Five of the Best Live Bands in Instrumental Rock

65dos at Incubate Tilburg @ by Jan Rijk /

The majority of all music genres are best live but post-rock in particular has vastly more impact in a live performance. The climaxes are amplified a hundredfold in volume and emotion while intricate lulls gain even more power from the greater contrast. The bass guitar gains a new strength and resonance that evades recordings. The drums become more organic and embellished with small flourishes and differences from the album. Of course, some bands in particular are able to do all this and more. For five years, I have gone to as many concerts as I could and seen a wide spread of bands (hampered only by the difficulty of touring in Australia for international bands). From among those concerts, here are my top five live instrumental bands.

65DAYSOFSTATIC | United Kingdom

Making it to Australian shores for the first time, the band made the wait well worth it with a marathon 2.5 hour set. Live, their unrelentingly energetic and aggressive brand of instrumental rock and electronic launches a three front assault on the audience’s hearts, bodies and minds. From the grungy grit of their earlier albums to the compulsive danceability of their (then) new material, the intensity and volume of their sets provide no respite. This particular concert took place in 30 degree heat and by the end, all concerned were drenched with sweat. However, the feeling of exhilaration long outlasted the satisfied exhaustion.

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TÉ | Japan

Recorded or live, listening to this band gives you just as much energy as a coffee hit. Their live set is a manic headlong sprint that equally threatens their guitar strings and the necks of brave headbangers with its pace. Equally emotive and virtuosic, the two guitars dominate the songs and produce some of the most inspired solos I have seen in any genre. The rhythm section drives the guitars on with varied and racing rhythms infused with jazz and funk. The band has not toured outside of Japan/Asia yet but when they do, be sure to catch them.

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SIGUR RÓS | Iceland

Live, the band reaches the same majestic grace as some of the greatest classical composers with their layering of instruments, heights of emotion and grand sweep of their songs. Headlining the 2012 Harvest Festival in Australia, the band’s sound was epically orchestral with a choir, strings and brass backing the band. The strength of the band is the sheer emotion in each song, alternately joyful and devastatingly melancholy. Jonsi’s voice of ethereal beauty is mirrored by the shimmering guitars, the quiet valleys of each song just as entrancing as the screaming melodic mountains. One of the rare bands that will make you forget to breathe until their set is done.

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JAKOB | New Zealand

Returning from hiatus in 2014, the band has shown that they have lost none of the skill and power that forged their reputation and earned them tour invitations from Tool. The trio produces an overwhelming sonic ocean of melody and harmony with warping guitar tones, echoing bass and eloquent, spacious drum patterns. Each song burns with a defiant spirit, each note a raised middle finger to the years of untimely injuries, bad luck and setbacks the band has overcome to play again.

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A ferociously frequent tourer within Australia, the band’s concerts has garnered a reputation for their impressive energy and precision in the progressive music community. The defiantly triumphant sprawling landscapes of their debut album gain a whole new dimension live (partly due to the average mix of the record). While their sound has evolved to be more tighter and rhythmically deep, the band’s instrumental intricacy, song evolution and songwriting remain impeccable and place their live shows on the ‘must see’ list.

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See all lists by staff here.
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  • Oh wow, I’d put Year Of No Light over Jakob any day. Their light show is beyond belief. Jakob seemed really ordinary at dunk!festival.

  • Hey guys, haven’t seen any of the bands you mentioned live 🙂 Unfortunately Australia’s a bit out of the way for touring (TWDY just finished a tour but I was out of the country for it…)

  • nono,
    65dos is really regular live band, Te’ is good, but nobody see them live for sure in EU.
    I did about 30 post-rock bands live in Russia and sure the best live pefromance bands is: I am waiting for you last summer, Maybeshewill, Tides From Nebula, Toe.

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