Following the pandemic shutdown, live music has been back in full swing for over two years now, which has given veteran bands the chance to reclaim the throne, and new acts the opportunity to try and seize it.
So far in the 2020s, young bucks like Sleep Token, Bad Omens and Spiritbox have become the new league of heavy-metal headliners, while others like Ghost and Gojira have become bona fide festival bigwigs.
We asked our readers to be honest and pick the single best live band in the game right now. The final tallies included bands from every era of heavy music — the top five vote-getters are ranked accordingly below.
Ghost shows feel like mini-holidays in and of themselves. Tobias Forge's occult-rock troupe are one of the biggest bands in all of heavy music right now, and after their whirlwind rise to mainstream-ish fame following last year's TikTok virality, Ghost's stage setups have only become more elaborate, and the fervor of their audiences that much more intense.
They may be a few years off from legitimately rivaling Taylor Swift's Eras Tour, but amazingly, it feels like they might one day get there.
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Parkway Drive have sneakily become one of the most revered live bands in all of metal. In the 2000s and early 2010s, the Australian metalcore crew were notorious for the feral mosh pits their breakdown-littered songs would induce, but as the band's sound has become more capital-"M" Metal in the years since, their stage show has grown alongside their audiences.
Fire, orchestras and elaborate lighting are all part of their presentation now, as well as the tremendous, woah-oh sing-alongs that rattle any amphitheater they inhabit. Parkway shows are a blast.
TOOL are the most seasoned vets to crack the top five, but their place here is inarguable. The alt-metal auteurs have spent decades mesmerizing audiences with their transcendent, psychedelic excursions, and they've always made the live show just that — a show.
From Maynard James Keenan's outlandish outfits and the band's use of cutting-edge stage lighting, to Danny Carey's adventurous journeys around his fabled drum kit, TOOL know how to give their audiences exactly what they want, while also remaining just mysterious and distant enough to keep them coming back.
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All the bands on this list are superior musicians, but Rammstein are far and away the metal genre's greatest showmen. Rammstein gigs double as Vegas-tier entertainment spectacles, filled with over-the-top pyro explosions, theatrical costumes, giant cannons shooting foam, and lots more fire.
Hell, they were even famously arrested at one show in 1998 for performing a fake act of sodomy onstage, underscoring that Rammstein are never afraid to go there in every aspect of their career — music, videos, album covers and performances. Witnessing their mayhem in-person is an experience unlike any other.
There're many long-running metal institutions who could've taken the No. 1 spot (Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slipknot, etc.), but it was great to see Gojira take home the gold this time. The French prog-metal environmentalists have played the long-game career-wise, gradually building up an audience over many decades of outstanding live shows until their music finally exploded worldwide with 2016's Magma and then even more with 2021's Fortitude.
They've always displayed an unmatched level of tightness and intensity onstage, and now that they have the means to perform to thousands of screaming metalheads each night, their shows have become that much more epic. Our readers think Gorjia are the best live band in the game at the moment — and it's a hard claim to argue with.
Pick up Gojira vinyl, merch, magazines and more over at Revolver's shop