Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Year in Review - Concerts

I saw over 50 shows again this year, and by and large it was a good crop. I still saw way less shows than Val or Malitz but I saw no slouch. There were a lot of bands that I've seen before but a lot of new acts and unexpected things. I saw more classical that I had before and I ventured out to DC9 and Birchmere and the Black & Red and some other venues that I don't get out to enough. So without further ado, here's my top 20 from 1 down to 20:

Les Savy Fav @ Black Cat - By the end of the first song, Tim Harrington had removed my earplugs with his mouth, by song two he had rubbed his crotch in my face, and midway through he was wearing the glasses of everyone in the front row. There was also the stretch of the show where Tim wore Abe's shirt over his pants. But all that would be nothing if not for the songs, which sounds as amazing as ever, even without my earplugs.
Sons And Daughters + A Place to Bury Strangers @ RnR Hotel - Emphasis on Place to Bury Strangers who were very loud and very very good. The album is solid, but live they are downright hypnotic, they make the best noise.
Centro-Matic & South San Gabriel @ RnR Hotel - An absolutely great rock show. I went on a whim and was blown away by the tunes from a band who I'd always enjoyed but never fully appreciated.
Radiohead & Liars @ Nissan - My first and last journey to Nissan. The weather sucked, the drive sucked, the venue sucked. But Liars were amazing and Radiohead were pretty darn good too. Shame about them playing the whole damn new album, but that's how it goes.
Indian Jewelry @ Black & Red - Similarly to Place to Bury Strangers, these guys were utterly hypnotic and made an amazing racket.
Okkervil & The New Pornographers @ 930 Club - I want to see more double-bills like this in the future. Even without Neko, the New P's were fantastic and Okkervil were wonderful as always.
Monotonix/Dark Meat @ Talking Head - I was sick that day and almost didn't make the trek up to Baltimore and I'm glad I did. This was my favorite of my three times seeing Monotonix, there's something about the Talking Head's "aesthetic" that is perfect for their music.
Virgin Fest - Nine Inch Nails put on a career defining set. The Stooges were insane. Fat drunk dudes yelled mean things at She and Him. Chromeo killed it in the dance tent. And STP were kinda underwhelming. This is probably my last festival, at least for a long while, but a great way to go out.
Boris @ Black Cat - There were three choices the evening of this show and I am certain I picked the right one. They were heavy in every possible way - from slow to fast, from loud to louder.
Cut Copy @ 930 Club - This was a victory lap sort of show and utterly deserved. I do not like the Presets and the show didn't change that, but man, Cut Copy have the tunes and the energy.
Booker T & the MGs @ 930 Club - Woefully underattended, but the old dudes all still have it. It was impossible not to have a smile on your face listening to "Time is Tight" or "Green Onion."
Lykke Li @ Black Cat - I hope she keeps cranking out great albums because just on the strength of one album she is an almost insanely driven live performer.
Elbow @ Sixth and I Synagogue - Everything seemed to come together for Elbow this year, and they played to their strengths at this show. Nice to see them make it back to the states finally.
Battles @ 930 Club - This was another show I considered skipping, but Battles are certainly one of the best live bands on the planet right now.
Stars of the Lid & Hammock @ Iota - This was their only club show on the tour, and a strange club choice at that, but it worked wonderfully. Hammock's music was also stunningly lovely. I hope Iota does more ambient shows like this.
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings@ Black Cat - Boy can they play. In a perfect world the Dap Kings would be running the world. Everything about the show was on point - the pacing, the songs, and the sound.
Laptop Orchestra @ Kennedy Center - This sounded much as you would expect. The glitchy sounds plus minimalist video installation. And it was one of the most challenging shows that Kennedy Center could put on, this was a slow building, but utterly elegant when everything came together. It's tough to describe how great this show was, but it really was wonderful.
These New Puritans @ DC9 - Seth, Rohan and I might have been the only ones rocking out, but damn are these kids good.
Mogwai & Fuck Buttons @ 930 Club - Mogwai are such a monster live I think people forget how good they are. I admit I did, but I'm glad I came out for this one. Also I am very much looking forward to what Fuck Buttons do next.
Squeeze @ 930 Club - This was how to do a crowd pleasing show. All the hits, a few nice surprises, and everything still sounded great.

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