1. Arcade Fire (October 22, Mandalay Bay Events Center) Speaking directly to the tragic events of October 1, Arcade Fire gave Vegas just what it needed—a joyful dance party and sing-along, packed with hits. Pure catharsis.
2. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard (April 18, Hard Rock Hotel pool) The Melbourne group distilled prog, psych and Krautrock into straight-up sonic hypnosis—and singer Stu Mackenzie even took a late-set swim.
3. Hans Zimmer (April 21, Park Theater) Zimmer led a live orchestra through roof-shaking medleys of his themes from Inception, The Lion King and The Dark Knight trilogy, delivering a true cinema of the imagination.
4. The Avalanches (April 15, the Chelsea) It’s a miracle the Aussie pop-collage group appeared here at all—and that it played a funky set transforming its sample-heavy music into solid live jams.
5. Ween (February 17, Brooklyn Bowl) I caught only one night of Ween’s fun, freewheeling weekend takeover—but it was the night the band played “Mister Richard Smoker,” so I’m happy.
1. Pixies (October 21, the Chelsea) The best I’ve ever seen the band, including the reunion years with Kim Deal. Closing the show with “Debaser” put a perfect button on a whirlwind performance.
2. Iggy Pop (May 27, Punk Rock Bowling, Downtown Las Vegas Events Center) The punk icon opened with ferocious foursome—“I Wanna Be Your Dog,” “Gimme Danger,” “The Passenger” and “Lust for Life”—and the momentum carried through from there.
3. Guns N’ Roses (November 17, T-Mobile Arena) The mammoth three-and-a-half-hour set featured all the pomp, circumstance and pure rock one could ask for.
4. Arcade Fire (October 22, Mandalay Bay Events Center) The tour might be better served in smaller venues, but the large Canadian band brought amazing energy to the big room nonetheless.
5. Bon Iver (April 13, the Joint) You know when you go to an amusement park and hear a bunch of different sounds that somehow work together? Bon Iver has figured out how to do that onstage.
1. Arcade Fire (October 22, Mandalay Bay Events Center) Three weeks after the horror of October 1, this emotional gathering transcended mere musical performance—not that the songs were anything short of sublime, either.
2. Swans (August 20, Psycho Las Vegas, the Joint) The stoner-rock fest’s second year brought another batch of behemoths—Neurosis, Sleep, Magma and more—but Michael Gira’s experimental sextet topped them all with sonic slabs that literally shook us to our core.
3. Guided by Voices (October 27, Bunkhouse Saloon) GBV’s potent latest live lineup made the indie vets’ first Downtown encounter memorable, with an assist from reunited locals A Crowd of Small Adventures.
4. Fleet Foxes (August 13, the Chelsea) Aurally and visually, this Vegas debut felt perfectly devised and equally orchestrated.
5. Palm (March 12, Neon Reverb, Bunkhouse Saloon) The New York quartet’s off-kilter numbers Pied Piper’d a crowd to the outdoor stage, where we marveled over a new discovery.
1. Jason Isbell (March 16, House of Blues) In his successful local debut, the heralded singer-songwriter delivered a masterful, captivating and utterly human performance that felt tailor-made for its audience.
2. Roger Waters (June 16, T-Mobile Arena) The former Pink Floyd bassist/songwriter raised his own impossibly high arena-rock bar—and #resisted harder than anyone else—with an eye-popping, multi-sensory tour de force.
3. Arcade Fire (October 22, Mandalay Bay Events Center) After three weeks of frayed nerves and grief, Las Vegas music fans enjoyed a night of catharsis and celebration courtesy of the Canadian band’s rousing and galvanizing show.
4. Deerhunter (January 29, Bunkhouse Saloon) Bradford Cox & Co. used this break from support-act duty to gloriously stretch out—with an adventurous encore as long as the main set that preceded it.
5. Television (May 26, The Bunkhouse Saloon) Disappointingly short for such a long-awaited Vegas debut, the art-punk legends nonetheless thrilled a Bunkhouse yard crowd with exploratory pluck.
1. Vegas Strong Benefit Concert (December 1, T-Mobile Arena) Passionate performances by Imagine Dragons and The Killers formed the core of a you-had-to-be-there Vegas night.
2. The Revolution (June 21, Brooklyn Bowl) The original band plus forever-underrated Mint Condition frontman Stokley Williams offered an emotional celebration of Prince’s musical legacy for an appreciative, diverse audience.
3. Earth, Wind & Fire (July 14, the Pearl) Hard to decide what sounds better after all these years: the legendary funk and soul outfit or the Palms’ fantastic concert hall.
4. Janet Jackson (October 14, Mandalay Bay Events Center) The first big entertainment event at Mandalay Bay after the shooting was a love-fest, thanks to Janet’s energy, charisma and endless catalog.
5. The Who (August 1, the Colosseum) The rock gods’ first Caesars run proved they have plenty left in the tank—and that the Colosseum can accommodate a legacy act of any genre.
1. Iggy Pop (May 27, Punk Rock Bowling, Downtown Las Vegas Events Center) The 70-year old tore through his 16-song set (sans T-shirt, of course) with the energy of a man half his age, presenting Stooges cuts “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” “Gimme Danger,” “No Fun,” “T.V. Eye” and plenty more.
2. Guided by Voices (October 27, Bunkhouse Saloon) Witnessing Robert Pollard & Co. inside the intimate Bunkhouse is the stuff music-geek dreams are made of, and Bob did not disappoint.
3. Bryan Ferry (August 17, the Chelsea) The former Roxy Music singer charmed everyone into a trance with live versions of “Avalon,” “More Than This,” “Love Is the Drug” and a beautiful cover of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy.”
4. Shonen Knife (May 25, Beauty Bar) If there’s one thing I love as much as music it’s food—and Shonen Knife combined the two into a set full of furiously fast pop-punk songs about ramen, sushi, banana chips and more.
5. Le Butcherettes (March 11, Neon Reverb, Bunkhouse Saloon) Teri Gender Bender transcended time and place with her wild, chaotic stage presence and harrowing voice, making for one of the most intense shows of 2017.