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Gem City touring highlights of 2015

By Gary Spencer

Photo: Weird Al Yankovic’s appearance at Fraze this summer was one to be remembered

Well gang, 2015 is about to come to an end. Time flies when you’re having fun, and judging by staggering amount of good touring acts that came to the Gem City this year I’d say us Daytonians had lots of fun. Dayton City Paper has asked me to put together my list of the best live performances and tours that graced our city’s stages in 2015, and I’m happy to oblige. But I’ve gotta’ say, it was a tougher task than I anticipated and unfortunately I had to leave off a handful of honorable mentions. Still, I’d say that’s a good problem for Dayton to have, right? And to all the Negative Nancy’s out there who say that no cool bands ever play in Dayton, below are several reasons to prove you are dead wrong and should get off your couch every once in a while to get in on the fun yourselves.

Without further ado, here are this critic’s picks for the best live shows in Dayton from touring acts in 2015 (in no particular order):

Weedeater at Rockstar Pro Arena

North Carolina’s kings of stoner sludge Weedeater made their second appearance in many years once again at the wrestling arena in downtown Dayton, and once again rocked and grooved the house with their fuzzy, southern fried heavy metal tales of debauchery. Lots of whiskey was drunk, lots of pot smoke was inhaled and everybody had a damn good time.

Toxic Holocaust at Rockstar Pro Arena

Portland’s Toxic Holocaust also made their triumphant return to Rockstar Pro after a two-year absence. No worse for the wear, Joel Grind and company ripped through a fast and furious set of punk-influenced retro-thrash metal that sounds like it was frozen in time in the 1980s and thawed out due to global warming in the modern millennium. Once again, Toxic Holocaust showed ‘em how it should be done.

Weird Al Yankovic at Fraze Pavilion

There’s no chance in hell that a live show by master of parodies in the Gem City doesn’t make this list, and anyone who was there will tell you that they needed plastic surgery to remove their smiles after Yankovic donned several wardrobe changes and served up a set list that incorporated tunes from his newest album and first Billboard #1 record Mandatory Fun all the way back to the ’80s hits that made him famous.

The Toasters at Oddbody’s

While ska was popular in Dayton during the 1990s, it’s become somewhat of a relic among music fans in this city since. But The Toasters’ appearance at Oddbody’s was a fantastic reminder that ska still lives. These legends of the genre were on tour in support of their 30th anniversary, and for their first-ever concert in the Gem City The Toasters performed a set list that included highlights from all throughout their illustrious career, and had those in attendance dancin’ and swayin’ to the grooves they laid down. A very special occasion, indeed.

Daikaiju at Blind Bob’s

While Huntsville, Alabama’s Daikaiju has played in Dayton several times before, their live shows always have an air of unpredictability and therefore are can’t-miss occasions. The quartet, dressed in luchador masks and lavish costumes, start their set onstage but soon the band and all their gear are out in the crowd where they had no problem handing off their instruments to those in attendance, dancing on the bar and even dousing their drums in lighter fluid and settin’ that sh-t on fire. If a live show by Daikaiju doesn’t get your rocks off, you clearly have no pulse.

Shostakovich: The Witness at the Schuster Center

This entry is a little off the beaten path, and while this isn’t a touring act, The Dayton Philharmonic really doesn’t get the props it deserves. This concert was very unique in their oeuvre. First, this was an afternoon performance of music by one of the most underrated composers of the 20th century, Russia’s Dmitri Shostakovich. Furthermore, it was prefaced by a pre-performance talk led by conductor Neal Gittleman discussing the historical significance of the pieces the DPO chose to play as well as some of the musical nuances that made Shostakovich’s compositions special. After a stirring performance of a few of Shostakovich’s most moving numbers, the show was followed by an ice cream social and post-show Q&A session as well. How neat is that?

The Book of Mormon at the Schuster Center

I know this isn’t a band, but who cares? The Book of Mormon is indeed a tour that came to Dayton in 2015, amirite? Anyhow, this musical atrocity courtesy of South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker is everything you’d expect from the dudes behind the longest running show on Comedy Central—vulgar, tasteless and funny as f–k, and the tunes within are catchier than they have any right to be. There’s a reason why this musical has won nine Tony awards, and its appearance on a Dayton stage was long overdue and quite welcomed.

Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at

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Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at

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