The Ten Best Miami Concerts of 2018

What was your favorite show of 2018?
What was your favorite show of 2018?
Photo by Nestor Calixto
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Sometimes Miami music fans feel shafted when their favorite artists don't make it to the depths of Florida. But this year, that was hardly the case. The Magic City witnessed tons of shows in 2018, so choosing the ten best felt nearly impossible. From large arena concerts to intimate club performances, these shows displayed a specialness that marks them among the best the 305 has ever seen. From TLC to Hinds, here are the top ten concerts of 2018.

TLC's T-Boz and Chilli at the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair.
TLC's T-Boz and Chilli at the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair.
Photo by Nestor Calixto

TLC at the Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition. This year, the Fair's Main Street Stage presented a nostalgic concert lineup featuring TLC, Nelly, Ginuwine, the Sugarhill Gang, and other acts for as little as $10. If you missed TLC's performance, we seriously feel bad for you. The 15-song set list — including bangers "What About Your Friends," "Unpretty," "Silly Ho," "Red Light Special," "Creep," "No Scrubs," and "Waterfalls" — was more than we could've asked for. Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes was there in spirit through videos that played on a big screen behind the band. Witnessing TLC perform live was a religious experience, and we were not worthy.

The Carters
The Carters
Photo by Raven Varona/Parkwood/PictureGroup

Jay-Z and Beyoncé at Hard Rock Stadium. Is it really a surprise the Carters made this list? Queen B was in the building, so naturally the Beyhive was out in full force. When the power couple comes to town, it's pretty much all anyone can talk about for days. The city should just shut down so everyone can bask in the Carters' glory. In true Beyoncé and Jay-Z fashion, the On the Run II Tour was nothing short of an extravaganza that featured spectacular performances of both artists' hits, along with a breathtaking display of pyrotechnics. New Times said in a review of the show: "On the Run II isn't just a tour; it's a public display of atonement, forgiveness, and reconciliation."

Drake at the American Airlines Arena.
Drake at the American Airlines Arena.
Photo by Sean McCloskey

Drake and Migos at American Airlines Arena. It's no secret the 305 has a special place in its heart for Drake. The kindness he displayed toward Miamians in his video for "God's Plan," where he generously spread his video's budget of $966,631.90 around town and made a lot of locals happy, will never be forgotten. This past September, the Aubrey & the Three Migos Tour was postponed and rescheduled. But Drake and Migos eventually made their way to Miami in November. New Times proclaimed, "Drake was the greatest of all time at the AAA." From the all-encompassing set list to the awe-inspiring stage design to Drake's impromptu basketball game in which a fan won $25,000, the show delivered. His star-studded performance even included cameos from Gucci Mane, DJ Khaled, Bad Bunny, and Lil Wayne. Until next time, Drake.

Madrid's Hinds playing in Miami for the first time at Gramps.EXPAND
Madrid's Hinds playing in Miami for the first time at Gramps.
Photo by Jessica Gibbs

Hinds at Gramps. Prior to its October 3 Gramps show, the Madrid garage-rock four-piece Hinds had never performed in Miami. And as evidenced by the crowd's buck-wildness from beginning to end, locals were happy to see the badass band grace a stage in the 305. In the spirit of playing in the Magic City, Hinds delivered a high-energy performance and even short renditions of Elvis Crespo's "Suavemente" and Will Smith's "Miami." Plus, the band brought a piece of Miami on its U.S. tour: The 305's own Mustard Service joined Hinds for 13 dates, including the stop at Gramps.

Charli, baby.EXPAND
Charli, baby.
Photo by Karli Evans

Charli XCX at 1306. The biggest rager of the year was undoubtedly Charli XCX and Dorian Electra's Femmebot Fantasy at 1306. The party — organized by electronic pop singer Dorian Electra, who is also featured on "Femmebot" on Charli's latest mixtape, Pop 2 — started in Chicago after Charli's opening set for Taylor Swift. The afterparty was a huge success, which led to other stops around the country, including Miami. After Charli's opening set at Hard Rock Stadium on Taylor Swift's Reputation Stadium Tour, she made her way to downtown Miami for the real fun. The wild and sweaty show offered performances by Charli, Dorian Electra, Banoffee, Ceci G, Miss Toto, Queef Latina, Jupiter Velvet, and Kat Wilderness, as well as DJ sets by Gami, Keanu Orange, Loka, Souls Departed, and Sel 6. The crowd's reaction showed that this was the most fun Miami had had in a while.

Hope to see you again soon, Father John Misty.EXPAND
Hope to see you again soon, Father John Misty.
Photo by Ian Witlen

Father John Misty at the Fillmore. Fans, especially those running on Miami time, tend to roll up minutes before a show begins and miss the opening act. Luckily, locals made it on time to catch opening act King Tuff's set, and fans had filled the pit by the time the garage-rock band took the stage. Once Father John Misty came on, it wouldn't have been surprising to see an all-out brawl among concertgoers trying to reach the front. This year marked the debut Miami performance of Josh Tillman, AKA Father John Misty, and it was worth the wait. He and his backing band powered through a solid 23-track set list that included songs off his latest LP, God’s Favorite Customer. Aside from the overall high-quality show production, Tillman's voice was transcendent. His talent, skill, and larger-than-life presence could be felt as vibrantly at the back of the room as at the front.

Dua Lipa
Dua Lipa
Photo by George Martinez

Dua Lipa at Bayfront Park. If there's any place to dance your ass off with your best friends, it's under the palms with postcard-worthy views. And if there's one person Miami would want to share that special moment with, it's Dua Lipa. The chart-topping singer performed a sold-out show at one of the city's best outdoor venues and proved to the 305 she is a force to be reckoned with. From ballads to bangers, she put on a show that "blew fans' minds." We're excited to see what the future holds for Lipa.

Where are the emo babies?EXPAND
Where are the emo babies?
Photo by Eliot Lee Hazel

Death Cab for Cutie at the Fillmore. Before the band's long-awaited show at the Fillmore in October, it had been 12 years since Death Cab for Cutie played in Miami. And for the emo 30-somethings crying in the tropics, that delay felt like an eternity. Bassist Nick Harmer spoke to New Times before their stop and said, “We’ve always had really great shows in Florida... It’s just one of those places where if the fans weren’t so vocal, excited, and enthusiastic, it would be easy for us to avoid altogether, but here we come.” The band from Washington state played new songs from its latest LP, Thank You for Today, along with hard-hitting classics, accompanied by impressive stage production and energy from a jam-packed house. If you weren't standing in a puddle of your own tears after witnessing "Transatlanticism," were you even there?

We live for Yelle's sparkly jumpsuit.EXPAND
We live for Yelle's sparkly jumpsuit.
Photo by Jessica Gibbs
Yelle at the Ground. The French electro-pop band is no stranger to performing in Miami. Since 2005, Yelle has stormed the stages of the Magic City four times, and watching this group never gets old. Miamians danced till they were dead at the Ground on Halloween night, when Yelle delivered an unforgettable theatrical performance that proved a real treat for fans both new and old. If you were stuck behind all the sweaty heads at Bardot in 2015 during the band's show on the carpet, this time you got a chance to see Yelle's two drummers play perfectly in sync while performing expert choreography.
The Queen of Pop.EXPAND
The Queen of Pop.
Photo by Randee St. Nicolas

Britney Spears at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

Some naysayers might deride the Queen of Pop's shows, but most music fans will agree that witnessing Britney Spears in the flesh is a downright privilege. Many longtime devotees who caught the pop star in action on her Piece of Me Tour stop in Hollywood (including this writer) were moved to tears while experiencing a nostalgic 28-track set list that spanned her career.

New Times' review of the show

said, "As the Hard Rock Event Center emptied, fans quickly uploaded selfies and blurry concert photos to Instagram. 'I didn’t get many videos because I was too busy crying,' Spears’ biggest fan said on the phone on the way to the elevator. 'What do you mean why did I cry? It’s Britney,


.'" Our sentiments exactly. Spears commanded the venue for three nights and gave a show for her true fans. Long live the queen.

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