By Andrew Bansal
Besides being another year round the sun, 2016 has offered a plethora of great live entertainment for us metalheads, and I’ve attended my fair share of concerts in the Los Angeles area and beyond. Choosing from 250-plus shows to pick the top 20 makes this the hardest list-based article I would write this year, but reflecting back on my master concert list made me realize just how many incredible shows I’ve had the good fortune of witnessing, and more than anything, this is the reason I do what I do. Without further ado, here are my picks for the top 20 shows of the year. The title of each show is linked to its corresponding review that was posted on the site.
20. Sick Of It All + Bl’ast! @ The Roxy (West Hollywood) 04/03: Celebrating their 30th anniversary with this tour, New York hardcore veterans Sick Of It All headlined the Roxy for a high-octane exhibition of all that they’re known for, and doing so with effortless ease as the LA hardcore community gathered in good numbers and loved every moment of it. California hardcore punk outfit Bl’ast! made for an excellent support act. It’s rare to be get a chance to attend such old-school hardcore shows in the modern day, so this was quite a welcome and memorable treat.
19. The Struts @ Fonda Theatre (Hollywood) 11/03: Arena rock is, for the most part, a thing of the past, but not if you ask English quartet The Struts, who’re bringing a show that’s massive sonically as well as visually. The Struts played a sold-out show in their adopted hometown, and the grateful audience at the Fonda was enthralled to bits by four musicians rocking their hearts out as if there was no tomorrow. Having toiled hard since their 2009 inception, The Struts are finally realizing their potential and this show was a glorious example of it.
18. Nightwish + Sonata Arctica @ Grove Of Anaheim (Anaheim) 03/12: Finnish Symphonic metal pioneers Nightwish may have spawned generations of bands heavily influenced and inspired by them, but they themselves continue to create compelling music and play spellbinding shows. Based on the strength of their stellar 2015 full-length release ‘Endless Forms Most Beautiful’, Nightwish graced the stage at Grove of Anaheim this year and made it their own, putting on a powerful show displaying the individual and collective talents of all of their highly skilled members. Most notably, their show was completely live, and all instruments were actually played by humans instead of via backing tracks, which was commendable in itself. Fellow Finnish metal band Sonata Arctica also put forth one of their finest shows and turned out to be an excellent support act.
17. Between The Buried And Me + Good Tiger @ The Roxy (West Hollywood) 03/19: North Carolina prog metal group Between The Buried And Me is never a band that can possibly be left out of a best-of year-end discussion, and in 2016 they stamped their authority with a masterclass of a performance at the Roxy, well-supported by Good Tiger. BTBAM presented material from their newest conceptual opus ‘Coma Ecliptic’ (2015), but also went as far back as the 2005 album ‘Alaska’, much to the delight of LA fans who turn up to support the band no matter what they choose to play in the set. Truly a great band that simply keeps getting better.
16. SubRosa + Ides Of Gemini + Ancient Altar + Høurs @ Complex (Glendale) 11/13: Salt Lake City, Utah’s SubRosa is a one-of-a-kind group, with their violin-centric yet ultra-heavy brand of doom/sludge. They left an indelible impression on this Complex audience, and it was no surprise that the room was completely packed even on a Sunday night, because this band certainly deserved it. Besides their own stunning set, credit also goes to local/regional support acts Ides Of Gemini, Ancient Altar and Høurs for building up the intensity and creating the ideal atmosphere for the headline act to thrive in. Complex played host to a lot of shows this year, but witnessed something special on this occasion.
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