Open Mic: What’s The Best Electronic Music Concert You’ve Ever Seen?

Movement 2011

Open Mic: We recently posted the question “What Electronic Music Track Changed Your Life?“, and were amazed by the variety of responses we received – and by how many readers felt that their lives have been changed by a single piece of music.

Hearing music that you love performed live, though, can be even more powerful.

Part of it may be because of the volume of a live sound system. Another part is the thrill of seeing great musicians perform live. And a huge part of it is the excitement of experiencing  a show with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people.

So – what’s the best electronic music concert that you’ve ever seen? Was it one of your favorite artists or were there other things about the show that made it great?

Image: dailybeatz

74 thoughts on “Open Mic: What’s The Best Electronic Music Concert You’ve Ever Seen?

  1. This may seem a little out of left field, but I saw The Pat Metheny Group perform their album-side-length As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls live, years ago, and it blew my mind!

    Lyle Mays was amazing on keyboards, and Metheny played some incredible guitar synth.

  2. Chemical Brothers, 2011. It was 15 years in the making(been a fan since I was 11). It was the first time I had ever seen them live. Blew my mind. Nothing will ever compare to their beautiful and wonderfully crafted soundscapes and visual stimulation.

  3. VNV Nation for the Mater + Form tour in San Diego. Perfect sound. Super Loud with no distortion. While I love the music…. the amazing thing was I had no ringing in my years when leaving. I can’t say that has ever happend before or since.

  4. Nine Inch Nails Lights in the Sky over North America 2008 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Best concert I’ve ever seen, more rock leaning but the electronics gave birth to some amazing visuals.

  5. I was amazed at a Lollapalooza festival some years ago when Orbital closed the evening with an unbelievable set.
    I have never been much of a dancer, but I boogied all through the show.
    However, the most interesting electronic concert I ever saw a quadraphonic sound concert by Stephen Blair at a local college way back in the early 1970’s.
    Blair had a monster Moog modular set up with sequencers and a Teac multitrack reel to reel tape machine.
    The concert was sort of like a Walter Carlos meets Tangerine Dream show.
    I wish I had a recording of that show.

  6. Hmmm, I’ve never seen a truly great electronic music concert. However, I was definitely inspired by hearing the Synclavier played by Jon Appleton. I don’t think I’ve seen a concert with more Prophets on stage than Philip Glass’s group had. And I’ve never seen an audience hypnotized into literal slumber the way Kitaro managed to do, although I’ve heard various Windham Hill artists give it their best shot…

    But really the first and most mind-altering “concert” of electronic music I ever saw was Disneyland’s Main Street Electrical Parade.

  7. For least-convincing electronic music “performances”, I would nominate Mannheim Steamroller’s backing-track based shows of the past couple of years as well DJ Vince “I have everything pre-recorded in Logic” Clarke’s live mixes on the recent erasure tour.

  8. Psychic TV during the acid house Jack the Tab era, playing at a club in Seattle. It was musical bliss, i was in a trance without taking any drugs.

  9. Another vote for the Chemical Brothers from me, also it’s a while ago now but seeing Faithless at a festival was fantastic – they really put some work into making the tracks interesting and different live. The biggest change to my life from seeing a band was when I saw one of the biggest influences in my music writing, Tangerine Dream, live in London probably around 10 years ago. The change was not positive as the concert was a huge disappointment to me, the change was the realisation that even though you were once great you need to keep working hard to change and keep the music you write fresh. It’s too easy to get stale and lazy.

  10. The “Community Service Tour” in Dallas, must’ve been around 1999? It was a triple bill: The Crystal Method (BEFORE they did sets), Orbital, and The Chemical Brothers. The Chemical Brothers had released Surrender and The Crystal Method hadn’t yet released their 2nd album. What a great show.

  11. the orb’s happy happy joy joy tour and autechre. the orb had a massive mixer and hardware piled all over the place. it was and is the show that keeps me dragging so much hardware around. autechre were just dead simple. tea candles around the stage and a few bare bulbs and just mind bending, intricate music.
    the irresistible force “lay down and be counted” tour. it actually was just like that. one big happy mess of kids laying down and chilling the f*#k out

  12. @wizards of zen – Chromeo with Darryl Hall!!!? I think that’s the best concert I ever saw and I wasn’t even there.

    Also, I got slightly confused and previously answered what I thought was “what electronic music concert changed your life”. Always read the question carefully before answering…..

  13. Squarepusher at trees in Dallas,Texas. For the ultravisitor tour…steinbolt live change my life! Mind-blowing and simply perfect!…my runner up…autechure at the gipsy tea room in dallas swell for the untilted tour…another eye opener! It encouraged me to move my music from my bedroom to the club…Seeing my heroes live reminded me of my early hardcore punk days in the eighties and then discovering jungle and early hardcore techno when I moved back to England in my teens…those moments changed my DNA forever…

  14. Electric Zoo Festival 2010 in New York, Depeche Mode Tour of the Universe 2009 in Hamburg, Nine Inch Nails Performance 2007 in Berlin. Can’t name just a single concert, though 😉
    Oliver Huntemann with his first Reactable Concert in Hamburg this year was great, too!

  15. I the late 90’s I got a chance to see LTJ Bukem and his crew play at the boulder theater in Boulder, Colorado a handful of times.

    But I’d say the most memorable was the 2001 DMC Battle held in the same place, MC’ed by De La Soul. The contact high alone that night must have killed at least 5% of all available brain cells for everyone who attended.

  16. Meat Beat Manifesto around 1998 – two modular rigs and a live drummer. No lasers, no projections, no laptops, just three guys tearing the roof off the place.

    1. Interesting. When I saw Tangerine Dream, the show was sort of boring, because it looked like it was all sequenced. I don’t mind sequencers when people “play” them live, just when the machines do all the playing.

      This was in the late 80’s or early 90’s. They had walls of gear, which was impressive, but the group just sort of sat and riddled knobs while the music played.

      Was it a bad tour or is that what their shows are always like?

  17. Kraftwerk in the mid-late 1990s at the Hammerstein Ballroom, when they still played with some hardware (and it sounded like it). It was the first time I had seen them after being a fan forever, and the visuals they projected made me feel like I had been missing half the story all along…they were so clearly an integral part of the same work of art. As pretentious as it sounds, I had to use the word gesamtkunstwerk, because it was just accurate.

  18. The best concert I’ve ever HEARD is daft punk alive 2007, due to being 16 and living in Tennessee I don’t have the opportunity to go to many concerts I enjoy, due to SO MUCH COUNTRY MUSIC around here, which I hate.

  19. Soulwax Night Versions live on the UMF Festival here in São Paulo / Brazil. They trigger in such a modern and incredible way their analog synths with a drummer and a bass player….it was really loud (i was in front of the stage) but every sound of their instruments were very clear.

  20. Musically speaking, Community service Tour in san Diego, CA 2000. Orbital was at the peak of their game. They were perfect and powerful, they made you dance and cry and rejoice. Best I have seen before or since. The crystal method was completely forgettable though. Bjork’s homogenic tour would be another highlight. Plastikman is always amazing. Haven’t seen KW live.

  21. 1980 Gary Numan with the Touring Principle Tour, with the amazing stage set/lighting. Also the 1981 Kraftwerk & the Computerworld Tour with the alluminum purpose built stage rig, modeled on their studio in Dusseldorf. Both acts had solid stage personas, image wise & a stage show/concept so futuristic, they both seemed like the leaders/pioneers of Electronica. I’ve seen so many synth acts since, but they don’t compare to these two acts!

  22. The Chemical Brothers! 2011 in Denver CO. I met them before the concert, got signatures, and sat 20ft. away from them the whole concert. Greatest musical experience of my life!

  23. VNV Nation live show in Arvika festival (2005), various Deine Lakaen live shows (Accoustic, Electronic and Symphonic in Berlin), Front 242 live in Sinners Day 2009 were among most impressive I have experienced. And, of course, Covenent live shows are absolutely amazing – they are delivering maximum with minimal setup – their performances are really well thought. Also I remember Kraftwerk live show as absolutely perfect – lights, sound and show performance.

  24. What do people here consider “live”? I know that most electro bands don’t play live, they wouldn’t even be able to. Except for one, and that one is Orbital! They friggin rocked Low Lands 2000 something and they were doing it really live, playing keyboards, making some mistakes and then rock even harder. The rest of these live bands are all rigid sequencer and DAT slaves….

  25. Coil : NYC 2001

    Honorable mention:
    Skinny Puppy (B tour for TGWOTR…set list was better)

    I wish I could add Download to that list. I missed TEOSP tour in 1996, because I was ironically on vacation in Canada with the fam fam.

  26. Tucson 2006 Steve Roach around 5 hours of invention and bliss-took about a year to come down off that

    Sun Ra 1974 Stables East Lansing Mi Ra did a mini moog solo ( performed on a prototype model “B” ) that shook the rafters, sounded like it was beamed at us directly from deep space, and had the Arkestra members grinning like kids and high fiving each other

  27. I just got back from ATP festival in Minehead, UK. Saw Caribou Vibrations Ensemble headline there on Sunday – probably the best thing I’ve ever seen on a stage.

    Caribou + James Holden on a badass looking modular synth + Four Tet + Marshall Alan of the Sun Ra Arkestra, all on stage together = 1 1/2 hours of solid bouncing up and down.

  28. Nasa’s See the Light tour in San Fran, 93… Aphex Twin, Orbital, Vapourspave, Young American Primative, Moby, Djs Jonah (spacetime continuum), Dj Tim (Utah Saints, Jeno and Dj Alex… kind of orchestrated insanity… and being that everything felt so new back then, a total game changer for me.

    Someone recorded Aphex Twin’s set from that night… super awesome. I still remember the girl screaming right next to us “He’s not there, He’s not there!” (she was having a great time…) you can kinda hear her at around 12:30…

    I’ve archived it on my site…

  29. all these children and their cute little dub step and rave… try Kraftwerk in 1981, in santa monica, ca. first time in the u.s. the new computer world album… a truly new sound at the time!

  30. 30+ year wait for a concert – Kraftwerk 2014 NYC
    Most jaw dropping experience – Amon Tobin ISAM 2
    Greatest outdoor spectacle – Jarre, Paris La Defence 1990

  31. You’re so cool! I don’t think I’ve truly read anything like this before.
    So wonderful to discover someone with some genuine thoughts on this issue.
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  32. MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO, at the Prince Of Wales (Melbourne, Australia) in 1993. Fucking incredible and an absolute life changer. And just prior to that i was exposed to ‘jungle’ by non other than Kenny Ken. In recent years Bassnectar has impressed me. But MBM was truly ‘live’ (well, mostly…)

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