellent show.

Cowboys in the Campfire with Tommy Stinson

Tommy Stinson has had his share of time in the spotlight and he’s still going strong. The power pop veteran takes his show on the road with Cowboys in the Campfire.

Cowboys in the Campfire drew a sold-out crowd for Wild Honey Foundation - Photo © 2017 Kathy Flynn
Cowboys in the Campfire drew a sold-out crowd for Wild Honey Foundation – Photo © 2017 Kathy Flynn
CalJam 17 in San Bernardino

This Foo Fighters-curated show put on a successful outing in its first year and brought the likes of The Kills, Queens of the Stone Age and Cage The Elephant to the party.

Cage The Elephant at CalJam17 - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Cage The Elephant at CalJam17 – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia

Growlers 6, Mike Watt and Dead Boys

Dead Boys at The Viper Room

Cheetah Chrome proved to the fans that The Dead Boys are very much alive with a tour, a new record and some tricks up his sleeve.

Laena Geronimo of Feels - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Laena Geronimo of Feels – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Mike Watt at Brouwerij West in Pedro

Mike Watt’s good-natured way and prolific musical talent was complimented on this special night by John Doe, Exene Cervenka, Feels and Alinea. Watt never disappoints.

Growlers 6

Beach Goth lives in the form of this renamed event.  Complete with great music and cool location, this is one of the premiere fests in SoCal.

The Interrupters leap into the fray - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
The Interrupters leap into the fray – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Interrupters with SWMRS at The Fonda

SWMRS has a huge following but The Interrupters are the icing on the cake in any situation. Both bands are dynamic and made a great team on this special bill.

Sheryl Crow at The Fonda 

It’s clear Sheryl Crow is the female Tom Petty. It’s remarkable the number of hits she has had over the years. And her new material is equally good.  She’s a prolific musician with a good attitude.

Sheryl Crow best concerts 2017 - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Sheryl Crow best concerts 2017 – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Depeche Mode

SoCal loves Depeche Mode, no matter how many years after their debut.  The British new wavers keep it all cool all the time.

Cloak and Dagger

The new Cloak and Dagger Fest gives equal time to goths.  A great first year was held in the revamped, historic theaters in downtown LA.

Iggy Pop at Desert Daze - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Iggy Pop at Desert Daze – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Desert Daze

Desert Daze just keeps getting better and better. It’s one of the weirder ones, but, you know, weird in a “good” way.  Thurston Moore and King Gizard and the Lizard Wizard topped a lineup that also featured Iggy Pop and Allah-Las.

Music Tastes Good

Peaches and Of Montreal were among the more eclectic performers at this terrific festival.  This Long Beach fest has got legs in its founder’s name.

Peaches at Music Tastes Good - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Peaches captivates the fans – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Glitter Trash at the Viper Room

The SoCal debut of Detroit punker Glitter Trash featuring Jenna Talia was an overpowering event. Jenna is a virago on wheels, ripping up a super entertaining evening.

Terry Reid

Terry Reid has got what it takes and more, despite the ups and downs of life. One of the most talented musicians around, Reid continues to fascinate and entertain.

Gary Clark Jr. for The New 88.5 FM - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Gary Clark Jr. for The New 88.5 FM – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Gary Clark

Celebrating The New 88.5 FM, Gary Clark Jr. put on an intimate show for a lucky few.

Dream Machines - Photo © 2017 Balancia
Dream Machines – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Chinatown Summer Nights

Curated by Buzzbands LA, this was an excellent evening filled with talented up-and-comers.

Yes, ELP Legacy and Todd Rundgren

This is a collection of the best of the 1970s.  While you don’t have to be a “baby boomer” to enjoy, it helps as the bands play a collection of tunes from days of yore.

Echo Park Rising

Echo Park Rising is simply one of the best and underrated festivals in the country. It’s small but not too small, but brings some of the top names in indie-alternative groups.

Valerie June at Santa Monica Pier - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Valerie June at Santa Monica Pier – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Valerie June

This little southern powerhouse has brings cool vibes with her wherever she goes. Her unique voice and style has even made Bob Dylan a fan.

FYF Fest with Iggy Pop, Ty Segall

The future of the machine behind FYF Fest may be unknown, but if the event is going out at least it went out in style.  It was the best FYF Fest ever in 2017 with Iggy Pop, Ty Segall and Chicano Batman grabbing the headlines.

Nile Rodgers and Chic

Nile Rodgers keeps plugging along despite overcoming Cancer and the death of disco.  His band Chic turned The Wiltern into a dance party.

Nick Cave at The Greek - Photo © 2017 Alyson Camus
Nick Cave at The Greek – Photo © 2017 Alyson Camus
Nick Cave at The Greek

Nick Cave has got it going on and you can just ask his fans. The sold-out attendance showed that Cave knows how to draw the fans.

Arroyo Seco Fest

The newest of festivals, this marked the last time many would get to see Tom Petty and Charles Bradley before both of the superstars would pass away. Alabama Shakes captured the hearts and Dawes got an audience that it deserves.

Best Concerts Dead Kennedys' Ron 'Skip' Greer - Photo © 2017 Alena Lim
Dead Kennedys’ Ron ‘Skip’ Greer – Photo © 2017 Alena Lim
Dead Kennedys

This is a band that never quits and keeps the crowds coming.

Woolly Bandits

Woolly Bandits are earning the accolades of all sorts of music lovers as they combine punk and rock for a wild time.

Living Colour at the Canyon - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Living Colour at the Canyon – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Living Colour

Living Colour has a performance that goes far beyond the normal palette. The band is a perennial favorite and has managed to keep it rolling during a tough time for all musicians.

Ho99o9

These youngsters are much in the vein of Bad Brains — only more wild if possible.  The show at the Echoplex showed the power of the mosh pit like no other this year.

Pico Rivera Hardcore

The Pico Rivera Hardcore group is comprised of local and regional favorites, Fatal Riot, Suicycos and Sin Drogas.  These bands are hard-working and well-loved.

At The Drive In at The Shrine - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
At The Drive In at The Shrine – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
At The Drive In

No one can ever tire of this great punk group.  Omar Rodriguez-Lopez takes matters into his own hands as Cedric Bixler-Zavala makes his remarkable leaps into the audience.

Sara Ontaneda

Sara Ontaneda is an up-and-coming musician with a beauty as rare as a fleeting summer breeze.  And her style is light and pleasant. Watch the charts for her songs.

Teri of Le Butcherettes at Alex's Bar - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Teri of Le Butcherettes at Alex’s Bar – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Le Butcherettes at Alex’s Bar

Teri Gender Bender is one of the most talented performers around, able to play all types of venues.  Her dynamic personality and music outshines them all.

Flaming Lips - Photo © 2017 Harmony Gerber
Flaming Lips – Photo © 2017 Harmony Gerber
Flaming Lips at Ace

Wayne Coyne is definitely an interesting character, but he puts on one heck of a show. Confetti everywhere, giant balloons and all sorts of stuff is happening when he’s in town.

Kiefer Sutherland at The Roxy

Kiefer Sutherland is trying to negotiate a path from actor to musician and if his fans are any indication, he is making it.  He has a good voice and his songs are all living tribute to the country music he likes best.

Colin Hay at Gibson Showroom

The Men At Work frontman has got a new gig.  Colin Hay and his music have been right here in Los Angeles since the end of Aussie powerhouse band Men At Work.  And he’s been having a great time.

The Buttertones at The Hi Hat - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
The Buttertones at The Hi Hat – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Buttertones at The High Hat

Be prepared for a near-riot when The Buttertones play. Barricades come crashing down, stage diving ensues and the girls who cause all the pandemonium will tell you it’s because the guys are so darn cute. With The Buttertones you’re always guaranteed to be at one of the best concerts.

Ty Segall at Teragram Ballroom

Ty Segall plays nice with others but he’s outstanding on his own. He’s started and participated in more great bands that the average person sees in five years.  Ty’s pals with some of the biggest names in the biz but keeps his persona, but not his great music, on the down low.

Coachella

Some of the lesser known bands took center stage this year, with Car Seat Headrest, The Lemon Twigs and Guided By Voices playing along with headliners like Radiohead and Lady Gaga.

ASCAP annual meeting

Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum played and chatted with the fans during the ASCAP annual meeting.

The Superbees at Cafe Nela

With Crazy Squeeze and Double E, The Superbees band led by Dave James is the powerhouse of the local scene.

Superbees - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Superbees – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Broke LA

This fest continues to grow. The little event, which started out as “Brokechella,” for those locals who couldn’t go to the big Coachella fest, is getting pretty big. Holding it on a weekend that doesn’t coincide with its former quasi-namesake is a major help for attracting concert-goers. The shows within the event all qualify as among the best concerts of the year.

Wirefest at The Echoplex

What can you say about 50 guitarists on stage at the same time?  Not much when they’re all well-known musicians who care about the future of music.

Banks and Steelz - Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Banks and Steelz at The El Rey – Photo © 2017 Donna Balancia
Banks and Steelz at The El Rey

If you slept for a few hours you missed the best act of the year. This dynamic duo played a great set at Coachella, but ripped it up at The El Rey. Banks and Steelz may be the result of an unlikely pairing of Interpol and Wu Tang Clan, but you need to run — don’t walk — to their next show.