Year-in-Review: Our 10 favorite concerts of 2013

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From the December 26, 2013 edition

Columbus possibly saw “better” concerts than the 10 we’ve chosen to highlight. Like all year-end lists, this is purely subjective; not the best, just our favorites. Still, though, how about that Sept. 15 night of shows? Easily the best/worst night of the year for music lovers. You couldn’t go wrong with any of the options that night, which unfortunately also meant you were missing out on something memorable somewhere else.

Muse at the Schottenstein Center (March 5)

Hate if you must, but Muse sharpened their arena-rock grandeur to its bombastic pinnacle with this tour, with a new album full of anthems built for the live show and a transforming stage that was like a massive, epilepsy-triggering art installation. — Brad Keefe

The Appleseed Cast at Kobo (April 17)

The closest I came this year to a storefront Pentecostal church revival, only for backsliders I suppose. I don’t remember large swaths of the night, as if I was caught up in the spirit through most of it. But I do remember a feeling of desire laced with nostalgia. I remember fervor. I remember guitars, loud and buzzing, echoing in melodic waves against a steady drum beat. I remember hands raised, words shouted: “This county road/ I've fallen away/ … To a place unknown/ I traveled away/… I fall into nothin'.” I remember a feeling of ecstasy and, finally, of wanting the performance to linger on into forever, falling, falling, falling. — Justin McIntosh

New Bomb Turks !!Destroy-Oh-Boy!! Twentieth Anniversary Champagne Jam at Ace of Cups (June 29)

The Turks’ gleeful, belligerent blast through their seminal debut album — on the Saturday of ComFest weekend, no less — had Ace of Cups partying like it was 1993. Eric Davidson rubbed my bald head, I broke my glasses and I didn’t have a better time at a show in 2013. — Brad Keefe

mewithoutYou at Skully’s Music-Diner (July 3)

No one hung from the rafters. Fans didn’t storm the stage for an encore sing-along. The show itself wasn’t prematurely stopped mid-set. All in all, it was the tamest mewithoutYou show I’ve seen, but it was also probably the best. The Philadelphia-based band, now back to a quintet, pulled often from its deep catalog and, like the best bands, fashioned that diverse output into something singularly defining and cohesive. When I look back at 2013 years from now, this is probably the show I’ll remember most. — Justin McIntosh

Danzig with Doyle at the Newport (Aug. 14)/Bad Religion at the Newport (April 4)

These two surprisingly sharp shows by aging rockers held up better than a pair of Doc Martens. Danzig spanned the hits of a eponymous band, but when he was joined by guitarist Doyle for a mini-set of Misfits classics, shit went nuts. Likewise, Bad Religion’s decade-spanning set was drum-tight with no signs of rust. — Brad Keefe

Spiritualized at Wex (Sept. 15)

Sensing a theme with my picks? I tend to prefer my concert experiences be as transcendental as possible. This was probably the highlight of the bunch. As I wrote in my concert review, it was tempting afterward to describe Jason Pierce’s two-hour set with any number of clichés relating to religion and drugs: “Euphoric. Mesmerizing. Awe-inducing. Emotional. A particular headspace.” I give in to temptation easily. The show was, simply, epic — a sharp contrast to my decaying body, which struggled to hold up throughout the evening, to my chagrin. — Justin McIntosh

Queens of the Stone Age at LC Pavilion (Sept. 15)

Rock ’n’ roll survivor and Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme touched on resurrection during the band’s ferocious outdoor set, singing, “I survived, I speak, I breathe.” He might have been speaking literally — he briefly died on the operating table during a 2010 leg surgery gone awry — but it served as an apt metaphor for his band, which sounded newly revitalized on hedonistic burners like “If I Had a Tail” and riff-driven monsters like “The Sky Is Fallin’,” which sounded like the group’s attempt to punch a hole in the heavens. — Andy Downing

Savages at the Basement (Sept. 15)

The underdog from a three-way logjam of great shows — Queens of the Stone Age and Spiritualized made it impossible for anyone to see all of our Top 10 shows — might have been your only chance to see the post-punk all-female buzz band in a venue where you can literally feel their snarl. — Brad Keefe

Saintseneca/Bummers at Ace of Cups (Nov. 7)

The two local bands almost had no business sharing the same bill at Ace of Cups since both approach music from such radically different angles they could barely be considered the same species. Yet somehow it worked, and gloriously. Bummers bashed its way through a too-short set of hypnotically ragged surf-rock that fell somewhere between the garage and the beach. Saintseneca, in contrast, favored hushed tones, delivering an array of gorgeously bleak folk tunes at a volume that wouldn’t rouse a sleeping infant. —Andy Downing

Justin Timberlake at Nationwide Arena (Nov. 16)

Justin Timberlake delivered a performance nearly as well-tailored as the Tom Ford suit he donned for the evening. For almost three hours the pop star moved with near-surgical precision. His dance moves were crisp, his vocals on the mark and his wardrobe, as expected, impeccable. But while he appeared to have everything together, cracks showed beneath the surface on bitter breakup tunes like “Cry Me a River.” Still, Timberlake remained a gentleman throughout, and even his raunchiest dance moves wouldn’t have raised so much as an eyebrow among the chaperones at a fundamentalist Christian prom. — Andy Downing