Wow, 2016 was a great year for concerts! I set a personal record this year as I went to 43 separate shows, including seven CD102.5 Big Room performances, seeing a total of 88 different bands along the way (some of them multiple times). Below, I’ve listed my favorite headliners, and, because I’m someone who always gets to shows earlier to see the opener, I’ve also listed a few of those that really impressed me.
My favorite headlining shows were:
1. Green Day (September 26, Newport Music Hall)
Green Day last played in Columbus in 2005 at the Schottenstein Center, so after an 11 year wait, it made it that much more incredible to see them perform in the Columbus music treasure that is the Newport Music Hall. I was lucky enough to grab a pair of tickets before the show sold out in less than a minute, and braved the entry line that stretched multiple blocks down High Street before the show. Billie Joe Armstrong, with his trademark red necktie, Mike Dirnt, and Tré Cool then put on an epic two hour long show to kick-off their Revolution Radio tour. The trio played a wide range of songs spanning their career, clearly having a great time being back on stage in a smaller venue than the typical arenas they play these days. This was one to remember forever.
2. The Greeting Committee (July 25, CD102.5 Big Room and The Basement)
I can’t say enough about this new band from outside of Kansas City. Lead singer/guitarist Addie and bassist Pierce just recently graduated from high school, and lead guitarist Brandon and drummer Austin are still high school seniors. But, don’t be fooled by their young age, they are all impressive musicians, and even better people. They released their debut EP, It’s Not All That Bad, at the end of 2015, and their single, “Hands Down” caught fire in 2016. They put on one of the most passionate performances I have ever heard in the CD102.5 Big Room, flawlessly executing their songs in acoustic form. Later that night at The Basement, their full set absolutely blew me away. Addie’s powerful voice and limitless energy make her a natural frontwoman, and Brandon is clearly a gifted guitar player. The Greeting Committee returned to Columbus last September, and put on an equally impressive performance at CD102.5’s Fall Fest. They are planning to release a second EP this spring, and will hopefully be back to Columbus soon.
3. Florence + The Machine (June 4, Blossom Music Center)
Florence Welch had been near the top of my “to see” list since I first heard "Dog Days" way back in 2008, and now with three albums under her belt, her performance did not disappoint. Florence flowed from one hit to another, even playing a rendition of “Sweet Nothing,” her collaboration with Calvin Harris. She was in constant motion, running from one side of the large stage at Blossom to the other, and even traveling through the pavilion out to the edge of the lawn for a song. At one point, when an overly enthusiastic fan managed to get past security and run onto stage to dance with her, Florence maintained her cool and waved off security until the song was over. (It wasn’t me, I swear). Finally seeing Florence + The Machine in concert was well worth the trip up I-71, especially with Of Monsters And Men opening the show.
4. Wolf Alice (April 8, CD102.5 Big Room and A&R Music Bar)
The four-piece from London kicked off their show at A&R Music Bar with an instrumental intro segueing into “Your Loves Whore,” my favorite track from their debut album, My Love Is Cool. This song perfectly sums up Wolf Alice - at times soft and melodic, with a hard-driving intensity following closely behind. Lead singer Ellie Rowsell and the rest of the band have a grunge-rock type style that is at it’s best live, onstage and right in front of you.
5. Courtney Barnett (June 2, CD102.5 Big Room and Nelsonville Music Festival)
This was definitely one of the most highly anticipated Big Room performances of the year, and I was super excited to snag passes. It also was the loudest Big Room I’ve ever heard - Courtney definitely didn’t play an acoustic set! Watching her play the guitar up close is incredible as she has a very unique style of play, in which she doesn’t use a guitar pick, but also doesn’t play with a traditional fingerpicking style. After the Big Room, I headed an hour down Route 33 to Nelsonville for the first day of the Nelsonville Music Festival at which Courtney was headlining that night. After seeing several other great bands, Courtney Barnett and her band closed out the evening with a great set.
6. CHVRCHES (September 24, EXPRESS LIVE! outdoors)
Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook, and Martin Doherty headlined CD102.5 Fall Fest, and just like the previous two times I’ve seen them, they put on an awesome show.
7. Phantogram (October 18, EXPRESS LIVE! indoors)
Phantogram’s latest album, Three, was one of my favorites to be released last year, and I was excited to check out their live show. Their show had probably the best set lighting that I’ve seen - it worked perfectly to enhance the performance, but not distract from the music. I was only disappointed that we didn’t get to see their adorable little dog, Leroy.
Also, here are a few of the opening acts that blew me away:
1. Dreamers (September 30, Beachland Ballroom)
This now L.A. based trio released their first full-length album last year, and I caught them up in Cleveland opening for The Mowgli’s. Most of Dreamers songs have a pop-esque tinge to them, which makes them catchy and easy to jam along to. They put on a great set, and I’m looking forward to seeing them again soon.
2. The Wrecks (October 17, A&R Music Bar)
This was a band I had never heard of when I arrived at the A&R Music Bar for the Nothing But Thieves show, but they blew me away so much that I immediately went over to the merch table and bought their three song EP. Based on their energetic performance and the crowd’s reaction, you would never have guessed that they were a then unsigned opener.
3. AJR (October 9, EXPRESS LIVE! indoors)
Another group that I was unfamiliar with is composed of brothers Adam, Jack, and Ryan Met. Their upbeat indie-pop style served as a perfect opener for Ingrid Michaelson.
What were some of your favorite concerts of 2016? Let me know in the comments below.