My Favorite Sets of 2018 – Alexa Chihos


This last year was one of the best concert years for me in quite awhile: I got to see and photograph a lot of my favorite bands, and it was an incredible year of both discovering and rediscovering artists.  I got to finally check out a couple of new venues (I didn’t go to a lot of venues before I moved back from Boston) across the Twin Cities, including The Varsity Theater and The Armory, all of which hosted some of my favorite sets of 2018. 

5. LIGHTS – Music Hall Minneapolis

My first ever live experience of LIGHTS was on Parahoy 2016 and back then I was blown away by all three of her sets.  Now in 2018, after adding a new album to her discography (“Skin & Earth”), LIGHTS embarked on a North American headlining tour that made a stop in the Twin Cities on St. Patrick’s Day at Music Hall Minneapolis. I don’t know whether it was the approaching change of seasons or the fact that LIGHTS just puts on an incredible, animated, and heartwarming show, but I remember leaving this one revitalized and inspired. 

4. Paramore – Parahoy 2018 

After seeing one band almost 20 times in your life, you would think there would be a point where seeing a band would just fall a little flat.  Seeing Paramore on Parahoy this past year was far from that, as there is something very special about being surrounded by fans from across the globe with the same level of enthusiasm for Paramore as you, watching the band at their best on a boat in the middle of the ocean, which for me, surpassed their performance at The Armory over the summer. 

3. The Devil Wears Prada – The Varsity Theater 

When I first heard that there was a rumor of The Devil Wears Prada doing a ten year anniversary tour for their 2009 album “With Roots Above & Branches Below” I’ll admit I got extremely excited at the prospect of seeing one of my favorite albums be played front to back.  Not only did I get to experience the entire album, but I was lucky to be able to photograph the show as well.  Prior to this, it was over 7 years since I’ve seen the band, but they proved to be even better than before.  

2. Enter Shikari – Amsterdam Bar & Hall 

British band Enter Shikari also released a new album (“The Spark” back in 2007), and shortly thereafter, announced that they would be back in the Twin Cities in early 2018 at Amsterdam Bar & Hall.  The last time I saw the band was in Boston when they played The Paradise Rock Club, and I was ready to see them in a smaller venue again.  Everything from their lighting, to the sound of their new tracks, to the seamless flow of their set made the night better than I could have asked for, and one of the most memorable nights of the year. 

1. CHVRCHES – Palace Theatre 

When CHVRCHES announced their new single “Get Out” way back at the beginning of the year, I knew a new album and a new tour were not far behind.  The band booked two nights at the Palace Theatre and yes I was that person that went to both performances, even though I knew they would be  nearly identical.  This was the third time I’ve done back to back CHVRCHES shows (the first at the House of Blues in Boston, and the second in Providence/Portland back in 2016), and I have yet to have any regret about it.  There’s something special about being immersed in a CHVRCHES set; the heavy bass and synths, the incredible lighting to match each track, and the seemingly effortless performance from each member make their club/theater shows an absolute must see.