Show stoppers: Our favorite concerts of 2019

Refused performs during the Punk Rock Bowling and Music Festival at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center Sunday, May 26, 2019.
Redlights and Redeyes, Chip Litherland


1. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (January 24, House of Blues) A solidly au courant technopop set that got arty while still delivering the hits.

2. Foals (March 27, Brooklyn Bowl) Perhaps no other band knows how to use this room quite so well. Pure rock energy and spectacle.

3. Andrew Bird (June 1, Emerge, the Joint) Bird's all-too-rare Las Vegas appearance was every bit as graceful and beguiling as we could have hoped.

4. Elvis Costello & The Imposters and Blondie (August 1, the Pearl) Costello was in terrific voice, Deborah Harry was energetic and fearless, and the hits never let up.

5. DeVotchKa and The Joy Formidable (September 19, Vinyl) Two studies in how to own a room: Joy Formidable made it intimate with an acoustic set, while DeVotchKa's orchestra-like sound turned the soon-to-be defunct Vinyl into a cathedral.


1. Vein (February 2, Eagle Aerie Hall) Nothing exemplified the Vegas hardcore scene's 2019 ascension more than this innovative band laying waste to a room packed with flailing bodies.

2. Ceremony (June 29, American Legion Post 8) There were probably only 50 people screaming every word into frontman Ross Farrar's microphone, but it felt like 5,000 on this energetic night.

3. Better Oblivion Community Center and Sloppy Jane (March 9, Bunkhouse Saloon) As if the second-ever performance of the Phoebe Bridgers/Conor Oberst supergroup wasn't treat enough outside, performance artist Haley Dahl sorta stole the night with her wacky set indoors.

4. Refused (May 26, Punk Rock Bowling, Downtown Las Vegas Events Center) Even PRB's most beloved band, the Descendents, bemoaned having to follow the fiery 45-minute performance from this Swedish hardcore institution.

5. Iron Maiden (September 13, MGM Grand Garden Arena) One of history's best metal bands dug into a number of deep cuts—perfect for Friday the 13th.


1. Thom Yorke (October 26, the Chelsea) His year-later second solo stop was even better than the first, largely due to a superior visual performance—yes, performance.

2. Electric Wizard (August 16, Psycho Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay Events Center) For the second time in four years, the English doom lords ruled Psycho's considerable lineup.

3. Godspeed You! Black Emperor (August 16, Psycho Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay Events Center) Another Psycho monster earlier the same day.

4. Iceage (April 12, Bunkhouse Saloon) Frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt can hold a room's attention for an entire set—and he did just that in the Danes' overdue first Vegas visit.

5. Shame (May 26, Punk Rock Bowling, Bunkhouse Saloon) In the moment, for a moment, this felt like the most exciting thing happening in the world.


Elton John at T-Mobile Arena

Elton John at T-Mobile Arena

1. Elton John (September 6, T-Mobile Arena) The Rocketman embarked on a farewell tour that felt especially memorable and poignant for Las Vegas, home to his two longtime residencies.

2. Spencer Krug (May 8, Bunkhouse Saloon) The Wolf Parade singer gave us an intimate solo set, coaxing magic out of the Bunkhouse's rickety piano.

3. Paul McCartney (June 29, T-Mobile Arena) Macca was so good on the night one, I plunked down for a second viewing one day later.

4. Modest Mouse (December 11, Brooklyn Bowl) Isaac Brock commanded a powerhouse band that included three drummers.

5. Alex Cameron (February 6, Bunkhouse Saloon) A small crowd resulted in lots of comic banter from the Australian and his right-hand man, saxophonist Roy Molloy.

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