• Christine

The Best Concerts of 2019! The Third Annual Tips2LiveBy Concert Awards!

Updated: Mar 18

Once again, my 2019 was filled with concerts! Live music is such a big part of my life. This year I saw 60 shows in 5 different states and 9 different countries!


When people hear how many concerts I go to, they always ask which show was my favorite. It’s such a hard question! When I first started this blog in 2017, I decided to do a wrap up at the end of the year and give out my concert awards. I did it again in 2018. You can read about last year’s winners here.


So now it’s time once again for our Third Annual Concert Awards! Who were the winners (and losers) this year? Keep reading to find out!


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THE “CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET?” AWARD

Concerts are a great place to discover new music. Over the years, we’ve discovered a lot of bands that are amazing live, and have just never had mainstream success. You may not have heard of these bands, but they are bands you need to check out! Or maybe I should keep them to myself?


CHESTNUT GROVE

Chestnut Grove was probably one of my biggest surprises of the year. They are a local band that opened for 10,000 Maniacs at The Ardmore Music Hall. I went to the show because of the 10,000 Maniacs. Turns out that Chestnut Grove stole the show! Lots of energy and lots of talent!


MAGNOLIA BOULEVARD

Magnolia Boulevard was another opener that turned out to be a surprise. They opened for Blues Traveler at The Fillmore and immediately captivated the audience. Their lead singer and guitarist is super talented. I can’t wait to see them do a headline show.

Magnolia Boulevard

Magnolia Boulevard was one of my surprises this year!

THE NATIONAL RESERVE

I discovered The National Reserve a few years ago as an opener. Since then, I’ve been a fan and see them every time they come into town. In fact, this year I happened to be in Stockholm, Sweden to see Dave Matthews Band, and The National Reserve happened to be playing a local bar. So, what do you do? You #justbuythetickets of course!

The National Reserve

Hanging out with Sean Walsh of The National Reserve in Sweden!

LOW CUT CONNIE

I’m not sure how much of a secret Low Cut Connie is at this point. I didn’t know much about them, but based on the responses I got on social media after posting a video of their music, I think a lot of people – at least in Philadelphia – know about them. If you don’t know them, you need to see them live!


RIPE

I have a feeling that this is the last year Ripe will be on my “secrets” list. I just bought tickets to see them 2 nights at Webster Hall in NYC in February. When we see them at festivals, we always hear others saying how much they love them. These guys are going to be big!


THE GLORIOUS SONS

The Glorious Sons are another band that might not be a “secret” much longer. Based out of Canada, those of us in the U.S. haven’t quite discovered them yet. But, whenever anyone posts something on FB asking about new bands they should check out, The Glorious Sons almost always appears on the list.

The Glorious Sons

The Glorious Sons are getting bigger every year!

THE “MAKE SURE YOU TAKE YOUR EARPLUGS” AWARD

These days, it’s getting harder and harder to find bands that just play good rock music. Concerts today are all about the stage production and lip synching, not true music. Luckily, there are a few bands out there that still go all out with great rock music during their concerts. Check these bands out before the genre quietly dies away. And, make sure you buy some earplugs before you go. My favorite brand is Vibes (just click on the link to get yours!).


TOOL

I knew this show was going to be loud, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. I have never been a huge Tool fan, but seeing them live gave me a new appreciation of their music. These guys rock. The drums are absolutely insane!

Tool

The calm before the loud storm at the Tool show!

KILLING JOKE

As the opener for Tool, it’s not a surprise that Killing Joke was also loud. Unfortunately, loud does not mean good. And these guys just weren’t good.


THE GLORIOUS SONS

When people say rock and roll is dying, they clearly haven’t seen The Glorious Sons. These guys are the future of rock and roll. We saw them at Johnny Brenda’s, which is a tiny room and boy was it loud!


THE “60 IS THE NEW 40” AWARD

I call the music that my parents used to listen to “oldies”, so I like to refer to the music from my youth as “retro”. I didn’t get to go to concerts when I was young, so I’ve been slowly making up for it now, and catching some of the artists that I loved as a kid.


SQUEEZE

I bought Squeeze tickets on a whim. It was one of those things where I was at another concert and probably had a few glasses of wine during the show. While we were waiting in the merch line, I saw a sign advertising Squeeze. “Black Coffee In Bed” is one of my favorite songs, so why not? What a great show it turned out to be!


SAMMY HAGAR & THE CIRCLE

I am one of those people that prefer the Sammy Hagar version of Van Halen. So, seeing Sammy Hagar & The Circle is the closest you can get to that. Sammy may be old enough to be my grandfather, but he can still rock out!


STING

I have seen Sting many times. He never seems to age and he always puts on a good show. In fact, I thought this past show was the best I have ever seen him. Despite his arm being in a sling due to shoulder surgery, his voice was strong and it was great to hear all the hits.


ROBERT PLANT

When Robert Plant comes to town, you just have to go, right? While Plant mostly plays his solo stuff, it’s great to hear the old Led Zepplin stuff too, even though Plant puts his own twist on it.


THE “OSCAR FOR BEST COSTUME AND SPECIAL EFFECTS” AWARD

Some bands get up on stage and outside of a few lights, just play music during their concerts. Some bands turn their concerts into a huge spectacle with lights, lasers, pyrotechnics, video and costumes.


TOOL

Going to a Tool show is as much a visual experience as an audio one. There are lights, video, and lasers. It’s mesmerizing.

Tool

The visual effects at a Tool show are incredible.

THE STRUTS

Luke Spiller is a combination of Mick Jagger, Freddy Mercury and David Bowie. His costumes are spectacular!


THE “I WOULD FOLLOW YOU TO THE END OF THE WORLD” AWARD

Not only do I go to a lot of shows, but it’s not beyond me to get in the car (or on an airplane) just to go to a show.


DAVE MATTHEWS BAND

Yes, we have a Dave Matthews Band problem. We usually see them around 10 times per year. This year, they did a Europe tour, so we decided to do part of the tour with them. 9 shows. 8 countries. 9 cities.

Dave Matthews

With the man himself – Dave Matthews – before the show in Warsaw, Poland!

BLUE OCTOBER

Blue October has become one of my favorite bands over the last couple of years. Seeing them once per year is just not enough. This year we saw them 3 times – including once up in Northeast PA and once in NYC. I am really hoping for a Europe tour in 2020, because that will definitely be on my list!


THE “I’D RATHER DRIVE A HONDA THAN A PINTO” AWARD

Like a car that you’ve had forever and you know is going to start every single time, there are some artists that you know will always put on a good show. You go to their concerts because you know you can depend on them. You may not leave feeling like it’s the best show you have ever seen, but you will always leave feeling like you got your money’s worth.


DAVE MATTHEWS BAND

Dave Matthews Band is never going to knock my socks off in concert. I’ve seen them so many times, that nothing they do really surprises me anymore. But every show is going to be different, and every show is going to be good.


CARBON LEAF

I think this is the third or fourth year in a row that we’ve seen Carbon Leaf in December. They always put on a good show. This year, they didn’t have a new album to promote, so they played all of their hits, which was great for this Carbon Leaf fan!

Carbon Leaf

Carbon Leaf always put on a great show. Plus they are super nice guys!

BASTILLE

I saw Bastille for the third time. I thought they took a big step forward with their live show this year. It turned from just a “concert” to a “production”. Even thought Dan Smith had trouble with his microphone and started to lose his voice, he still put on a great performance.

Bastille

Bastille used more video and special effects in their show this go around.

THE “NOTORIOUS RBG” AWARD

Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She fell and broke some ribs. They found tumors on her lungs. Despite all that, at age 86, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is still a bad ass! These bands may be past their “rock star” prime, but they still have it!


BLUES TRAVELER

It makes me happy to see John Popper have his life back together and be able to go on stage and put on a great show. We’ve seen Blues Traveler in the past when Popper could barely make it through the show. This year, they celebrated the anniversary of their “Four” album, and it was great to hear those classic songs.

Blues Traveler

Blues Traveler celebrated the anniversary of their album “Four” this year.

BLIND MELON

Everyone knows the Blind Melon song “No Rain”. Unfortunately, after that hit, Blind Melon’s lead singer Richard Shannon Hoon died. For some bands, that would be the end. Not Blind Melon. They got a new lead singer and totally reinvented themselves. I caught them at the Sea Hear Now Festival this year, and I was pretty impressed.


THE “BAND WHO DRINKS THE MOST RED BULL” AWARD

Concerts should be fun! Some bands just give you everything they have every single time. These are the bands that keep you on your feet the whole time, even if you don’t know all the songs.


RIPE

Ripe has so much energy! Going to one of their shows is like going to a dance party. I guarantee that you won’t stop moving all night long!

Ripe

Ripe has so much energy, they played an after-hours show on the first night of the Sea Hear Now Festival!

THE STRUTS

Luke Spiller is one of the most electric front men out there. He keeps the crowd engaged in the show – whether that’s shaking hands with all of his fans or turning the audience into his human fireworks. He’ll have the whole room dancing.


LOW CUT CONNIE

This show made me exhausted. Not only did I dance all night, but watching the band on stage was exhausting. Whether Adam Weiner was standing on top of his piano or inviting his fans up for a dance party on stage, this was one of the most high energy shows I’ve ever seen.

Low Cut Connie

Low Cut Connie keeps the crowd going the whole night!

THE “I THOUGHT I WAS STAYING AT A 5 STAR RESORT” AWARD

Sometimes, you are told by a friend that a resort is amazing, so you book it. And then when you show up, it’s underwhelming. These concerts were ones that we were told we had to go to, and they were frankly a little underwhelming.


ZAC BROWN BAND

I am not a country music fan, but people kept telling me that Zac Brown Band wasn’t really country and that they put on a great show. I saw them open for DMB years ago, and thought they were good. I also knew that they played a few covers – including DMB – that I liked. I have to say that I was totally underwhelmed by this show. Maybe it was the crowd, but I don’t think Zac Brown Band will be on my regular concert list.


DAVID GRAY

Don’t get me wrong – David Gray is super talented. But I found his show to be a bit boring. The highlight of the night was when he played “Babylon”.

David Gray

David Gray was good, just not the most exciting performer.

THE “I HAD NO IDEA BRUCE WILLIS’ CHARACTER WAS DEAD THE WHOLE TIME IN THE SIXTH SENSE” AWARD

When you go into a show not expecting a lot, and the act knocks your socks off, that’s a huge success. Concerts like these are a special surprise. We had a couple of those this year.


LOW CUT CONNIE

My first exposure to Low Cut Connie was on the side stage at Sea Hear Now Festival. I liked them during that performance, but they absolutely blew me away last week at their Union Transfer show in Philly.


MORRISSEY

I know I am going to get some grief for this one. There are a lot of you out there that are not Morrissey fans (including my husband). And, I’ve been a victim of Morrissey’s “last minute cancel” syndrome before. But he showed up this time and he was really good.


THE “YOU’D HAVE MORE FUN FLUSHING MONEY DOWN A TOILET” AWARD

My mantra is “just buy the tickets”. This year, I give you one exception to that rule.


THE LUMINEERS

This one pains me, because I like The Lumineers and I’ve seen them before. But this year they headlined the first night of the Sea Hear Now Festival. They are not a festival band in my opinion. Their set was boring. To the point that after a really long day and knowing we had another long day the next day (and a late night Ripe show), I wanted to leave halfway through.


THE TIPS2LIVEBY TOP 5 CONCERTS OF 2019!

It’s always hard to just pick 5, but here goes nothing!


#5 – Ripe (TLA – Philadelphia, PA – February 7th): Have I told you that I love Ripe? There are so many good things I can say about this band. Their music is really fun. They put on a great live show. And, they are the nicest guys you can meet. I can’t wait for a two-night stand with them in NYC in February!

Ripe

I guarantee you will have fun at a Ripe show!

#4 – Dave Matthews Band (Spektrum – Oslo, Norway – March 20th): I have seen DMB close to 100 times. Some shows are more memorable to me than others. I am not a big set list critic like a lot of DMB fans are. To me, what makes a good show is not the set list, but how much fun I have at the concert. The European tour was just amazing in so many ways, and only a portion of that was seeing the band themselves. But, my very first experience on the rail right in front of Dave is one I will never forget.

Dave Matthews Band

When this is your view of Dave Matthews with no zoom, it’s going to be a good show.

#3 – Low Cut Connie (Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA – December 21st): I only knew one Low Cut Connie song going into this show, but it didn’t matter. Adam Weiner and his band kept me entertained and dancing all night long. This is one of those bands that you have to see live to really appreciate them.

Low Cut Connie

You know it’s a great show when there is a dance party with fans on the stage!

#2 – The Struts (The Fillmore – Philadelphia, PA – December 28th): This was our last show of the year, and the one that I probably was looking forward to the most. So, I put myself on a “phone” black out. I decided I wasn’t going to write a blog post, so I didn’t need to worry about pictures or videos. I just focused on the show and having fun and it was glorious! The Struts are going to be huge people! Mark my words!

The Struts

One of the few pictures I got during the show.

#1 – Blue October (Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA – April 18th): I discovered Blue October a few years ago, and they have quickly become one of my favorite bands. And, they are definitely my favorite band to see live. They pour so much emotion and energy into their performances. Justin Furstenfeld’s voice is amazing, and the rest of the guys in the band are amazing musicians. They are working on a new album that will be released in 2020, and I already have tickets for their return visit to Philadelphia in April.

Blue October

Blue October is one of the best live bands out there!

So there you have it! My awards and Top 5 picks for 2019. You can read more details about all of these shows on my blog. Just type the band’s name into the search bar at the top of the page, and it will take you to my review of the show.


I can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for me!


What concerts did you see in 2019? What were your favorites? Let us know! Comment below or e-mail me at tips2livebywriter@gmail.com.


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