Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Year in Concerts

This wasn't a big year for me and live music. In fact, you could probably define this year more on the shows I missed (the Cult, In Flames, Edwin Sharpe, Motorhead, Cthonic, Ted Leo), than the ones I attended.

What can I say? I'm getting old, my energy is getting low, and things seem to sell out a lot more often these days than they used to.

Still, I managed to squeeze in a few notable shows this year, so in the spirit of year-end retrospectives, here's my top ten list for 2009:

10. Gogol Bordello at the 9:30 Club - The conceited and insecure part of me (that writes a snarky blog that no one reads) sort of hates to admit that I enjoy gypsy music. But these guys are total professionals, and I had an outstanding time watching them do their thing. And the vision of that band....the vision. At a time when any jackass with a creepy mustache can move to Williamsburg and suddenly be in the next big thing, it's nice to occasionally see a spectacle like Gogol and think.....only in NYfuckinC.

9. Sigur Ros @ MOMA - Ok, so this concert didn't actually happen this year. And I didn't actually attend it. But this WAS the year that I got the Current Channel and it was the year that I found myself watching this concert film over and over and over again. And almost every time I ended the night welling up with tears because the whole thing is so beautiful and joyful and pure and wonderful and now I'm crying again....

8. The Flaming Lips on the National Mall - A Flaming Lips show is like some sort of rite of passage, and I'd missed out on it up until this year. I'd say I'm half a fan of the Lips (at best), but I respect them immensely, and a free outdoor show is still a thing of beauty. Aside from the uninspiring weather and maybe one clunker in the middle of the set, it was basically everything I'd been led to expect. Well played, Mr. Coyne.

7. The Run for Cover Party at the Black Cat - It's not like D.C. invented the concept of the Run for Cover party, but having attended every single one of them since they were hosted in a basement in Northern Virginia, I can't imagine that any other city does it with a better, more community-oriented vibe. And while this year's line-up didn't necessarily impress the way that previous years had, the Bon Jovi and Bee Gees bands were particularly fun. God, I love this tradition.

6. The Legendary Shack Shakers at the Rock and Roll Hotel - Another band I'd been waiting to see for years and had never gotten around to. And as a double bonus, I'd invited my difficult-to-impress friend, Dan, to this show, and for once I didn't disappoint him. Score. Then I had to ruin it by getting drunk and accidentally smashing a bottle on the floor. Fail.

5. Fucked Up at the Talking Head
- Hardcore ain't my thing. But Fucked Up does it right, with actual arrangements and a subtle sense of humor. Drove an hour to this show by myself only to run into acquaintances from D.C. while I was up in Baltimore (on a school night). That sort of thing rarely happens anymore....

4. Fucked Up at Subterranean - Playing an exclusive-feeling pre-show set before the Pitchfork Music Festival, this show was noteworthy not only because I saw the same band twice in six months, but also because my good friend Phil was kind enough to meet us out on our first night in Chicago, despite his being on business travel for the previous 14 hours.

3. The Pixies at Constitution Hall - Read my review here.

2. Lamb of God at the 9:30 Club - I promised myself I'd write a review of this as part of the "A Day Late" series, but that's looking less likely each week. This was my first metal concert in a LONG time, and I distinctly got the impression that I might have been seeing this band at their absolute peak. The band was absolutely furious, the crowd was decidedly more energetic than D.C. crowds ever are, and the entire affairs was very much more executed than performed. I honestly feel a little sorry for those motherfuckers in Metallica for putting Lamb of God on as their opening act this past year. No way I'd want to be that far past my prime and getting on stage after those guys. No fucking way at all.

1. The Living Things at the Rock and Roll Hotel - Listen to me right now: This is the best fucking rock and roll band in existence at this moment. And they blew Patrick Wolf and his silly ass fashion show about three blocks off the stage and into Trinadad. I love, love, love, love, love this band.

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