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The 25 Best Live Acts of 2011

December 2, 2011  |  9:41am

Every day between now and New Year’s Eve, we’ll be looking back at the best music and pop culture of 2011. Today we look at live music, the bands and solo performers who know how to command a stage. From DJs to hip-hop to bluegrass with plenty of rock ‘n’ roll, here are the 25 Best Live Acts of 2011.

25. Trampled By Turtles
Trampled by Turtles isn’t the first band to bring a punk ethos to bluegrass music, but the musicians’ virtuosity and energy also call to mind the similarities the genre has with speed-metal. Their live set made them a festival staple this year, drawing a devoted fanbase and converting even non-bluegrass fans.—Josh Jackson

video platform video management video solutions video player 24. Paul Simon
With another fantastic entry into his growing catalog of albums this year with So Beautiful or So What, Simon and his bandmates—several of whom were collaborators on 1986’s Graceland—give new life to four-and-a-half decades of endearing songs. If you haven’t seen him live yet, this is an excellent time to change that.—Josh Jackson

23. Reptar
You’d probably expect a band that takes its name from the dinosaur on Rugrats to have a healthy sense of irreverence, and you’d be right. A Reptar live show typically features goofy costumes, a little bit of tambourine tossing, and most importantly, plenty of dancing. We have a feeling even bratty old Angelica Pickles would be okay with these guys.—Bonnie Stiernberg

video platform video management video solutions video player 22. Givers
Too many bands are either fun to see but sloppy musicians, or are a yawn to see but technically gifted. Then there are the Louisianans in Givers who craft a compelling music and execute it to perfection while jumping around on stage. Their dance party spills out into the audience. Still fairly young, the group is sure to blossom into an even more enthralling live band in the years to come.—Adam Vitcavage

video platform video management video solutions video player 21. Childish Gambino
Here’s a rundown of Donald Glover’s year: a spring tour which he also opened for himself with a 45-minute set of comedy, a pre-album release tour, taking part in Rock the Bells and Moogfest (not to mention writing and recording an album and starring in a hit sitcom). He’s spent 2011 working his ass off and making us all reevaluate exactly what a single creative individual can accomplish. Rap artists often grow tired on stage and rely on a hype man. Gambino is his own hype man and goes twice as hard live than on his album.—Adam Vitcavage

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