By Paste Music Staff
Photos by Adrian Spinelli, Annie Black
After the release of our best albums list, it’s time to celebrate another facet of the best music of the year—live music. Our writers and editors voted on our favorite live acts that we saw from the past year, and we ranked the top 25. Below is a list of newcomers, veterans and legends who all blew us away and left us wanting more. From the fierce artistry of Janelle Monáe and the quirky stage concept of David Byrne to the beautiful mystique of U.S. Girls and the rambunctious youthfulness of Shame, we’re confident in the ability of these artists to turn one night in a music venue into a moment that you’ll never forget. If any of these acts are coming to your town soon, you know what to do.
2. David Byrne
Besides David Byrne’s obvious musical genius, Byrne and his band get a special mention here for wearing impeccable, matching suits in the 90 degree Austin City Limits sun. With his customary grey-suited troupe, Byrne serenaded the crowd while clutching a plastic human brain, but it’s all par for the course. Playing solo hits as well as Talking Heads classics, the set was nothing short of a spectacle with a group of a dozen or so other musicians (dancers, percussionists, keyboardists, etc.) all playing wirelessly and in a seamlessly choreographed fashion. The group’s symbiotic relationship was more than impressive. Songs featured funky African-inspired rhythms and unconventional flourishes that we’ve come to know and love from Byrne. Bryne closed with a rousing cover of Janelle Monae’s “Hell You Talmbout,” which gave off a tropical marching band vibe and a revolutionary spirit as the song’s lyrics commemorate the names of minorities who were violently killed. —Lizzie Manno