After several mostly lackluster years for hip-hop and hard rock concerts — you know it’s an off year in rap when Macklemore and G-Eazy are the biggest gigs — those genres produced the most exciting shows in 2018.
Kendrick Lamar resoundingly lived up to the hype surrounding his last two albums with masterful delivery and intense energy, while Chance the Rapper’s spiritual showing was the feel-good event of a year lacking in good feelings. Iron Maiden and GNR proved unexpectedly resilient and invested, too.
As for albums, the Gossip’s brazen but sophisticated singer Beth Ditto spiked her solo debut with a sugar rush of electronic beats, jaggedy guitars, personal drama and infectious melody — the nearest thing to a “Lemonade” in 2018 besides maybe New Jersey neo-soul singer SZA’s wowza of a debut. Meanwhile, Sam Beam’s return to an all-acoustic Iron & Wine album provided an elegant quiet from this year’s storms.
1. Beth Ditto, “Fake Sugar”
2. Iron & Wine, “Beast Epic”
3. Hurray for the Riff Raff, “The Navigator”
4. SZA, “Ctrl”
5. Bully, “Losing”
6. St. Vincent, “Masseduction”
7. Benjamin Booker, “Witness”
8. Margo Price, “All American Made”
9. The xx, “I See You”
10. Kendrick Lamar, “Damn”
1. Kendrick Lamar, Xcel Energy Center, Aug. 19
2. Iron Maiden, Xcel Center, June 16
3. Guns N’ Roses, U.S. Bank Stadium, July 30
4. Sweet Spirit, 7th Street Entry, Aug. 11
5. Chance the Rapper, Xcel Center, May 12
6. Wilco, Palace Theatre, Nov. 17 (Night 3)
7. U2, U.S. Bank Stadium, Sept. 8
8. Queens of the Stone Age, Roy Wilkins Auditorium, Oct. 14
9. Run the Jewels, Myth, Feb. 14
10. “The Rise of the Minneapolis Sound” with the Valdons, André Cymone, Wanda Davis, Willie Walker, PaviElle and Nooky Jones, Fitzgerald Theater, Oct. 28.
See Chris Riemenschneider’s recap of the year’s best local music in next Friday’s Variety section.