2023: A great year for live music

It's safe to say that 2023 was one of the best years for live music since pre-pandemic, with the return of many festivals and great bands
Dinosaur Jr at Treefort 11

It’s safe to say that 2023 was one of the best years for live music since before the pandemic. This year launched an abundance of long-awaited touring dates for bands, Including Black Country, New Road, King Krule, Faye Webster, Steve Lacy, Death Grips, Big Thief, Slowdive, Kilby Court and The Cure. All of these bands are known for their incredible live performances and album-to-stage subtleties that give their audiences something to hold onto until their next live appearance.

Black Country New Road was one of the bands I was anticipating the most as they were playing a set of all-new music due to their unique past couple of years as a band, with their lead singer and guitarist Issac Wood leaving the band in early 2021. Their show was a cohesive and virtuosic set filled with nine songs that became the live album “Live at Bush Hall,” which came out In March of this year.

Another artist we were very excited to see was King Krule as he made his first appearance in Canada since 2017. He played a nearly sold-out show at Malkin Bowl in the pouring rain, which, as you can imagine, was a fitting mood for King Krule's intricate and moody songs. His set was filled with music from all four records, including a big chunk of his latest record, “Space Heavy.”

Faye Webster returned to Vancouver a year after she canceled her show at the Vogue Theatre. Her show had a relaxed and musically tight feel to it, similar to her records and easygoing personality. The year’s previous cancellation was handled really well in the show as she gave an honest and thoughtful apology to her fans who had held onto their tickets or bought new ones.

One of the most surprising announcements in the beginning of the year was that Death grips had announced a tour of the west coast. Death grips is a band who have remained pretty silent for a couple of years until their recent tour, which made its way to Vancouver earlier this year and sold out in seconds due to their devoted fans and wild live show.

Shoegaze veterans Slowdive released one of the best albums of the year, and in response to it, they did a short west coast tour, sadly not coming to Canada but to Seattle, which is where we caught their set of dreamy and sonically crushing mix of meditative dream pop and Shoegaze.

This year has also hosted some of the best festivals of the past couple of years, including Tyler The Creator’s first Camp Flog Gnaw Festival since the pandemic. Tyler always delivers the coolest lineup with a wide-ranging variety of acts, including BADBADNOTGOOD, Beabadoobee Julie,Turnstile, The Hillbillies, aka Kendrick Lamar and Baby Keem. 2023 also hosted Frank Ocean's first live performance since 2017. At the world-famous Coachella festival, Frank delivered a controversial yet seemingly on-brand and artistic approach to a highly anticipated live performance.

Primavera Sound in Barcelona continues to book huge lineups, with multitudes of eclectic artists from all genres of the indie music world. In recent years, the festival has expanded to Santiago de Chile, Buenos Aires, São Paulo, Bogotá, and more.

Treefort Fest transforms the city of Boise, Idaho into a buzzing hub of eclectic music and entertainment. Its 11th edition, which took place between March 22 and March 26, continued the festival’s tradition of introducing tomorrow’s breakout stars, showcasing local talents, and welcoming iconic artists from the world of indie rock.

Coachella also hosted one of the most astonishing Bjork performances in a long time, featuring a production of 864 lit-up drones in the California sky while the Icelandic superstar performed a stunning set. It seems to me that after a few years since the pandemic we have returned to the consistent flow of amazing artists on tour and on the big stages at festivals around the world. People are out there still taking risks on stage and embodying their artistic language every time they perform. As long as this phenomenon continues, I think we will all be Okay.

Honorable mention to other amazing festivals including Kilby Block Party, Riot Fest, Lollapalooza, le guess who?, Osheaga, The New Colossus Festival, and THING Festival.


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