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Gowan performs live at Massey Hall in Toronto. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

By Jay Broderick - LoudTO was officially launched in February, 2023. Since then, it has been an insane ride. As we have picked up a ton of shows, the year was a smashing success in the "office", but it has been with our faithful readership that we are most honoured! In celebration of you, here are our picks for the top 5 shows of 2023. These are moments that have been especially important in our growth, but the shows also hold something in particular that made them stand out amongst the other amazing shows we had the fortune to cover throughout the past 11 months.

#5 - Exciter with Korrosive and Tower

Exciter perform live at The Rockpile in October 2023. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

The 1980s saw the birth of thrash metal. It's THE metal genre that has held my heart since I first spun Metallica's Master of Puppets in 1986. From that moment, I was hooked. I went on a mission to seek out bands fro the corners of the globe for this kick ass music. The San Francisco Bay Area seemed to be leading the way, but right here in Canada, the genre was garnering it's own Big 4! Among the leaders in this country were Ottawa's Exciter.

In 1983, Exciter released their first album Heavy Metal Maniac. By simple mathematics, 2023 was this record's 40th birthday, and we were with the band at The Rockpile to celebrate this massive milestone. With support from New York's Tower, and Toronto's very own Korrosive (who own the Toronto thrash metal scene), this was a killer thrash metal feast. Exciter was LOUD AND PROUD, and easily fit the show in our Top 5 of the year.

#4 - Obituary with Immolation, Blood Incantation and Ingrown

Obituary perform live at The Phoenix in May 2023. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

Damn! The fact that this show is sitting in the #4 spot for us is a huge statement for the top 3 of our 2023... because this show was bloody fire!!! Vocalist John Tardy sounded absolutely perfect, the band was tight as hell, and the show was simply superb.

Obituary put on such a great performance this night, but it wasn't only the headliners that made this one great. Death metal vets Immolation, with their ferocious energy could have easily co-headlined this tour and Blood Incantation and Ingrown got the crowd in a frenzy to start this one off on a serious note.

Growing up as an Obituary fan, the sound and lighting at The Phoenix Concert Theatre, and the intensity of this one made this one of the greatest shows I have EVER seen, let alone 2023. I was in heavy metal heaven covering this one, and simply didn't want it to end.

#3 - Indie Night In Canada

Living Dead Girl perform live at Indie Night in Canada 2023. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

In June, LoudTO was completely honoured to be selected as Sponsoring Media for an extremely important evening of independent Canadian music. Each year, a selection of up and coming Canadian musicians are showcased in an event called Indie Night In Canada.

The 2023 installment was held at the legendary El Mocombo, on June 6th, and it featured 18 amazing independent bands in one incredible evening. LoudTO featured interviews with Rose Cora Perry of The Truth Untold, and Living Dead Girl. We also provided in-depth overage of some of the live performances including Montreal's The Sunset Drip, Barrie's punk outfit Spades GT, and Toronto's own Frail Fragment.

This was one of the coolest nights of music I have personally ever been a part of. I can't wait to see what is in store for this event in 2024.

#2 - Gowan

Gowan performs live at Massey Hall in Toronto. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

Oh, the Strange Animal himself, Toronto's (actually Scarborough, my early stomping grounds) very own man with the Criminal Mind. Gowan performed at Massey Hall on November 30 in a concert that featured no opening act. And quite frankly, it was one of the greatest performances I have ever seen in my life.

This man is a true performer. His interactions with the crowd were as genuine as I have ever witnessed, but musically, and vocally, Lawrence Gowan is one of the greats. At minimum, he's certainly one of the best that this country has ever seen, and he was on top of his game here in 2023.

The crowd left on a major high after this show, just ahead of the Christmas season. In my interactions after the show, I wasn't the only one who agreed that this was an impressive performance.

Honourable Menton - GWAR with Blood Opera and Cancer Christ

Bohabs, pumped after the GWAR show in Toronto! Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

Before we get to our #1 moment of 2023, no "Best Of" list can be complete without a GWAR mention. The same holds true for the band's 2023 appearance in October at The Phoenix Concert Theatre. The crowd is always gassed for these shows, but I think the thing that stood out this year, as compared to the band's visit in 2022 was that the whole bill was in the same vein as the headliners.

Each band's mantra was of the same ilk, with blood spraying about, and sexual debauchery, the whole show was insane. Sadly, Torontonian Bohabs will have to travel a little further west in 2024 to catch the Scumdogs of the Universe, as their 204 tour does not make a stop here in Toronto. The band will play in London, ON on March 12. In the meantime, you can reminisce about October 2023, by tripping back to that night in TO!

#1 - Motionless in White with Knocked Loose, After the Burial and Alpha Wolf

Chris Motionless performing live at Rebel Toronto. Photo Credit: Jay Broderick

Quite simply.... WOW!!! I have seen a couple concerts in my 52 years, and I have experienced some wild shows. Slayer, in the 1980s, at the metal venue of choice in those days, The Concert Hall. People were jumping off the upper balcony into the crowd below. People climbing on the speaker stacks flanking the stage. I've witnessed Testament's Chuck Billy, slamming his microphone stand into the ceiling at the complete death trap of The Apocalypse Club, and I've even seen The Cult trash their equipment at Exhibition Place. Really exciting stuff!

Perhaps it's recency bias (although I'm doubtful it is this), but on October 25, I attended the most intense, energy filled show I think I have ever seen in my life. There is simply nothing that comes to mind that could compete with the electricity of the Motionless In White show at Rebel Toronto.

See, the thing about this show was that every single band was FIRE! And as a result, the crowd was doubly intense. There was a non-stop barrage of bodies flying over the security barricade, right from the opening bell, with Australia's Alpha Wolf. As I watched the insanity unfold, I kept asking myself, how is the next band (and crowd) going to muster up enough energy to outdo the previous act. Boy, did they all show me.

I have no doubt, that this one will go down as one of the most memorable concerts I have ever seen. Every single specimen that was in attendance this night deserves some massive kudos!!



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