The Ten Best Performances I Saw in 2017

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I had some hefty goals for myself in 2017 in regards to documenting my music experiences. It first started with me writing a review on every show I went to – which unfortunately became insanely demanding based on how many shows I actually ended up seeing this year – you will understand this once you see how many I actually went to.

On the bright side, I was able to write down every single performance I saw this year – whether that may have been 15 minutes of a set at Lollapalooza or a 90 minute set from a headlining performance. I have my top 10 picked out and then after that, I have listed every performance that I saw this year, including date and style of performance (a set, opener, etc).

Photos are mine unless stated otherwise.

Enjoy!

Top 10 Sets – in order by date:

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Léon
Date: February 9, 2017
Venue: Schuba’s Tavern

To say I was obsessed with this singer for over two years is an understatement: I wrote about her in early 2016 here (and on numerous other occasions) and was ecstatic to see her live for the first time earlier this year. She glided around the stage with ease and a sense of confidence bigger than what the small Schuba’s tavern gave her, showing that she was ready to be performing for larger audiences.

It was impressive to see a very eager audience singing along to every song she sang: at this point in her career, she had less than 10 songs officially released.

Highlights included her cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” which is one of my favorite songs in the world, and her sing along of “Tired of Talking” – the song that jumpstarted her career – approaching 57 million streams on Spotify as I type this. Léon proved herself to be a forced to be reckoned with this year, returning to Chicago with a performance at this year’s Lollapalooza and another headlining show at Schuba’s sister venue, Lincoln Hall (she sold that out, too).

You can read an in-depth review of this show here.

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MUNA
Date: February 19, 2017
Venue: Subterranean

It was pretty natural for me to include MUNA in this playlist not because I have seen them perform live multiple times, but they were awarded the title for my favorite album of the year.  You can read about that here. As soon I as I heard their three songs on Spotify back in early 2016, I was instantly hooked on their 80s synth pop futuristic anthems of female empowerment. I have seen MUNA a total of five times – but this was their only headlining show I have ever gotten to see them at. Other times I have seen them perform were during opening slots for the likes of Borns, Bleachers or Harry Styles, one other time at Lollapalooza and then this headlining show.

It was something power to witness because 1) lead singer Katie is from Chicago and was proud to say how many times she had visited this venue growing up and 2) it was just a few weeks after the inauguration of our 45th president – and I can’t think of many more politically active artists out there right now than MUNA. This performance was a safe haven for people who felt particularly targeted amidst a tumultuous 2016, and MUNA has made sure that their fans are aware of the band’s support in these difficult times for many of us.

My favorite moments included a phenomenal performance of “I Know a Place” – where the women decided to swap out lyrics to the bridge for a very political one – you can see it here on Jimmy Kimmel – and throwbacks to their first releases like “Winterbreak” and “Loudspeaker.”

You can read an in-depth review of this show here.

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Stevie Nicks
Date:
March 29, 2017
Venue:
Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis

This was truly a show for the ages. I grew up on Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac, I have such vivid memories as a young kid hearing some of their most famous songs. As I’ve gotten older, I have been revisiting these songs and jumped at the chance of seeing her live. I wasn’t able to attend her show in Chicago because of a family member’s wedding, but the trek to Indy really wasn’t too bad and was totally worth it!

Although Stevie focused on singing songs from her catalog that she doesn’t perform live often, seeing such a legend own the stage like she was still a 25-year-old was truly amazing. I unfortunately didn’t hear classics like “Dreams” or “Go Your Own Way,” but I did get to hear “Edge of Seventeen,” “Landslide” (which is probably my favorite song on planet earth) and other huge songs from Nicks’ career. Also, she’s super obsessed with the Twilight book series and kept mentioning it. I love her.

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Cage the Elephant
Date:
August 3, 2017
Venue:
Lollapalooza, Grant Park 

I’ve always been a casual fan of Cage the Elephant: I saw them perform at WKQX’s Piqnic event a couple years ago, but that was the only time I ever saw them live, Their pre-headlining performance at Lollapalooza this year truly blew me away! I had always heard that they were insanely amazing live artists but it really didn’t resonate with me  until I got to see them play a long set like this.

The lead singer of Cage the Elephant, Matt Schulz, has some of the best energy I have ever seen in a performer and I was seriously blown away by his emotion, stage presence and his actual singing voice! It was great to see this band get a pre-headlining slot because I honestly think that Cage the Elephant has the performing capabilities to be a headliner at Lollapalooza next year, obviously that won’t happen but they are that talented.

Cage the Elephant is definitely a more rock-oriented band compared to the usual genres of music I listen to, but I think that this is what set their performance apart for me. I don’t really think I’ve ever attended a genuine rock show like theirs…I saw the Eagles once but I was like, 11-years-old and didn’t really grasp the concept yet. It was cool for this concept to sort of come full circle for myself as a 22-year-old.

I particularly enjoyed hearing fan favorites like “Cigarette Daydreams” and “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,” – a song that I have vivid memories of getting for free off of iTunes way back in the day, when iTunes actually had free songs to download.

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John Mayer
Date: September 2, 2017
Venue: Hollywood Casino Amphitheater

I am so grateful to one of my friends, Tara, who won a crazy amazing contest from a local pizza place that awarded her two VIP tickets to every show at this venue throughout this past summer, who took me to see John Mayer with her! For free! In VIP box seats!

This was my second time seeing Mayer at this venue but I would argue that this performance was better. Seeing him again over four years later was such a treat and I was so happy to hear him performing songs from his 2017 release, The Search for Everything. 

I never, ever thought I would have the chance to hear John Mayer do his rendition of Beyonce’s “XO” but I was so lucky to hear it at this show, and (no shade) I actually prefer this version over the original. It was great hearing classics like “Why Georgia” and my personal favorite from his new album, “In The Blood.” I think that Mayer is someone I will always enjoy listening to and will continuously jump at the chance to seeing him perform live because of his extensive catalog and natural talent.

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Haim
Date: September 15, 2017
Venue: Riviera Theater

I was so excited for this show because although I had seen Haim 3x prior, it was never at their own show. I saw them open up for Taylor Swift twice on the 1989 tour – which really wasn’t HAIM in their element. The majority of Swift’s fans probably didn’t know who they were. I also saw them at Lollapalooza in 2016 and it was great, but you still can”t get the full effect compared going to a band’s show.

Haim’s second album, Something To Tell You, was released earlier this year, and being able to see them perform songs from it live definitely made me like the album even more. I love seeing female acts perform and the Haim sisters’ dynamics were so natural and effortless and awesome to see.

My favorite moments from this show was hearing “Found It In Silence” live (my favorite song off of their sophomore release) and their great Shania Twain cover “Don’t Impress Me Much.” Also – Este crowd surfed all the way to the back of the audience, which was awesome too.

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Joseph
Date: September 22, 2017
Venue: Thalia Hall

I hope that you’re not sick of listening about female group performances…because I have another one! This was the third time I got to see Joseph perform and I am seriously blown away by them every time. Being able to go to Thalia Hall for the first time ever for this show was so perfect – I’ve been wanting to go to this venue for years and Joseph was the perfect act to see there. Thalia Hall is absolutely beautiful and it was the perfect backdrop.

These three sisters – Natalie, Meegan and Allie, are so unbelievably talented and passionate about their music, and they have SUCH perfect harmonies it’s almost unreal. As I have mentioned before, I have been increasingly interested in folk pop music and Joseph is the perfect example of the sound that I have grown to love over 2017. Their album (released in 2016) is a piece of art that I have been listening to nonstop this year and I would encourage any of my readers to listen to them if you haven’t already!

Joseph’s performance of their songs “Blood And Tears,” “White Flag” and “Honest” nearly brought me to tears and I’m sure the next time I see them perform I will actually be crying. Please please PLEASE listen to them!

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Harry Styles
Date: September 26, 2017
Venue: Chicago Theater

I don’t think I could go through this post without including this performance in my list. As many of you know, I have been a huge One Direction fan forever and Harry Styles was always my favorite. I see the most potential in him out of all the other members and I think he will have the longest career. After finding out that he was going to be performing at The Chicago Theater I knew I had to be there – ESPECIALLY after Muna was added as the opening act!

Harry Styles’ solo album was one of my favorites of the year and I was very curious to see how Styles would perform as a soloist compared to a member of a band. Obviously since this performance made the post, I wasn’t disappointed! He performed like he had been a soloist for years prior, and I think he really has stage presence that’s hard to emulate. I think that he knows who his audience is, and is doing an amazing job creating music that’s getting praise critically while still maintaining a fan base that followed him when he was apart of One Direction.

My favorite moments included when he decided to perform a cover of the One Direction song, “Stockholm Syndrome” – which was one of my favorites from them, and when he sang a couple of my favorites from his album – “Meet Me in The Hallway” and “From The Dining Table.”

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Bleachers
Date: November 11, 2017
Venue: Riviera Theater

I’ve been #blessed by the opportunity to see Bleachers perform six times and I am convinced that they get better every time I see them. I was particularly excited to see this performance because their album Gone Now, released in June of this year, was my second favorite album of the year. I saw Bleachers perform at Summerfest earlier this year as well, but I ended up loving the album even more after I had the entire year to listen to it and understand it.

Jack Antonoff continues to create some of my favorite music through his production work for other musicians and through his own music, of course. I really related to the themes in this album and being able to hear it live is really special to me. It was also amazing to see his opening acts, Amy Shark and Bishop Briggs, which made the entire night even better. I don’t think that there’s any other moment I felt #emo about more than hearing Bleachers perform “Everybody Lost Somebody” and the entire crowd screaming along to the bridge.

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Overcoats
Date: November 17, 2017
Venue: Lincoln Hall

I have a strong belief that musicians always come into your life at the right moment, and this is my case with Overcoats. They were a band that I had continuously been meaning to listen to and I am SO happy I finally got around to it earlier this year in late October. These two ladies create some of the coolest futuristic synth pop music with folk harmonies and their debut album, Young, which came out in April, was one of my favorites of the year: it was a no-brainer to include them on my top albums list and my list of favorite performances.

While a lot of Overcoats’ music is pretty sad, they have an incredible way of creating music with sad content but making it sound upbeat and pretty to listen to (I think Bleachers does this amazingly well, also). Like Joseph, these woman have some of the most flawless sounding harmonies I have ever heard, lyrics poignant and relatable that their performance of “Little Memory” was so breathtakingly beautiful that I found myself to be choked up by the end of it. Their music is so progressive, feminist thinking and empowering for all people and that is something I truly adore about them.

I really hope that Overcoats blow up in 2018 because they are truly some of the most talented and unique musicians on the scene right now, and their ability to make me an instant fan the second I heard their music deserves some recognition.

Below is every performance I saw this year. I have been trying to archive every performance I have ever seen in my life and it’s no easy feat. I will definitely be sure to document 2018 this way and my goal is to see 100 performances next year. I almost made it!

Venues with * mean they’re out of state.

Performer Date Venue Show Type
Jacob Banks 2/9/2017 Schuba’s Supporting Léon
Léon 2/9/2017 Schuba’s Headlining Show
Lo Moon 2/19/2017 Subterrenean Supporting MUNA
MUNA 2/19/2017 Subterrenean Headlining Show
Dua Lipa 2/24/2017 Lincoln Hall Headlining Show
The Japanese House 2/25/2017 Bottom Lounge Headlining Show
The Pretenders 3/29/2017 Bankers Life Fieldhouse Supporting Stevie Nicks
Stevie Nicks 3/29/2017 Bankers Life Fieldhouse Headlining Show
Maggie Rogers 4/2/2017 Lincoln Hall Headlining Show
Bastille 4/3/2017 Aragon Ballroom Headlining Show
Knuckle Puck 4/22/2017 House of Blues
Supporting Mayday Parade
Mayday Parade 4/22/2017 House of Blues Headlining Show
The Maine 5/6/2017 House of Blues Headlining Show
Littlebirds 5/8/2017 Elbo Room
Supporting Sundara Karma
Sundara Karma 5/8/2017 Elbo Room Headlining Show
Hippo Campus 5/22/2017 WXRT In-Studio Performance
Jesse McCartney 5/26/2017 DePaul
DePaul’s Spring Concert
Logic 5/26/2017 DePaul
Depaul’s Spring Concert
The Band CAMINO 6/16/2017 Beat Kitchen Headlining Show
The Wldlfe 6/16/2017 Beat Kitchen
Supporting The Band CAMINO
Dawes 6/18/2017 Taste of Randolph Headliner
Local Natives 6/24/2017 Mamby On the Beach Pre-Headliner
Local Natives 6/24/2017 Concord Music Hall Mamby After Show
Marian Hill 6/24/2017 Mamby On the Beach Pre-Headliner Set
Phoebe Ryan 6/24/2017 Mamby On the Beach Set
Saba 6/24/2017 Mamby On the Beach Set
SHAED 6/24/2017 Mamby On the Beach Set
Bleachers 7/1/2017 Summerfest Grounds Headliner
Flint Eastwood 7/1/2017 Summerfest Set
MUNA 7/1/2017 Summerfest Set
The Naked and Famous 7/1/2017 Summerfest Set
James Taylor 7/17/2017 Wrigley Field Headlining Show
Bonnie Raitt 7/22/2017 Wrigley Field
Supporting James Taylor
Jaymes Young 7/22/2017 Beat Kitchen Headlining Show
Matt Maeson 7/22/2017 Beat Kitchen
Supporting Jaymes Young
Cage the Elephant 8/3/2017 Lollapalooza Pre-Headliner Set
Declan McKenna 8/3/2017 Lollapalooza Set
Elohim 8/3/2017 Lollapalooza Set
Elohim 8/3/2017 Lollapalooza Toyota Tent Set
George Ezra 8/3/2017 Lollapalooza Set
Hippo Campus 8/3/2017 Lollapalooza Set
Kaytranada 8/3/2017 Lollapalooza Set
Lorde 8/3/2017 Lollapalooza Headliner Set
Middle Kids 8/3/2017 Lollapalooza Set
Moose Blood 8/4/2017 Lollapalooza Set
Mondo Cozmo 8/4/2017 Lollapalooza Set
Mura Masa 8/4/2017 Lollapalooza Set
Skott 8/4/2017 Lollapalooza Set
Bishop Briggs 8/4/2017 Lollapalooza Set
Frenship 8/4/2017 Lollapalooza Toyota Tent Set
Foster The People 8/4/2017 Lollapalooza Pre-Headliner Set
The Killers 8/4/2017 Lollapalooza Headliner Set
Aminé 8/5/2017 Lollapalooza Set
Glass Animals 8/5/2017 Lollapalooza Set
The Head and The Heart 8/5/2017 Lollapalooza Pre-Headliner Set
The Japanese House 8/5/2017 Lollapalooza Set
Chance the Rapper 8/5/2017 Lollapalooza Headliner Set
Ryan Adams 8/5/2017 Lollapalooza Set
Sylvan Esso 8/5/2017 Lollapalooza Pre-Headliner Set
Zara Larrson 8/5/2017 Lollapalooza Set
Arcade Fire 8/6/2017 Lollapalooza Headliner Set
Car Seat Headrest 8/6/2017 Lollapalooza Set
Charli XCX 8/6/2017 Lollapalooza Set
Flor 8/6/2017 Lollapalooza Set
Justice 8/6/2017 Lollapalooza Headliner Set
Joseph 8/6/2017 Lollapalooza Set
Milky Chance 8/6/2017 Lollapalooza Set
The Shins 8/6/2017 Lollapalooza Pre-Headliner Set
Verite 8/28/2017 Lincoln Hall Set
Dawes 9/2/2017 Hollywood Casino Ampitheater Supporting John Mayer
John Mayer 9/2/2017 Hollywood Casino Ampitheater Headlining Show
Glyders 9/6/2017 Lincoln Hall Supporting Middle Kids
Middle Kids 9/6/2017 Lincoln Hall Headlining Show
Cold War Kids 9/9/2017 Northerly Island
Supporting Young the Giant
Young The Giant 9/9/2017 Northerly Island Headlining Show
HAIM 9/15/2017 Riviera Theater Headlining Show
LPX 9/15/2017 Riviera Theater Supporting HAIM
Joseph 9/22/2017 Thalia Hall Headlining Show
Harry Styles 9/26/2017 Chicago Theater Headlining Show
MUNA 9/26/2017 Chicago Theater Supporting Harry Styles
Fleet Foxes 10/3/2017 Chicago Theater Headlining Show
Bad Suns 10/20/2017 Metro Headlining Show
Hunny 10/20/2017 Metro Supporting Bad Suns
Amy Shark 11/11/2017 Riviera Theater Supporting Bleachers
Bishop Briggs 11/11/2017 Riviera Theater Supporting Bleachers
Bleachers 11/11/2017 Riviera Theater Headlining Show
Overcoats 11/16/2017 Lincoln Hall Headlining Show
Cold War Kids 12/1/2017 Aragon Ballroom 101.1 Christmas Show
Foster The People 12/1/2017 Aragon Ballroom 101.1 Christmas Show
Sir Sly 12/1/2017 Aragon Ballroom 101.1 Christmas Show
Backstreet Boys 12/7/2017 Allstate Arena B96 Jingle Bash
Fifth Harmony 12/7/2017 Allstate Arena B96 Jingle Bash
Khalid 12/7/2017 Allstate Arena B96 Jingle Bash
Logic 12/7/2017 Allstate Arena B96 Jingle Bash
Taylor Swift 12/7/2017 Allstate Arena B96 Jingle Bash

Thank you for reading!

– Kristin

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