Top 5 Wednesday: Top 5 Most Energetic Shows I’ve Ever Seen

It’s a rare experience that going to a show is not fun. Even if a band stands stock-still and sings straight off the album, there’s usually enough redeeming value in the concert experience itself (traveling, being excited, being around other people who love xx band as much as you, etc) to make it “fun” in the final estimation. But there’s something to be said for bands that go above and beyond, delivering experiences that can’t be duplicated on CD and must be seen live. This week I’m gonna congratulate those bands that I’ve seen that just tear it up live.

5. Ben Folds (solo). If Ben Folds brings his band with him, he’s not very interesting. If you score a show with just him and a piano, you’re in for an awesome time. He’ll play alternate versions of songs (like “Song for the Dumped” in minor, or in Japanese, or in minor AND in Japanese – the last of which I have witnessed), stand on his piano, direct the audience as his choir, tell stories about his songs, and play ri-dic-u-lous covers. In short, you never know what’s going to happen, even if you’ve seen him a dozen times. And that’s a good show.

4. Avett Brothers. The Avett Brothers are a folk band that think they are a punk band. They jump around, scream at the top of their lungs, break banjo strings, throw large stringed instruments around like toys, and generally go wild on stage. The fact that their music is some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard makes the presentation of it that much more interesting. I’ve never been more adrenalized by a banjo/acoustic outfit in my life. And that’s a fact.

3. The Non – You should not be able to make people pogo if you play instrumental music. But the Non is so good that not only do people pogo, they sing along to the guitar riffs. Yes, people memorize guitar riffs as if they were lyrics and scream them back at the top of of their lungs. For a post-rock/funk/indie-rock instrumental band from Oklahoma. The fact that they’re full-body headbanging and jumping up and down themselves is just icing on the cake. They’re from Oklahoma City; if you ever see them playing a show, you. must. go.

2. Annuals – The funny thing about Annuals is that they really, really suck on CD. In fact, I almost never listen to them except for their single “Brother,” which could accomplish world peace if played enough times to enough people. Okay, that’s a lie. But it’s good. Anyway, their CDs are not good. But their live show was a face-meltingly awesome adventure, complete with multiple keyboards, group sing-a-longs, dancing, clapping, and general fun. The fact that the band got sprayed with silly string at the end of their set by the band they were playing with just added to my concert experience.

1. MuteMath – The inspiration for this list, MuteMath tears it down live. They came through Oklahoma City last night (sorry if you missed it, but they’ll be back next year! They always are!), and I’m sure it was filled with the sort of entertaining mayhem that they’re known for. They do flips, knock over drumsets, play enormous drums, send a touch-tone guitar through the audience (!), ride enormous drums through the audience (!!), and tape headphones to the drummer’s head (!!!). Then they play loud, loud, loud rock music, and do it incredibly well. I’ve never seen such an athletic performance from a band, period. I don’t own a single MuteMath song, but they will forever be my number one best band I’ve ever seen live. At least, until someone else is as talented and as crazy.

Honorable mentions: Five Iron Frenzy, who told jokes that were legitimately funny the entire show; The Format, which controlled my emotions more than any other band I’ve ever seen; and The Programme, whose music almost made the heavens open up live and was only pretty good on CD.

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