These are the top 6 concerts of 2013

Cult MTL‘s music writers pick their favourite shows of the year.

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Arcade Fire at Salsathèque, Sept. 9
Even without the hype and the nostalgia of the nine-hour line-up, the second of these surprise/secret shows (and the first to be leaked to the public) was a great experience — read the full review here. If I’d walked in off the street and seen a new band play that exact show in that spectacular weirdo space for $9, my mind would’ve been blown. What actually made it less amazing was the fact that it was Arcade Fire (or the Reflektors, whatever), and standards for their shows are so high. Still, the quality of the new songs, the glitz and the pandemonium pushed this to the top of the show pile. (Lorraine Carpenter)
Flag at Rockfest, June 15
While Rockfest was easily the dumbest event I have likely ever witnessed, it did hold a jewel in its shit-encrusted hands — Flag! Featuring original Black Flag singer Keith Morris (Circle Jerks, Off!) crucial B.F. drummer Bill Stevenson, third B.F. vocalist Dez Cadena, original B.F. bassist Chuck Dukowski and Descendent Stephen Egerton, Flag easily snatched the legacy of Black Flag back from the ham-fisted mitts of B.F. head honcho Greg Ginn, whose reconstituted version is currently tarnishing the brand. All of the hits that helped forge the genre we now know as hardcore were on the list and proved to be as good as punk rock can get. Truly inspiring, and proof that punk rock can indeed age gracefully and come out kicking with all of its vitriol brimming. (Johnson Cummins)
The Sadies at Montreal Folk Festival, Lachine Canal, June 15
As time and fads pass, the value of Toronto’s ageless electric country ambassadors only gets more obvious and their live prowesses more praiseworthy. No loops, effects, confetti or get-down-in-the-audience-with-acoustic- guitar gimmicky bullshit so many have come to rely on — just the almighty Gretsch/Telecaster/upright bass/drums combination, top-notch showmanship and a true mastery of dynamics. This was the brothers Good and cohort’s third visit to Montreal in a year, but with a summer outdoor setting, a free entrance and some new songs in tow, this festival appearance had all the makings of a memorable evening. (Olivier Lalande)
Pantha du Prince & the Bell Laboratory at Maison symphonique, June 2
This might out me as a philistine, but my first concert at the wood-paneled Maison symphonique was not the MSO, who have called the acoustically favourable Noah’s Ark home since 2011. Instead, I shook hands with the future of live music spaces by taking in a performance by German electronic producer Pantha du Prince and his lab-coated carillon- and chime-playing sidekicks Bell Laboratory at this year’s MUTEK. I’m not sure it’s what the modern symphonic house was originally intended for, but after a subdued, unhurried build-up, in one perfect, time-stopping moment, the beat married the bells, and the place erupted, with everyone pouring out into the aisles to dance. (Erik Leijon)
The Uncluded at Il Motore, June 2
No word of a lie, within three hours of midnight on January 1st, Kid Koala, Nosaj Thing and Lorn could have won this title at last year’s Omisoka NYE party. Kendrick killed it at Osheaga. Quebec’s very own Kaytranada, Tommy Kruise, KenLo, Shash’U and High Klassified turned Boiler Room Montreal 002 into a veritable furnace of beat energy early this fall. But it was the completely off-kilter combo of indie hip hopper Aesop Rock and anti-folk heroine Kimya Dawson, together as the Uncluded, with their unlikely combo of acerbic bars and acoustic guitars, on a Sunday night in early June at a sparsely populated Il Motore, who kicked my heart in the balls hardest this year on the live tip. You weren’t there, and it’s really too bad. (Read my interview with the duo here.) (Darcy MacDonald)
Sparks at le National, Nov. 1
At an age when most have long since thrown in the towel, the Mael brothers are still proving themselves skilled purveyors of weirdo pop — read my interview with them here. Their recent Montreal appearance was miles away from the sort of sad, cash-grab reunions that so many tired nostalgic acts keep trotting out, year after year. Over the course of their 23-song, career-spanning set, Sparks proved their vitality to the modest yet enthusiastic crowd. When the normally stoic Ron Mael broke character during the encore, and leapt up from behind his keyboard to dance the Charleston, you could feel the incredible warmth radiating from the crowd for two of pop music’s most enduring and endearing outsiders. (Mike Sallot)

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