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 band’s 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.
20. The Avett Brothers
The Avett Brothers’ performances have the power to transform even the grandest of spaces to feel as cozy as a front porch stair. No matter if they’re playing a slow banjo-picked ballad or a foot-stomping, scream-and-holler ditty, the band always feels like they’re singing along, shoulder-to-shoulder with you. Love is propelled from an Avett stage like no other.—Sean Doyle
19. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
If you’re a fan of indie dance band Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. then you actually have something in common with NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. After clarifying with the racer that no offense was meant by the band name, Danny Zott and Josh Epstein received Earnhardt’s full blessing. And who can blame him? Zott and Epstein are great showmen and impressive musicians. Their harmonies and use of synths paired with danceable beats make this band hard to compete with when comparing live shows.Clint Alwahab
18. Kopecky Family Band
Even though the Kopecky Family Band isn’t a true family, the vocal harmonies make that hard to believe. Kopecky has the ability to make a room stop in awe at their performances, as seen here at our 2011 SXSW party. Everyone in the band seems to play everything, trading keys for guitars, guitars for percussion or percussion for strings. Attending a Kopecky show feels like a warm welcome at a family reunion, if your family was a multitalented, show-stopping rock band.—Sean Doyle
17. Big Boi
No one throws a party quite like Big Boi. Still going strong off of the success of Sir Lucious Left Foot… The Son of Chico Dusty, his bass-heavy live show blends excellent new tracks with instantly recognizable OutKast classics. And Big Boi isn’t just rapping over a backing track—there’s a solid band re-imagining his already energetic cuts into live magic.—Tyler Kane
16. Fitz and the Tantrums
Whether they’re playing in a big theater or overflowing the stage in the Paste office (see below), Michael Fitzpatrick, Noelle Scaggs and the rest of the sextet own the room, blending funky horns with tasty pop hooks. This is a band made for the live experience.—Josh Jackson