New Orleans' Big Freedia and Tank and the Bangas Electrify Sold-Out Crowd

By the time the Queen of Bounce hit the stage, thunderous bass shook the floor of Berkeley’s UC Theatre and a roaring crowd were already shakin’ that ass. Three backup dancers, dressed in black booty shorts and leopard crop tops, started gyrating behind Big Freedia, bending over and twerking to the beat. It wasn’t long before a spotlight lit up a ledge on the side of the floor — a nearly-naked dancer bent over and shook from above. The crowd went nuts.

Nine Inch Nails strip it down, wake us up

Eerily setting the mood with a rendition of Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks track, “Fireman,” Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor kicked off the night with “Branches/Bones” and lit the crowd on fire. Sullenly shimmying and gripping his mic, Reznor's massive, black silhouette hovered over 50,000 people Oct. 21 at Monster Energy Aftershock Festival in Sacramento. And as each note synched with bursts of bright light, I reveled in a sweet dopamine high.

Sea of spectators soak it in

Standing atop the peak of Berkeley’s Greek Theater, a sea of golden-lit limbs swayed beneath me. Couples cuddled, friends danced and I watched, enjoying the striking union of sight and sound. It’s no surprise that Mumford and Sons sold out three nights at the Greek in less than 30 seconds. The English folk-rock foursome have gained much-deserved recognition in the past two years, and though they produce universally-adored harmonies, I connect with their passion-charged lyrics.

Sigur Ros steals the show at Outside Lands

Gold sparks swelled, popped and fell like rain on the backdrop behind Icelandic band Sigur Ros Aug. 11. Singer Jón Þór Birgisson bowed his guitar amidst a beautifully lit forest, blanketed in fog. Trees nearly barricaded the crowd, and as the music’s ambient beauty halted the audience to a near silence, red and orange fire exploded over the trees as Metallica played from the main stage, across Golden Gate Park.