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.
The Interrupters impressed with SWMRS at The Fonda and year 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Gilt Lily, Pow! and Gary Numan
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 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.
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’s music was the heart and soul of the 1980s. Watching him perform it all in the new millennium gave inspiration and good vibes.
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.
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.
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.
Growlers 6, Mike Watt and Dead Boys
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
SoCal loves Depeche Mode, no matter how many years after their debut. The British new wavers keep it all cool all the time.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Celebrating The New 88.5 FM, Gary Clark Jr. put on an intimate show for a lucky few.
Curated by Buzzbands LA, this was an excellent evening filled with talented up-and-comers.
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 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.
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.
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 and Chicano Batman grabbing the headlines.
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 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.
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.
This is a band that never quits and keeps the crowds coming.
Woolly Bandits are earning the accolades of all sorts of music lovers as they combine punk and rock for a wild time.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum played and chatted with the fans during the ASCAP annual meeting.
With Crazy Squeeze and Double E, The Superbees band led by Dave James is the powerhouse of the local scene.
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.
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.
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.