With the pandemic finally fading completely into the rearview, live music has resumed in full effect, with a spectacular slate of summer outdoor concerts, and packed houses at indoor shows all year long.
Embracing the blissful escapism and total euphoria that only live music can provide, West Michigan has returned to many of our longtime favorites, while also welcoming some surprising new faces when looking over the results of this year’s Best of the West Music finalists.
The Pyramid Scheme reclaimed the top spot as the Best Music Venue, a title it last earned back in 2021, and one that has had tough competition with last year’s winner The Intersection, and multiple year finalist GLC Live at 20 Monroe. All three host the most concerts year-round, so it’s no surprise that they all vie for the favorite place to experience live music every time.
Returning to our lists this year is Best Music Festival, with the trippy EDM wonderland that is Electric Forest taking the top spot. World-renowned and bringing in thousands from all around the country to experience the psychedelic spectacle in all its glowing glory, the weekend-long event towers as the premiere experience, but locals shouldn’t sleep on fellow finalists Burning Foot Beer Festival in Muskegon and Upheaval Festival at Belknap Park. Both pack a punch with stacked rock lineups and high volume performances that mix rising and legendary artists on the same stage.
When it comes to Best Cover Band, Brena reigns supreme, once again earning the honors, while being joined by another annual mainstay Project 90, and a first-time finalist Onager. Likewise Best Original Band sees Grand Rapids jam band Desmond Jones returning for the second year in a row, with psych-rockers Overdrive Orchestra and first-time finalists Phabies rounding out the category.
The biggest surprise of the year came with Best Solo Artist, where first-time finalist Andrea Jenkins takes the prize. The multi-media artist and influencer has gone viral with her song “Royaltea,” and has shocked our results, landing ahead of longtime finalist and past winner Chris Cranick of Overdrive Orchestra, and other unexpected newcomer Evelyine. With two new artists shaking things up this year, who knows what could happen when voting begins again next year, and your favorites could find their place among our Best.
*Each category lists the winner with two finalists listed alphabetically below.
BEST COVER BAND FINALISTS
Brena | brenaband.com
Adrian Butler (AB)
Moments in Time Disc Jockeys
BEST MUSIC FESTIVAL
Electric Forest | electricforest.com
Burning Foot Beer Festival
BEST MUSIC VENUE
The Pyramid Scheme | pyramidschemebar.com
GLC Live at 20 Monroe
BEST ORIGINAL BAND
Desmond Jones | desmondjonesband.com
BEST SOLO MUSICIAN
Andrea Jenkins | facebook.com/theandreajenkinsofficial
BEST VINYL RECORD STORE
Vertigo | vertigomusic.gr
Off The Record
The Corner Record Shop