Archive for the ‘2009’ Category

Favorite concerts of 2009.

Friday, January 1st, 2010

In 2009, I went to 44 different concerts at 18 different venues in 4 different states and saw a total of 127 different bands. Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order:

1. Big Shoulders Inauguration Ball presented by the Hideout Chicago & Interchange (20 January 2009, the Black Cat, Washington, DC)
‘Twas the night before the inauguration, and I fell into a friend’s +1 for this great show, full of fantastic Chicago bands. It was a marathon, but there were so many great performances: Tortoise (who are always great, and their performance of “Along the Banks of Rivers” this night totally slayed), Ken Vandermark, John Herndon, and Jeff Parker (performing the songs of Sun Ra), Freakwater, Eleventh Dream Day, and the Waco Brothers. It also reminded me how much has changed just in 4 years; I know that’s such a cliché, but four years ago (20 January 2005) at the same venue was a very different kind of pre-inauguration show; it was called Noise Against Fascism and featured Mirror/Dash (Kim Gordon & Thurston Moore), Chris Corsano & Paul Flaherty, Magik Markers, and To Live and Shave in L.A. It was a great, great noise show, which I photographed for the Wire), but it was a totally different energy from this one– and even the people I go to shows with (and see at shows!) has changed dramatically since 2005.

2. Mastodon (12 May 2009 at the 9:30 club, Washington, DC, and 31 October 2009 at the Patriot Center, Fairfax, VA)
Things have changed a lot for Mastodon since I first fell in love with them, and I never thought I’d see them in a big basketball arena. on Halloween. with hundreds of people singing along. Both of these shows were great; I think the 9:30 club was probably better musically, but the Halloween show had such a great energy with the people there in costume (one was even dressed as the undead Rasputin, from Crack the Skye!). Both shows had such a great personal energy as well; stood outside the 9:30 talking to Chris until about 2 AM after the first show (thereby missing all of the deadlines I had for him the next day), and spent the round-trip drive to and from the Patriot Center nerding out about music and metal with Brandon (who totally reminded me how great that Orthrelm album is).

3. the Pitchfork Music Festival (17-19 July, Union Park, Chicago, IL)
It’s probably cheating for me to list this, but I do every year. It’s always a great time personally (this year, it was a weekend-long slumber party, turning the P4k HQ into a 9-person group house for those three days), seeing tons of old friends that I only get to see once a year. And, of course, a bazillion fantastic bands. Personal highlight this year was, of course, the Jesus Lizard, whom I’ve wanted to see ever since Goat came out in 1991. And ooh boy, it was worth the wait: within 1 second of starting the set, David Yow sailed right over me in the photo pit and began crowdsurfing. I lost one of my favorite earrings in the melée, but it was totally worth it. Other highlights: Bowerbirds, Lindstrom, the Very Best, Dianogah (with Rebecca Gates), and lengthy discussions of donk.

4. Soulsavers (20 September, the Rock & Roll Hotel, Washington, DC)
I rushed over to this show right after rehearsal and missed their first few songs (and Red Ghost’s entire opening set), but the addition of Mark Lanegan to this band just totally kills. That voice, that voice….

5. Neil Halstead (25 March, the Talking Head, Baltimore, MD)
I used to road-trip up to Baltimore to see shows all the time, but I went up for only two this year– this one and Jucifer/Mount Vicious at the Ottobar. There’s something about Neil Halstead’s hushed serenity that taks me to a calmer place, and even though his solo music hasn’t been loved by most critics, I just can’t get enough of it. And he played Slowdive’s “Alison”.

6. Future of the Left (29 October, the Rock N Roll Hotel, Washington, DC)
Rare is the rock show that entertains with words as much as with music– I wish I could remember all the hilarious things these guys said and did.

7. Lady Gaga (29 September, DAR Constitution Hall, Washington, DC)
I don’t go to as many big-name, mainstream concerts since I lost my primary concert review outlet, but this show reminded me why I enjoy them so much: these types of shows are just such a great spectacle. There were so many girls and boys dressed up like Gaga (in other words: wearing barely more than their underwear), making for some of the best peoplewatching around. Oh, and of course, Ms. Gaga herself is always so enchanting to watch. She doesn’t have an amazing voice, but she knows how to use what she’s got in a way that’s hard to look away. It wasn’t about big stage sets (her props were fairly minimal) or legions of backup dancers (there were 3)– it was all about HER. And from the skimpy costumes to a tender hope that her dad would make it through heart surgery, you never quite know what she’s going to say or do next.

The full list of bands I saw (alphabetically) is after the jump. Bands I saw more than once are listed in bold. (more…)

Favorite albums of 2009.

Friday, January 1st, 2010

There is much opportunity to reminisce about the year that has just ended, but for now, I have just posted my top 50 albums of 2009.

My top 10 includes bands I’ve loved for years (Mastodon, Tortoise), bands that rose from the ashes of other bands I love (Future of the Left), bands that remind me of bands I grew up with (the Pains of Being Pure at Heart), and a band that gave a killer performance at the P4k festival (the Very Best).

Those in the 11-20 range include an artist that i wanted to see this year but couldn’t because I had made other plans months before her concert was announced (Rokia Traoré), bands/artist that I’ve listed on my year-end list just about every time they’ve released an album (Animal Collective, Antony & the Johnsons, Bill Callahan), another band that grew out of one of my favorite bands (the Wooden Birds), and a band that has been on the periphery of my radar for years (the Handsome Family).

Those in the 21-30 range include more bands that have been around forever (Yo La Tengo, Califone, Sonic Youth), an a cappella act that blew me away live (Sonos), a friend and talented artist (Zak Sally), and a solo act from a band that I’m still sad does not exist (Sir Richard Bishop).

Perhaps this post would’ve been more interesting if I hadn’t IDed the bands I was describing….

NP: Yeasayer, “Sunrise”.