1. Portugal. The Man (October 26, Life Is Beautiful) For the second year in a row, these psychedelic rockers made my Top 5. They’ve never sounded better live.
2. Devo (May 25, Punk Rock Bowling) With 40 years of weirdness under their jumpsuits, these new wave throwbacks can still ignite an “Uncontrollable Urge” to dance.
3. Turbonegro (May 26, Punk Rock Bowling) The Norwegian death-glammers put on an absurdly fun show.
4. Baroness (August 28, Backstage Bar & Billiards) After almost a full year of recovery from a horrific tour-bus crash, John Baizley and his bandmates not only recuperated but improved to soldier on as one of the best metal acts going.
5. Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls (October 12, Hard Rock Live) The punk-turned-folk singer and rock ’n’ roll preacher delivered in his first headlining show in Vegas.
1. Deerhunter (August 22, Hard Rock Live) The thin crowd at the band’s first Vegas gig made for an intense performance full of gorgeous jams, choice song picks and an emotional 30-minute encore.
2. Lady Gaga (January 25, MGM Grand Garden Arena) For all its spectacle, the most impressive thing about the Born This Way tour is that it was impossible to take your eyes off Gaga herself.
3. The Flaming Lips (August 1, House of Blues) Vegas’ EDM clubs can keep their fancy light shows; the Lips put on the most visually spectacular set I saw all year.
4. Dean & Britta (October 26, Life Is Beautiful) Part film screening, part concert, this criminally under-attended set was more than the sum of its parts, capturing the spirits of icons like Edie Sedgwick and Lou Reed with haunting, understated elegance.
5. The Bloody Beetroots (June 21, Electric Daisy Carnival) The dance punks incorporated smashed guitars, glowing Venom masks and plenty of fire to school EDC in everything dance music should be: visceral, ferocious and taking no prisoners.
1. New Order (April 11, Boulevard Pool) Main set-closer “Temptation” was my single most joyous concert moment of 2013. All the bands trying to imitate the new wavers are still playing catch-up.
2. Willie Nelson (August 13, Smith Center) Country, rock, gospel, bluegrass—Willie did it all. A mesmerizing guitar player unlike any I’ve ever seen.
3. The Cult (September 6, House of Blues) Punch-in-the-face guitar riffs plus the deadly weapon that is Ian Astbury’s voice—this is how to tour a classic album (in this case 1987’s Electric) the right way.
4. Yeah Yeah Yeahs (April 13, Boulevard Pool) A slew of noise-punk hits and the right kind of crowd made this evening scorch with energy and joy.
5. Vampire Weekend (October 27, Life Is Beautiful) The cerebral indie rockers continue to fine-tune their live show so it’s as well-constructed as their albums.
1. Deerhunter (August 22, Hard Rock Live) Music and art rarely intertwine as effectively as they did when Bradford Cox’s band of indie experimentalists landed on the Strip last summer.
2. The Who (February 8, the Joint) Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey’s Quadrophenia tour stop was less theatrical but more impactful than the previous time I caught it, in 1996.
3. The Men (April 24, Bunkhouse) When I think back on the ramshackle Downtown venue, this is how I’ll remember it, with a shambolic group like The Men nearly blowing out the sound system.
4. Prince (April 26, the Joint) The early show was the better of the two, but let’s be honest: Any time Prince steps onstage, he’s a Top-5 concert waiting to happen.
5. Fuzz (October 24, Beauty Bar) Ty Segall’s stoner-rock trio shot off some pre-LIB ammunition in Fremont East’s favorite back-alley.
1. Justin Timberlake (November 29, MGM Grand Garden Arena) The best concert I’ve seen in years. Timberlake was on-point the whole set, incredibly energetic and absurdly charming.
2. Black Milk (September 22, Beauty Bar) Possibly the best hip-hop show I’ve seen in Las Vegas, in no small part thanks to the Nat Turner Band, Milk’s touring rhythm section.
3. Yeah Yeah Yeahs (April 13, Boulevard Pool) Karen O. Karen O’s clothes. Karen O’s attitude. Karen freaking O.
4. Vampire Weekend (April 12, Boulevard Pool) Vampire Weekend could teach clocks to run smoothly. I’m not a massive VW fan, but watching them performing as a unit is downright inspiring.
5. Alabama Shakes (October 26, Life Is Beautiful) Frontwoman Brittany Howard is immune to the soul-crushing Vegas sun. Extremely powerful, highly energetic, catchy as all hell.
1. Spiritualized (April 12, House of Blues) HOB was an unexpected (and sadly overlooked) “Nochella” participant, but its mid-April program was flawless—as was the transcendent Vegas debut of the veteran British psych-rockers.
2. Foals (April 13, House of Blues) One night later, the surging U.K. quintet blew the minds of curious onlookers mostly drawn by breakthrough single, “Inhaler.” Ninety minutes of endorphin-depleting bliss.
3. Pet Shop Boys (October 11, the Joint) The enduring English duo offered it all—thumping beats, visual escapades, daft costumes and an unrelenting parade of hooks that verified the act’s genius-like pop IQ.
4. Explosions in the Sky (November 15, the Joint) Enough has been said about headliner Nine Inch Nails’ current show—its opener sticks out for the instrumental bravado and emotional sweep of its finely layered guitar tapestries.
5. Preservation Hall Jazz Band & The Del McCoury Band (May 31, Smith Center) Two roots-music powerhouses (one jazz, the other bluegrass) onstage together like the world’s most versatile band.
1. The Rolling Stones (May 11, MGM Grand Garden Arena) The this-will-be-their-last-tour rumor has hung over every Stones’ run since 1993, but they’re still going and, more importantly, capable of giving us a show for the ages.
2. Haim (October 27, Life is Beautiful) When the sly pop trio ditched its studio-perfect sound for a guitar-heavy set, it separated from the rest of the LIB pack.
3. STRFKR (June 13, Beauty Bar) These guys have close Vegas ties, so when they played for nearly two hours on a hot summer night, their electro-pop felt extra special.
4. Spiritualized (April 12, House of Blues) It was a sparse crowd and singer Jason Pierce hardly said a word between songs, but seeing the psychedelic space-rockers in Vegas still felt like a near-religious experience.
5. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (August 1, Boulevard Pool) Hate if you want, but this show was all about the love—and showing that behind the gimmick, there’s a real band that can put on one hell of a show.