Every year I pull together a list of the most amazing bands/ artists that I saw the previous year that absolutely blew my mind in one way or another. Sometimes they were opening for a band I was already booked to photograph, and other times they just had a great publicist who knows how to get me to listen to and attend a show of a band I have never heard of. In addition I always add in one or two of my favorite artists who I think should have had a break out year and deserve another shot.
With that being said, here are the best live bands I witnessed in 2015 that will likely become much bigger in 2016. Keep your eyes and ears open and do not miss the following, as each one of them is remarkable.
What they sound like: A giant classic rock joint rolled out of The Who, Zeppelin, and The Doors, sprinkled with non-stop grooves. You have to see them live to believe how good these guys are.
Where to see them in 2016: Topping my list for the second year in a row, I think Rival Sons will finally get their due in 2016. See them on tour as the opening act for Black Sabbath’s the End Tour and select solo dates including one at the Regency Ballroom on Feb. 6.
Why: It’s been said that rock n roll is dead, these guys might be able to save it.
What they sound like: Buckcherry crossed with ELO
Where to see them in 2016: Likely on tour with Collective Soul
Why: Tremendous songwriting backed by one hell of an electrifying live show.
What they sounds like: Springsteen crossed with Dawes crossed with Steve Earl.
Where to see them in 2016: New album coming soon, tour dates are here.
Why: Nashville has been primed for a break out rock n roll band and I think these guys are going to be that band.
What they sound like: Delta blues inspired Black Crowes-esch dirty, gritty, bombastic rock n roll.
Where to see then in 2016: Short tour happening now, but Robert Plant should take these guys out on his Summer tour.
Why: He’s the best pop songwriter on the planet at the moment and has an incredible live band that pulls off a full on blow the roof off the house rock n roll show.
What they sound like: The best male singer you’ve ever heard. Sort of like a male Adele.
Where to see him in 2016: No idea but the club show I saw in 2015 was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.
Why: Their songs are spectacular and their live show is a huge wall of sound that is so much bigger than the average trio.
What they sound like: Somewhere between Muse, Duran Duran, Hot Hot Heat and a happier Editors.
Where to see them in 2016: New EP coming along with a slew of 2016 tour dates which are on their Facebook page including 4.9 in San Francisco at the newly opened Social Hall.
7. Spiral Arms
Why: I’ve seen these guys a few times here in SF and the live show is spectacularly groove heavy which I think a lot of metal is missing these days.
What they sound like: Sabbath, Kyuss, early Clutch, sort of like stoner rock for the thinking man.
Where to see them in 2016: I believe they have a new record coming in 2016.
Why: The coolest 70’s band ever from the 2000’s.
What they sound like: Rush crossed with Zeppeling and Sabbath pummeling and pillaging across the Dark Ages.
Where to see them in 2016: Another one that I have no idea but god dammit someone put these guys on tour.
Why: I saw them open for Swervedriver and they were better than Swervedriver.
What they sound like: My Bloody Valentine crossed with BRMC and the Dandy Warhols. Shoegaze heroin chic pop for the evolving hipster.
Where to see them in 2016: No idea, but I hope they put out some new music and tour the West Coast soon.
Why: She has one of the most remarkable voices I’ve ever heard before and her song writing is incredibly unique as she effortlessly combines elements of blues, rock, soul, jazz, reggae, all blended together with attitude and a cool retro vibe.
What they sound like: The power of Adele, the coolness of Chrissie Hynde, the grit of Janis and the edginess/ dark vibes of Nicole Atkins.
Where to see them in 2016: No idea but hopefully new music and a full on club tour is in store for 2016.