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Top 20 Live Acts (That We've Seen) of 2013

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

We saw plenty of great bands put on terrific shows in 2013, but who was our favorite?

Top 20 Live Acts (That We've Seen) of 2013

Not only was 2013 a great year for music (our Top 25 Albums and Top 50 Songs posts should speak to that), it was another banner year in live music as well. There were some amazing concerts put on this year by bands both big and small. Of course we couldn't get to see all of them, but we tried to attend as much as we could from January 1 right up until the end of December.

From festivals like Lollapalooza and Newport Folk Festival to the tiniest of stages at Rockwood Music Hall and Cameo Gallery, a lot of terrific bands put on great shows no matter how many people were in the crowd. With that in mind, we're going to count down our Top 20 Live Acts of 2013, with a major caveat being that we had to have seen this band perform live. I know how amazing Janelle Monae is, Beyoncé is the Queen for a reason, and the Justin Bieber's and Taylor Swift's of the world are all said to put on unbelievable shows. That's nice and all, but if I haven't witnessed it, I can't really speak to it's awesomeness.

So, with that in mind, here are the Top 20 Live Acts of 2013 (that we got to see) with honorable mention to: Grouplove, Duologue, Avett Brothers, Frightened Rabbit, NONONO and countless others that still entertained us all year long..

20. Lord Huron

19. Kings of Leon

18. Matt and Kim

17. HAIM

16. Trombone Shorty

15. Jim James

14. Two Door Cinema Club

13. Alt-J

12. Cut Copy

11. Icona Pop

10. Lucius

[Pictured Above]

9. Bloc Party

8. The Killers

7. Vampire Weekend

6. Deer Tick

5. Palma Violets

Palma Violets are raw and fresh, and that is endearingly apparent during their live show. This group is all over the place on stage, flailing and yelling and screaming and having a damn good time doing it. Their rough-and-tumble shows are a whirlwind, and at more intimate venues you might get to dance with the band on stage at the end of the show. Their youth definitely gives them an edge here with how much the leave out up there on stage.

4. Phoenix

Phoenix was a completely worthy headliner at Lollapalooza this year. The Frenchman are just as entertaining as their lead single off Bankrupt! would suggest. Frontman Thomas Mars sounds incredible live, and the whole group puts on a tight, organized show. What pushed it over the top for me was Mars pulling off a crowd surf that went all the way from the sound stage in the middle of the crowd back to the stage. The whole thing took about two minutes to pull off, and it was astonishing to see executed. 

3. Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Karen O is a rock goddess. There isn't much more to it than that. My review of the band's tour opener at Webster Hall really says it all, but it's worth saying again: the showmanship, exuberance, sexiness and pure awesomeness is really unparalleled from another female rock performer, in my opinion. Karen O and the gang do not disappoint.

Photo Credit: Will Oliver, We All Want Someone To Shout For

2. Langhorne Slim and the Law

Langhorne Slim's shows feel spiritual. His folk rock almost sounds like a sermon on how to have fun and let loose, and the crowd really responds to the tenacious way in which he preaches. He scowls and sneers and belts out his tunes with so much heart, and the energy doesn't stop with him. The rest of the band is as intense as Langhorne. Those make the slower, heartfelt songs all the more meaningful. By the end of one of his shows, the whole crowd almost feels like a community. It helps that his music is top notch and super fun, too.

1. Foals

There isn't a better live act out there, in my opinion. Foals is in a class of their own. Their shows are energetic and wonderfully immersive. Lead singer Yannis Phillippakis is one of the more engaging and entertaining front men in the game right now. When I saw them at Terminal 5 in New York City, he not only crowd surfed, crowd surfed with his guitar while playing, and not only ran back and forth in the photographers pit like a rabid animal. He climbed up to the second level of seating mid-song, took a lap, then climbed back down to finish up the set. Foals is, for my money, the most entertaining act out there for a live audience.

Photo Credit: Will Oliver, We All Want Someone to Shout For

What do you think of our list? Who did we leave out? Who were your favorite live acts of 2013? Let us know in the comments section!

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