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The 20 Best L.A. Concerts of 2013

The 20 Best L.A. Concerts of 2013
Timothy Norris

Whether you're a raver, a rocker, a Low End Theory devotee, a jazz connoisseur or all of the above, our sonic melting pot of a city offers excellent live music options nearly every night of the week, all year long. (You can hear about them here!)

So yeah, we went to a lot of concerts this year. And some of them were tell-your-grandchildren excellent. These are the 20 best L.A. concerts of 2013.

See also: The 10 Best L.A. Albums of 2013

20. Chrysta Bell

The Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever

May 12, 2013

What artist could be more suited to the funereal glamour of Hollywood Forever's Masonic Lodge than David Lynch's songstress protégé Chrysta Bell? The chameleonic singer's blurry backstory -- she's the daughter of a Texan singing-telegram performer -- and alien elegance were in perfect aesthetic sync with the hushed air of the Lodge, where, with every innuendo-laden whisper and slither, the audience was further entranced by Bell's hypnotic performances of the dreamy, darkly erotic torch songs she wrote with Lynch. -Theis Duelund

The 20 Best L.A. Concerts of 2013
Timothy Norris

19. Edward Sharpe's Big Top

L.A. State Historic Park

October 17, 2013

For four days in mid October, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros turned the L.A. Historic State Park into their own bizarre vision of a big top circus. With contortionists, a beer garden, a Ferris wheel and, of course, headlining sets by the L.A. based feel good hippie collective, the group known for its ambitious arrangements put on one of the most ambitious shows of the year. -Daniel Kohn

See also: Our review of Edward Sharpe's Big Top

18. Laura Marling

The Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

May 21, 2013

At 23, British singer/songwriter Laura Marling is already a pro with four albums under her belt, and she knew the settings at the intimate, red-lit Masonic Lodge were in her favor. Dressed simply in a white shirt, Marling armed herself with only an acoustic guitar and her voice, and still managed to captivate the sold out crowd, which stayed so quiet that you could hear people's clothing rustle. Out of Marling's mouth came tales of the devil, betrayal, loss and redemption, some so eloquently written that audience members gasped during certain choruses. Sometime the barest of shows can be the most striking, and all of the special effects in the world could not have improved upon this one. -Molly Bergen

See also: The best concerts of the year in photos

17. Active Child

El Rey

November 23, 2013

Though Active Child's performance at the El Rey was short -- well under an hour -- it spared no expense, featuring a string quartet, a full choir and, perhaps the best part, a stage decorated with an entire wedding's-worth of fresh cut flowers. Performing tracks from his 2011 debut You Are All I See and his latest Rapor EP, he swept the audience away with his glorious falsetto. For a dude who looks like the bookkeeper in the local Sigma Chi chapter, this guy really knows how to make you feel something. -Ben Westhoff

See also: The 10 Best L.A. Albums of 2013

16. Boris

The Echoplex

May 24, 2013

Japanese experimentalist act Boris has made impressive forays throughout its career, delving head first into psychedelic rock, punk, J-Pop and just plain weird shit. But on this night, they revisited the heavy drone-doom that brought them to the dance in the late '90s. Playing their landmark Flood in its entirety, Boris lulled the capacity crowd into hypnosis via thunderous repetition and then brought everyone out again with a glorious crescendo of triumphant riffage. - Jason Roche

The 20 Best L.A. Concerts of 2013
Timothy Norris

15. Juicy J

Rock the Bells

September 8, 2013

Coming onstage to chants of his name, Juicy J turned the grassy grounds of the San Manuel Amphitheater into a ratchet fiefdom at hip hop fest Rock the Bells. The Memphis musician responsible for a flurry of hedonistic rap hits commanded the entire crowd solo. Songs from his album Stay Trippy, his mixtape Blue Dream and Lean and his former outfit Three 6 Mafia were met with word for word recitations from the crowd. Though near 40, with this show Juicy J exemplified that his music is for trippy souls of any age. -Max Bell

The 20 Best L.A. Concerts of 2013

14. Gladiator

Lightning in a Bottle Festival

July 14, 2013

There is something freeing about getting really dirty while dancing one's ass off, so we really didn't mind the huge cloud of dust kicked up by the party people during trap/bass DJ pair Gladiator's ultra grimy set at Lightning in a Bottle. (They're L.A. based and stylize their name gLAdiator. Ha!) The scene even inspired duo member Dani Goodman to made a mid set announcement that this was "the best fucking day of my fucking life. Seriously!" -Katie Bain

13. Anticon

The Echoplex

September 6, 2013

The Echoplex hosted quite the birthday party for Anticon Records' 15th anniversary. Founded in the Bay Area by a handful of rappers and producers dedicated to challenging the musical status quo, the independent label has given rise to many art-rap and electronic musicians of note. The lineup for this shindig included both well-known Anticon acts and current label up and-comers, including dream-pop wonder Baths, seminal beat scene artist, Daedelus and local L.A. DJ D33J. With balloons, free stickers, and an eclectic array of acts, this show was one of the best b-day parties we went to this year. -Mary Grace Cerni

The 20 Best L.A. Concerts of 2013
Credit: Timothy Norris

12. Mumford & Sons

San Manuel Amphitheater

June 2, 2013

It was a school night, and thus quite an expedition to the Inland Empire, where British band Mumford & Sons played San Manuel, the largest outdoor amphitheater in the country. But the park-adjacent venue and warm temperatures created the perfect summer evening vibe for the band's epic, roots rock jam, which featured 65,000 people (!) singing along. From the rollicking "I Will Wait" to an a capella cover of Springsteen's "I'm On Fire" (for which bandleader Marcus Mumford asked the audience to hush down) this massive show still somehow felt like the best backyard party of the summer. And we were lucky it happened at all -- the group cancelled the final U.S. dates of the tour shortly after this show so bassist Ted Dwayne could undergo brain surgery. (He recovered nicely and the group was back onstage by late June.) -Katie Bain

See also: Our review of the Mumford & Sons show

11. Baauer and RL Grime

Hard Day of the Dead

November 3, 2013

Baauer, the mastermind behind the YouTube hit, "Harlem Shake," along with Clockwork's trap music alter-ego, R.L. Grime, teamed up this year to tour and make ridiculously, um, grimy music together. The two DJs successfully turnt the crowd all the way up at Hard's Day of the Dead; not one body wasn't moving to their aggressive, hip-hop heavy mix with appropriately gory visuals to accompany. It was cool to see festival-goers trade in the standard fist-pumping for some serious some booty-shaking during what was easily the most fun set of the evening. -Mary Grace Cerni

The 20 Best L.A. Concerts of 2013
Credit: Debi Del Grande

10. Bjork

Hollywood Palladium

June 5, 2013

It was art, it was science, it was the whimsical brainchild of the famously whimsical Icelandic icon Bjork. This two night run at the Palladium was the Los Angeles installment of Biophilia, the theatrical version of her album of the same name. The theater in the round production was intended to illustrate the relationship between music, science and the natural world with one a kind instruments, hypnotic visuals, a chorus of brightly dressed Icelandic women, narration by Richard Attenborough and Bjork as a purple cape wearing Earth mother at the center of her own musical universe. It was even more magical than it sounds. -Katie Bain

See also: Our review of the Bjork show

The 20 Best L.A. Concerts of 2013
Timothy Norris

9. Sound City Players

Hollywood Palladium

January 31, 2013

For a guy who was allegedly taking some time off, Dave Grohl started 2013 off with a bang. To celebrate the January release of his critically acclaimed Sound City documentary, the Foo Fighters frontman played alongside many Sound City alumni at the Palladium. The result was a classic rock nerd's dream show. The evening saw Grohl trading vocals with the likes of Stevie Nicks, John Fogerty and Rick Springfield and trading crunchy riffs with Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen, and the nearly four-hour set gave the fabled Van Nuys studio the send off it deserved. -Daniel Kohn

See also: Our review of the Sound City Players show

The 20 Best L.A. Concerts of 2013
Timothy Norris

8. Depeche Mode

Staples Center

October 29, 2013

This may be the Depeche Mode show that once and for all showed the band to be rock stars in the traditional sense. DM proved that they were more than new wave novelties a long time ago, of course, but over their long career, their synth-heavy beats and goth ballads have always outshone their sonic muscle. Few frontmen evoke the power and mojo of Dave Gahan, and at the band's trio of sold-out Staples shows, he was mesmerizing, holding nothing back. Guitarist Martin Gore brought the tender nostalgia and intense beats, as always. With Gahan's enigmatic charms, the pair's melding has matured into a concert experience that was as powerfully seductive as anything this year. -Lina Lecaro

See also: Our review of the Depeche Mode show

The 20 Best L.A. Concerts of 2013
Timothy Norris

7. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

The Fonda

June 9, 2013

While the fire marshall had stopped the previous night's show due to overcrowding, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers came back twenty-four hours later to continue their six-night stand with figurative fire. It's always a pleasure to see an arena act perform in small venue like The Fonda. It's an added bonus though when the setlist is an impeccable collection of crowd-pleasing hits, deep cuts, a few covers and even a Traveling Wilburys goodie thrown in for good measure. -Jason Roche

The 20 Best L.A. Concerts of 2013
Kelsee Becker

6. Deerhunter

FYF Fest

August 24, 2013

Donning a sundress and a black wig, Deerhunter's Bradford Cox looked more like a deranged psych-ward patient than frontman. While Cox' sanity seemed to unravel throughout the set, Deerhunter's avant garde sound was solid. The group brought clangy, neo-psych rock, with hints of shoegaze and what the band describes as "ambient punk." The band's habitual outlandishness often makes them the freak-show of the festivals they play, but, in a world of clowns, they are Cirque du Soliel. -Artemis Thomas-Hansard

5. Rhye

Boiler Room Party, Highland Park

January 29, 2013

It was a cold night in January when a crowd converged at a warehouse in Highland Park for an installment of the acclaimed Britain-based Boiler Room event series. The evening featured DJ sets by Nosaj Thing and Classixx, and then L.A.'s own lover's rock indie clique Rhye, who played a gorgeous, sensual show in a candlelit industrial workspace for a fully rapt audience. The band broke into the mainstream about a week later on the power of their sumptuous debut Woman, but for one night, they were all ours.-Katie Bain

This live shot, from an earlier show, was provided by tour PR
This live shot, from an earlier show, was provided by tour PR
Credit: Nabil

4. Kanye West

Staples Center

October 28, 2013

Kanye West doesn't preach to the choir. Just because you paid good money to hear him doesn't mean he's going to tell you what you want to hear. Instead, at Staples he put the audience through a bizarre, Bible-influenced stage show involving near-nude disciple girls with panty hose on their heads, a mountain and a (white) Jesus figure. He even wore gimp masks for most of the performance. But, in the end, the show succeeded because he challenged the audience to re-think what they believed: About God, about Kanye, about love, about themselves. -Ben Westhoff

See also: Our review of the Kanye West show

The 20 Best L.A. Concerts of 2013
Timothy Norris

3. Swedish House Mafia

L.A. State Historic Park

March 8, 2013

EDM may be a dirty word for many music snobs, but try explaining that to the 70,000 people who turned out for Swedish House Mafia's two night takeover of downtown's L.A. State Historic Park. Masquerade Motel, as they called the L.A. installment of the DJ trio's grand scale One Last Tour, featured three stages, several fireworks displays, many tutus and a few tears of joy. At the center was the genre's most beloved mega-brand Swedish House Mafia, who called it quits shortly after this show. It may have felt in one way like an ending, but if there was ever a sign of the scene's domination, this was it. -Katie Bain

See also: Our review of the Swedish House Mafia show

The 20 Best L.A. Concerts of 2013
Timothy Norris

2. Atoms For Peace

Club Fais Do-Do

June 14, 2013

West Adams' Club Fais Do-Do was the perfect place for Thom Yorke, Flea and company to play their first show in nearly three years. The tiny venue allowed Atoms For Peace to iron the kinks in their set in front of close friends and fans who who had scored tickets to the free show by heading to local independent record stores earlier in the day.

The lucky few who made it through the door were treated to a crisp two-hour set that had the creaky wooden club shaking to the supergroup's ethereal jams and loose grooves. -Daniel Kohn

See also: Our review of the Atoms for Peace show

The 20 Best L.A. Concerts of 2013

1. Rolling Stones

The Echoplex

April 27, 2013

Could there really be any other number one? Surreal. Okay, Echo Park is a "hip" hood, as Mick Jagger himself acknowledged, but from the locale to the way it went down, the whole affair still seems like a dream. The show caused city-wide pandemonium as fans tried to score tickets, with a lucky few actually getting in to see Mick, Keith, Ronnie, Charlie, Darryl, their backup-singers and even sax player Bobby Keys (plus a brief visit by Mick Taylor) take the tiny stage, which appeared to have been re-built and outfitted with new sound equipment for the gig.

The Stones sounded incredible, and the lithe and rhythmic 69-year-old Jagger put all other frontmen who have ever played that room to shame, moving non-stop like he was playing to a packed stadium. Working out classics like "Street Fighting Man" and "Miss You" plus some inspired covers, the Stones played a loose yet musically-flawless show. Forget about L.A. being "too cool" at concerts; from celebs and privileged types to the faithful fans who had waited in line all day for this once in a lifetime experience, The Rolling Stones at the Echoplex was beyond epic, beyond rock n' roll magic, simply just beyond, and everyone in that room knew it. -Lina Lecaro

See also: Our review of the Rolling Stones show

See also: The best concerts of the year in photos

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