2016 in review: Top gigs and albums of the year

My Top 10 gigs of 2016


10. Band of Horses – Forum – 24 July

Rounding out my list is one from my 16 in 2016 hopefuls. Always a favourite, Band of Horses played a super fun show with a wicked set list.

9. Matt Corby – Palais – May

I expected this show to be good, but was really surprised at how entrancing the tunes were. It was a strange, but consequently very memorable, show. Corby was simultaneously engaging (that voice) but entirely switched off from the crowd.

8. Jordie Lane – Gaso – 18 March

Every show Jordie does is tops. This one stood out as the first showcasing his awesome Gassellland songs and the ditching of the hat – a new era 😛

7. Lianne La Havas – Howler – 8 December

This show was just Lianne and a guitar and it was perfect. She is such a charismatic performer, loves the crowd and engages like few others can.


6. Brian Wilson – 3 April

This show was great for the sheer brilliance of its set list. Brian left his performance peak behind him a long, long time ago, but with a huge band and fellow Beach Boy Al Jardine at his side, a performance of 38 (!) classics was still damn impressive. Pop music has a lot to thank him for.


5. Coldplay – Etihad – 9 December

It has to land in the list, but putting it any higher is just unfair given what monumental amounts of money went into this show. Coldplay are the stadium band of this generation and there was so much going on in this performance – runways, hidden stages, confetti explosions, fireworks, lasers, a glowing crowd… oh, and a few tunskis – it’s impossible to forget it.

4. Montaigne – Corner – 13 October

I could possibly throw Montaigne into the list twice, she’s that good live (and the twitchy-light-fest of ‘In the Dark’ at Howler was super rad), but I’ll stick with the best I saw her in 2016. Riding high on her debut and Aria noms, this was a set brimming with confidence, stellar dance moves and that amazing voice. Montaigne will be one of those “remember when she still played club shows…” kind of acts.

3. Kate Miller-Heidke and TSO – Odeon Theatre – 18 January

An interstate sojourn for a gig  right back at the start of the year. The entirety of this gig was great, but I could rate it so highly on Kate’s performance of ‘Where?’ from The Rabbits alone. Wow. Always fun and engaging, Kate’s songs lend themselves super well to an orchestra and the TSO did them serious justice.


2. Bon Iver – Sydney Opera House – 29 May

A year ago I put together a list of 16 acts I wanted to see in 2016, which included two or three big calls. One of them – Bon Iver – actually happened and I was damn stoked about it. Not only that, it was my first concert at the Sydney Opera House. The show was experimental, clever and beautiful, a kind unlike anything else I’ve seen.


1. Leon Bridges – Forum – 19 July

Every now and then there’s a show where everything aligns – the atmosphere and act colliding in a performance that just stands out from the rest. Leon Bridges is all kinds of performer: soulful, playful, magnetic, classy. His band is divine and his songs are so, so much fun. And all of that culminated at Melbourne’s finest venue for my favourite gig this year.

My Top 10 albums of 2016


10. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – This Unruly Mess I’ve Made


9. M83 – Junk


8. Aurora – All My Demons Greeting Me As Friends


7. Bon Iver – 22, A Million


6. Ngaiire – Blastoma


5. Margaret Glaspy – Emotions and Math


4. Andrew Bird – Are You Serious?


3. Emma Louise – Supercry


2. Montaigne – Glorious Heights


1. Jordie Lane – Glassellland


Falls Festival @ Mt Duneed Estate (Victoria), 28-31 December 2015

Falls Festival managed to pull off what was previously thought impossible. With fires still threatening the Otways, there was no chance the Erskine Falls sight in Lorne would proceed. But Falls have friends and favours, it appears.

My Duneed Estate, just outside of Geelong, was the replacement sight. It’s used more commonly for A Day on the Green but for this week, it would be overrun by the young and munted. At first I thought the replacement site would be a disaster, but I soon ate my words.

The sight was actually larger than Lorne, with a hill that seemed to climb on forever (not as steep as Lorne, but noticeably longer back). As for most other factors, the organisers had, in some feat of super natural ability, replicated the festival in 2 days! The stage setups, bars, food vendors, shelters – the whole deal – had not been compromised by the last minute shift. It was a bloody stellar effort.

Of course, then there was the relentless heat, ants of wrath, expensive drinks and droves of dickheads…

Musically, the lineup went ahead unchanged – from trippin to rockin, classics new and old, ska, stoner, dance, indie – Falls, as per usual, had it all. And through the music, the aforementioned negatives seemed to be forgiven.

Boogie Nights. Well, that happened.

Day 2 featured early local fare, including The Bennies, whose stoner party rock had revellers dancing in the afternoon sun, before the smooth soul of the ultra-dapper Leon Bridges set a completely new tone. Falls were on the mark booking Bridges at this stage and I can now highly recommend him.

Halsey and Paul Kelly held the late afternoon slots. The former was a surprise, holding a formidable stage presence and evoking the most genuinely huge crowd reaction I’ve heard at Falls following her song ‘Ghost’. Then Paul Kelly’s Merri Soul Sessions brought the class, with Clairy Brown and Vika and Linda Bull killing it on lead vocals throughout the set.

01 falls halsey

It really started to heat up on Day 3, with the site’s lack of shade taking its toll on the afternoon crowds (where did they all go to hide?). Alpine had a tough slot early arvo, but produced an energy that was somewhat hard to believe. Likewise, the energy held on the main stage with Courtney Barnett, who shook off any ideas of subtle, with guitar thrashing and hair flailing.

Gary Clark Jr was the epitome of cool, pulling in more and more listeners as he went on and displaying a legendary talent on the guitar. Afterwards, Ngaiire was keeping things cool up in the tent, with a stripped back soul session that demonstrated her own impressive vocal talents.

Sandwiched between Rufus (who are proof that if you make something shiny enough you’ll excite the majority) and Disclosure, Bloc Party’s indie rock needed to pull out all stops to keep the party vibe. For the most part they succeeded, with favourites like ‘Ratchet’ and ‘Helicopter’ right on target.

03 falls bloc party

New year’s eve started off beautifully with a swag of local acts. Little May kept things cool in the top tent, demonstrating a distinctly Australian folk rock, before Meg Mac and Holy Holy impressed on the main stage, with the heat meaning the latter struggled to pull a sizeable crowd despite deserving one.

The rock theme continued throughout the afternoon, first with Londoners The Maccabees releasing a solid performance despite the heat they of all people would be struggling through. Harts overlapped in the top tent, absolutely nailing it. That guy is going to be a superstar. Finally, Birds of Tokyo brought the anthems to the main stage and arms to the air, probably as much in reaction to the drop in temperature as to their tunes.

04 falls sunset hands

Elliphant accompanied the sunset of Falls’ last day, delivering a strange Sweden meets Jamaica kind of rap. Her banter may have been at times comical, but she knew how to rev people up and had a great time.

05 falls elliphant

Finally, midnight was counted down by Foals, who delivered a varied set with quieter lulls and elated highs. Yannis Philippakis owned the set as he literally stood on top of the crowd, while the band produced a stellar guitar jam to lead into 2016.

02 falls sunset backstage