Rank the Top 10 Best Live Bands

Baroque

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Oct 16, 2012
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Rank up to the top 10 metal bands with the best live shows, in 2 categories: Sound and Visuals. At some point I'll tally up the results for each category, and we'll also have an Overall best live bands list by combining the two categories at the end.

Feel free to interpret the categories how you want within reason. Does best sound mean best mix? or sound most like the album? Does visuals mean props? stage presence? Up to you.

Template:

Best Sound:
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Best Visuals:
1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)
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10)
 
Tbh I probably can't rank this is two categories because for me the whole show is the deal, the visuals enhance the sound in a way that makes the songs feel more alive but I'm hardly ever moved by a band with cool visuals that I think is mediocre.

#1 in general is Celtic Frost for me though.
 
Rank up to the top 10 metal bands with the best live shows, in 2 categories: Sound and Visuals. At some point I'll tally up the results for each category, and we'll also have an Overall best live bands list by combining the two categories at the end.

Not sure I can do this tbh. My take-home enjoyment of a concert is usually a combination of sound, visuals, and crowd (and more or less what Vilden said). I tend not to remember good stage shows by bands that just dont deliver otherwise, so this ranking system wont work for me. What I can do, however, is make a list of bands that impressed me live for various reasons.

Feel free to interpret the categories how you want within reason. Does best sound mean best mix? or sound most like the album? Does visuals mean props? stage presence? Up to you.

For me a good sound can come in a couple of different categories. Some bands (like Megadeth or Iron Maiden) are impressive for how accurately they play their material for how it sounds in the album. Other times im impressed with how a band's material sounds live, like being more powerful or embodying a type of sound that even their albums cant capture. I hate it when the sound guys just cant seem to get their shit together and improperly set the levels of bass, guitar, or vocals, but ive noticed that this is usually just a mistake rather than a representation of how a group always sounds (bands ive seen live multiple times in different venues have had their sound tuned better at some times, worse at others).

Here is an unordered list of bands that I found to be particularly enjoyable live:
  • Venom - Unrivaled live energy. Saw these guys at MDF last year in the pouring rain while moshing in a parking lot. One of the most memorable shows ive ever seen.
  • Mayhem - Just recently seen them play their DMDS set and it was exceptional. Their stage show made them look like apparitions playing in a sea of fog, utilizing blue light to make it look more sinister. Along with the great sound, I was just entranced.
  • Satan - Damn these guys can play, incredible performance of their material, definitely one of those impressive 'play it like the album' bands. I first saw them at MDF, started a mosh pit, and started moshing with the guys from Horrendous (they noticed my Horrendous t-shirt, lol. Turns out they are huge Satan fans). They sounded even better in the indoor venue I saw them at later.
  • Incantation - Even heavier and more devastating than on the album. Best DM band ive ever seen, hands down.
  • Gojira - Yea, Gojira. The enjoyment of their live show is entirely because of the band's synergy with their unrivaled tone. They have this sound that sounds like rusty metal springs just going wild, yet the musicianship was extremely tight.
  • Meshuggah - Similarly awesome tones like Gojira (though not quite as good), along with a really cool visual stage show. They took advantage of a few opaque panels with the album art from (I think their most recent) album spaced evenly apart, along with smoke and lights to have this phase effect that was literally in perfect time with the music. Probably the coolest visual effect I ever seen.
  • Iron Maiden - Saw them at a stadium a handful of years ago. Precise musicianship, solid sound, everything you would expect out of a big Maiden show. Bruce ran around for 2 hours straight while expertly belting out vocals. These guys are true professionals.
  • Saint Vitus - Obviously these guys would be great. So glad I was able to see them with Reagers, and despite some criticisms ive heard I thought he sounded great. Low key stage show, but the sound was superb.
  • Megadeth - Similarly with Maiden, one of those genuine professional performances. Dave's vocals have degraded significantly since the first time I saw them, but they are definitely worthy of being one of the best bands ive ever seen.
  • Inquisition - Ive been impressed before by 2 men bands, so this isnt exactly my first experience, but these guys sounded as full of sound as a 4 or 5 piece. Fantastic tone and energy, as you would probably expect, except +1.
  • Animals as Leaders - Definitely the elephant in the room on my list of favorite concerts. I dont like this band at all on cd, and only ended up seeing them because they were on a Devin Townsend bill (one of my all time favorite musicians), but I thought they were pretty good live. It might have been because I was kinda drunk and nice and stoned, but their music was just conducive to dancing like an African savage around a campfire or some shit. One of the weirdest experiences in a pit ive ever had, but it was fantastic fun. I felt I had to include them on my list else id just be a pretentious ass.
  • Devin Townsend - Somewhat set dependent, I feel as though Devin truly knows how to put on a full concert experience. Even with SYL in front of like 30 people he was screaming his head off and putting on a show as if he were playing to a full venue. The professionalism of his more recent shows compares with the best, and his vocals are actually even better than ever. Even people who dont like his music would probably admit he still put on a good show. A natural frontman without a doubt.

Im definitely forgetting a few. I regret never actually making a list of bands ive seen live before. Ive been to so many shows that I cant even remember half of them. I loved just about every metal show ive been to though, the above are just those that exceeded or lived up to really high expectations.
 
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Metal:
Mayhem
Blind Guardian
Arizmenda
Judas Priest
Iron Maiden

Non-Metal:
Swans
Godspeed You! Black Emperor
A Silver Mount Zion
Rush
King Crimson
Dead Can Dance
Tori Amos
Fiona Apple
Chelsea Wolfe

Probably a bunch of others I'm forgetting.
 
can't say have been to a lot of shows, best.

non-metal.

Alice in Chains.
Velvet Revolver.
Santana.
311.
The Allman Brothers.
Slightly Stoopid.
Primus.

metal.

Heaven and Hell.
Dying Fetus, when the band had some older line up.
Immolation.

Seen Morbid Angel, one of the guitarist had gear problems the entire time, bullshit. prbly some other stuff am missing.
 
These are some of the finest out of the acts I've seen.

Non-metal:
The Rolling Stones
James Brown
B.B. King
Little Richard
The Stooges
MC5
The Who
Ramones
Led Zeppelin
Ted Nugent
Rush
Dizzy Gillespie
The Count Basie Orchestra
Joe Pass
Pink Floyd
Grateful Dead
The Allman Brothers Band
Jackie Wilson
Paul McCartney
Dave Brubek
Meat Loaf
Prince
Thin Lizzy
Michael Jackson
Hawkwind
Frank Sinatra
Howlin' Wolf
AC/DC
Deep Purple
Miles Davis
Jerry Lee Lewis
Wilson Pickett
Roy Eldridge
Glenn Hughes
Iggy Pop
David Bowie
Buddy Rich
The Temptations
Parliament
Funkadelic
Queen
Cab Calloway
The Sonics
Buddy Guy
The Oscar Peterson Trio
The Everly Brothers
King Crimson
Jethro Tull
Frank Zappa
The 13th Floor Elevators
Max Roach
Billy Eckstine
Sex Pistols
Public Image Ltd.
Ella Fitzgerald
Johnny Cash
Dead Kennedys
Albert Collins
Benny Goodman
Sonny Rollins
Herb Ellis
Luciano Pavarotti
The Residents
New York Dolls
Muddy Waters
Grand Funk Railroad
KISS

Metal:
Black Sabbath
Ozzy Osbourne
Motörhead
Iron Maiden
Judas Priest
Twisted Sister
Venom
Manowar
Inquisition
Alice Cooper
W.A.S.P.
Marilyn Manson
Dio
Slayer
Megadeth
Yngwie Malmsteen
Overkill
Mayhem
Danzig
Sodom
King Diamond
 
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god yeah that was amazing

i was considering skipping out on them too, so glad i didn't

To this day, I have yet to hear a band that sounded not only that crisp and tight in tone, but that the same musicianship. I'm sure there were fuck ups, but the sound way so so damn amazing with those 3 clean guitars, poppy bass, and punchy drums that it didn't fucking matter. I regret not being into the band as much as I am now, but perhaps this makes a better story.