Xpress readers weigh in on the best performances of 2014

Bootsy Collins, aka "The Man Who Put Bass In Yer Face," played LEAF in May. Photo by David Simchock

“There’s nothing to do” is a complaint rarely heard around Western North Carolina. There are rivers to raft, trails to hike, breweries to visit, galleries to browse, shops to consider, historical sites to take in, restaurants to sample and neighborhoods to stroll. And then — as if all of that isn’t enough fun — there’s the entertainment. Music and art venues excel at putting eclectic performances onstage. Bands, comedians, poets, dancers, aerialists, actors and multi-media artists all share the spotlight. The shear number of concerts, plays, readings, installations, openings and exhibitions is enough to warrant a refresher course in how to work a Google calendar.

It also results in some fine memories at the end of the year. And probably plenty of resolutions to take in even more great productions in the coming months. Here, Xpress readers weigh in (via email, Facebook, Twitter and Reddit) on their favorite shows of 2014.

“Mine was one of my favorites of my lifetime! Bootsy Collins with The Funk Unity Band at LEAF Festival in May. Soul-shaking funkaliscioulsy funktastic!” — Jennifer Pickering

A scene from Asheville Lyric Opera's production of South Pacific. Photo courtesy of ALO
A scene from Asheville Lyric Opera’s production of South Pacific. Photo courtesy of ALO

“The Asheville Lyric Opera would like to submit South Pacific as its favorite show this season. One of the best things about it was the audience enthusiasm. We had some amazing national and regional talent join us to put on this production. We’ve received feedback from the audience that the sailor boys and Bloody Mary were some of their favorite characters. This production took place in July at the Diana Wortham Theatre.” — Erin O’Neil

“Bruce Hornsby at Pisgah Brewing Co.’s outdoor stage: This show made me feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside. Here you have one of the most talented pianists and bandleaders of the last two decades, leading a bunch of other masterful musicians, and all I felt was … awesome. Bruce nimbly tickled the keys and even stroked a mountain dulcimer for a few tunes. And he was kind and gracious to the audience and very much enjoyed Pisgah’s environs.” — Joshua Stack

“Favorite Show : Jason Isbell [at The] Orange Peel!” — Ben Carver

“My favorite show of 2014 that I can remember vividly in my head right now as thoroughly enjoying, and not even worrying about the fact that no one was there because the music was just so damn good, would have to be Sinkane at Asheville Music Hall. Absolutely fantastic band.” — Sam Katz

Beck played all of his hits at Thomas Wolfe Auditorium in July. Photo by David Simchock
Beck played all of his hits at Thomas Wolfe Auditorium in July. Photo by David Simchock

“Beck at The Thomas Wolfe [Auditorium] was the best concert I saw in 2014. As the show progressed, I thought he’d played everything I’d hoped to hear. He kept breaking out old favorites I’d forgotten. It was a great performance all around. The whole band rocked.” — Jeff Tallman

“Sharon Van Etten at The Grey Eagle in October! Terrific show — made my AVL holiday extra-sweet.” — @lisawit17

“Beck at Thomas Wolfe!” — @carpeJamie

“Old Crow Medicine Show at Pisgah [Brewing] absolutely blew my mind. I’ve seen a lot of bands from about every genre there is out there, and this show was simply amazing. The best concert I had ever seen. They are true performers.” — moosesquirrel

“St. Paul and the Broken Bones was pretty damn good. Between the Buried and Me was also pretty damn good. Can I have two favorites?” — bloodxandxrank

“Favorite show in Asheville this year was Tegan and Sara with Lucius and The Courtneys at The Orange Peel. T&S are amazin,g and the two opening bands were also incredible, plus they signed my LPs that I bought at their merch area.” — Amokokins

Nile Rodgers, right, headlined Moogfest this year. Photo courtesy of Magnum PR and Moogfest
Nile Rodgers, right, headlined Moogfest this year. Photo courtesy of Magnum PR and Moogfest

“That Lucius show at The Mothlight was GOLDEN! I can still hear the floor toms.” — katmcr

“Cut Copy killed it when they came to The Orange Peel.” — CarlSagansturtleneck

“Best: Beck, Steely Dan. Worst: M.I.A. Shows I most regret missing: Future Islands, Method Man and Redman.” — ashevillain7

“There was practically no one there, but Lacuna Coil at The Peel rocked my socks. One of the best live shows I’ve ever been to.” — crazylikeavixen

“Tipper at New Mountain was insane. Also, Bootsy [Collins] at spring LEAF was phenomenal!” — anchoraroundmyfeet

“Clutch at The [Orange Peel].” — theinspiration7

“2014 Highlights: Mac DeMarco at [The Grey Eagle], Natural Child at The Mothlight.” — heygorges

“Yonder Mountain at Pisgah [Brewing] was an amazing performance.” — jetermtnpkr

“Cave Singers [and] Devil Makes Three at The Orange Peel.” — princess_snark

“Clutch and the f**king sword at The Peel. Wye Oak debuting the new album at The Peel. Rev Peyton tearing down the house at The Grey Eagle. Flogging Molly at The Peel. And Gwar killing everybody at The Peel.” — gwarrior5

“Crazy Tom Banana Pants and The River Rats. These two local bands know how to put on a show! I love ’em both.” — WessyNessy

“Beats antique!” — Chesstariam

“Avett Brothers (even though going to the arena/U.S. Cellular Center for a sold-out show is a pretty lousy experience).” — jblz


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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall has lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. She is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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2 thoughts on “Xpress readers weigh in on the best performances of 2014

  1. karen cragnolin

    I may be a little bias but River music is my best it’s multi modal, solar powered, family friendly, on the river under the stars free family fun. Happy new year and in 2015 it gets even better the second Friday of the month may though October

    • Kat McReynolds

      Yes! I actually think my favorite moment was when River Whyless hopped offstage and into a monsoon-soaked mud pit to sing their final song among the audience members. My heart melted.

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