2014 Top Bands Live Performances

2014 was even a more busy year than 2013. Once again, I went to several live shows, primarily low-key, small-venue shows.  I really do prefer the smaller venue shows as they’re much more fun.  Lollapalooza was the only big-scale show I went to.

Top Rated Bands Performances

  1. Grouplove: This was my most anticipated performance once the 2014 Lollapalooza lineup was officially announced.  It was everything I had hoped it would be.  They played nearly everything from their latest album Spreading Rumours and of course, new classics Colours and Tongue Tied.  In addition to their songs, they played an amazing cover of Beastie Boys’ Sabotage and Beyonce’s Drunk In Love.  This was the most active crowd the entire weekend as well.  I was fortunate to meet-and-greet the band afterward and get autographs.  The only thing that was disappointing was that they only got to play 60 minutes, but that’s to be expected as a sub-headliner at a festival.
  2. Meg Myers: I’ve been listening to Meg Myers for nearly three years, and watching her fan base grow as she played more and more shows across the country, so I was super excited for her to be part of Lollapalooza this year.  She played a highly intense 45 minute set where she was everywhere from Alanis Morrisette angry to Pink ballad delicate.  The whole crowd sang along with the opening lines of her first song, “I should pray for Adelaide” and was totally engulfed the rest of the way.  She didn’t say a whole lot between songs, but her songs did the speaking for her.  Her band sounded absolutely amazing and tight, especially on guitar and cello.  I had the chance to also meet her afterward.
  3. Eminem: Mariah and I had missed Eminem the last time he had played Lollapalooza, so I managed to catch the first song from Lorde’s set (which she REALLY is pretty amazing to all the doubters) on the other side of the park before high-tailing it to the south side to meet up with Mariah and the kids for Eminem’s show.  This was an amazing 90+ minute set that spanned his entire career and even featured an appearance by Rhiana for three songs.  The background graphics were really amazing.
  4. We Are Hex:  I saw this band twice this year, at the same venue, The White Rabbit Cabaret Club.  I was totally blown away by this electro-gothic sounding band that really reminded me of some of the L.A. sounding bands Dekades, Battle Tapes and Omniflux.  The singer Jilian has amazing power and dramatic vocals and a huge stage presence.  The thundering drums and primus-like guitar work makes for some dark sounding vibes. The second time I saw them was for their Bleach Brigades album release show.
  5. Pop Up Safety Baby: Speaking of Primus, this two piece band of bass and drum puts on a mind blowing performance with a drummer who reminds me a lot of Brian “Brain” Mantini from Primus’ lineup of a few years past.  Matt Hulett and Mike Coffey create this amazing sound of distorted bass and excellent percussion and drumming.  Each song they perform will take you on a roller coaster ride of technical excellence, all the while creating funky and otherwise tight and changing rhythms.  This is definitely a band whose performance leaves you with that “holy shit” feeling after witnessing.  I’ve seen them five times over the course of the past year, and can’t wait to see them again.
  6. Thelma and The Sleaze:  I’ve seen this band three times this year, and I’d have to say that along with Whiskey Dick, they’re the hardest working, most-touring band I saw this year.  This sexy trio of Lauren, Chase and “Baby” (and for most of the USA tour, GiGi on bass), put on an amazing show and their consistent touring proves their complete stage chemistry.  Sporting her “Fancy” guitar, Lauren has the passion, high energy, power, and yet the tenderness of Janis Joplin with the unforgiving pedal-to-the-metal energy of Angus Young.  Chase and Emily (Baby) make an excellent rhythm section and never miss a beat and definitely sport the rock star image and presence on stage.  This bluesy, ZZ Top/Thin Lizzy/Molly Hatchet/Foghat-sounding band will impress you, with each song preceded by hilarious adventure tales from the road makes this a really fun performance to watch.  I got to see the last date of their 6 month tour where they treated the audience to a nice 70 minute set.  The loyal fan base is evident of their heavy touring.
  7. Bruiser Queen: Saw these guys twice this year.  The first time, they were opening for We Are Hex and Thelma And The Sleaze.  I was really amazed by the energy and seemingly ’60s psychedelic sound of their performance for a two piece of just guitar and drums.  The drummer is a well-seasoned musician and Morgan on guitar and lead vocals is not one to be messed with.  She shreds her guitar and vocally hits the notes that Karen O can’t.  This high energy punk rock band is aggressively active, touring the immediate midwest area playing several dates.
  8. Violent Mae: I had caught the two members of this fine band playing in Philadelphia in 2013 for You Scream I Scream.  Rebecca and Floyd are a guitar and drum duo.  I was overly excited to learn that they’d be playing a midwest date on two days’ notice. Floyd’s creative drumming and percussion works well with Rebecca’s smooth and polished guitar playing.  Vocally, Rebecca offers a sultry and Natalie Merchant-like subtleness to her enunciation.
  9. SIMO:  JD Simo and his band are an amazingly energetic band that takes you on a lightning fast Allman Brothers influenced sound.  This band had every element of all hard southern rock that I ever remember listening to growing up.  Hang on tight and try to keep up with this amazing band.  They ultimately ended the show with the Joe Cocker version cover of “With A Little Help From My Friends”.
  10. The Company Stores:  This incredibly diverse and talented band from West Virginia puts on an amazing show, with everything ranging from beat boxing, hip-hop to r&b to classic rock and even Patsy Cline/Alison Mosshart sounding vocals by Casey.  I saw this band at The Verve, a band consisting of guitar, trumpet, electric violin, bass and tympani.  They remind me of a mix of Delta Rae meets The Manhattan Transfer.  They played primarily original material, but also played their own versions of covers, including Billie Jean and even a jamming medley of Whole Lotta Love/Great Gig In The Sky/A Change Is Gonna Come/Ball Of Confusion/Whole Lotta Love.  They played an amazing set, had a short intermission, and followed it with a nice acoustic set.  Jacob on bass has a very energetic and funk style to his bass playing.
  11. S.S. Web: I was initially introduced to this band by one of the local scene music guys, Andy.  I listened to their debut album and was immediately impressed with the booming and solid vocals of Henry.  This psychobilly style band has an amazing live sound and incredible self-made percussion.
  12. Whiskey Dick:  This band is a yee-haw, heavy metal acoustic experience.  Fritz has amazing vocals, telling times of ass-kicking and hell-raising tales.  Blistering acoustic guitar really reminds me of America and The Moody Blues intro to Question.  They play a southern rocking sound, and riddled with occasional electric pieces by Reverend Johnson.
  13. Betty Who: This really fun ’80s pop sounding band from Australia played at the somewhat crappy sounding BMI stage at Lollapalooza in a steady downpour, but they filled the place, either from curiosity, or people seeking shelter from the rain.  Either way, the show was alive and electric.  The first thing you notice is how tall Jessica is compared to her bass player.  Jessica has an amazing effect on people and presents a feel-good performance for all.
  14. Captain Blood:  Saw this band a couple of times live in Indianapolis.  The second time I saw them was a great 90 minute set.  This guitar-driven four-piece band really gives you a Rolling Stones/Velvet Revolver package of guitar riffs all with a solid rhythm section.  Really impressive is the distinct vocal styles of both Ronnie and Bill.
  15. Evil Beaver:  I had the chance to catch this impressive bass/drum duo twice this year, once on Halloween and the other on New Year’s Eve.  This high energy band puts on a blistering set that dares you to try to keep up.  Evie and Slammin’ Sammy work well together keeping it tight and moving all over the place.
  16. The Muffs: I had previously heard of this band, but never really listened to them before now.  They were the main act on the New Year’s Eve show I went to, so checked ’em out in the weeks leading up.  This is a punk band from the early ’90s
  17. Warpaint: I really came to like this band with their new album release, but was skeptical about seeing them live as I thought they’d be too mellow for my “live” taste, but I am glad I caught them at Lollapalooza.  They are a really fun band to watch and put on a great show.
  18. Moonshine Junction: Once again, caught this band live several times this year.  This bluegrass, club country band always puts on an amazing show.  The most energetic show was probably their appearance at The Blues At The Crossroads show.  They’ve really changed things up a bit this year with the addition of a few new players and new songs in the set.  Another highlight for me was watching them perform AM Radio with the author of the song actually in the audience.  Another highlight this year was a couple of cameo appearances at some of the all-ages shows by Matt Dickerson’s (fiddle & vocals) 11 year old daughter to sing chorus on Wagon Wheel.
  19. Chromeo: Saw this disco duo at Lollapalooza.  These guys remind me a lot of Kool and The Gang sound from the ’70s/early ’80s.  A soul/disco jamming afternoon of their favorites and several off of their new album.
  20. Trombone Shorty: This was a first for me, a brass-hamming band.  Trombone Shorty has an amazing drummer, plays amazing horns and has an amazing saxaphone player to go  along.  He really engages the crowd and this was really quite a treat at Lollapalooza.

Honorable Mention: Kristeen Young, Bear Hands, Brandon Atwell, Dead On TV, White Mystery, Urban Pioneers, Jayke Orvis & The Broken Band, The Lickers, Papa J. Otis.

Overall Shows List

Jan 11 (Archie’s Sports Bar, Terre Haute)

Hangdog Hearts, Nick Gibbs, Moonshine Junction, Crow’s Holler, Brandon Atwell, ToeKnee Tea

Feb 16 (The Verve, Terre Haute)

Jayke Orvis & The Broken Band, Urban Pioneers, Moonshine Junction

March 15 (Twiggy’s, Seelyville)

Stevie Tombstone, Shad Vanatti

March 21 (The Verve)

Papa J. Otis, Flintlock, Butcher’s Holler

March 22 (Ole Simrell’s, Terre Haute)

Shad Vanatti, Nativemind, Pop Up Safety Baby, Crow Cannons

April 23 (Ole Simrell’s)

Shad Vanatti, Black Eyed Vermillion, Whiskey Dick

April 26 (Punk Rock Night @ The Melody Inn, Indianapolis)

Thelma and The Sleaze, Brains & Teeth, Dead On TV, Misunderstood

May 10 (Ole Simrell’s)

Papa J Otis, Bear Foote Jackson

May 15 (The Verve)

Mikey Classic & His Lonesome Spur, ToeKnee Tea, Moonshine Junction

May 30 (The Verve)

S.S. Web, Flintlock, Moonshine Junction, Kelly Frost

June 7 (Punk Rock Night @ The Melody Inn)

The Enders, Urban Loser, The Lickers

June 21 (Birdy’s, Indianapolis)

Captain Blood, Shed, Cockeyed Clyde

July 26 (Ole Simrell’s)

Papa J. Otis, Bear Foote Jackson, Pop Up Safety Baby

July 30 (Ole Simrell’s)

The Rocketz, Straight Shooters, Raymond Lee

August 1-3 (Lollapalooza, Grant Park, Chicago):

Roadkill Ghost Choir, San Fermin, Temples, Lucius, Courtney Barnett, Warpaint, Blood Orange, AFI, Lorde, Eminem, Benjamin Booker, Ratking, Meg Myers, Grouplove, Jenny Lewis, Krewella, Cut/Copy, Bear Hands, Kongos, Bomba Estero, Delta Rae, Trombone Shorty, Chromeo, Betty Who

August 13 (Ole Simrell’s)

Whiskey Dick, Flintlock

August 15 Valley United Music Festival (Ole Simrell’s)

Papa J. Otis, The HANIS Project

August 23 (Ole Simrell’s)

Moonshine Junction

August 27 (White Rabbit Cabaret, Indianapolis)

We Are Hex, Thelma & The Sleaze, Bruiser Queen

August 29 (Ole Simrell’s)

Papa J. Otis, Soleb Theory, Pop Up Safety Baby

September 12 (Blues At The Crossroads Festival @ The Verve)

Moonshine Junction

September 27 (Cisco’s, St. Louis)

Violent Mae

October 4 (The Verve)

Urban Pioneers, SIMO

October 18 (The Verve)

Flintlock, Immigrant Union, The Company Stores

October 21 (Ole Simrell’s)

Billy Cook, Calamity Cubes

October 31 (Phantom Phest Day 2 @ Quencher’s, Chicago)

Evil Beaver, New England Patriots, ONO

November 5 (Melody Inn)

Cost Of Attrition, Direct Divide, Pop Up Safety Baby

November 26 (The Verve)

Moonshine Junction, Pop Up Safety Baby, Tony Zero

November 28 (White Rabbit Cabaret) 

We Are Hex, Magician Johnson, Rev/Rev

December 5 (Tater Joe’s Coffee, Terre Haute)

Kelly Frost, Papa J. Otis

December 5 (The Verve)

Giant Saturday Night

December 18 (5th Quarter, Indianapolis)

Raw McCartney, Sirius Black, Thelma & The Sleaze

December 26 (Tater Joe’s Coffee)

Butcher’s Holler, Moonshine Junction

December 27 (The Demo, St. Louis)

Brother Lee & The Leather Jackals, Kristeen Young, Bruiser Queen

December 31 (Reggie’s Rock Club, Chicago)

The Muffs, Evil Beaver, Meat Wave, White Mystery


About dutterman

Live and work in Terre Haute. Married to Mariah who I met my sophomore year at Rose-Hulman in 1988. We have two children Kourtney 17 and Austin 13. I've been a competitive runner since 1982.
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