David James Young writes…

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The Top 50 Gigs of 2015, Part One: 50-26


Another year, another exceptional bunch of rock & roll shows. Although I sadly fell short of topping my previous year record, I still think there were more than enough highlights to warrant putting this list together.

As always, a massive thank you goes out to everyone who makes these shows happen. The bands, the promoters, the venue staff and security, merch-wielders, tour managers, van drivers… and, of course, the bloody punters. Am glad to have friends involved in all aspects of live music. I can’t wait to do it all again in the new year. See you there!

– DJY, January 2016

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Belle & Sebastian @ Enmore Theatre, Flying Lotus @ Sydney Opera House, Perfect Pussy @ Newtown Social Club, Farmer & The Owl @ University of Wollongong, Jurassic 5 @ Waves, Alabama Shakes & Charles Bradley @ Enmore Theatre, King Parrot @ Corrimal Hotel, Royal Headache @ Factory Theatre, Tigers Jaw @ Rad, The Grates @ Oxford Art Factory, Circa Survive @ Metro Theatre, Cancer Bats @ Bald Faced Stag, Sarah Blasko @ Sydney Opera House, This One’s for Mum @ Red Rattler, The Hotelier @ Black Wire Records.


50. Cold Chisel & Grinspoon @ Qantas Credit Union Arena, 17/12

2 days before it shut its doors, Chisel vowed to tear apart the venue formerly known as the Sydney Entertainment Centre with the power of their national anthems. They – plus a reunited Grinspoon – gave it a bloody good go. These songs were meant to be sung en masse.


49. Dune Rats & Cosmic Psychos @ Manning Bar, 19/6

Two generations of party animals went head-to-head in the booziest clash of the titans Australia saw this year. Loud, loose and loutish; the old dogs picked up some new tricks while the pups held their own. When it comes to a fun rock gig, these are blokes you can trust.


48. Mötley Crüe & Alice Cooper @ Allphones Arena, 16/5

Here lies Mötley Crüe – the dumbest, greatest hair-metal trainwreck that ever lived. With the legendary Alice Cooper in tow, this was a spectacle of explosions, guitar solos and head-banging hits. For one night only, your inner goatee-sporting Monster drinker was let loose – and it made you feel alright.


47. Sweater Season @ Black Wire Records, 23/10

Sweater Season ruled the Sydney indie circuit in 2015. This was a celebration of that, combined with three of the more promising locals on offer – supergroup-of-sorts Burlap, the shoegazing sweethearts of Lapse and the freshly-minted doom-pop of Snape. A joyful communion of delay pedals and American Football tote bags.


46. Waxahatchee @ Newtown Social Club, 3/7

Katie Crutchfield holds a special place in the hearts of her listeners, whether they’ve been on board since the P.S. Eliot days or arrived on the scene circa Ivy Tripp. The vibe in the room as Crutchfield performed a career-spanning solo set was borderline holy. A truly beautiful maiden voyage.


45. Darren Hanlon @ St. Stephen’s Uniting Church, 19/12

For ten years, Daz has ended his year with a Christmas show. This packed church felt like one of his absolute best, complete with an address from the honourable Bob Hawke to kick things off and a cameo from Sarah Blasko to close things out. To all a good night.


44. Daniel Johns @ Sydney Opera House, 28/5

Silverchair may be gone, but veteran performer Johns can still turn the concert hall into his own neon ballroom. Talk came to life with stunning visuals and an exceptionally-tight band, assuring all and sundry that Daniel 2.0 is worth the time and the investment. Yes, even after all these years.


43. J Mascis @ Factory Theatre, 21/2

Two years prior, the silver-maned mumbler cranked up the amp for a killer Dinosaur Jr. tour. In more intimate surrounds, J pared back his repertoire to a unique solo outing, mixing old favourites with highlights from his charming Tied to a Star LP. The loudest quiet show of the year.


42. Jenny Lewis @ Metro Theatre, 22/7

From “Portions for Foxes” to “Just One of the Guys,” Jenny Lewis has been a beacon of wisdom, honesty and perseverance to a generation of wayward teens and twentysomethings. The faithful gathered for a celebration of she who soundtracked a thousand comings-of-age. As powerful and glorious as her rainbow suit.


41. Mariachi El Bronx @ Metro Theatre, 7/4

Less than a year after laying waste to the same venue as their alter-egos, El Bronx returned in glorious fashion; dressed to the nines and triumphant in their delivery. Sure, it’s not a stage-dives and crowd-surfs kind of energy; but it still gets bodys moving and raises spirits exponentially. Viva!


40. Canine @ Jane’s, 18/10

Sunday afternoons in Wollongong are usually fairly chilled-out, but this brilliant mixed-bill ensured this given Sunday would be anything but. With the almighty Agatha in tow, Sydney’s best-bred hardcore band packed the best new venue in town and made this a highlight of yet another fantastic One Brick Today tour.


39. Tanned Christ @ Black Wire Records, 18/9

The hottest ticket in Sydney town on a Friday night ended up being the launch of Antipodean Sickness, the half-hour of power from svpergrovp Tanned Christ. The room heaved and surged under the weight of one of the most packed shows of the entire year, and brutality prevailed. Also, this.


38. Charli XCX @ Metro Theatre, 29/4

Most pop shows don’t start with Soulja Boy blaring out of the PA followed by a thousand middle fingers in the air screaming the words “Fuck you, sucker!” Then again, Charli isn’t interested in most pop shows. Bubblegum-snapping party anthems with a kickarse band and a healthy dose of attitude.


37. They Might Be Giants @ Enmore Theatre, 6/11

As exciting as it was to see the Johns return to Australia for the first time in 12 years back in 2013, there was certainly a fear we might not see them again. Thankfully, this blockbuster double-set extravaganza was a wonderful follow-up, complete with robot parades and Destiny’s Child covers.


36. Gang of Youths @ Metro Theatre, 8/8

The kind of show you’ll tell kids about when GoY are doing their umpteenth arena tour. It went to show the power of this band that they built deafening noise during high-energy bursts and pin-drop silence during ballads. There’s a lot bands can learn from watching Gang of Youths live.


35. Spoon @ Metro Theatre, 14/2

Love was in the air on Valentine’s Day, thanks to Austin’s favourite sons. With a new line-up and one of 2014’s most beloved albums, Britt Daniel and co. packed the room with positive vibes. It was so good, it didn’t even matter there was no “The Way We Get By.”


34. Swans @ Manning Bar, 22/1

Before climbing Sugar Mountain, Michael Gira and his band of un-merry men returned to the Manning Bar two years after originally laying waste to it. It was business as usual, sure, but let’s not forget that Swans are in the business of face-melting and blistering, apocalyptic soundscapes. Kind regards, gentlemen.


33. Kacey Musgraves @ Oxford Art Factory, 16/3

At the end of Same Trailer, Different Park and the beginning of Pageant Material, the dimestore cowgirl made a long-awaited Australian debut; sending a packed-out OAF into double-wide smiles and hearty sing-alongs. With any luck, a wake-up call to promoters: we want and need more dang country tours out here.


32. Break Even @ Rad, 12/2

For all the doubt surrounding Break Even’s intentions in their rebirth, it was emphatically silenced on their first major tour in years. Simultaneously sending off Hopeless and bringing along Endless Heights and Postblue along for the ride, the Perth veterans made it feel like they’d never left. Shine bright, baby.


31. Oslow @ Black Wire Records, 8/5

To see Oslow go from opening slots at this very venue to full-house headliners in their own right has been purely joyous to see. This was an evening of celebrating everything the band has achieved up to this juncture. It felt fittingly victorious. You know who the fuck they are.


30. Dangers @ Black Wire Records, 6/7

Crowd-surfing within the first two minutes. Screaming along so loudly it can be heard over every other instrument. A genuine sense that the whole place was going to get torn apart. This barnstormer was, put bluntly, punk as fuck. It’s good to have this band back in the world again.


29. Title Fight @ Factory Theatre, 24/6

The last time these Kingston kids were in town, they left the Annandale in even more of a state than it’s currently in. Although this included a larger room and quieter moments from the brilliant Hyperview, the energy didn’t wane for a moment. A top-shelf live act in their scene.


28. Every Time I Die & Touché Amore @ Manning Bar, 17/1

A true odd-couple pairing – one a heavily-tattooed party-starter, the other an angsty introvert – made for one of the absolute best starts to the year one could’ve asked for. There was no time for casual fans at this show – it was an all-in experience from go to woah-oh-oh.


27. Artless Armchair 11 @ The Wonky Donkey, 5/12*

Where the hell is Forrest? What’s an artless armchair? Did that guy just pick that other guy’s nose and eat it? So many questions arose at this bizarre middle-of-nowhere gathering, but the answer lay in the endless array of left-field and wonderfully-creative music on offer. That’ll do, Donkey. That’ll do.


26. Eagles @ Allphones Arena, 6/3

Had a rough night? Maybe the fucking Eagles are what you need after all. This two-set “History” show took the audience through the band’s illustrious career and back, every hit present and accounted for. It might have even been worth the grand it cost to sit in the front row.


*: For the sake of transparency, I wish to mention that I also performed at this event.


50. Bill Hearne, News Corp Australia
49. Jack Bennett, Life Without Andy
48. Theresa Ambrose, Sydney Morning Herald
47. Zach Penhall, ZK Photo
46. Brandon Matich, Music Feeds
45. Robbie Buck via Twitter
44. Ashley Mar, Music Feeds
43. Kyleigh Pitcher, Songbird Photography
42. Pete Dovgan, TheMusic.com.au
41. Ashley Mar, The BRAG
40. Karli of Agatha, via Flickr
39. Joe Andersons, Joe Andersons Photography (photo not taken from show)
38. Ryan Pierse, Getty Images
37. Rohan Anderson, TheMusic.com.au
36. Teresa Pham, SpeakerTV
35. David Youdell, TheMusic.com.au
34. Paul Thomson, ToneDeaf
33. User:”chasecult,” via YouTube
32. Jared Leibowitz, Jared Leibowitz Photography
31. Zach Penhall, ZK Photo
30. Joe Andersons, Joe Andersons Photography (photo not taken from show)
29. Maria De Vara, ToneDeaf
28. Adam Davis-Powell, Demon Race Productions
27. Marnie Vaughan, Marnie Photography (provided)
26. Ros O’Gorman, Noise11 (photo not taken from show)


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This entry was posted on 15/01/2016 by in Lists.
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