If you asked me how many shows I’ve been to this year, the answer is: I lost count. Despite a few unfortunate tour cancellations, 2018 has been an incredible ride for live music. For instance: both Alien Weaponry and Jinjer made it to North America for the first-time-ever, while Nita Strauss booked her first tour as a solo artist. We also said goodbye to Suffocation’s Frank Mullen as we celebrated two decades of Nightwish. And let’s not forget Behemoth’s most successful North American run and Hyro the Hero’s return in seven years. Nuclear Assault added a few extra “final assaults” as well and of course, SLAYER! With this list, I am confident that I accidentally excluded quite a few shows because it has been a phenomenal year, proving that we have to continue to do what we can to attend a show. 

Here are my Top 5 concerts (or performances) of 2018:

Bonus: Ne Obliviscaris @ Irving Plaza, New York, NY – October 14, 2018

It was the last night of Wintersun’s first North American tour in five years. These Austrailian progressive metal masters were there supporting the entire trek. Now, as much as I enjoyed Wintersun’s set, I cannot forget seeing Wintersun during Ne Obliviscaris’ performance as well as seeing a gorilla. Yes, a gorilla was there too. It was hysterical and a different NEO experience and, somewhat the same. Despite all of the hilarious distractions, NEO delivered a killer performance.

5) Jonathan Davis @ Irving Plaza, New York, NY – May 12, 2018

Surprised? I am too. This hasn’t been the KoRn frontman’s best year. However, he pushed through everything and released his debut solo album Black Labyrinth earlier this year via Sumerian. However, I didn’t listen to his album when I attended this show. The record didn’t arrive until May 25th. Therefore, what made this appear on the list? First off, introducing an entire album to a live crowd is probably one of the best ways to hear it for the first time. Secondly, Davis performed songs from the 2002 film soundtrack, Queen of the Damned. This particular album used to be my creative muse. I would listen to it on repeat as the innovative juices continued to unravel. However, that particular soundtrack excluded Davis’ vocals due to a label contract. Therefore, at this show, hearing the KoRn frontman not only deliver his solo music he went into songs “Forsaken,” “Slept So Long,”and  “System.” Additionally, his performance was dark, intimate, emotional, and somewhat poetic.