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The 10 best livestreams of the year

a montage of stills from livestreams
(Image credit: Code Orange/Evanescence/Twin Temple/Motionless In White)

For many of us, going the best part of 10 months without seeing any live music in the flesh was unthinkable this time last year. But as the pandemic progressed and artists realised this wasn’t going away any time soon, livestreams and virtual performances became the norm. 

From bathroom acoustic shows to full-blown arena productions, there’s been streams of all scales across all genres. Until we can all pack into the same room together to mosh and get sweaty, the virtual gigs will have to do. 

Here’s a round up of some of the best livestreamed gigs of 2020. 

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Code Orange

The ones who started it all. Way back in March, this lot were ahead of the curve and pulled out all the stops for this impressive livestream from an empty venue in Pittsburgh. It’s not the way they’d hoped to launch their Underneath album, but they definitely made the most of it. A spooky intro let you know what you were in for, along with creepy graphics that did look a bit like they were done on Windows 95 in between some of the songs, but it added to the charm. They played 13 tracks in just over 53 minutes and set an impossibly high bar for everyone else to match this year. You can see the full set online below.


Architects

Continuing with the empty venues, Architects took over the legendary Royal Albert Hall for a very special livestream show. It’s a haunting venue at the best of times, but as the camera panned around the venue to reveal lights in the empty seats, it was strangely beautiful. 

The band ripped through a best-of set and still found the time to debut two brand new songs from their forthcoming album For Those That Wish To Exist. Fans soon had #ArchitectsRAH trending on Twitter at #16, and the excitement for new tunes Dead Butterflies and Discourse Is Dead was off the scale. They even found the time for a little acoustic set, featuring Memento Mori and A Wasted Hymn. Fans are hoping for a DVD release.


Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes

Some livestreams this year have suffered from an occasional awkward dead air moment while someone tunes up between a song, as the singer twiddles his thumbs as there’s nobody to talk to. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes avoided this by having some of their fans onstage with them – virtually of course – with their zoom screens behind them, almost in the round. There was something charming about seeing people moshing in their living rooms, and pets inevitably got involved too. Frank Carter clearly relished being back onstage and spent a lot of time grimacing into the camera. High-octane and intense as ever, the virtual experience was still a lot of fun, it just meant less chance of Carter barrelling into you.  


Corey Taylor

There’s only one Corey Taylor, and the Slipknot and Stone Sour legend was never going to do a livestream by halves. Forum Or Against ‘Em was broadcast live from The Forum in Los Angeles, and featured tracks from his solo album CMFT, as well as fan-picked favourites from the enviable Slipknot and Stone Sour catalogues. 

It wouldn’t be a Corey Taylor show without pyrotechnics, so of course he packed the show with full production as well as the massive tunes, reportedly spending $250,000 on the stuff. Rock’n’roll mayhem ensued. You can watch Samantha’s Gone on Taylor's YouTube channel or check out Halfway Down below.


Evanescence

Recorded at the Rock Falcon Studio in Nashville, this was Evanescence’s only live show this year after the pandemic forced them to cancel their huge world tour that was planned as a double headliner alongside Within Temptation. The band have been busy writing music for new album The Bitter Truth instead, and this was a first chance for fans to hear some of the tunes. Of course they played some of their biggest hits too, including Going Under and Bring Me To Life. The intimate setting of the studio makes for a nice change from their usual colossal arena shows and gave a far more personal edge to proceedings. Watch Use My Voice below.


Motionless In White

Of course a goth band would do a “deadstream” instead of a livestream, but that’s one of the great things about Motionless In White: they do everything their own way. The event was to celebrate the anniversary of their debut album, Creatures, so they played the record in its entirety. It was a chance for fans to hear some songs live that they haven’t played for a very long time – if ever, in some cases. It was a few days before Halloween, so there were plenty of pumpkins and spooky décor to enjoy too. Catch To The Grave below.


Twin Temple

Keeping it gothic, Twin Temple brought some Satanic glamour to proceedings this year. Their stunning Stripped From The Crypt session showed off their darkly sexy music in a whole new way. Sacrificial ballads blended with doo wop – what more could you want? It was truly different and incredibly addictive despite the lack of pyrotechnics or big budget staging. 

They’re planning a festive “livescream” event this weekend too with their Magickal Tale Of Krampus Night, from December 18-21, with a festive twist. It’s a satanic puppet show, because 2020. You can catch up on Lucifer My Love (and all of the other tracks) on their YouTube channel, or catch Satan’s A Woman below.

Metallica

Of course one of the biggest bands in the world would get involved with the livestream action, there was no chance Metallica were going to stay quiet for 2020. They didn’t just do a one off show – oh no. They did Metallica Mondays too, sharing archive concerts in a free, weekly series, and raised money for good causes while they were at it. They also treated fans to a stripped back version of Blackened. You can watch it below.

TesseracT

Prog metallers TesseracT are another lot who have been lining up the livestreams. Earlier this year they did a live session based on their Sonder record (even though they were in different locations and countries at the time) and this month performed a fully produced livestream event for Portals. Lasers! Lights! They did everything they could to make this a mesmerising live show and didn’t disappoint. It was crying out to be performed at a festival. Fingers crossed for 2021.  

Trivium

The band have shared a whole lot of live material this year, and one of the highlights is undoubtedly The Deepest Cuts II. Filmed all on a single camera in the corner of their Florida rehearsal room, it was a simple set up that made you focus on the brilliance of the songs instead. Earlier in the year they did a full production show, A Light Or A Distant Mirror, and proved they’re excellent in both settings. You can watch The Deepest Cuts II below.