For many music fans, 2018 will be marked by acts that didn’t make it to the area.
Justin Timberlake postponed his stop at the Save Mart Center.
Nelly canceled his show at Chukchansi Park altogether.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Still, there was an impressive number of bands and musicians swinging through the central San Joaquin Valley this year, which we present here in a best-of 2018 top-10 list.
The list was put together subjectively, based on a number of factors including personal taste and judgments. These may not be the best attended or most profitable shows and there are surely many concerts that got overlooked (feel free to make corrections to that in the comments section).
In chronological order:
Brad Paisley, Jan. 26, Save Mart Center — Fresno is consistent in its love of country music. Brad Paisley’s Weekend Warrior tour was one of the biggest country concerts of the year and also a good representation of the genre as a whole.
Queens of the Stone Age, Jan. 29, Selland Arena — This was a louder-than-all-get-out rock show on a Monday night in the lesser of the city’s arenas that happened to also feature a sleazy set from Eagles of Death Metal and an on-stage cameo from Colin Hanks.
Shame, March 9, Cellar Door in Visalia — File under “best club show of the year.” The South London rock band is young (like, one of the members turned 21 the night of the show) and aren’t anywhere close to a household name. They weren’t even the headliner for the night.
But they put on a blistering display of rock that would do their English forefathers (the Stones or Sex Pistols, say) proud.
Neil Young, May 1-3, Warnors Theatre — This was the surprise concert(s) of the year. Young hadn’t played with his Crazy Horse cohorts in four years, and few would have guessed the band would do their first gigs back without rehearsals and with little more than a week’s notice.
And in Fresno.
But they did. Thousands of people showed up over the three nights and it was glorious.
Grizzly Fest, May 18, 19, Woodward Park — After much consternation (and a $100,000 license agreement) Grizzly Fest got the go-ahead to hold a two-day concert in north Fresno’s Woodward Park. It was a smart move that proved the city can handle the likes of Snoop Dogg without freaking out (he was kind of the most low-key act of the festival). While the crowds could have/should have been larger, the event proved that a large-scale regional music festival is a doable thing in Fresno.
Already, Grizzly Fest announced its return to the park for May 4-5, 2019. Special “hibernation” tickets are on sale now. Don’t let the fact that the lineup hasn’t been announced stop you from getting in on a deal.
Taco Truck Throwdown, July 20, Chukchansi Park — In its eighth year, the Taco Truck Throwdown put together what might be the most Fresno event ever. That included a Saturday night concert co-headlined by Norteño legend Ramon Ayala and hip-hop icon DJ Quik.
Thousands of people packed the field at Chukchansi Park, dancing and singing (and rapping) along in what made for a great night in downtown Fresno.
Lisa Loeb, July 21, Bitwise South Stadium — This was not the typical concert experience to be sure. The ’90s songstress played a morning and an evening set alternating between her catalog of children’s music (she’s big on Amazon) and her more adult music (including “Stay,” obviously). She also stuck around for picture with fans.
Social Distortion, Sept. 8, Surf Ranch, Lemoore — While the SoCal rock band might be worthy enough on its own, this is notable mostly because of the venue — the man-made wave pool known as the Surf Ranch in Lemoore. This was the first major competition at the ranch, and the Saturday night concert was added to give the whole thing a weekend party vibe.
Social Distortion was actually a fill-in for Blink-182, which was originally scheduled to headline the World Surf League event.
Cake, Nov 2, Crest Theatre — This was one in a series of concerts the ’90s alt rock band did in the run-up to the midterm elections and it was a fundraiser for Democratic candidate Andrew Janz. The band did a concert for Beto O’ Rourke a few nights before.
But it was firstly a rock concert (with fairly inexpensive tickets) from a band that a least a few people considered to be on their bucket list.