click to enlarge Bishop Briggs

Photo by Jen Cray

Bishop Briggs

Orlando's best concert moments of 2017 

OW’s music writers weigh in on the shows that moved them the most this year

In terms of the humdrum everyday, concert attendance often gets edged out in favor of Netflix or just trying to recover from the challenges of a working day, but to us, there's a crucial witchcraft in seeing good live music performed that hits pleasure receptors in a way that few other things do. Our writers recall the shows this year that reminded them of what they loved about music in the first place.

Bishop Briggs the Social, May 16

When Bishop Briggs sold out the Social someone forgot to tell her that it was a small club and not an arena. The electropop songstress, with a soulful gospel-choir voice and hip-hop beats, barely had room onstage for all the band members and LED light drops she had brought with her. Still she dominated and amped up the energy of a crowd already hyped on the opening act double-punch of Shaed and Manatee Commune. This was the kind of show that made both the club kids and the music snobs salivate. – Jen Cray

Karl Berger Improvisers Orchestra Timucua White House, March 19

An amazing and unique live experience with the renowned jazz composer Karl Berger coming to town and bringing together the city's musical best and brightest, in addition to world-class filmmaker Julian Benedikt documenting the whole thing. This was a concert of creative outpouring that reminded us and connected us to a bigger world of art that transcends: a place our beloved Sam Rivers occupied, bringing home the spirits of Don Cherry, Jeff Buckley, the Blue Note Records legacy and well beyond. – Kyle Eagle

Bryan Ferry Hard Rock Live, March 12 Haves&Thirds, Blacksunblackmoon The Falcon, June 24

I'm reconceptualizing my terminal indecision into a loftier "editorial mandate," when I say that it was impossible to choose just one show this year. But honestly, how could I? Behind stage door No. 1, you had the eternally debonair avant-crooner Bryan Ferry vaporizing hearts at Hard Rock Live. Particularly emotional impressions of the night include Ferry's touring band triumphantly nailing every single fucked-up solo in Roxy Music's "Remake/Remodel," a full-hearted "More Than This" causing the floor to drop out from under me, and briefly seeing Billy Manes and Tony Mauss before the show, resplendent in suits and sunglasses (in the dark), naturally gliding towards the VIP area. Behind door No. 2, there was a gathering of Florida underground electronic stalwarts crammed into the Falcon to support a rare and heart-stopping out-of-Tampa performance by the mysterious postpunk project Haves&Thirds. Blacksunblackmoon returned to Orlando and bewitched and bewildered us with fragile, improvised keyboard runs, filmmaker Kate Shults screened stunning new work and Temperament crafted black ops drone with the house lights painfully up. We left the night overwhelmed and inspired that this was all Florida-grown sound. – Matthew Moyer

click to enlarge Naga - PHOTO BY JEN CRAY
  • Photo by Jen Cray
  • Naga

Naga, Lush Agave, Tiger Fawn Will's Pub, June 14

This benefit show for Planned Parenthood proved that experimental music and outsider feminist aesthetics can, in fact, encourage philanthropy. Performing with plaintive appeal under a red light and lace, Lush Agave's Alisha Erao leveled up that night while Tiger Fawn's Dani Lacerda brought the attitude with an arch-as-always set. Alexia Clarke read the most popular poem from her femme-zine Phosphene Girl, and Tampa duo Naga greeted Orlando at their first in-town performance with fog, facial obscuring and a reading from Kahlil Gibran. With their voices joined in support of sexual health services and resistance of legislation aimed at diminishing choice and access, they delivered $500 to the nonprofit's Southwest & Central Florida branch. The Medusa laughs! – Moriah Russo

Black Marble Will's Pub, June 16

Even though Black Marble lacked high or positive energy, the band were still able to touch my heart with the irreplaceable gentleness and melancholy they softly scattered across the room. It's exceedingly rare to watch a band that so effortlessly encapsulates the experiences you often seem to be alone in having, so I feel fortunate to have been able to catch them 10 minutes down the road from my house. – Jesse Feinman

Forced Into Femininity Spacebar, Feb. 13

Jill Lloyd Flanagan's Forced Into Femininity performance at Spacebar was particularly compelling. Flanagan's commitment to the absurd – spontaneously and vigorously balancing on lawn chairs to reach the venue's rooftop – is the perfect thought-provoking resistance during an era where banning words such as "transgender" and "vulnerable" is part of our national budget blueprint. – Nicolette Shurba

Special Interest and UV-TV Stardust Video & Coffee, March 24

2017 marked the 40th anniversary of punk – that's 40 years of raw source material for the modern musician to revise, revive or bastardize. Diverse in sound, but unified by this modern meta-revisionism, this bill had it all: UV-TV's jagged, jangling, mail-order-era indie pop; Special Interest's collision of grit, groove and social awareness; and the ever-mutating but short-lived Shania Pain's precise tact in blending influence and style. All three groups had fresh new releases and they translated it into tight, A-game live performances. Today's bests keep one eye on history. – John Rousseau

click to enlarge Sheer Mag - PHOTO BY JEN CRAY
  • Photo by Jen Cray
  • Sheer Mag

Sheer Mag Will's Pub, May 18

The night Sheer Mag burned Will's Pub to the ground might go down in some hall of fame as the collectively sweatiest Orlando has ever been. Despite the tightly packed room, warm bodies did their damnedest to move, move, move – pushing and shoving and even real-life dancing, the latter a sight often unseen at shows under the "punk" umbrella. Part of that must be because Sheer Mag is a band that just feels like a good time, but I think it can also be chalked up to how lucky we all felt to be there, bearing witness to the group's first-ever Florida show. Cross my heart and hope to die: The next time Sheer Mag cross into the Sunshine State, they'll be headed straight for its biggest arenas. – Madeleine Scott

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