Exclaim! Readers Remember Their Favourite Shows of 2023

Featuring Alvvays, Fucked Up, Metallica, Wu-Tang Clan and more

Photo: Katrina Lat

BY Exclaim! StaffPublished Jan 26, 2024

The Eras Tour was by far the biggest live music event of the year — but, as we discovered in the results to our Readers Poll, music lovers went to way more shows in 2023 than just massive arena concerts.

Exclaim! readers told us about the best shows they saw in 2023, from intimate club shows to summer amphitheatre shows and music festivals.

Here are some readers' accounts of their favourite concerts of 2023.

Absolutely You   
"They're a local band from Barrie, ON, my homies who have been killing it and putting everything into their music. It's full of heart and life and passion."

"Alvvays at Midway in Edmonton on March 10, 2023. It had been a while since I'd seen Alvvays. Their new album is another masterpiece, and their live performance is tight and dreamy."

Air Supply   
"Because my lady appreciated it — then appreciated me!"

Arctic Monkeys / Fontaines D.C.   
"We travelled to Michigan instead of seeing them in Toronto for a change. The setlist was absolutely incredible. I didn't even register "Sculptures of Anything Goes as a good Arctic Monkeys song, but once they opened with it, it's now one of my favs. Also, Fontaines D.C. are so fucking good, oh my god. I really wish I would've given them a listen before seeing them so I could've appreciated the best songs more."

Photo: Stephen McGill

He was opening for Dan Mangan at Market Hall in Peterborough in November. A stripped-down guitar-and-voice performance in an intimate venue really showcased Aysanabee's powerful voice and virtuosic guitar playing.

The Beaches   
"At HOPE Volleyball SummerFest in Ottawa, ON. I've seen the band several times since 2016, and they've only gotten better over the years. A highlight of the show was when they pointed out a little kid in the crowd who had a sign that read, ‘I'm a girl and I play guitar too,' and as cheesy as it sounds, it was inspiring to see the band showing that it's ‘okay' for girls to play guitar. Plus, it was great hearing 5,000-plus people sing 'Blame Brett.'"

"WINK was my escapist pandemic album — like a peek into an alternate universe where everyone was best friends having a great time. So, finally getting to see them at the Horseshoe was cathartic in a way.

The Flatliners / Gob   
"Even after so many years in the scene, they've still got it, and it was amazing to finally get to see them live after missing out many times before. Just incredible stage presence, and the new tunes hit just as hard as the older ones!"

Fucked Up   
"[Their show at Louis' in Saskatoon, SK] was the first time I've ever seen an artist on the day their new album was released. The energy was electric. It was a Friday night, and the band killed it."

Photo: Stephen McGill

The Japanese House   
"I as so close to the artist that I got to interact with her several times."

Jessy Lanza / Bonobo   
"At the Boiler Room in Woodbine Park and a warehouse afterparty. Immaculate vibes, the best company and pitch-perfect weather. God smiled upon us that day."

Mares of Thrace   
"Thérèse [Lanz] from Mares of Thrace gave me a big shoutout during their set at MASSiF Music Festival after I gushed about them being my favourite metal band of all time for the past 13 years, and wanting to see them for just as long."

"I had never seen them before and I know so many of their songs! The musicianship is master-level, the energy was amazing at Budweiser Stage, and the crowd was fun and good vibes."

An awesome two-day show in Montreal. Great vibe, good seats, good parties. Awesome to see metalheads and pride fans coming together with zero problems or violence.

"Milanku and Autre Part at Le QG in Rouyn-Noranda, QC. It was heavy and loud yet intimate. The musicians had to stay on edge because they were getting shocks from the mics for whatever weird reason."

Nas / Wu-Tang Clan   
"I rarely get out of the house for live shows these days, but this was a throwback show that did not disappoint. Sll the hits, all the big-time Wu members, over three hours of entertainment."

Photo: Em Medland-Marchen

The National   
"They put on an amazing show at Budweiser Stage in Toronto, highlighting some fantastic new material. Plus, they had Patti fucking Smith opening, which made the whole evening incredible."

"Phoenix at Budweiser Stage. Everything was perfect — the sound, song selection, the stage and lighting design, and their drummer giving every fucking thing he had their entire set.

"Protomartyr at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto on June 13, 2023. Incredible energy in the venu, and a transformative performance by the band, supported by the great Kelley Deal!"

"This was the first indoor concert I'd attended since the beaches in February 2020. It was a sold-out room and they delivered."

Sigur Rós   
"The communal spirit that this band evokes is like nothing I have ever seen in all my years of going to concerts. While their subtle, beautiful and cinematic music played, there was not a hint of irritating background chatter at Roy Thomson Hall, no drunken laughter, and nary a cellphone nor video camera to be seen. I've never been part of an audience so engaged, and given the delicate vibes on display that evening, this truly was an incredible feat."

"Silverstein in Vancouver, because it's a band I have listened to since I was a teenager and they played amazingly, both old a new songs. Also, the opening bands were badass."

The Smashing Pumpkins   
"They were at the absolute height of their powers at Budweiser Stage. It was such a trip down memory lane, and it made my wife incredibly happy and nostalgic — it was a gift for our wedding anniversary."

"I only heard them for the first time last year, but have been making up for lost time since then. This show at the Danforth Music Hall was so much fun — easily the most uplifting show I've seen since the Flaming Lips at the Phoenix back in 2006."

Sunset Rubdown   
"I was always bummed that I never got the chance to see them live, and was thrilled to finally see them. The show was amazing — it's like the band never left. The crowd was great, everyone was singing along, and it was the perfect way to end my weekend."

Tegan and Sara   
"I brought my six-year old son to Ottawa Bluesfest for his first concert. I was there with my other friends that brought their kids and we had all been to T&S shows before, but never with our kids."

"They have been on my bucket list to see, and the stars finally aligned at the Bell Centre in Montreal. They are the best, and are still a relevant force in metal/prog/rock even nearly 30 years later."

Weyes Blood   
At the Commodore Ballroom! It was such a surreal and religious experience. Weyes blood made me believe in a higher power through her ethereal performance and singing! Best night ever. I cried a bit :)"

Photo: Michaela DW

The Wood Brothers   
"A spectacular show. Rroots music played with so much creativity. But what put this one on top was the venue. It was my first time back at the revamped Concert Hall. The reno is fantastic. I saw so many shows there back in the day. I'm looking forward to returning for many more."

Tour Dates

Latest Coverage