Best of NYS Music 2015: Staff Picks for Best Shows by Region

A lot of great shows and festivals took place around New York over the course of 2015, from big festivals to small club shows and everything in between. The team at NYS Music loves live music. You can always catch us out and about at live music happenings. Here are what we considered the best concerts of 2015, sorted by region of the state.

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Best Show in Western New York: Aqueous Halloween
When Aqueous announced they were going to pay tribute to “Dark Side of Oz,” the legendary mashup of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and the cinematic classic The Wizard of Oz, their fans were pumped. However, this was a multi-night run, and it wouldn’t be fun without a theme for the first night. Back to the Future was chosen, and the band covered many of the hits off the soundtrack.

Best Show in Central New York: moe. at Saranac Brewery and K-Rockathon 20
Two anniversaries were celebrated in Central New York, and they brought the crowds and rave reviews. New York’s favorite jamband, moe., celebrated their 25 years in Utica at the FX Matt Brewery, home to Saranac beer. The multi-day celebration had a festival vibe with multiple bands performing each day. New York’s biggest rock radio station, K-Rock, celebrated their 20th annual K-Rockathon with headliners Breaking Benjamin and Shinedown.

moe. Saranac Brewery

Best Show in the Capital District: Dead & Company at Times Union Center
2015 was a big year for the music of the Grateful Dead. The much anticipated Fare Thee Well shows in Santa Clara, California and Chicago celebrated the 50th anniversary of the originators of the jam scene. Following the shows, billed as the last shows the remaining four members would play together, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann announced they would go on tour as Dead & Company with John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge and Jeff Chimenti. They kicked off their fall tour at Albany’s Times Union Center.

Best Show in the North Country: The Waterhole’s final show with EMEFE
The Waterhole, a mainstay in Saranac Lake, shut its doors after over 20 years of providing live music to the residents of the North Country. The venue will be missed by many. EMEFE played on the last night, dedicating the song “Good Future” to the Waterhole staff.

Best Show in the Mid-Hudson: Twiddle at the Rock n Roll Resort
The Rock n Roll Resort festival is always a favorite. It takes the best parts of a music festival and brings them to a chic resort hotel. Rising stars from Vermont, Twiddle, took the resort by storm with their headlining set.

Twiddle - Rock N Roll Resort
Twiddle – Rock N Roll Resort

Best Show in the Finger Lakes: Phish’s Magnaball
A lot can be written about Phish’s 10th festival. A lot has already been written about it. Tens of thousands of Phish fans returned to Watkins Glen International, the fabled NASCAR track that was home to 1973’s Summer Jam. Not one fan that attended Magnaball had negative comments. That should say it all.

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Best Show in the Southern Tier: Rob Zombie at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena
Rob Zombie brought in the Halloween season with his nightmarish heavy metal show. Fans arrived dressed in costume for the show that was opened by Zombie’s drummer, DJ Ginger Fish. Chris Besaw had the opportunity to sit down and speak with guitarist John 5 before the show about his inspiration and favorite horror films.John Armstrong Rob Zombie 12

Best Show in New York City
It’s difficult to pick just one or two shows in a city that has several amazing shows on a nightly basis. Here are some of what we thought were the best shows in New York City in 2015.

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Ghost at Terminal 5
L7 at The Warsaw
Faith No More at Webster Hall
Vulfpeck at Brooklyn Bowl
Soulive’s Bowlive VI (and more here and here and here and here and here)

Best Show on Long Island: Biohazard, Sworn Enemy and Zire’s War at Revolution Music Hall
In a night of hardcore music that rocked Revolution Music Hall, Biohazard and Sworn Enemy co-headlined what was practically a homecoming for them. Life of Agony’s guitarist Joey Zampella started a new band, Zire’s War, that kicked things off.