A couple weeks ago, the Uproxx Music staff recounted our worst concert experiences. It happens; go to enough shows and you’re going to get some not-great ones. But we’re all about being music fans here. We like to focus on the positives, on what makes us love music and all the good things it makes us feel. So, we thought it’d only be fair if we came back and recounted our favorite concerts ever. Keep in mind, this isn’t a list of the best concerts ever. There are plenty of iconic shows in modern music’s history that have been revered and discussed appropriately. This just a small sampling of the concerts we’ve been to that have left an impression, for whatever reason, on us. Wave your lighter in the air as you read along, and share your favorite concert memories in the comments.
Broken Social Scene
Central Park Summerstage; New York
You’d think “best concert ever” would have something grandiose to it – a greatest hits marathon, some special guests, multiple encores, etc. At least some fireworks? But my favorite concert ever – and I’ve been to a lot of them, including more than a few that featured the above elements – was a pretty straightforward affair. So, why was it my favorite? It was just a perfect confluence of elements. My favorite band (when they were still an active, touring entity, anyway) usually had to pare down its live shows because it would be impossible to bring all the collaborators and instrumentalists that fleshed out their albums on the road. But on this night, almost the entire Broken Social Scene collective was on hand, and they just sounded great, both in terms of technical ability and sound quality. A group that included backup singers, horns and a mini orchestra navigated through the band’s diverse history beautifully. It was also a gorgeous late summer night under the Central Park stars, and I’m a complete sucker for outdoor shows. So, yeah, sorry. That was pretty anticlimactic to read from your end, I know. But five years later, memories of the show still make me smile, so whatever. – Tom Mantzouranis
Big Cypress; Everglades, Fla.
The turn of the millennium was a big deal. Huge! And what you were going to do to celebrate was serious business, if only because there was the looming threat of civilization crumbling in the minutes following the clock striking midnight. We trekked down to Florida to celebrate with 85,000 of our closest friends to see Phish. A lot of Phish; they played a now-legendary seven-hour set that started around 11:45 p.m., as the band rode a hot dog through the crowd, and ended sometime around sunrise with George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun” playing over the PA. And while I’ve seen better concerts, concerts that easily trumped the Phish show musically, the Phish midnight set was the best concert experience I’ve ever been a part of. Hands down. I might not be able to remember specifics of the set, but I remember the feeling – awe, amazement, enjoyment and finally flat-out exhaustion. And bonus, the world was still there when it was over. Can’t ask for much more. – Ryan O’Connell
Roseland Ballroom, New York
Jack White is my favorite musician of all-time, hands down. I’d seen him perform with all of his bands, but this was my first time seeing Jack’s solo show. I had no idea what to expect, but the setlist was perfect. White opened with “Sixteen Saltines,” and played a lot of his solo debut Blunderbuss and a good mix of his other band’s songs, even performing his song from Rome, “Two Against One.” He ended the set with “Ball and Biscuit,” which I figured was the end of the show, no encore. I’d have been happy with just that. But then, out of nowhere, I heard the loud distorted guitars of “Black Math.” To the right of the audience was the old Roseland stage where the VIP were sitting, and as soon as “Black Math” started, security grabbed everyone on that side stage and rushed them away. The curtains drew, and there was Jack and his band going nuts. The audience quickly rushed to the side of the stage to get a good view of the madness as White played a four-song encore consisting of three White Stripes songs and The Dead Weather’s “Cut Like A Buffalo.” I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I left that show, disbelief of the incredible performance I had just witnessed. – James Sullivan
Walter’s on Washington; Houston
I’ve been to plenty of concerts where a band or artist I’ve liked absolutely topped my expectations, but the most memorable shows I’ve attended have gone a little differently. What really sticks with me is when a band I have no idea about absolutely blows me away.