The Revolution | First Avenue | April 1 | Photo by Steven Cohen

By Emily Hoar

In a year of surprises, music functioned as an escape from a politically polarizing landscape, dominating the cultural conversation. High-profile albums appeared suddenly, and beloved artists left without warning. It’s this dichotomy that informed the year as a whole.

Our Year In Review records the shows that made the year-end lists of: American Songwriter, Consequence of Sound, Fact, Gorilla vs. Bear, NME, NPR, Paste, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Spin, Stereogum, Tiny Mix Tapes, and The Wire, in addition to Billboard’s 50 Top-Charted Albums. While there are plenty of great artists that didn’t make the list, this is Part 1 of First Avenue’s most critically acclaimed shows of 2016. (See Part 2.)

January

Show Me The Body @ 7th St Entry
• NME #48 •

February

Margaret Glaspy @ 7th St Entry
• American Songwriter #47 • Paste #41 • Stereogum #45 •

Kevin Gates @ First Avenue Mainroom
• Billboard #16 • Consequence of Sound #42 • Pitchfork #44 • Spin #22 •

Lake Street Dive | First Avenue | March 10 | Photo by John Lukas

March

Circuit des Yeux @ 7th St Entry
• The Wire #47 •

Bryson Tiller @ First Avenue Mainroom
• Billboard #11 • 

Lake Street Dive @ First Avenue Mainroom
• Paste #35 •

KING @ First Avenue Mainroom
• Pitchfork #37 • Spin #21 •

Lucius @ First Avenue Mainroom
• Paste #22 •

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down @ Fine Line Music Café
• Paste #30 •

Andrew Bird | First Avenue Mainroom | April 19 | Photo by Daniel Corrigan

April

Big Thief @ 7th St Entry
• NPR #31 •

Sunflower Bean @ 7th St Entry
• NME # 12 •

Weaves @ 7th St Entry
• Consequence of Sound #49 •

Porches @ 7th St Entry
• Pitchfork #49 •

Tacocat @ Turf Club
• Paste #27 •

Andrew Bird @ First Avenue Mainroom
• Paste #24 •

Frankie Cosmos @ 7th St Entry
• Consequence of Sound #28 •

May

White Denim @ Turf Club
• Gorilla vs. Bear #51 •

Whitney @ Triple Rock Social Club
• Paste #37 •

Cross Record @ 7th St Entry
• Gorilla vs. Bear #17 •

Parker Millsap @ Turf Club
• American Songwriter #11 • NPR #43 •

Savages @ Fine Line Music Café
• American Songwriter #34 • Consequence of Sound #39 • NME’s #46 •

Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires @ First Avenue Mainroom
• Paste #43 •

Margo Price | Turf Club | June 22 | Photo by Steven Cohen

June

PUP @ 7th St Entry
• Stereogum #22 •

Sturgill Simpson @ First Avenue Mainroom
• American Songwriter #4 • NPR’s #49 • Paste #19 • Rolling Stone #26 • Spin #50 • Stereogum #26 •

The Body @ 7th St Entry
• Consequence of Sound #23 (for One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache) • Fact #12 (for No One Deserves Happiness) •

Robert Ellis @ Turf Club
• American Songwriter #22 •

Kevin Morby @ 7th St Entry
• Pitchfork’s #34 •

Big Thief @ 7th St Entry
• NPR’s #31 •

Against Me! @ Fine Line Music Café
• American Songwriter #30 •

Jessy Lanza @ Triple Rock Social Club
• Fact #11 • Gorilla vs. Bear #2 • Tiny Mix Tapes #15 •

Margo Price @ Turf Club
• American Songwriter #3 • NME #33 • NPR #20 • Paste #12 • Rolling Stone #21 •