This year saw big tours from the likes of Cage the Elephant, Adele, The Lumineers, Radiohead, 21 Pilots and Weezer. We weren’t fortunate enough to make all those shows, but we did catch Cage the Elephant in Troutdale and Kaleo in Eugene.  We also heard singer-songwriter and recent Nobel prize winner Bob Dylan, and blues-rock icon Bonnie Raitt, at separate, equally stellar, performances this year.

Regardless of how many acts one gets to, we think you’ll agree as the year comes to a close it’s always enjoyable to reflect back on your favorite shows.

Sometimes it’s so hard to pick…but in that spirit, here’s a few of Oregon’s peak live music moments from 2016!

Half Moon Run at the Doug Fir Lounge


One of the year’s most musically magical shows came early on, when Canada’s Half Moon Run kept fans spellbound with their lush indie rock at their January Portland show.

Performing before a packed house at the Doug Fir Lounge, the band warmed up the crowd with hit single “Turn Your Love.” Throughout the night they paced their impeccable setlist just right – each track energizing the audience and building momentum.

Their 90-minute show peaked with stellar tracks “She Wants to Know” and the driving “Consider Yourself.” It’s no wonder encore mayhem ensued.

We can’t wait to see them again next year!

Cage the Elephant at McMenamins Edgefield


An equally masterful performance was Cage the Elephant’s electrifying night of music at Portland’s McMenamins Edgefield.

Touring in support of the 2015 grammy-nominated “Tell Me I’m Pretty,” from the moment they took the stage at the outdoor venue in was apparent band members were in tip-top form.

From start to finish, charismatic lead singer Matt Shultz and their dynamic, fast-paced setlist wowed the 1,400 capacity crowd. Now based in London, the American rockers from Bowling Green opened with popular mid-tempo “Crybaby.”

Highlights: “Too Late to Say Goodbye” “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” and hit single “Trouble,” eliciting massive audience adoration and a sing-along.

As usual, the sound system at McMenamins was impeccable, tasty craft beer flowed in abundance and the balmy summer temps were perfect.

“Rock n’ rolll!”


Jake Bugg at the Oregon Zoo

In September intrepid troubadour Jake Bugg enthralled a full house of fans at Oregon Zoo’s outdoor stage. Bugg moved with confidence through choice old and new tracks, switching effortlessly between electric and acoustic guitars throughout the night.

A consummate showman, his low-key persona imparts a quiet magnetism audiences love. Except to remark with surprise at the quality of the venue, Bugg spoke little, choosing instead to focus on the music, prowling the stage a bit and ripping through electric guitar solos as needed.

With the audience in rapt attention, the Nottingham singer-songwriter delighted fans with older favorites “Two Fingers,” “Messed Up Kids,” “Trouble Town” “Seen It All” “Me and You” and “Slumville Sunrise.”

From his new repertoire, the Brit Award nominee included “On My One,” “Love, Hope and Misery” and “Put Out the Fire.”

Fans sang along to favorite tracks, Bugg and his small back-up band were polished and poised, and the sound system delivered big time.

All-in-all a perfect end-of-summer setting for a flawless night.

Amos Lee at The McDonald Theater


In November, American singer-songwriter Amos Lee and his superb band gave an enthralling performance at Eugene’s McDonald Theater. Opening with cinematic hit single “Windows Are Rolled Down,” Lee and company captivated concertgoers with a bevy of music that included fresh tracks from his newest “Spirit” release, which reached #3 on US Rock charts this year.

The show – a mere 4 days following this year’s presidential election – was undoubtedly the musical tonic many in the audience came to hear.

“Feeling good?” Lee asked repeatedly throughout the show. “Feeling great!” the crowd responded every time. Lee and his ace band gave an exquisite performance – even when, just to try something new, musicians switched places for instruments they don’t normally play.

The top-notch folk/rock/soul setlist played before the 800-capacity crowd that night could’ve made for a great live album.

If you have a chance to catch Amos Lee and his remarkable crew in the New Year, don’t miss it.

That’s a wrap on some of Oregon’s highest caliber performances this year – what were some of your favorites? Here’s wishing your New Year is filled with good times – especially live music moments that sparkle.

Cynthia Orlando
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