The 13 Best Live Bands of 2013 That You Probably Missed

Beware of Darkness at Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco shot by Jason Miller-13

2013 has been a fabulous year for music, but  much like every year before, chances are that you probably missed out on some of the best artists.The sheer volume of new music and all the internet noise that surrounds the flavor of the month tends to drown out many of the diamonds in the rough. I have photographed more than 100 artists this year and have seen some truly mind-blowing shows, from the big ones such as Van Halen and Alice in Chains at major venues to the smaller ones that some pretty cool publicists turned me onto at tiny clubs.

Instead of pulling together a list of my top albums of 2013, I thought I would take it a step further. I have been lucky enough to see every artist on my top albums list live, so I pulled together some exclusive photos I have taken this year and paired them up with why I think they are the best of 2013 and what they sound like. These are the best of the best for me, and I think many of them will be having a breakout year in 2014.

1. Brick and Mortar

Why: Brick and Mortar take the top spot for both record of the year and live performance of the year. These guys are the real deal, the most original artists of 2013, and I predict they will be the breakout success story of 2014.

What they sound like: Hard to explain because it’s only two dudes. I would say Adele crossed with Hot Hot Heat, crossed with some type of new sound these guys have invented. I can’t say this enough: buy this f’n record now. Brick and Mortar at The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco shot by Jason Miller-25

2. Beware of Darkness

Why: Vocalist/guitarist Kyle Nicolaides is wise beyond his years. This guy is a rock ‘n’ roll star in every sense and makes it look easy, and sooo cool. He’s bringing back the lost art of how to be a proper frontman.

What they sound like: Pure unadulterated punch-you-in-the-face rock ‘n’ roll. Imagine Jimi Hendrix crossed with Oasis and a touch of Refused. Absolutely brilliant. Beware of Darkness at Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco shot by Jason Miller-23

3. Rival Sons

Why: It’s the closest thing to Zeppelin we will ever see again. These guys are bonafide rock starts in another dimension and slowly crossing over to earth.

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. Sammy Hagar and Rival Sons shot by Jason Miller @Jasonmillerca-9

4. The Joy Formidable 

Why: They blew Passion Pit off the stage and had a wall of sound that would make Phil Spector proud.

What they sound like: My Bloody Valentine writing pop songs. The Joy Formidable at The Fox Theater shot by Jason Miller @Jasonmillerca-16

5. Night Moves

Why: Brilliant songwriting and a mesmerizing live show. I might have a slight obsession with these guys.

What they sound like: Hall and Oates crossed with Jeff Buckley on an AM radio in 1977. Night Moves The Mezzanine San Francisco Jason Miller-3872

6. Everest

Why: That band from the Corona commercial is so much better than that Corona commercial will ever give them credit for.

What they sound like: Remember when My Morning Jacket used to blow minds with their live shows and Wilco used to write great songs? Everest sounds like a combination of the two turned up to eleven. Everest at Cafe Du Nord iin San Francisco shot by Jason Miller

7. Local Natives

Why: One of the most unique live shows I have ever seen.

What they sound like: Radiohead without the free-form jazz exploration. Local Natives shot by Jason Miller @Jasonmillerca-23

8. The Rouge

Why: Because they blew me away live and put out an incredibly good EP this year that went completely unnoticed. But take note, there’s something happening in Nashville, and I predict next year it will the year of the Nashville rock bands.

What they sound like: Imagine Jack White crossed with Brendan Benson. Yeah, it’s that good. The Rouge shot by Jason Miller @Jasonmillerca-7

9. AM and Shawn Lee

Why: Clearly one of the most original sounds out there today.

What they sound like: Air crossed with Marvin Gaye and the Scissor Sisters with a touch of Joe Jackson. Absolutely BRILLIANT record and the live show is mind-blowing. AM and Shawn Lee at the Mezzanine in San Francisco shot by Jason Miller

10. Walking Papers 

Why: Two reasons: they are bringing back storytelling, and they have grooves that can shake the earth. (Barrett Martin and Duff McKagen as the rhythm section will do that.)

What they sound like: Tom Waits crossed with Kings of Leon without the weirdness of Waits and the egos of KOL. Walking Papers at Uproar shot by Jason Miller @Jasonmillerca-16

11. The Veils

Why: Finn Andrews is one of the best songwriters of my generation. A modern day John Lennon if you will

What they sound like: Travis crossed with Coldplay with an edge and more intimate lyrics. The Veils at The Independent San Francisco Jason Miller-6089

12. The Mission UK 

Why: Because they are still going.

What they sound like: If you don’t know then you need a history lesson in great British post-punk rock. The Mission UK at the Regency Ballroom shot by Jason Miller @Jasonmillerca-15

13. The Winery Dogs

Why: Richie Kotzen, Billy Sheehan and Mike Portnoy all on one incredibly diverse record.

What they sound like: Richie Kotzen, Billy Sheehan and Mike Portnoy on stage together ; ) The Winery Dogs at Yoshis in San Francisco shot by Jason Miller-8

Thanks for reading, and if you are looking for full galleries from any of the artists mentioned above please check out Here’s to an amazing 2014.

Tags :

Jason Miller
Jason Miller

Jason Miller is a leading digital B2B marketer, who’s held senior roles at LinkedIn, Marketo, and ActiveCampaign. Before entering the B2B space, he spent ten years at Sony, developing and executing marketing campaigns around the biggest names in music. He is a prolific keynote speaker, digital marketing instructor at UC Berkeley, and best-selling author. Also an accomplished rock concert photographer, his work appears in books, magazines, and album covers.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top