5 Rock Bands Known for Their Live Shows

A true test of a rock band’s merit is its live show. Of course, it also takes an amount of skill to shine in a studio setting, but a live show is where the truth gets laid out. There is no safety blanket in a live setting. There are no second takes–no production magic. A musician is armed with little more than their innate talent, which makes a good live show all the more enticing to watch.

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Many rock bands have lived life on the road, but few have become known as the best of the best when it comes to touring. Find five rock bands that have earned that title for their impressive, immersive, and sprawling live shows, below.

[RELATED: Top 7 Legendary Classic Rock Frontmen of All Time]

1. U2

The entryway at a U2 concert is like a portal to another world. The Irish rockers have always been immersive at their shows, melting away the outside world for a few hours. Their current residency at Las Vegas’ The Sphere is even more evidence of that fact. No band would be better suited to help inaugurate the impressive venue (which makes use of its 360-degree screens) than U2.


It’s hard to match the dramatics of a rock band that paints their face and wears the kind of ostentatious clothing that KISS does. Optics alone make KISS an enticing band to watch. Their hits take them to a whole other level. The glam icons have no shortage of on-stage antics. From pyro to blood to fireworks, KISS knows how to leave an impression.

3. Rage Against the Machine

Few bands elicit a visceral response from the crowd like Rage Against the Machine. Their shows usually drum up a mosh pit or two. While that is partly to do with the band’s heavy musicality, their fans also resonate with the message behind their lyrics. They are moved to show their support for both their style and their political ideologies physically. If you’re looking to get a sense of connection with your fellow concertgoers, look no further than a RATM show.

4. The Grateful Dead/Dead & Company

You can only truly glean the power of a jam band by seeing them live. That’s where their improvisational skills truly shine. The Grateful Dead is one of the most celebrated jam bands of all time. Their live shows were long, stellar trips of musical excellence. Their latest iteration, Dead & Company, continues that legacy.

5. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have earned quite a reputation for their sprawling live shows. The Boss has been playing three to four-hour shows since the ’80s. Even in his ’70s, he continues to give it his all during his concerts. It doesn’t hurt that he has a plethora of anthems under his belt. Who wouldn’t get a rush watching Springsteen play “Dancing In the Dark” or “Born in the U.S.A?”

Photo by Sam Jones, Courtesy of Live Nation

Calling all music lovers! Join us for the Chicago Earth Wind and Fire Tour and groove to the timeless hits of these legendary bands. Secure your seats today!

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  1. Interesting that, in this context, a rock band apparently has to be White and Male in order to be renown for its live performances.

    The most memorable live performances of my lifetime were Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix. Seeing Big Brother and the Holding Company in their early days also left a strong impression on an aspiring rocker, as the band was fronted by a pretty freakin’ dynamic lead singer named Janis Joplin. Are we only talking about living performers? In that case, why isn’t that in the headline? When it comes to White rockers, in my book, no performer came close to Jim Morrison or David Bowie.

    Finally, one of the greatest live performances I’ve ever had the privilege of attending was Sheryl Crow at Lilith Fair. And, the Chicks kick ass, too.

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