Hype list of The 50 Greatest Live Acts Right Now

By now, just about everyone has taken a look at Rolling Stone’s “50 Greatest Live Acts”.

The list is basically a joke filled with music produced for the masses. Many on the list could even be considered actors or actresses who only perform work written by someone else.

To put it simply, the list is a shame.

In response, Hype Music Festivals editor, Phil Sunkel, gives you his personal list of the 50 greatest acts on the road right now.

On the Rolling Stone list they did not count bands or musicians who have announced retiring. We don’t really care about that, if they’re out on the road right now or have shows coming up, they’re on our list.

Love it or hate it, here’s our list of the 50 greatest live acts right now:

50.) SOJA

49.) Dark Star Orchestra

48.) Logic

47.) Michael Franti & Spearhead

46.) The Revivalists

45.) Boombox

44.) Tauk

43.) Turkuaz

42.) Consider The Source

41.) Bonobo

40.) Kung Fu

39.) Lake Street Dive

38.) The New Deal

37.) Galactic

36.) St. Paul & The Broken Bones

35.) Twiddle

34.) The Nth Power

33.) The Floozies

32.) Alt-J

31.) Moe.

30.) Dopapod

29.) Andrew Bird

28.) The Disco Biscuits

27.) Lotus

26.) Quixotic Fusion

25.) Greensky Bluegrass

24.) Snarky Puppy

23.) EOTO

22.) Lucient Dossier Experience

21.) Tedeschi Trucks Band

20.) Thievery Corporation

19.) Blues Traveler

18.) Furthur

17.) Ghostland Observatory

16.) Emancipator Ensemble

15.) Widespread Panic

14.) Beats Antique

13.) Lettuce

12.) STS9

11.) Punch Brothers

10.) My Morning Jacket

9.) Umphrey’s Mcgee

8.) Jurassic 5

7.) Pretty Lights Live Band

6.) String Cheese Incident

5.) Tycho

4.) Radiohead

3.) Daft Punk

2.) Phish

1.) The Allman Brothers Band


105 thoughts on “Hype list of The 50 Greatest Live Acts Right Now”

    1. haha forreal, I was just about to say, how can you be one of the best live acts right now when you don’t even perform. Solid list other than that


  1. So Daft Punk, who rarely ever do live performances, are on this list and Chk Chk Chk isn’t when Chk Chk Chk perform one of the most amazing live shows in the country, as well as some other bands who are not on this list for bands like Blues Traveler and the Allman Brothers Band. LOL, nice going.


      1. List ain’t bad, but Michael Franti & Spearhead should’ve been in the top 5, top 10 at the very least… Also missing Foo Fighters, Rammstein and Flaming Lips….


    1. allman bros and blues traveler have been successfully touring and selling out shows for a few decades now… it’d be stupid not to have them near the top. if jerry were still around then the dead would be #1.


  2. What about the band that’s played with 80% of the musicians on here and is ranked internationally for being one of the best live performances around. Dave Matthews Band. This is some kind of sick joke right? The Flaming Lips are easily a top 10 on this list as well, Their Dark Side Of The Moon performances are unreal.


      1. Hank III puts on a live show like no other – I saw him last night for the 3rd time and yet again it was just amazing – he played nonstop for over 4 hours, I was exhausted just watching. His music may not be for everyone, but his live shows are up there with the best shows I have ever seen.


  3. Very close to what my list would be, I’d add DMB, Medeski Martin and Wood, Primus (Les Claypool may be the best bassist alive), Slightly Stoopid, Portugal. The Man, Damien Marley, Bella Fleck and the Flecktones(Wooten is unreal live), RHCP and Matisyahu.


    1. Wooten is insane live, by far one of my favorite bassists. I definitely missed some. I thought long and hard about Slightly but I’ve had bad personal experiences with them.

      Your additions are pretty spot on, liking your taste my friend.



  4. Thanks for the list–a huge improvement over the Rolling Stone list!
    I don’t necessarily agree much with your personal list, but I really like the way you respond to the comments. Old Crow Medicine Show, Beck, Pearl Jam, Black Crowes, and the Pixies would be on my personal list. I would have Widespread Panic much higher at number one just in front of Phish! Allman Brothers certainly deserve a high spot though. I would also have Tedeschi Trucks Band much higher on the list. I think they are really on the rise and are quickly becoming one of the best live acts out there!


  5. Great list! Agree with the Flaming Lips and Flecktones comments, those are both great acts… No Toubab? Those guys put on a unique show and a hoppin’ party!


  6. wow… Widespread Panic 15? give me a break. they are one of the hottest bands out right now. those are bogus top 10 choices above WSP


  7. How can you miss GroupLove? Have you ever seen one of their shows? One of the highest energy bands out there and just a whole lot of fun. Gotta say Mike Ness and Social D always put on a deadly show.


  8. Great list! I would consider Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, Trombone Shorty & ReignWolf all serious contenders though! Can’t wait to work my way through your list!!! Thanks!!


    1. Shorty should have been faaaaaarrr up this list. Good call. Appreciate the NOLA love here, but Shorty has the energy on par w Galactic. The Revivalists are getting there, but these kings still reign!


  9. Great List. Glad to see someone doesn’t only go with the main stream acts. You did forget Gov’t Mule, Pearl Jam, and DMB but if you make a top 50 you are going to leave someone out.


  10. Nice list! Definitely gotta check some of these out. Personally had better experiences with Cheese than Phish but I totally get their ranking. Further would be wayyyy higher on my list. Here are some great acts that didn’t make it but would be on my list! Make sure to catch em live if you haven’t: Charles Bradley!, Railroad Earth, Trampled By Turtles, Ed Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Jack White/The Raconteurs, Yonder Mountain String Band, Beck, The Roots, Kendrick Lamar, Medicine For The People & Trombone Shorty!


  11. I’m sorry, but this list is just as big of a joke as the other list…Phish #2?? That’s a joke in itself, Trey’s vocals are so boring and annoying, I can’t tolerate it much at all, I listen intently when they jam, but block him out once he opens his pie-hole (I just watched the last live stream a day or two ago… ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz). Franti (and DSO) being so low on the list is laughable,… who compiled this list, John Tesh? Franti alone blows away most every act on this ‘list’…. and Furthur is too low, too… but Daft Punk over SCI? This is just another ‘list’ of someone’s opinion… no Tea Leaf Green either? Or Les Claypool? Please, gimme a break… I would go see Furthur, Franti and String Cheese 1,000 times before I would even consider Phish, and that’s only if it was free and I had nothing better to do… like rearranging my sock drawer…


    1. Ahhhh, I love bitter old Deadheads. So hilarious every time. As a clear fan of live music, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not checking out a live Ph show. Go take a lap.


    2. If you’d rather see a glorified Dead cover band, Franti, and the novelty act that String Cheese Incident has become over Phish, then you’re clearly just a Phish hater. The fact they still sell out Madison Square Garden and play in places SCI and Furthur wish they could play are proof that tons of people disagree with you. “Trey’s vocals are so boring”. LOL. People who go to Phish for anything but the music don’t get Phish. Go by some shitty molly from your wook Deadhead friends you troll.


  12. Where the fuck is Billy Joel on this list and why isn’t he number 1??? that man is ten times the man and talent of that pot head Phish guy that took over for Jerry Garcia and the hippy brigade.


  13. Great list. But you forgot of Montreal. Easily the most unique and amazing live experience I have ever witnessed. I would think they would at least make it in the top 50 somewhere.


    1. I didn’t forget them, this is my personal list of 50 greatest acts and Of Montreal may have a truly unique show with all sorts of weird stuff going on but thats not my thing.



  14. Nice Ive seen over half of these bands live. Number 30 and 40 in nyc as part of a number 2 after party show was insane!


  15. Nice list. Guessing Tyco is placed so high because he’s one of your favorite live acts? Saw him open for STS9 NYE run 2011. Maybe his live act has progressed over the last few years?

    Where’s the Primus though?


  16. This is far more accurate than anything RS has ever put out – and I like that it’s listed as “personal” as this list would be different for every person. After listening to them this last month, I think Phish would take my top spot. They are the pinnacle of live performance jam bands and are playing better than ever.

    I could easily also say the same thing about the author said about “perform work written by someone else” about much of the EDM on here. Though some can be great – I have trouble calling someone who plays a MacBook a “musician”. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean they can’t put on a show.

    The ones I think that are missing – Trampled by Turtles, Manu Chao, Wilco, Railroad Earth, and Arcade Fire.

    I believe Radiohead are some of (if not the) best song writers of our generation, but I’d put them closer to 25 as far as their shows go. Legends, no doubt, but you “kinda” know what you’re getting when you go see them.

    Thanks for posting this list – much appreciated to share thoughts with actual music fans.


  17. list is full of mediocre acts with no relevance to good shows, he who wrote this does not see a lot of concerts, No Primus, Yonder, Iron Maiden, Prince, MF PRINCE! Bruce Springstein, the list goes on. Also, Allman is no longer a band… replace with the rightful best live act right now, Umphrey’s Mcgee


  18. Rx bandits, Portugal. the Man, Mutemath, the Roots, and Circa Survive. Also, The Sound of Animals Fighting should definitely be on here and in the top 5. Yea, they don’t play live much, but when they do it’s effing outrageous!


  19. Franti should’ve been way higher (but I saw you commented that already). I think Pearl Jam should’ve been on the list. They put on an amazing show.


  20. Man JGB should be up there…. They tour an awful lot and make the fest that much better….MELVIN SEALS IS THE MAN! Good list overall!


    1. Hey Chet, Glad to hear from you. Feel free to start your own blog, gain a following and then create your own list. Just FYI it does say in the beginning that this list is specifically Phil Sunkel’s personal list. Sorry you don’t like his opinion but thank you for the views and comments. šŸ˜‰


  21. Thank you for provide helping purify the soul of live music from the pop pollution that Rolling Stone has sadly become. There are lots of great entries on this list! Some I am not familiar with, so will have to follow up. A few personal favorites that certainly stack up in my opinion: 1) Les Claypool (acquired taste but so entertaining!); 2) DUMPSTAFUNK! They are awesome live – PUT IT IN THE DUMPSTA! I note a dearth of NOLA bands (Galactic a big exception, and I agree they are sometimes transcendent!); Gov’t Mule (noted several times by others); New Mastersounds (these guys are FUNKTASTIC! I first saw them on JamCruise in 2005 – they have only gotten tighter and funkier!); some iterations of Phil Lesh and Friends (I think the best post-Grateful Dead incarnation since “The Dead”. The Central Park show in May was the closest I have felt to the GD Show experience since . . . RFK stadium in June, 1995!). There are others but, as you say, all subjective!


  22. You missed Primus but like good list man. Also the Gorillaz… also moe should be way higher and tycho should be lower. Also Daft Punk hasnt played in a long ass time and although I’ve never seen them how can you put 2 djs over a band like SCI or Moe or Umphs. But like. It was fun reading thanks.


  23. Good list. I have seen quite a few of these bands and there performances are amazing. However, you are missing the band who I feel blows all others away with their live shows. Sigur Ros. Ask Thom Yorke, he will agree!


  24. Good list! I have seen quite a few of these bands and they all put on a fantastic show. However, I feel that you left off the one live band that, in my opinion, blows all others away. Sigur Ros! Ask Thom Yorke, he would agree šŸ™‚


  25. What about Trigger Hippy, Hard working Americans, Springsteen, McCartney, Ratdog, Govt Mule, The Wiyos….. do you even go to live shows?


  26. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, the Flaming Lips, Primus, and Muse (seriously if have not seen them live do it before you die, it’s good shit)


  27. very good list, I really agree with this but the biggest things you are missing are PRIMUS and BASSNECTAR, they should definitely be top 10. and Phish is easily #1 over the Allmans


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