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The 25 Best Live Acts of 2014

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20. King Tuff
If you’ve caught Kyle Thomas live before, you already know, but in case you don’t: if you’re at all a fan of rock ‘n’ roll, fun and/or things that are good, get yourself to a King Tuff show.

19. Black Lips
The Black Lips  are self-aware. They actually might be one of the most down-to-earth, self-aware bands in America. They’re certainly one of the most consistent—they’ve been recording albums and touring regularly for over a decade with the same four members. That doesn’t happen by accident. Despite the reckless image, the partying, the wild stage antics and so on, they know exactly what they’re doing and how best to do it.—Ryan Bort

18. Courtney Barnett
That same slacker-anthem cool that permeated Courtney Barnett’s “Avant Gardener”?already decreed one of the best songs of the year pretty much everywhere?materialized in her live appearances. At this year’s Pickathon festival in Portland, Ore., Barnett somehow bridged her heavy-lidded linguist/bard vibe with an effortless affinity for grand guitar posturing and easy-does-it punk-lite mojo in a Kurt Cobain t-shirt. If all her sets were like this (and there’s little reason to presume they wouldn’t be) then she’s got to be one of the most charming, whip-smart performers currently touring the world.—Ryan J. Prado

17. Alice Cooper
Vincent Furnier—a.k.a. Alice Cooper—has plenty of stage filigree to cover up for a bum performance: the guillotine act, the huge puppets, the slinky pythons he wraps around his shoulders. Luckily, the 66-year-old glam metal icon has a terrifyingly great band backing him up, including brilliant new guitarist Nita Strauss, that tears into each classic song in the setlist with razor sharp fangs. With their help, Cooper was even more free to become the consummate showman that he is, working even the biggest auditorium-sized crowd as part of his 2014 tour opening for Motley Crue into a frothy frenzy.—Robert Ham

16. La Dispute
Grand Rapids, Michigan’s La Dispute made one of my favorite albums of 2014 with Rooms of the House. This stark conceptual piece gets its power from a no-frills guitar/bass/drums lineup, which has been shining across packed venues in the U.S. And while it’s easy to get caught up in the album’s powerful imagery, La Dispute’s live show brings forth the whole package—a unit of thoughtful musicians carrying on the cathartic spirit of Fugazi and At the Drive-In. You’ll scream. You’ll cry. You’ll be happy you went.—Tyler Kane

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