The Ten Best Los Angeles Concerts of 2012

The Ten Best Los Angeles Concerts of 2012
Timothy Norris

10. My Morning Jacket

The Wiltern, September 11-13

The ever-electrifying My Morning Jacket held a three-night stint at the Wiltern this past September and didn't repeat a single tune. That's right. Three nights and no repeats. It takes one heck of a repertoire not just to have that many songs, but to remember how to play them all. From whiskey-fueled country laments like "Golden" to disco party jams "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Part II" to a gospel choir "Holdin On to Black Metal" and some really daring covers including "Tyrone" (Erykah Badu) and "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" (Prince), The long-haired Kentucky natives brought something for everyone. --Molly Bergen

See also: The Best Los Angeles Concerts of 2011

The Ten Best Los Angeles Concerts of 2012
Timothy Norris

9. Tame Impala

El Rey Theatre, November 16

Australia's Tame Impala not only proved that they do psych rock as well as anyone did in 1968, but that they do it even better live than on their excellent 2012 sophomore LP Lonerism. The sound was tight, fresh and exciting, and the packed audience sang along to every word, while supporting the crowd surfers above them. The Friday show at the El Rey found scalpers getting $100 per ticket. The scene was the same the next night during their gig at The Wiltern The Fonda, and they likely could have continued this way clear into the workweek. --Katie Bain

See also: Tame Impala On The Meaning of 'Lonerism'

The Ten Best Los Angeles Concerts of 2012
Ignacio Genzon

8. King Khan and the Shrines

The Echoplex, September 3

King Khan and the Shrines' live show is an experiment in garage-punk soul, and a successful one at that. Khan stalks the stage in ceremonial headgear (and cape) while screeching sermons into the mic. All the while, the Shrines inspire the crowd into a jam-dance frenzy. The pace was quick and hard. The audience was sweaty and drunk. Together, the combination of hootin', hollerin' and ass-shaking could not be topped. Oh, and it was free. Thanks FYF. --Marcus Arman

See also: Our review of FYF Fest

The Ten Best Los Angeles Concerts of 2012
Timothy Norris

7. Gary Clark, Jr.

Troubadour, November 14-16

Gary Clark Jr. shouldn't exist. The last of the tall-tale bluesman perished around the time Stevie Ray Vaughn went haint. BB King still breathes. So does Buddy Guy. But he can't pick up an axe without someone affixing the cliché around his strat: they don't make 'em like they used to. But maybe they still do. Maybe we aren't doomed to worship the dust when greatness can still leave you black and blue. There's no other way to explain Gary Clark Jr. Twenty-eight year-olds from Texas aren't supposed to make a guitar moan like the voodoo child and croon with a velvet voice like they just ate pancakes at Prince's house. I saw Gary Clark Jr. three times this year: at Coachella, a special KRCW session and once at the Troubadour. Each show he sang and shredded in a way that I'd thought had been outlawed. Watching him was like getting a dose of that old-time religion. He plays a guitar to make ghosts seem real. --Jeff Weiss


The Ten Best Los Angeles Concerts of 2012
Timothy Norris

6. Flying Lotus

Hollywood Bowl, September 23

Seeing Flying Lotus perform his new songs, behind his 3-D live show, at the Bowl, on a gorgeous night, was pretty good. It wasn't as good as the time I got married or the day my son was born but it was almost that good.

See also: Flying Lotus' Nocturnal Visions: Once believing himself destined to fail, the DJ-producer returns triumphant on his new album

The Ten Best Los Angeles Concerts of 2012
Ivan Fernandez

5. Three 6 Mafia

Paid Dues Festival, April 7

Juicy J has a second wind, and Three 6 Mafia stole the show on a lineup featuring Kendrick Lamar, Dipset and Mac Miller. The dormant airplane hangar at the Nos Events Center could hardly contain the ruckus from spilling outside as Three 6 raged through hits like "Doe Boy Fresh," "Lolli Lolli," and "Poppin' My Collar." The set lulled as Chicano rapper (and Hypnotize Minds' signee) Kokoe took the stage. But Juicy and DJ Paul then turned the crowd into a moshing frenzy as they climaxed with the appropriately-named "Stay Fly." --Marcus Arman

The Ten Best Los Angeles Concerts of 2012
Timothy Norris

4. Roger Waters performing The Wall

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, May 19

Roger Waters' massive staging of The Wall at the Coliseum wasn't just a concert. It was a fully immersive experience. Taking advantage of the large stadium space, "The Wall" spanned across the entire 35-yard line. The sound design was phenomenal, turning the 90-year-old Coliseum into a state-of-the-art surround sound amphitheater for one night. Seeing the WWII biplane zip from the top of the end zone scoreboard above the audience and dive-bomb the top bricks of the wall will remain burned in our mind. --Jason Roche


The Ten Best Los Angeles Concerts of 2012
Timothy Norris

3. Fiona Apple

Greek Theatre, September 14

Probably the most surprising aspect of Fiona Apple's return to touring was how happy she seemed. The singer with haunted eyes, an unnerving stare and a gravelly voice that sounds wrenched from her very core always has been shrouded in an air of suffering. In fact, it seemed there was a constant, very violent war being waged within her mind and soul. But at the Greek Theatre show on her birthday, she seemed different. She still growled "Sleep to Dream" and bruised the piano keys during "Shadowboxer," but in between, she beamed and giggled and blurted out cute asides -- even literally kicking up her heels. Guess we were the only ones crying this time. --Rebecca Haithcoat

The Ten Best Los Angeles Concerts of 2012
Colin Young-Wolff

2. Sigur Ros

Hollywood Forever Cemetery, October 13

Few places in L.A. are better suited to induce a sense of eerie beauty like the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. So when Icelandic purveyors of wonder Sigur Ros announced that they would be playing there, tickets sold out lightning fast. On the way into the cemetery we even witnessed desperate fans climbing the stone walls of the place trying to get in. Their scrapes and cuts turned out to be well worth the effort. On the grassy field between the sleeping dead, Sigur Ros played most of their new album Valtari, their beautiful and oftentimes unnerving post-rock washing over the crowd. Raw emotion rippled through the audience, leaving some staring, open-mouthed. --Molly Bergen

See also: Sigur Ros at The Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 8/13/12

The Ten Best Los Angeles Concerts of 2012
Timothy Norris

1. D'Angelo

House of Blues, July 4

House of Blues

While year end wrap-ups are pointing to Miguel and Frank Ocean and proclaiming R&B to be back, we'd like to take a moment to recognize one of the progenitors of the current movement, D'Angelo. After an almost 12-year hiatus, one of the most important of the '90s "neo-soul" singers took the stage on the Fourth of July. We were equal parts jazzed and jittery -- America loves a comeback, but could D'Angelo, whose fame and sex-symbol status had driven him down a self-destructive path, handle it? Any doubt was swept away as his voice, sounding as pure and sweet as it did on his 1995 debut Brown Sugar, got the crowd swaying. And the fireworks he set off during his cover of Parliment's "I've Been Watching You" were better than any we've seen. --Rebecca Haithcoat

See also: The Best Los Angeles Concerts of 2011

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Related Locations

National Orange Show Events Center

689 S. "E" St.
San Bernardino, CA 92408


L.A. Memorial Coliseum

3911 S. Figueroa St.
Los Angeles, CA 90037



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