My 2018 Concert Rundown - by Kevin Montavon

Anyone who knows me, even on a casual basis, can tell you what my favorite pastime is. Here's a starts with "live" and ends with "music." I like, no, I love to go to concerts. Whether the venue is a tiny bar or a massive sports stadium, no matter if the band is an up-and-comer or a certified legend, the motto I live by is "Always go to the show." Or, more practically stated, as I have told many friends, "I don't see every show, but I see every one that I can.”

As an avid concertgoer, I keep track of shows, but only to a degree. I save ticket stubs, but not every concert requires tickets, or in many cases the venue just checks your name off a list. I have heard of people who meticulously keep track of all the shows they see, movies they watch, albums they listen to, etc. But who has time for that? In addition I suspect that the people who do this don't see as many shows as I do.

Enter modern technology. This past year, 2018, was the year I fully embraced the calendar in my phone. I kept track of every show I wanted to see, and if I ended up not going to a particular show, I removed it from the calendar. If I went to a multiple band show and missed any of the acts, I only listed the bands I saw. In the end I was left with an accurate look at a year in the life of a concert addict. Starting with Clutch on New Year's morning (they played Express Live for New Year's Eve 2017, taking the stage at 11:30 p.m. and playing until 1:00 a.m. on January 1st of this year); and ending with Colin Gawel and The Bowlers at the traditional December 23rd Woodlands Tavern gig, this year conveniently held at the easily manageable matinee hour of 4:00 p.m.; it was a typically full year. 

It's always hard for me to choose highlights from a year's worth of shows. For me live music played well is a sublime experience in and of itself. But this year I can easily say that two nights of Pearl Jam in their hometown of Seattle was heads above all other shows, particularly Night Two, which has already attained mythological status among Pearl Jam fanatics. The Missoula, Montana Pearl Jam show a few nights later takes an easy 3rd place spot. Double doses of Clutch (previously mentioned New Year's show and a co-headliner stint at the InkCarceration Festival in Mansfield, Ohio), and Lucero (opening for Frank Turner at Express Live in June...where they performed their entire as-yet-unreleased album as their set; and a headlining show at Skully's later in the year, where they played a request of mine...a song they haven't played in a decade) were fitting, as the albums both bands released in 2018 were my absolute favorite offerings of the year.

The Rumba Cafe remains my favorite venue to see a band, anywhere. And this year at Rumba I was treated to face-melting sets from Dan Baird & Homemade Sin, Drivin' N' Cryin', American Aquarium, Brandy Zdan, and Aaron Lee Tasjan, who was the biggest surprise of the year. I had not seen him previously, and I knew he would be good, but I wasn't prepared for just how mind-blowing of a performer he is. 

There's really far too many highlights to mention. You will also not be shocked to hear that I have zero plans to slow down any time soon. I already have Cher, Nick Mason's Saucerful Of Secrets, Kiss, and Iron Maiden on my calendar for 2019. Can't wait to see what other artists fill in all those other, as yet still blank, boxes. If you see me at a show in the new year, say hello, and let's rock!

Below is a list of all the bands I saw in 2018 (In many cases two or more bands were seen on one bill. This is a list of bands seen in total, and number of times I saw them):

Colin Gawel  (5x)

Pearl Jam  (3x) (click here to jump into Kevin’s excellent Pearl Jam Road Trip blog)

Trash Junkies (3x)

Clutch (2x)

James McMurtry (2x)

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit  (2x)

Lucero  (2x)

Race Of Devils  (2x)

A Perfect Circle

Aaron Lee Tasjan

Adam Kamm & The One Drops

Alice In Chains

American Aquarium



Black Label Society

Black Spirit Crown

Blackberry Smoke

Bourbon Train

Brandy Zdan

Brett Michaels

Carach Angren

Corey Branan

Corrosion Of Conformity

Dan Baird & Homemade Sin

Dee Snider



Don Felder

Drive-By Truckers

Drivin' N' Cryin'


Frank Turner

Fu Manchu

Glenn Hughes


Hall & Oates

Henry Rollins

Hiss Golden Messenger

Jake The Snake Roberts

John Moreland


Lita Ford


Magic Dick

Michael Schenker Fest


Mr. Speed

Orphaned Land

REO Speedwagon



Sheryl Crow



Steve Earle



Suicidal Tendencies

Terry Davidson & The Gears

The Hold Steady

The Magpie Salute

The Shelter People

The Sword





Willie Phoenix

Yes, featuring Anderson, Rabin & Wakeman