Best Music of 2011CoS Exclusive Features

Top Live Acts of 2011

on December 12, 2011, 12:00am
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year end live Top Live Acts of 2011

If you couldn’t tell from our collection of photos last week, we’ve covered plenty of live shows over the year. That’s why we felt it was unfair to peg one band as the best live act for 2011. It’s all about perspective, really. And genre. There’s an inordinate wealth of talent out on the road these days. From the arena downtown to the neighborhood bar around the corner, it’s a spoil of riches in any metropolis.

As the music industry evolves, you’re going to see more and more artists in your local concert halls. While not the most amicable predicament for them (you try living on the road; it sucks), it’s good news for fans everywhere. Music is meant to be experienced. Those long weeks spent staring at your ticket lying on your nightstand (or, in your office), it’s an exciting buildup. It’s probably the only situation involving music these days where we actually have to wait. For that reason, it’s pretty special.

Consequence of Sound put together a list of its five favorite live acts of the year. These were the ones that shook our feathers, the shows that had us saving our tickets, moving them from our nightstands and into frames, along with the posters. Hopefully, you did the same, too.

-Michael Roffman

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December 31, 2011 at 6:30 am


December 24, 2011 at 5:33 am

my morning jacket

Rory Biller
December 13, 2011 at 6:16 pm

The Arcade Fire Coachella performance this year with the beach ball
accompanyment was one of the best concert experiences of my life…this
was their year.

The Pixies, The Decemberists, The Arctic Monkeys, One Day As A Lion, The Kills, and PJ Harvey were probably tops for me this year as well.

December 13, 2011 at 6:12 pm

No I mean I totally agree with u there an I think any pre Evil Urges MMJ fan would too. You should have seen some of their pre-circuital tour 2011 shows though. They were phenominal playing songs like Honest man and Rollin Back often. And remember their T5 shows when they spanned their entire fuckin catalogue? MMJ at their worst is still so energetic and inspiring, they really should have been included on this.

December 13, 2011 at 3:02 am

thank you, parker: one of the purposes of this list is to highlight the acts that we, personally, thought were the best of 2011. brian, please read this post:, in which we mention my morning jacket, roger waters, and foo fighters as the top acts at the big four festivals ever. thus, we have not given them the shaft. don’t you think they have enough recognition as the best live acts already? and more to the point, don’t you think we, as music writers, know that already? it would be redundant to mention their names again at the expense of other, perhaps underappreciated acts.

December 13, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Just so I’m getting this, you guys wanted to give some underappreciated live acts recognition instead of highlighting the best live acts of 2011 (independent of legacy)?  Man…I had no idea the two biggest names in rap and a “album of the year” Grammy winning band were underappreciated!

December 13, 2011 at 5:42 pm


Michael Roffman
December 13, 2011 at 5:45 pm

No. Did you read the introduction at all? It says specifically, “Consequence of Sound put together a list of its five favorite live acts of the year.”

December 13, 2011 at 6:06 pm

It specifically says that’s just “one of the purposes” of this list, which alludes to other forces playing a role.  Namely, your apparent need to credit “underappreciated” acts at the discredit of others who may be more deserving. 

Michael Roffman
December 13, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Not my “apparent need.” Harley’s intentions might be different, especially since Tinariwen aren’t a big touring act like Arcade Fire, but that wasn’t the case for each choice. It wasn’t. Trust me, the other acts you’ve all named here were discussed.

If you’re a reader of this site, you’ll notice the writers in this piece are typically our avid concert writers. That’s why we decided to get their perspective. Personally, I felt the Arcade Fire were one of this year’s best touring acts. As for The Throne, it was actually a unanimous decision by a few members of the staff, which I agreed with, as well.

Hope this insight helps you.

December 12, 2011 at 10:42 pm

No Explosions in the Sky, MMJ, or even Roger Waters doing the Wall? LCD Soundsystem played their last show in 2011, they might have been in last years best live acts though.

December 12, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Glad to see a band like Tinariwen made this list. I saw them back at Bonnaroo 2010 – they were the first band of the day on the Which Stage – and it was kind of sad to see such a small turn out for an incredible band that you’re not really gonna get a whole lot of opportunities to see here in the States.

Michael Balot
December 12, 2011 at 4:18 pm

I was blessed enough to see three of these acts (Arcade Fire, The Throne, and tune-yards) this year. great great memories forged for a lifetime.

December 12, 2011 at 2:27 pm

And another snub for MMJ.  What a shitty list.

it’s Parker in VB
December 12, 2011 at 3:25 pm

since MMJ is on everyone’s live radar (and i’m a big MMJ fan, going to my third show this year on Wednesday), i appreciated these guys putting some light on some other groups. i doubt I would pay to go see tune-yards before this, but i am intrigued enough to check her out now.   nice post CoS.

December 12, 2011 at 3:34 pm

It seems you don’t understand the concept of “Top Live Acts of 2011″.  As the name states, it’s for the top acts of 2011.  I think it’s great that this list may have motivated you to see tune-yards.  That’s sweet.  But that’s not the purpose of this list.

December 12, 2011 at 11:19 am

Foos Lolla Show demmolished a very good Arcade fire show def should be on the list Those guys can rock see three hour shredding of Madison square

December 12, 2011 at 5:51 am

Foo Fighters?!

M. Pah
December 12, 2011 at 5:21 am

EMA – proof can be found here…

December 12, 2011 at 5:20 am

Yeah, this list is missing several awesome shows I saw this year. Especially MMJ and the Foos.

December 12, 2011 at 5:14 am

no MMJ.. wow

December 12, 2011 at 5:07 am

No Foos? Obviously someone wasn’t at lollapalooza…


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