Top 5 concerts of the year

1. The Avett Brothers

This was my first time at Roots N Blues N BBQ but my second time seeing The Avett Brothers. Needless to say, I’ve been a fan for awhile. Because, let’s be honest, if you throw together some bearded Southern gents with a knack for the banjo and stories, I’m in love. The Roots N Blues experience of The Avett Brothers made my feet stomp and my heart flutter. They played the classics, like “I and Love and You,” from their album of the same name, but they also sang the gospel tune “In The Garden” and a cover of “Jump in the Line.” My favorite, though, came third in the set, the sweet “Laundry Room.” What was so memorable about this performance was how easily the Avetts can sing an energetic song like “Kick Drum Heart” and then switch to the somber yet lovely “Murder in the City.” That, my friends, is how The Avett Brothers roll.

2. Walk the Moon

The Reading Day concert with Walk the Moon in December at The Missouri Theatre was undoubtedly the wildest show that I’ve been to. There was clapping and jumping and dancing and shouting and singing, and that’s not even to mention what the Ohio quartet did. All in all, it was a breathless, jam-packed set that drew heavily from their latest album, “Talking Is Hard,” but also spotlighted the gems that helped them reach fame, like “Tightrope” and “Anna Sun." And it wasn’t like Walk the Moon was singing at us. Rather, they sang with us, like we were all friends by the end of that fun-filled night.

3. Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors

Tennessee will always have my heart, so I was a goner when Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors made their first appearance at The Blue Note in April. This Tennessee group was thoughtful in the songs they played and personal in the stories they told. Holcomb commanded the stage equipped with his guitar and, for some songs, a harmonica. In between songs that spanned the band’s early years to 2015’s “Medicine,” Holcomb would offer a charming anecdote about his daughter Emmylou or about his wife and fellow singer Ellie. The most magical moment of the night was when his backing band left the stage, and he unplugged his guitar and stood less than arms-length away from me to sing “Tennessee.” No matter the geography, music and Drew Holcomb will have a home in my heart.

4. Foster The People

These rockers of “Pumped Up Kicks” fame pumped up the crowd with their alt genius at one of The Blue Note’s segments of 9th Street Summerfest last October. The street was packed and provided a nice early-semester break from the venue’s interior which, although gorgeous, can get a bit stuffy with crowds. The band’s opener was Soko, a quirky, uber-cute solo chick with an awesome voice. She brought her A-game, and I gave her my money afterward. As for Foster The People? They definitely didn’t disappoint live, and the outdoor stage did not faze them. The show was a major highlight of my first semester and why I committed to going to as many shows as possible for the remainder of the year.

5. Machine Gun Kelly

MOVE isn’t just into alternative/folk/rock, we swear! Machine Gun Kelly played at The Blue Note about a week after Foster the People did, and he put on an amazing show. Everyone’s favorite skinny white boy from Cleveland, Ohio, put on the most high-energy, exciting and moving performance I saw all year. Between never missing a beat, crowd-surfing and scaling the balcony, MGK took time to talk about the struggles he faced growing up. He was surprisingly inspiring, and boy, did I gobble it up; he told us to be ourselves, to work hard and to never stop trying. I probably cried. He also lit a blunt on stage and lots of girls took their shirts off. Like I said, inspiring.

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