It was an another up and down year for show attendance; Summer and Fall were decent, but the Winter was a complete bust, and I barely even remember the first few months of the year.
(Oh. Right. Wedding....That explains it).
I did actually get to enough shows to do a top ten list, but due to the fact that so many of them were disappointing (and my generally desperate need for editing), I'll keep it to top five this year.
5. Monotonix at Comet Ping Pong
I'd narrowly missed these guys twice before - once walking into a small club shortly after they'd played, only to discover that the place was fully empty and mostly trashed. So, regardless of what I thought of their music, I did want to finally check Monotonix out.
And generally speaking, they delivered: Lots of riffing. Lots of crusty facial hair. Lots of underwear. Lots of beer and trash strewn around the room. Lots of climbing on things and hanging from things and drum set relocation and semi-bombastic Israeli flag waving.
I can't really say that it was *good*, but it sure was fun, and everyone pretty much got what they came for.
4. The Jim Jones Review at the Black Cat
"Little Richard on crack" was how my friend, Chris, described this band to me. But they were so much better than that.
There's so little great rock out there right now. I'm talking about real rhythm section rock. The type with pianos and horns and tastelessly in-your-face vocals.
That's who these guys are. And God bless them, because despite an appearance on Letterman later that week, they played to a sparse crowd in D.C. that night.
I sure hope they hit Baltimore. Because for a UK band, that's exactly what they remind me of: those incredible 90s rock bands like Ironboss and the Reprobates and the Glenmont Popes and the Put-Outs, that just sort of organically grew out of Hampden for so many years in the 90's.
3. Fucked Up at the Black Cat
Fucked Up rarely puts on anything less than a stellar show, and this would be no exception. They opened with the excellent "Queen of Hearts" (my personal vote for song of the year, by the way), featuring surprise guest vocals from Madeline Folin from Cults, who was playing in town the following night.
This set up perhaps the single greatest dis I have heard in all of my concert-going years, courtesy of Damien Abraham:
"That was Madeline Folin from Cults, and she's playing tomorrow night with Foster the People. Take it from me: get there early, leave early."
2. The Body and the Assembly of Light Choir at St. Steven's Church
It's easy to get defense about how little respect metal gets as a music form, much less an art form. It is also totally cliche. The last thing I need is people thinking I'm that crybaby label apologist, Eddie Fucking Trunk.
Nonetheless, it was nice to witness the Body and the Assembly of Light Choir putting on the single most artistic performance I saw all year -- and perhaps in several years.
True, the AOLC doesn't exactly knock you over with the sophistication of their arrangements. (To be honest, they get repetitive quickly). But that's not really the point.
The point is that it takes both balls and vision to perform them in tandem with a two-piece doom metal band that is playing at full tilt.....not only staying toe to toe with them, but complimenting the band with a nearly Wagnerian power at the end of the set. (Special thanks to St. Stephen's acoustics and some outstanding sound work by local stalwart, Marcus Esposito),
A grudging nod to Lars Gotrich at NPR for tipping me off (via Twitter) to this show. I can't say that I have much use for that intellectual, hipster, metal-for-smart-kids music that he seems to love, but he sure knew what he was talking about with this one.
1. Pharaoh Sanders at Bohemian Caverns
Make no mistake: the last of the jazz greats are dying off. And since I routinely botch every single chance I have ever had to see Sonny Rollins, I wasn't going to screw this up.
Sanders is destined to always be compared to his "mentor", John Coltrane. But with his penchant for playing with feedback, experimenting with insane mouthpieces and generally doing things with the saxophone that it was never intended to do, it's just as apt to have him forever bonded to Jimi Hendrix.
And Goddamn it, he's one powerful, aggressive, fearless performer.
That said, I guess its fair to say that Sanders got off to a slow start. He's a little older, a little shorter and a little heavier than I realized. (And a whole lot blacker - like his skin had a nearly blue glow under the stage lights....not that this has anything to do with anything, but the visual was fucking cool).
Once Sanders hit his his stride, however, I completely regretted not buying tickets for the later set. Because if he picked up where he left off (a fun-as-hell romp on "Going Back to Africa"), the people waiting upstairs had an even better night than I did.
Really glad I caught this.
(And - seriously - I can't believe that Lars Gotrich tipped me off to this one, too. Good Lord. You should probably follow him on Twitter.)