WATCH: 10 Must-See Full Concerts For Free On YouTube

March 10, 2020
Wilco performs onstage during day 2 of the 2013 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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Nothing beats seeing your favorite band play live–the sound, the energy, the visual spectacle. But it is impossible to catch every great concert, especially if, like me, you were not even alive when so many classic tours came through town.

Luckily, there are loads of full concerts available for free on YouTube for everyone to see. Watching a video may not match the proper live experience, but these front row views and intimate sessions are still well worth checking out. Here are ten of the best full shows available to stream right now:

Wilco – 11/27/1996 | Vic Theater - Chicago, IL

You might recognize the voice introducing this concert; it belongs to 93XRT’s very own Richard Milne. “Every great thing you’ve ever heard about this band is true,” he says. Wilco have continued to release stellar records and perform sold out shows in their hometown in the nearly 25 years since this concert was filmed—a unique document of the early days of Chicago’s greatest living rock band.

Grateful Dead – 12/31/1977 | Winterland Ballroom - San Francisco, CA

Opening with a countdown to midnight—while promoter Bill Graham, dressed up as Uncle Sam, is lowered by cables to the stage on a motorcycle, revving the engine—the band leaps straight into Sugar Magnolia. What a way to kick off the new year! There are so many great Dead shows available to watch online, but this turn-of-the-year second set is certainly among the best.

The Clash – 03/08/1980 | Capitol Theatre - Passaic, NJ

“The Passaic Fire Department had to check under all the seats before the concert started because of a bomb scare,” says Steve Sherman, a YouTube commenter, who claims to have been there. I’m glad the show went on as planned, and even more glad that it was documented for posterity.

Can –  Winter 1970 | Rockpalast - Souest, Netherlands

This is a rare early recording of a band that only existed, at least in this configuration, for about four years and at a time when very few concerts were filmed in full. Shot for a Dutch television program, this concert features the seminal krautrock group at the height of their sonic exploration (as well as some pretty special footage of hippie teenagers dancing along).

Andrew Bird & St. Vincent – 04/26/2009 | Soirée de Poche – Paris, France

Before Andrew Bird and St. Vincent went on tour together in 2009, they played a secret house show for La Blogotheque in Paris, France. In the first part of this performance, Bird plays three tracks from his album Noble Beast that was released that year. In the second part, Annie Clark performs two of her own songs ("What Me Worry" and "Black Rainbow") accompanied by Andrew Bird on violin. Chances are, you were not one of the lucky few to witness this intimate concert that night, but thankfully it’s available for all to stream.

Neil Young – 11/26/1989 | Cow Palace – San Francisco, CA

Introduced here by the same promoter, Bill Graham, who rode in on the motorcycle during the Grateful Dead show on New Year’s Eve in 1977, Neil Young delivered a short and sweet performance over a decade later in November 1989. This was the final act of a televised benefit show that raised 2.2 million dollars for those affected by a 7.1-magnitude earthquake that “rocked Northern California on Oct. 17 killed 67 people and caused an estimated $7 billion in damage,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Darkside – 10/31/2013 | Pitchfork Music Festival - Paris, France

This short-lived band only saw the release of one LP before its members Dave Harrington and Nicolas Jaar went their separate ways in 2014. Jaar has since released several acclaimed dance records under his own name as well as Against All Logic, but this project leaned instead towards Pink Floyd-like sprawling, groovy psychedelia. “I thought I was making a dance record,” said Jaar about the project, while Harrington thought they were making a traditional rock record. “We both failed.”

Prince – 01/30/1982 | Capitol Theatre - Passaic, NJ

An incredible performance from legendary artist formerly known as Prince—even in black and white, the visuals are stunning. One particular highlight is the lush, ten-minute rendition of “Do Me, Baby.”

HAIM – 11/3/2016 | Valentine Recording Studios, North Hollywood, CA

While not technically a full concert, this totally unique studio performance deserves its place on any list of well-documented live music. Filmed by Paul Thomas Anderson (the masterful filmmaker behind There Will Be Blood), the session features the Haim sisters performing songs from their 2017 record Something to Tell You. As a short concert film, Valentine was screened at Chicago’s own Music Box Theatre.

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – 9/20/78 | Capitol Theatre - Passaic, NJ

Remember Bill Graham? He is the reason we have this sweet Bruce Springsteen recording—as well as several others on this list—available for free. A legendary music promoter who fled the Nazis before setting up shop in San Francisco, Graham created extensive archives of the exploding rock and roll scene. Graham’s footage formed the foundation of the YouTube Channel Music Vault, as well as the website Wolfgang’s (formerly known as Wolfgang’s Vault) which faced copyright disputes in recent years over their online concert footage. For now, though, the Music Vault YouTube channel has even more full concerts and clips available to stream for free.

 

Related: Wilco & Sleater-Kinney To Play In Heart Of Downtown Chicago At Millennium Park This Summer