Best Of 2017: Mauricio's List

In the world of DC live music, there was a lot to write about in 2017. I.M.P. made its broad presence even broader with the 6,000-capacity Anthem. Songbyrd solidified its niche in the up-and-coming R&B/hip-hop scene with clutch bookings like Xavier Omar, Jamila Woods, and Noname (and booked its first show at The Fillmore, with more co-bookings to come). Competition in the 200-500-capacity space increased with new venues like Union Stage, Pearl Street Warehouse, and The Miracle Theatre. Mount Pleasant DIY venue OTHERFEELS hosted its first DMV music showcase at 9:30 Club, with a second coming in late December. There really is no shortage of opportunities to catch live music in our nation's capital.

I covered 47 shows and one three-day festival for ChunkyGlasses this year, and it’s been a wild ride covering shows in venues big (Capital One Arena) and small (Dew Drop Inn). While most of there were a lot of great shows, the following ten best showcase why the live music experience is so essential. These artists convey emotion and energy in a way that can’t be contained within the confines of an album. With these shows, it was hard to walk away without the lingering feeling of ‘holy shit, they REALLY put their heart and soul into it tonight.’

So with that, here are my ten favorite shows of 2017. Click the headers to see more pics and a full recap of that show.

PS - And if you're still interested in knowing what my favorite songs from this year were, here's my Spotify playlist - Mauricio's Favorite Fifty of 'Seventeen!  


10) LCD Soundsystem @ The Anthem    It's been more than seven years since LCD Soundsystem has performed in the DMV area, but with their triumphant return, they reminded both long-time and new fans that James Murphy and company are some of the hardest-working musicians out there. Moving “All My Friends” to the end of their setlist may have been the best decision they have ever made.

10) LCD Soundsystem @ The Anthem

It's been more than seven years since LCD Soundsystem has performed in the DMV area, but with their triumphant return, they reminded both long-time and new fans that James Murphy and company are some of the hardest-working musicians out there. Moving “All My Friends” to the end of their setlist may have been the best decision they have ever made.

9) Dengue Fever @ AMP by Strathmore    When discussing the most unexpectedly great shows of the year for me, this show tops the list. The live energy of this surf-rock-meets-Cambodia band towers over their already-great output, but it’s when you can get a dinner-and-a-show crowd to get up from their seats and pack the previously-empty pit to dance for the next hour that you know that you’ve absolutely succeeded.

9) Dengue Fever @ AMP by Strathmore

When discussing the most unexpectedly great shows of the year for me, this show tops the list. The live energy of this surf-rock-meets-Cambodia band towers over their already-great output, but it’s when you can get a dinner-and-a-show crowd to get up from their seats and pack the previously-empty pit to dance for the next hour that you know that you’ve absolutely succeeded.

8) Bomba Estereo @ 9:30 Club    From Colombia with love. Bomba Estereo combined electronic and psychedelic music with traditional Latin American genres like cumbia and champeta to create something that nobody else has been able to replicate and take around the world. For a big electronic/Latin dance party, run (don’t walk) to your nearest Bomba Estereo show.

8) Bomba Estereo @ 9:30 Club

From Colombia with love. Bomba Estereo combined electronic and psychedelic music with traditional Latin American genres like cumbia and champeta to create something that nobody else has been able to replicate and take around the world. For a big electronic/Latin dance party, run (don’t walk) to your nearest Bomba Estereo show.

7) Escort @ U Street Music Hall    For those looking for their disco fix, there is no better choice in live music than Escort’s multi-piece band, fronted by the elegant and captivating Adeline Michèle on bass and vocals. There were more than enough funky guitar licks and synchronized dance moves for everyone in the room. And the icing on the cake? Their 20-minute-long mega-mix cover of various disco classics like “Good Life” and “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)” without breaks.

7) Escort @ U Street Music Hall

For those looking for their disco fix, there is no better choice in live music than Escort’s multi-piece band, fronted by the elegant and captivating Adeline Michèle on bass and vocals. There were more than enough funky guitar licks and synchronized dance moves for everyone in the room. And the icing on the cake? Their 20-minute-long mega-mix cover of various disco classics like “Good Life” and “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)” without breaks.

6) Balkan Beat Box @ 9:30 Club    In my mind, Tomer Yosef could be a hype man for pretty much anything he wants to set his mind to. He effortlessly pumped up the crowd time and again - not that he needs much to do that. Drummer Tamir Muskat’s reggaeton-inspired drumming and Ori Kaplan’s Eastern European-influenced sax made for a globe-spanning dance party augmented by Yosef’s Tom Waits-lite delivery.

6) Balkan Beat Box @ 9:30 Club

In my mind, Tomer Yosef could be a hype man for pretty much anything he wants to set his mind to. He effortlessly pumped up the crowd time and again - not that he needs much to do that. Drummer Tamir Muskat’s reggaeton-inspired drumming and Ori Kaplan’s Eastern European-influenced sax made for a globe-spanning dance party augmented by Yosef’s Tom Waits-lite delivery.

5) !!! @ U Street Music Hall    Those short shorts. That relentless energy. Those guitar and bass riffs. !!! (pronounced ‘chk chk chk’) is a DFA band through and through - their combination of rock and electronic music has made them one of the most high-energy live bands today. You can try to keep up with vocalist Nic Offer’s moves, but as a warning, you’ll probably end up drenched in sweat by the end of the show.

5) !!! @ U Street Music Hall

Those short shorts. That relentless energy. Those guitar and bass riffs. !!! (pronounced ‘chk chk chk’) is a DFA band through and through - their combination of rock and electronic music has made them one of the most high-energy live bands today. You can try to keep up with vocalist Nic Offer’s moves, but as a warning, you’ll probably end up drenched in sweat by the end of the show.

4) Run the Jewels @ Echostage    Run the Jewels’s take-no-prisoners delivery was augmented in DC with a performance on the night before President Trump’s inauguration, an event that was undoubtedly on everyone’s mind. Adding to the rage that night was a guest Rage appearance - Rage Against the Machine’s Zack de la Rocha, to be exact. A word to the wise: don't mess with Killer Mike and El-P.

4) Run the Jewels @ Echostage

Run the Jewels’s take-no-prisoners delivery was augmented in DC with a performance on the night before President Trump’s inauguration, an event that was undoubtedly on everyone’s mind. Adding to the rage that night was a guest Rage appearance - Rage Against the Machine’s Zack de la Rocha, to be exact. A word to the wise: don't mess with Killer Mike and El-P.

3) July Talk @ DC9    It’s baffling to see July Talk play a venue like the 200-capacity DC9 when you consider that they can play three nights in a row at Toronto’s 2800-capacity Massey Hall. The Canadians know what we should - the interplay between guitarist/vocalist Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay combined with the band’s hard-blues-rock stylings are a hell of a lot of fun to see live.

3) July Talk @ DC9

It’s baffling to see July Talk play a venue like the 200-capacity DC9 when you consider that they can play three nights in a row at Toronto’s 2800-capacity Massey Hall. The Canadians know what we should - the interplay between guitarist/vocalist Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay combined with the band’s hard-blues-rock stylings are a hell of a lot of fun to see live.

2) Susanne Sundfor @ The Hamilton    The quietest shows can be the most powerful. Susanne Sundfor made her first-ever DC performance this year after four #1 albums in a row in her native Norway. Just like Julien Baker’s performance last year at U Hall, Susanne Sundfor stunned the Hamilton crowd with heartbreaking lyrics and stunningly beautiful vocals, so it was no surprise that more than a few people were sniffling in the crowd. 10/10, would feel feels again.

2) Susanne Sundfor @ The Hamilton

The quietest shows can be the most powerful. Susanne Sundfor made her first-ever DC performance this year after four #1 albums in a row in her native Norway. Just like Julien Baker’s performance last year at U Hall, Susanne Sundfor stunned the Hamilton crowd with heartbreaking lyrics and stunningly beautiful vocals, so it was no surprise that more than a few people were sniffling in the crowd. 10/10, would feel feels again.

and...for #1...

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1) Tank & the Bangas @ Songbyrd

Yes, the hype is real. NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Winner for 2017 sold out their Songbyrd show in July with ease. Why? Well, their Tiny Desk Concert performance gives a nice intro to the New Orleans band’s melding of hip-hop, jazz, and spoken word, but it was their Songbyrd performance that truly solidified it for me. The band’s playful style (have you seen their sax player’s dance moves?) and Tarica “Tank” Ball’s passionate spoken word portions and improvisations are a treat to behold live. There was nothing but unbridled joy in the room that night, and long after they sell out 9:30 Club, the memory of the show in this intimate space will continue to linger.