My Ultimate Concert Countdown: The Top 10

The Black Keys

My Ultimate Concert Countdown: The Top 10

by Sydney Maki

photo by Sydney Maki

People talk about their college years as an age of exploration, learning and growth. As the months have flickered past, coloring in my first year of college with incredible people, memories and experiences, one thing has continually been in the forefront of my life—music. Living in an urban environment like downtown Phoenix was a game changer when it came to concerts. Most of the artists on tour make the time for a show in Phoenix. My first year in Phoenix has, therefore, consisted of an impressive amount of concerts and a lot of phone storage dedicated to their memory.

Out of the numerable artists I was fortunate enough to see, the following ten were by far the most wonderful:


10. Matt and Kim — Matt and Kim tore up the Marquee Theatre in Tempe, AZ, with one of the most high-energy performances I have ever witnessed. The duo engaged with the crowd using their impressive dancing skills, jokes, a giant parachute, balloons, and confetti. The interactive concert wins a place in the top ten not for the music, but for the experience.


9. Lindsey Stirling — During Luckyman’s Summer Ends Music Festival, Lindsey Stirling took to the stage with her steam-punk costumes, impressive dance skills and amazing talent as a violinist. She wowed the audience with her unique sound and style, as well as her charisma and charm.


8. The 1975 — The 1975 certainly win the award for the most band member lookalikes in the audience. Matty Healy’s signature hair was emulated on nearly every male in the crown. The lights and smoke during the show led to a truly mesmerizing stage presence in combination with the drawling lyrics and style. Of course, the entire bottle of wine in Healy’s hand probably didn’t help with his annunciation.

The 1975 

7. Gospel Claws — The local indie rock band made their gig at The Crescent Ballroom personal and easygoing, with a friendly stage presence and a very relatable vibe. The tiny venue only added to their charm and eagerness as a small band indigenous to the Phoenix-area.


6. Vance Joy — Vance Joy sipped tea and thanked the crowd after almost every song of his performance at The Marquee Theatre. His modest charm and soothing voice over the strum of his ukulele was all I could ask for as he played his album true to its form. With a distinct sound, Vance Joy allowed an acoustic relief to the high energy of many other concerts I have been to over the year.

Vance Joy

photo by Sydney Maki

5. Walk the Moon —Walk the Moon’s performance during a hype concert for Superbowl XLIX in Phoenix was definitely one for the books. Their renditions of the songs from their newest album, Talking Is Hard, oozed with energy and enthusiasm. Their upbeat set ranged from their most popular hits to a few of their lesser-known ballads. The free outdoor concert was a unique experience in the midst of the circus that downtown Phoenix had become for the weeks leading up to the big game.


4. Hozier — My anticipation to finally see Hozier perform live was enough to qualify his concert for the list, even if it had been mediocre. However, Hozier was anything but unimpressive as he did his album justice with deep, bluesy tunes and a soulful voice capable of causing goosebumps. His rhythm and talent on guitar made his performance at the Marquee all the more wonderful.


3. The Maine — Kicking off their “American Candy” tour, the Tempe natives celebrated at The Marquee, where I enjoyed a front row view and a high-energy experience. The Maine filled the room with their excitement for the start of a tour and the promise of an exceptional new album. The band’s chemistry on stage was filled with the undertones of good friends jamming out in the garage, and they engaged with the audience to make us feel like part of the gang.


2. Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox — At the Rialto Theatre in Tucson, Postmodern Jukebox did not just sing, but transported the audience through the eras and genres of music as we enjoyed our favorite pop hits of today in a variety of styles. The costumes where beautiful, the artists were obviously well practiced in their respective forms of music, and the characters they created on stage were completely unlike any other concert I have experienced.


1. Bastille — The title of best concert goes to Bastille, who performed at Tempe Beach Park during Luckyman’s Pot of Gold Music Festival. They performed a mixture of their albums beautifully and graced the audience with their rendition of “No Scrubs.” I was fortunate enough to meet the band prior to their show, where I proceeded to panic, stare and stumble over my words until blurting out “I’m sorry, that was awkward.” To this day, Bastille laughing at my complete lack of grace under pressure has been the greatest moment of my life.

I Met Bastille


Honorable Mentions:

  • Twenty One Pilots
  • Andy Grammer
  • Black Keys
  • American Authors
  • Echosmith
  • Milky Chance
  • Fall Out Boy
  • Panic at the Disco
  • Andrew McMahon Into the Wilderness


Most Anticipated: