Narrowing it down was actually pretty tricky.
This article was originally published for The Odyssey on September 25, 2016.
Concerts are my life. If you’re a concert enthusiast like myself, you know how amazing it can feel to be in the center of a crowd, seeing some amazing performers, singing and entertaining for your entertainment. It’s crazy how exhilarating it can be to stand with hundreds, if not thousands of people who share the same music taste as you at least in one way. I have been to over a hundred concerts and have seen so many fantastic artists and bands that I’ve made a list. I’ve narrowed down my favorites to 40. Maybe we have some of the same favorites! So in no particular order, with a favorite song from each of the artists, here are my top 40 favorites that I’ve seen perform live!
(As a disclaimer, I want to say that I don’t own any of this music, all rights are reserved to their original owners and rightful owners – and I’ve marked songs with explicit language/meanings with a ‘NSFW*’ warning in the descriptions of each song it applies to.)
1. A Day to Remember
I had to put one of my absolute favorites down early on in the list. I have now seen A Day to Remember three times in concert. They absolutely blow my mind every time I see them perform. The energy that they bring to the stage is so crazy, I love their crowd and I love the way they pump up the crowd. They are absolutely one of my favorite bands, and I just saw them this summer with Blink 182!
2. Duran Duran
Duran Duran was one of the first concerts I ever attended with my mom. I instantly fell in love with their music and have actually seen them twice. This is definitely a band that I have bonded with my mom over and we definitely fangirl over them together. The last time I saw them was at the Tower in Philly with Neon Trees!
3. Bruce Springsteen
BRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCEEEEEE. If you haven’t seen the boss, definitely add him to that bucket list and get out there and see him. He is so fantastic live! I have seen him only once and was completely blown away. I have family and friends that see him every single time he’s in town and they cannot get enough of him.
4. Peter Gabriel
If you ask literally any of my friends, they will tell you that I may have a slight obsession with Peter Gabriel. I am so super obsessed with the song ‘In Your Eyes’ that I have seriously considered becoming an interpretive dancer just to create a routine to this song. I saw Peter Gabriel with an orchestra at the Mann in Philly a couple of years ago with my family, and although he did not play much of his eighties music, the crowd was super ready for it when he did. I’ll never forget the guy in the back right corner shouting, “Play ‘In Your Eyes’,” after every song that wasn’t, in fact, ‘In Your Eyes’.
5. Billy Joel
Another classic you have got to see if you’re about that life. I would go see Billy Joel a thousand times, and that is not even an exaggeration. That man could sit on the ground the entire time and hum his songs, and I would still pay a regular price for tickets, which are NOT cheap. Even as he gets older and older, Billy is jumping around like he used to when he was younger. He is still so full of life, so full of heart and emotion. A fantastic show, it’s almost like he never stops singing! Billy Joel has been super prevalent in my life. I used some of his lyrics for my senior quote. This particular song is a song my mom and I call “our song” because it came on the radio while she was driving me home from the hospital as a baby.
This one is pretty recent, I just saw Journey with Arnel Pineda, the new singer, last summer! Before you go and knock the new singer, I encourage you to go see them! Arnel sounds so eerily similar to Steve Perry and if you close your eyes, it’s almost like he’s there. It’s so crazy how energetic and happy he can be on stage. I came from the show feeling so incredibly happy with good vibes consuming my entire being. It’s so wonderful for someone like me to be standing in the crowd and seeing someone up there completely living the dream. Obviously, all artists are living a dream, but Arnel was literally picked up out of nowhere for his voice sounding similar to Steve’s. He was picked up pretty one night out of nowhere and is now touring with his favorite band all over the world. That’s crazy! You can definitely tell he’s in love with it!
7. The Go-Go’s
If you don’t know the song ‘Vacation’, you’re living under a rock. My mom got me tickets to The Go Go’s one year for my birthday, and it was such an awesome show! I know I keep saying that about every show, but seriously the Go Go’s were such a cool thing to see, especially since they are now on their very expensive farewell tour, which means I got to see them before they essentially put the musical life down. That’s so wicked and rad to be able to say you saw a band before they left the tour life and settled into the shadows.
This is it, my absolute favorite band on this list. Paramore. Paramore first came into my life in the seventh grade and I instantly fell in love with the music. I got to see them for the first time with one of my best friends and it was such an elaborate experience, I’ll never forget it! I saw them again during Monument Tour with the next band, Fall Out Boy and fell in love once again. I keep up with all the members of the band, including the departed ones, since we’re down to just Hayley and Taylor now. Picking a song for this song was so hard because I have so many songs that I live by that come from Paramore, but I decided to go with my absolute favorite off of Riot!
9. Fall Out Boy
NSFW* I saw Fall Out Boy during Monument Tour with Paramore as I just mentioned, and it was so great. I went with my brother, mom, aunt and friends. I saw them in Hershey and had the most amazing time. The Monument Tour is one of my favorite tours that I’ve ever been to; I’ll honestly never forget it. I’ve decided to add this song because I feel like it’s so underrated and it has Elton John in it, I mean come on, what’s more legendary than this?
10. Three Days Grace (With Adam Gontier)
I felt it was necessary to add this because the year after I saw the band, Adam Gontier left the group. Matt Walst now tours with the band. To be able to see a band in full before such a pivotal member leaves is so crazy to me. It just goes to prove that every concert you go to will never be the exact time in another time and place. Each moment during a concert is so fleeting and so unique because those exact moments will never occur in that same exact way ever again. To be able to see Adam with the group just a year before he departed really makes me feel thankful for my timing.
11. Earth Wind and Fire
Do you remember the twenty-first night of September? I saw Earth Wind and Fire with my mom a couple of years ago and the concert was fantastic. They are all so full of life and good vibes and are still so in love with the music, it makes my heart happy. I love concerts where you can dance and really dance with other people, and that was definitely one of those concerts where everyone was shaking it. This song is my favorite because I’m a huge fan of ‘Muppets In Space’ and really identified with Gonzo as a child. This song is in that movie.
12. Glen Tillbrook of Squeeze
I adore Squeeze. My parents and I saw Glen a few years ago with this awesome local band and though he played a lot of solo pieces, he also played a few Squeeze songs, which was so cool. It’s awesome when people go solo and still play the songs of their previous band. We saw him at World Cafe Live and even met him afterward, which is so super cool to have been given that experience. This is another song I’m sharing from the ‘Mom and Casey Greatest Hits Playlist’.
My mom and I go to all these concerts at the American Music Theater in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and it’s so great because you have the option to meet the bands at the back door for autographs and pictures. Most of the time they are more than willing to oblige and are so nice. I met Styx at the ‘stage door’ of AMT and I’m so thankful for these experiences. The show was so riveting, I can’t even believe they still have the willpower to move around and still rock as much as they do when I get winded going up stairs. I love this song. It comes on my iheartradio station and I get so hype when it comes on.
14. REO Speedwagon
Another band to add to your bucket list if you haven’t already. Kevin Cronin blows me away every time I see him on stage anywhere, nonetheless live. He is so small but he really moves and jumps around a whole lot for a man in his sixties. They are so fantastic live and so nice – I’ve met them at the stage door as well. None of them look like this anymore, but they still sound exactly the same I promise! I think about this song a lot, especially when I’m feeling pretty down. Total mood-changer.
NSFW* If you’ve never heard of Pvris, you have got to look them up right now. Made up of three people, they are so amazing live. I’ve seen Lynn and the guys twice now and each time they were so energetic and so passionate about their set. Their music is catchy and electronic, making it a good beat to dance and sing to. This is my favorite song by them, but the entire album is a banger. Definitely give it a listen if you’re interested.
16. The Who
I’ve been so fortunate to have been able to go see all these amazing acts live, including The Who. My entire family trekked out to this concert as well, and it was well-worth it. To be able to say that you’ve seen The Who is monumental. They are killin’ it up there, let me tell you. Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey are both in their seventies and I kid you not, they played for almost three hours. A three-hour set for seventy-plus-years-old men is not even impressive, it’s just insane! Here’s my favorite song by them and also a song that reminds me of my dad every time I hear it. Don’t get me wrong, Baba O’Riley is a jam too, and definitely a pick me up, but we have to remember our roots here. If CSI didn’t jumpstart a millennial’s obsession with The Who, what did?
17. Panic! at the Disco
NSFW* I saw Panic! for the first time at my college, Shippensburg University, last September. It was so cool to be able to see them in the Field House and it was definitely one of my favorite shows. I only wish I could have seen them last summer with Weezer so that I could have heard their new album live, but they’ve just announced a new tour! Unfortunately, it’s also during school, so who knows if I’m going to be able to see them. I truly believe every album that Panic puts out is gold. I love Too wWierd to Live and adored Death of a Bachelor. It was hard to pick a song to put in this article, but I had to go with a classic.
18. Ed Sheeran
For another amazing birthday present, my mom and I went to see Ed Sheeran at the Mann in Philly. It was honestly one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. It’s just Ed up there for a couple of hours with a guitar and a couple of pedals. He does everything himself! He sounds the exact same on stage too, so cute and so British.He’s another artist you can tell is totally in love with what he does. Ed was fantastic and so passionate. I am so thankful for my mom and her showing me the world of concerts and helping my addiction by bringing me and buying me tickets to the greatest shows I’ve ever been to. I am truly blessed to have had so many opportunities to see the people I have. Multiply was a fantastic album. I definitely recommend it.
19. Have Mercy
I first stumbled upon Have Mercy after a friend played a song casually in the car on the way to another concert. I immediately fell in love with the song and the band. We were so fortunate to have seen them at Warped Tour the same year that I discovered them and I’ve seen been following them pretty closely. Their album ‘A Place Of Our Own’ is one of my favorites. I could listen to it over and over. Have Mercy is just one of those bands that seem like they’ve been through some stuff, and they get it. I appreciate that. I’ve been obsessed with this song lately.
20. Rise Against
My love for Rise Against stems back to middle school. They are one of my favorite bands and place third behind Paramore and A Day to Remember. I saw them two summers ago with my brother and it’s one of my fondest memories of a concert. They don’t tour on the east coast too much, so I definitely felt the whole time and place feeling while at that concert. It was such an energetic crowd and they played all these great songs, including some of my favorites. There are so many songs that are great, it’s so hard to find one to post. I chose one that my brother and I hold pretty close to our hearts.
21. Twenty One Pilots
I just saw Twenty One Pilots this last summer and had an absolute blast. Never have I been in a crowd where the band actually comes out into the crowd to play. I think it’s so crazy that Tyler and Josh do that several times during a show. I love that Tyler scales the sides of buildings and climbs things, and I love that they end each show with ‘Trees’ and play the drums with the confetti on them. They are another group that is so energetic and passionate, it’s hard not to love them. Ten out of ten, I would recommend seeing them in concert, if not for the music, for the experience alone. There is so much love and positivity in the crowd. It’s touching. This is my favorite song from their album ‘Vessel’.
22. Bring Me The Horizon
I love Bring Me The Horizon so much, I’ve seen them a total of three times now. I feel like they can do no wrong. If I liked their screamo in middle school, I’m bound to follow them through whatever. I loved ‘Sempiternal’ and have especially loved ‘That’s The Spirit’ even though a lot of people did not feel the same way about the most recent album. I think all of the songs off both albums are bangers, I like the new direction they went in. They hinted at in Sempiternal and I am always willing to give new things a try. I’ve seen them perform their new and old stuff and each time I am still in love with the band. This was one of my favorites off the new album, but definitely give the whole album a try. Give ‘Sempiternal’ a try as well, both are fantastic.
23. Blink 182
NSFW*(video) Like I mentioned before, I just saw A Day to Remember and Blink 182 this summer, just a few weeks before I left for school. It was such a great concert. Even though I had lawn seats, it was practically a sold out show and they were so loud, it was like we were right up front. Matt Skiba wasn’t my favorite but he seems to contribute better vibes than Tom DeLonge ever did. Mark and Travis are still chiseling away at the dream and having a blast on stage. It was unreal to have been able to see them, they put on a great set. They opened with this song.
24. Hollywood Undead
I saw Hollywood Undead at Rock Allegiance last year and had a blast. They played at the same time as Papa Roach and were on a third stage outside fo the stadium, so there weren’t as many people there as I had thought there would be, but I’m so glad I went to see them while I could. They put on a great set, and played only one song I didn’t recognize. I’ve always just admired their raps and their personalities. ‘Desperate Measures’ was a large staple for me in middle school. It was an album that I listened to every day. Just a warning that this is their only song that isn’t explicit.
25. Howard Jones
My mom and I saw Howard Jones earlier this previous summer and actually met him afterward. My mom was so excited, she had been listening to him forever and was totally starstruck, it was so amazing to see firsthand how generationally important music can be. I realized that I had also been listening to Howard since I was a baby and recognized a lot of his music. He’s still very energetic and brings a lot of good energy to the stage with him when he performs. This is my favorite song by him.
26. Chasing Safety
NSFW* Okay, if you haven’t heard of this band, that’s okay, because they are a local band from New Jersey. I’ve been lucky enough to stumble upon them twice at two shows I had no idea they were performing at. The first time was seeing them at the Chameleon Club in Lancaster, where I was seeing Framing Hanley. The second time, I was at the Voltage Lounge seeing my friend’s brother rap and there was a rock show before, in which they were performing at. I knew after the second time I had to definitely check the guys out and ended up loving their music. They put on a great set both times that I saw them and definitely have enough energy to make it out there in the big time. I would not be surprised if we see them in the Warped Tour lineup in a couple of years.
27. Pat Benatar
Pat Benetar is a gift to society. If you don’t love her, you need to reevaluate your life. I’m only kidding, well sort of. Pat Benatar is amazing and a total feminist icon. She is all about girl power and on top of all that is a rock queen. She and her husband Neil are the dream team. Together they are the most badass rock duo I’ve ever seen. Buy all of Pat’s albums. Gain confidence like you would have never even thought you could.
28. Real Friends
NSFW* I love Real Friends so much it’s hard to put in words. I found them in a time in my life where I felt that all their songs were directly speaking to me. I’ve seen them live once at Warped and they were amazing. I will literally never forget that crowd. This song means so much to me and so much about improving yourself. I can’t even tell you how much I love this song. This will always be my favorite song by them.
Beartooth is another band I feel like came into my life exactly when I needed them to. I’ve seen them now twice at Warped Tour both times, and both crowds have been crazy amazing. A little rough, but friendly throughout. The first album they put out, the first full-length album I should say, was beyond words. My brother and I both love it so much, we probably wore out the physical CD by playing it so much in the car. I enjoy their second album as well, though I think some people may think it to be a little too similar to the first one. I disagree, I think both are good. The first one is definitely more of a favorite than the second one, though.
30. Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Time to get funky here. I saw TSO a couple years back with my family and really enjoyed their concert. I’m not sure that I’ll ever go again, but they have some pretty alternative Christmas music out there. Their music is just so creative and unique that you have to give it a listen if you haven’t already. It gives all the metal heads and alternative kids a chance to enjoy holiday music without looking like a ‘loser’ or that was the ideas in middle school when we cared too much of what people thought of our music taste.
31. Taking Back Sunday
I saw TBS a few years ago with Tonight Alive at the Tower in Philly and am so glad I convinced my brother and friend to go. It was so much fun! Here’s a favorite of mine by them.
32. The Amity Affliction
I’ve seen Amity now twice. I saw them once a few years ago at Warped Tour and actually just saw them two weekends ago at Rock Allegiance in Philly. They are always so great when they perform, it’s like they are having the time of their lives up there on stage. They sound the exact same live and their crowds are always crazy awesome. This song is really important to me because I love the lyrics and love the video.
33. Rick Springfield
I saw Rick years ago with my mom and could not have been happier. I think it’s so cool to go to concerts of acts that were huge when my mom was growing up, and then seeing those same people who grew up with his music still rocking out and getting down at the shows. I think it’s a large stereotype that the older people get, the closer they get to sitting in the chair and clapping, if that, at concerts, but I think you just need to go see the right people live. I’ve been in love with this song since I was little.
Saw Foreigner not too long ago with my mom and it was so cool. It was awesome to say that I got to see Mick Jones, who has not been in great health lately, jumping around like he was young again. Foreigner rocked the house. This is my favorite by them.
35. Falling in Reverse
NSFW* I regard only two bands as having the craziest, craziest crowds, and Falling in Reverse is one of them. It sounds fake because most of the people that attend these shows are young, small girls, but it’s crazy how many of them are crowd surfing and jumping around. If you don’t get injuries at a Falling in Reverse show, were you even really there? That being said, I’ve seen them twice, and both times the crowd was ridiculously amazing.
36. We The Kings
I fell in love with We The Kings in middle school and maintained a long-distance-like relationship with them afterward. A few years ago, they were on the Warped Tour lineup and I knew I had to see them. The crowd was so hype and so full of energy, it was one of the best sets I have ever seen. I immediately bought their new album and learned it just for that set. It was crazy amazing. Here’s one of those tracks off that album.
NSFW* I also started listening to Slipknot in middle school, around the same time my brother started listening to them in high school. I saw them a couple of years ago with Korn and it was so cool. They put on such a great show, it’s like Corey Taylor never ages.
I’ve seen Seether twice I believe, once with Three Days Grace at Rock Allegiance in 2012, and once at the WMMR BBQ a couple summers ago in Camden. They are great live. Here’s my favorite by them, because the version with Amy Lee I think takes away from the meaning of the song.
39. The Offspring
So the other band that has the craziest crowds is The Offspring. I just saw them two weekends ago at Rock Allegiance in Philly and they totally blew me away. Their crowd was so packed, the most I’ve seen the stadium packed all day, and the crowd was so fluid with their movements, it was almost impossible to gain your footing. As they started playing, several pits opened up and my brother, his friends and I all got tossed separate ways. There were at least a hundred crowd surfers. The pit was breathtaking almost. It was so cool!
40. Avenged Sevenfold
NSFW* Avenged Sevenfold is a great classic, and they rarely tour the east coast. We also saw them two weekends ago at Rock Allegiance and we are so lucky. They went over their set time and still came back for an encore. They played all these great songs and then some. Even though my feet felt like they had fallen off, I am so happy I went.