Top 89 of 2019: Best Twin Cities Concerts

Top 89 of 2019
Top 89 of 2019 - Best Concerts of 2019 (MPR)

We love airing our listener-decided Top 89 countdown every year (in 2019, the countdown will air on Dec. 31 from 5 p.m.-midnight and rebroadcast on Jan. 1 from 12-7 p.m.; listen here). But 89 songs alone can't tell the story of a whole year of music. That's where our bonus categories come in!

In this post, we've got an eye on the best Twin Cities concerts of 2019. Lots of them drew huge crowds – Tame Impala, Lizzo – but we've included a few club shows, as well. You can still watch a couple of them via YouTube, thanks to the concert livestreams we've been working on this year. Here are our top concerts of 2019.

Sharon Van Etten

Feb. 16, First Avenue

"Sharon Van Etten summoned angry synths, crashing cymbals, and even windchimes and threw them into a shuddering cacophony. More impressive: She quieted the chaos at will."

Sharon Van Etten goes gale-force at First Avenue, by Cecilia Johnson with photos by Mary Mathis

Sharon Van Etten performs at First Avenue on Feb. 16, 2019.
Sharon Van Etten crouches by a mic stand while performing at First Avenue on Feb. 16, 2019. (Mary Mathis | MPR)


March 5, Palace Theatre

Robyn's Twin Cities return couldn't have gone better. Touring behind her 2018 album Honey, she brought gauzy fabrics, a playful and confident performance, and two encores to an extremely sold-out Palace Theatre crowd.

Robyn in concert
Singer Robyn performs at Hollywood Palladium on February 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Michael Tullberg/Getty Images for Robyn)


May 5, Palace Theatre
Oct. 9 and 11, Armory

"One of Beyoncé's biggest fans had her own homecoming last night. Performing for a sold-out crowd at the Palace, Lizzo sang, twerked, and sermonized amid piercing cheers."

Palace Theatre loses it for self-love champion Lizzo, by Cecilia Johnson with photos by Emmet Kowler

Lizzo and the Big Grrrls
Lizzo sings while dancing with the Big Grrrls at the Palace Theatre in St. Paul, Minn. on May 5, 2019. (Emmet Kowler for MPR)

Soundset 2019

May 26, Minnesota State Fairgrounds

"After the blazing heat last Memorial Day weekend and tornado watches in years past, Soundset finally enjoyed a sunny, 75-degree day. About 30,000 people attended the State Fairgrounds just outside St. Paul on Sunday to see Lil Wayne, SZA, and more."

Soundset 2019 stars Lil Wayne, SZA, Lil Nas X, by Cecilia Johnson with photos by Helen Teague and Eamon Coyne

Soundset 2019
Lil Wayne performs at Soundset 2019 (Helen Teague | MPR)

Tame Impala

July 30-31, Surly Festival Field

"The weather was so gorgeous last night, Tame Impala would've had to lock Kevin Parker in the tour bus to ruin the mood at Minneapolis's Surly Festival Field. Luckily, the project's frontperson/auteur was in no such bind, striding to the front of the stage and staying there while he sang hits from 2015 album Currents and 2012's Lonerism, plus new single 'Patience.'"

Tame Impala unleash color, confetti at Surly Festival Field, photo gallery by Nate Ryan and intro by Cecilia Johnson

Tame Impala perform at Surly Festival Field
Kevin Parker of Tame Impala performs at Surly Festival Field (Nate Ryan | MPR)


Aug. 3, First Avenue

If you missed this British punk/post-punk band's show at First Avenue, we've got your back. IDLES' show was one of the many concerts The Current livestreamed from the Twin Cities this year, and it's one of our favorites of the year, thanks to the incredible energy swapped between the roaring band and the sweaty pit. When band members start crowd-surfing seven minutes into the show, you know it's going to be a night.

Brandi Carlile, Mavis Staples, and Savannah Conley

Aug. 31, Minnesota State Fair Grandstand

"Brandi is a once-in-a-generation performer. She can make the Grandstand feel like your living room. I've seen everything from soup to nuts at the Fair and by God, Brandi is the best thing I've ever seen there."

Brandi Carlile lights up the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand, by Lydia Liza with photos by Emmet Kowler

Brandi Carlile at the 2019 Minnesota State Fair
Brandi Carlile at the 2019 Minnesota State Fair, from the "Music on a Stick" show at the Grandstand. (Emmet Kowler for MPR)

Massive Attack

Sept. 10, Palace Theatre

"This tour — which was supposed to happen in March, before the tour was postponed due to illness — did indeed commemorate a fan-favorite album, their third, 1998's Mezzanine, which had been reissued last year on its twentieth anniversary. But Massive Attack hardly played the album front to back. On this go-round, they've pulled it apart, adding covers of songs that they'd sampled on the album, and tied it all together with elaborate staging."

Massive Attack mesh 'Mezzanine' and current events at the Palace Theatre, by Michaelangelo Matos

Massive Attack perform in Hong Kong on Nov. 19, 2017
A Massive Attack band member performs during the Clockenflap music festival in Hong Kong on November 19, 2017. (Dale de la Rey/AFP via Getty Images)

Brittany Howard

Sept. 19, Palace Theatre

Reviewing Alabama Shakes in 2015, Andrea Swensson wrote:

Lead singer Brittany Howard's voice has always been at the very center of Alabama Shakes' sound, but as a frontwoman she didn't always appear comfortable with being at the front of the stage. These days, she's practically a whole new performer, taunting the audience with her raw screams and bold proclamations and creating such a magnetic and captivating energy that it made it hard to look at anybody else. She has become, for lack of a better word, a rock star.

As a solo artist, Howard has still got it. She showed the Palace Theatre — and "the internet world," as she called us during The Current's concert livestream — the same unreal range and boldness.

Bon Iver

Oct. 3, Xcel Energy Center

"Bon Iver has grown to include an ever-growing list of collaborators; the Eaux Claires music festival, and artistic collective PEOPLE. But as his project grows, Justin Vernon doesn't linger in the spotlight for too long. He'd rather it bounce off him, and light up the room instead."

Bon Iver light up St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center, by Colleen Cowie with photos by Graham Tolbert (courtesy of Bon Iver)

Bon Iver at the Xcel Energy Center
Bon Iver perform at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. on Oct. 3, 2019. (Graham Tolbert courtesy of Bon Iver)

Airing Dec. 31, 2019: Top 89 Songs of 2019 countdown

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