Best of the Year: Top 10 Concerts of 2018 by Shantel

Parklife Marco Benevento with Jon Wood Band
Marco Benevento shakes up The 8×10 on June 14, 2018. (Photo by Shantel M. Breen)

Editor’s Note: This year, we asked our bloggers to name their Top 10 shows of 2018 or choose their Top 10 photos of the year. We will run them over the course of mid-December as our Best of the Year posts.

This year has been a music filled year for me.  I have managed to make it to over 80 shows in 2018 and some of these shows I had the pleasure of reviewing for Parklife DC.  As I wrap up my concert calendar for this year, I started reflecting on my most memorable shows for 2018.  I focused on shows that I felt were excited to photograph or the performance left an impression on me.  In most cases, the shows in my Top 10 were the first time seeing the band perform and consequently, winning me over as a new fan.  Listed in chronological order, my Top 10 will take you through 2018 and hopefully remind you of some great musical memories as well!


1 – Shame @ Ottobar — 3/21/18
Shame at the Ottobar - Baltimore 3/21/2018
This was my first show for Parklife DC and I was there to cover the headliner, Snail Mail.  Shame was on the line-up for that evening and I had no idea what was in store for me.  This South London band was making it’s way through the United States for only the second time, and they immediately caught my attention.  Their performance displayed raw energy which left the audience amazed.  They will be making their way to DC on May 22 at the Black Cat.

2 –  Wolf Alice @ Rams Head Live — 4/13/18
Wolf Alice Parklife DC
I was very excited to see Wolf Alice perform at Rams Head.  I missed them when they visited DC in 2017.  I had been listening to Wolf Alice for awhile and knew they would deliver a stellar performance.  Some bands are good live.  Wolf Alice is phenomenal live.  They are definitely not to be missed and I was happy that I finally made it to one of their shows!

3 – Marco Benevento @ The 8×10 — 6/14/18
Parklife Marco Benevento with Jon Wood Band
This was another show where I walked into the venue not knowing quite what to expect.  A friend had asked if I wanted to go see a show at The 8×10, and knowing his great taste in music, I went along with my camera in tow.  Turns out that this was one of my favorite shows of the year. It could easily be in my top 3.  Between Marco Benevento’s original songs, the amazing cover of Butthole Surfer’s “Pepper,” and the insanely talented bass playing of Kyrina Rykman — this show completely blew me away!

4 – The Regrettes @ Rams Head Live – 6/17/18
Cold War Kids for Parklife
The Regrettes were the opening act for Cold War Kids, who I was technically there to cover.  However, this punk rock band, barely out of high school, stole the show.  I could not believe the amount of charisma and energy coming from the band’s lead singer and founder, Lydia Night.  She won over the audience instantly, and I became an instant fan.

5 – Old 97’s @ 9:30 Club — 6/29/18 
Old 97s at 930 Club for ParklifeDC
Old 97’s are one of my favorite bands.  I have seen them countless times since 2007.  I never leave one of their shows disappointed.  These guys truly love music.  They love performing.  They love their fans.

6 – Tremonti @ Rams Head Live — 9/18/18 
Tremonti at Rams Head for Parklife DC
I always like to catch a show for my birthday.  Tremonti was opening for Seether at Rams Head Live the day after my birthday, so I figured I’d check it out.  Both bands are a bit outside my preferred genre, but I am always up for trying something new.  Since I knew nothing about Tremonti, I did a little research prior to the show and discovered his talent.  The band’s performance was real, energetic, and engaging.  Tremonti and his band even took the time to meet and greet fans after their set at their merch booth.  I was very impressed!

7 – Gwar @ Baltimore Soundstage — 11/9/18  
GWAR at Baltimore Sound Stage for ParklifeDC 11/9/18
Stepping outside of my comfort zone, I signed up to review Gwar at Baltimore Soundstage.  I had witnessed a Gwar performance several years ago at Bonnaroo 2010 where they performed at 3am.  Sadly they did not permit photographers at that show.  I was excited to get my chance to photograph them this year. My camera and I made it out alive and I was completely entertained.  I enjoyed the show so much that I will be catching them again later this month at 9:30 Club!

8 – The Joy Formidable @ Black Cat — 11/10/18 
The Joy Formidable at The Black Cat for ParklifeDC 11/10/18
The Joy Formidable have been one of my favorite bands for 10 years, ever since they released their first EP, A Balloon Called Moaning. My first live experience with them came in 2010 when they performed at the backstage of the Black Cat to a very small audience.  Later that year, I attended SXSW while working with NPR, and I had the pleasure of helping the band land on NPR’s day party line up. I have enjoyed watching this band grow and develop of the years. This particular show was memorable because it was the last stop on their tour. To celebrate, they included a dance party at the backstage after their show and invited all their fans.

9 – Young the Giant @ The Anthem — 11/16/18 
Young the Giant for ParklifeDC
This show was just pure fun for me!  I enjoyed everything about it: the opening performance by Lights, the excitement from the audience, the dance moves by Young the Giant’s frontman Sameer Gadhia, and the amazing lights!

10 – The Front Bottoms @ The Anthem — 11/24/18
The Front Bottoms- The Anthem - ParklifeDC
I had the pleasure of reviewing The Front Bottoms twice this year for Parklife DC, and both shows could have easily made my Top 10.  I included the most recent show because it was at The Anthem, and they performed with Manchester Orchestra, making the entire night pretty amazing. The Front Bottoms are just a down-to-earth band that everyone can have fun with — singing along to their songs and dancing the night away!  This show, as well as the performance in May at Baltimore Soundstage, were definitely a lot of fun!

This year was very memorable for me.  I had the privilege of seeing so many wonderful shows. Reflecting back on 2018,  I realized that music was the best part of the year for me.  I hope you enjoyed my Top 10 and I leave you with this crowd image from an honorable mention this year, Walk Off the Earth @ The Fillmore on March 25.  This is my favorite crowd photograph of the year.  It truly describes the energy that I feel at every show I attend!
Walk off the Earth with Darenots at The Fillmore Silver Spring MD 3/25/18

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