I had the pleasure of seeing and reviewing a shit-ton of shows this year. This really is a blessing as part of my job. A gaggle of stellar venues. Ample beer. Good friends. And some untouchable talent makes this city a great place to take in a concert. Here are the top 5 shows I saw with blogTO this year.

Bon Iver (Massey Hall)

If Justin Vernon and co. can make the bloody Sound Academy sound good, you were in for a treat for the back-to-back Massey Hall sets. You know what I’m talking about if you were there. Can I get an amen?

James Vincent McMorrow (El Mocambo)

This was the most intimate and sublime show this year. Perfect audience—dead quiet during songs, uproarious in between. Perfect banter. And perfect pitch and builds in the songs. Perfect until an asshole stole my bike, anyway.

Mumford & Sons (ACC)

This show was a gift from my girlfriend for my birthday. At first I was a little upset that Mumford & Sons, a band with just one album, was selling out the ACC. But then I went. And it was one of the best shows of the year. The half-crazed audience will concur.

Handsome Furs (Garrison)

Premiering their new tunes off of the red-hot-dance-party-in-a-box album, Sound Kapital for the first time in Toronto at NXNE was one sweaty dance party. Sweat. New music. Dance party. Awesome in my books.

The National (ACC “theatre mode”)

Once again defying the cavernous ACC, The National pulled out all the stops. The sound projected nicely (good job, sound guy), the band really got into it halfway through (this being aided by frontman Matt Berninger bringing everyone to the front of stage) and ended with the audience and band singing an a cappella version of “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks.” Bringing Owen Pallett onstage and premiering new tunes was just an added bonus.

—RYAN BOLTON

Written by Ryan Bolton

Ryan is a Toronto-based writer and photographer that likes to break the rules. His work has taken him around the world to do what he truly loves—storytelling. And drinking cold beer.