26 December 2010

Best Experiences in Live Music Performances for 2010

In 2009, concert attendance was at an all-time high and the thinking was that in 2010 more of the same would occur. However, it snowed mightily for months which threw things off and then I realized I was moving which placed a hold on events and then I actually relocated which totally changed everything. Additionally, this site itself has suffered through bouts of erraticism and stagnation. The last twelve months have been tumultuous to say the least, but it is my solemn promise that things will work themselves out. A thousand apologies to all four of you readers who have endured the ups and downs that have taken place here in this space, and again I swear that this will all get better.
As far as this list goes, the focus will be on performance. I saw dozens of bands in Chicago, but still don't feel comfortable identifying one day as particularly great. Also, there were at least two shows where I just went to have fun and didn't think about reviewing or ranking. Those two would be of Montreal back in January and My Morning Jacket in May.

10. Girls / Dum Dum Girls, 3/30/10, piece of shit suck venue outside of Baltimore.
Gary and I tried really hard to have fun at this show, and we did; but man oh man the spot blew. Far and away, our least favorite place to see live music. Regardless, the Dum Dum Girls were fantastic and made me smile while Girls were very strong. No matter how much hate I may have for this theater, this show was damn good.

9. The Vaselines, 10/3/10, First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia.
My first show in my new area code. I had shaved my beard two days prior, and uncertainty was my only bounty. From the first note to the push pit that followed, I felt at home.

8. Beach House / Lightning Bolt, 7/18/10, Union Park, Chicago.
Listing them like that makes it seem like they opened for one another, and while that wasn't actually the case it kind of was at the same time. At first, I faced towards the left and took in the cerebral majesty of Beach House which included a Gucci cover. The sun shone brightly, and drinking was easy. Twas a pleasant time and then the set ended, and I turned to the right. That same sun disappeared, and lighting cigarettes became difficult. There was lots of yelling, and people were running away. I inched closer. Two men made a gross amount of noise, and I loved every second of it. These days, in the morning on the train ride to work, I replay this hour and a half over and over in my head.

7. Mastodon / Baroness, 4/20/10, Ram's Head Live, Baltimore.
Words still can't express this one, and just saying "it was rad" doesn't do it any justice. Baroness is one of the most badass bands on the planet these days, and what Mastodon was able to achieve on that airy night in the city was nothing short of spectacular. I arrived by myself, but moments into "Bullhead's Psalm" it was as though I was in an entirely different space sector. Both bands played album sets, as in they played their records respectively in their entirety. This could be so much higher on the list, but I can't handle being charged with hyperbole.

6. Gang Gang Dance, 3/25/10, Ottobar, Baltimore.
It is really quite difficult to pinpoint what it is about Gang Gang Dance that makes my hips sway they way that they do, and seeing them live only makes it harder to explain. It might have something to do with the fact that I don't really think and just let it happen. With that in mind...

5. High on Fire / Black Cobra / Bison B.C., 4/11/10, Sonar, Baltimore.
Hockey season was about to end, but it didn't matter on this night. An excellent night with my partners in crime. The next morning, I realized I had my first bangover.

4. Deerhunter, 10/13/10, Starlight Ballroom, Philadelphia.
Some pretty serious hanging out took place on this night in a former ballroom dancing spot. The crowd was disheartening in the sense that they were mostly comprised of high schoolers who were hoping to make it home in time for curfew. They had heard "Helicopter" on myspace so clearly there were big time fans. Bradford was in the crowd at one point, and was swarmed by these blokes and inundated with autograph requests. Predictably, it was a strange sight. The sounds were terrific, though. Ducktails and Casino Vs Japan were the opening acts to get things going, and then Deerhunter brought the house down. The new record had just come out, and the set was a pretty even mix of all their efforts which made for a pretty trippy set. To actually hear the evolution that had taken in place in only a few years was remarkable. Emotions ran high on this Wednesday night, and I may have cried at one point. (Writer's Note: I'm pretty sure I didn't, but I still can't say definitively that I didn't.)

3. Warpaint, 8/17/10, Ottobar, Baltimore.
The last show before the move, and again with two of my favorite partners in crime. Such an oddly affecting show, and for reasons other than the fact that the band was made up of beautiful strong independent women.

2. LCD Soundsystem, 7/17/10, Union Park, Chicago.
I did what I always do during this set: drank beer and smoked countless cigarettes. I did what I occasionally do during this set: danced. I even did what I rarely do during this set: danced with someone of the fairer sex. The set wasn't that loud, but it was pretty great. I was already genuinely enjoying myself when I got hit over the head with the line. "Where are your friends tonight?" I looked around although I already knew the answer. They certainly weren't there, and thats when I knew. This was the moment, where in the words of Kenneth Patchen, I did not deny my deepest instinct, and I faced all events that followed with open eyes.

1. Pavement, 9/17/10, Mann Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia.
Seeing them in Chicago was neat because it was the first time, and the Central Park gig was fun since Gary was there, but this one was the best. Looking back, this was the last show before they all started hating one another again. I've lost a notebook since then, but I know with absolute certainty that this was the one where they played "Box Elder" and "Frontwards", and this was the time when they played "Spizzle Trunk" and I knew it. Unfortunately, no more details can be spared regarding this event.

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