Concerts that are good despite not knowing the band

I’ve found that a lot of concerts tend to suck unless you’re a fan that owns every album – which makes sense I suppose. But what bands have you heard that are good enough to overcome this and be entertaining even to non-fans?

I found the Chemical Bros. to be very entertaining when I saw them back in 97 despite not owning any of their albums.

And I drug a couple of friends to see VNV Nation last night and they both were raving about how cool the show was even though they’d heard 2-3 songs tops before the show.


Ben Folds puts on an awesome show. I went in November knowing maybe four songs, and he played something like forty (the entire contents of his solo album, plus Whatever and Ever Amen, plus a few more things from other BF5 albums, according to the much-bigger fan who was with me). The sheer musicianship and energy of his performance more than made up for the frustration of knowing none of the music. Same for Barenaked Ladies, whom I saw the day they released Stunt and put on a free concert in Boston’s Government Square. At that point “One Week” was the only song from the album that’d been released to the public, so every other song they played, nobody knew. Except for “If I Had a Million Dollars,” without which I think the audience would have held a full-scale rebellion. Anyway, again, the sheer energy of the show and the fact that you could see how much fun the guys were having just being there made not knowing any songs much easier to bear.

I saw Bob Schneider at the Basilica Block Party last summer. I had never heard of him, but he put on a damn fine show and I was converted.

I just saw the Beta Band this weekend, and that was a great show, too. Though I have thier Three EPs album. I ended up having a couple beers with some of the band members, so it was fun.