Archive for the ‘concerts’ Category

July 2011 Concert round-up

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

In brief, here are the highlights from the 8 shows I saw in July. Interestingly, it looks like these shows were all at different venues– doesn’t happen that often!

Best heckle: to a very pregnant Kasey Chambers: “Play all night!” followed by “Play ’til the baby’s born!” 9 July at the Birchmere.

Best aluminum-necked guitars: Torche, again. Yes, they tied in the same category back in March, but those EGCs are so gorgeous (and sound so awesome) that it bears repeating. 16 July at the Rock & Roll Hotel.

Best hand quiver; also, best New Jersey accent: Suffocation. 10 July at the Ottobar.

Best Long Island accent; also, most rambling stage banter: Mindy Smith. 24 July at Jammin’ Java.

Best new friend: Always nice to strike up random conversations with folks at shows; best one this month was at Children of Bodom. 15 July at Jaxx.

Best song about zombies: Buck 65‘s “Zombie Delight”. 21 July at Iota.

Biggest swing in interest level from opening act to headliner: In short, NYC’s Liturgy was awesome. I couldn’t wait for openers Dope Body to get off the stage. 5 July at DC9.

Worst guacamole: OK, so there wasn’t any guac at any of the shows I attended in July. But on my way to see Yob and Dark Castle, two(!) restaurants in Baltimore were out of guac, which made for a very growling tummy and a bummer of a night. It’s a shame, too, ‘cuz the show was otherwise really great. 17 July at Sonar.

2011 Concert round-up: midpoint edition

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Here are some statistics around the 67 concerts I’ve been to in the first half of this year:

• I saw a total of 190 different bands at 29 different venues.
• Saturday was my most popular concert-going day with 16. Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays were all tied for the lowest at 7.
• Most frequented venues: the Black Cat (6 on the main stage, 4 on the backstage), Sonar (7), and Jaxx (6).
• House venues: the Robot House (Arlington), the Corpse Fortress (Silver Spring), the Candelhaus (Fairfax)
• States: DC (27), VA (22), MD (17), and PA (1). (yes, we know that DC isn’t really a state.)
• Most frequently seen bands: Ilsa (3), Kylesa (3), and Cartoon Johnny (3).
• Busiest month: March (17). Quietest month: February (6).
• Busiest day: the 17th. I saw a concert on the 17th of every month for the first 6 months of this year: January (Night and the City @ the Velvet Lounge), February (Eyehategod and Misery Index @ Sonar), March (Kataklysm and Decrepit Birth @ Jaxx), April (Sharon van Etten @ the Red Palace), May (the Antlers @ the Black Cat), and June (Earth @ the Ottobar).

May and June 2011 Concert round-up

Monday, July 11th, 2011

So I’ve already written about the highlights of Maryland DeathFest, but I went to 17 other shows in May and June that are worth mentioning. Here are the high- and lowlights:

Best opening song: David Bazan‘s “Wolves At the Door”. 24 June @ the Black Cat.

Best multicultural show: a vocal festival featuring groups from Canada (Cadence), Russia (Konevets Quartet), South Africa (Wits Choir), Indonesia (Cordana Youth Choir), and the U.S. (Los Angeles Children’s Chorus and Pacific Boychoir). Even better? The show was free! 26 June @ Strathmore.

Best Iraqi metal band: Acrassicauda, opening up for Destruction. I had spent the earlier part of the evening at a Nats game, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see an Iraqi metal band later that night. 13 May @ Jaxx.

Best Tuesday night crowd: I always love seeing a venue packed on a Tuesday night, and the Antlers certainly didn’t disappoint. 17 May @ the Black Cat.

Worst cell phone: The woman at the Agnes Obel show whose phone rang not once but twice. Seriously? You didn’t turn the volume off after it rang the first time? You didn’t notice that everyone turned to stare at you? Really? 13 June @ 6th & I Synagogue Downstairs.

Best cello: I didn’t really think that an extra instrument would make Earth‘s music better, but I was pleasantly surprised: the cello added a lot to the group’s newest album, but it added even more to the older songs. 17 June @ the Ottobar.

Best show at a pizza joint: Must say, it was kind of surreal to see Municipal Waste in a pizza house -slash- ping pong place. 6 May @ Comet Ping Pong.

Best pelt: some dude at Amon Amarth was wearing a full bear pelt, which is impressive enough on its own, but the A/C at Jaxx took the night off, which made wearing animal fur even less appealing. More power to you, drunk pelt-wearing dude who kept staggering around as if you were going to vomit in the back of the club. 2 May @ Jaxx.

Best stage set: Shpongle had an elaborate stage set: a gigantic boat-like contraption from which the Shpongle dude stood and DJed/danced. 3 May @ the 9:30 Club.

Best birthday party: A whole slew of metal bands celebrating Marie’s birthday out in Leesburg, VA. 14 May @ Balls Bluff Tavern.

Best going-away party: Someone moving away is always a good excuse to get a bunch of metal bands to play a show, and Deathammer bid farewell to one of its members in style, along with Ilsa and Extermination Angel. 25 June @ the Corpse Fortress.

Best death metal: The guys in Loculus are always up to crazy stuff, as this picture illustrates. 18 May @ the Corpse Fortress.

Best way to warm up for DeathFest: Anhedonist and Oak. Wish I could’ve stayed out later to catch Midnight Eye and Ilsa, but I had a long day of work the next day before heading up to Charm City. 25 May @ the Corpse Fortress.

Best way to cool down after DeathFest: Dead Can Dance’s Brendan Perry and the Cocteau Twins’s Robin Guthrie. The most amusing thing about this show was the kid on my pew who freaked out at every Dead Can Dance cover, literally squirming in his seat– and shaking the entire pew. 30 May @ 6th & I Synagogue.

Best house show: Auroboros, the latest project from Brian Baroness and Rob Salome. 4 June @ the Robot House.

Best way to celebrate a holiday that I really don’t care anything about: As much as I love Mexican food, I’d rather be anywhere other than a Mexican restaurant on Cinco de Mayo. A power metal show– thanks to Holy Grail— provided a great alternative. 5 May @ the Red Palace.

Biggest disappointment: Maybe it was all the hype– a metal show! in a church sanctuary! with a women’s choir!– but damn, I found the Assembly of Light Choir to be off-pitch and the Body‘s set to be too damn short. Total letdown. 24 June @ St. Stephen’s.

Maryland Deathfest IX (2011) round-up

Monday, May 30th, 2011

A full May 2011 concert wrap-up is on the way (I’ve still got another show to go to tonight!), but Maryland DeathFest IX deserves its own post. I attended every day except Saturday, and here are some of the highs and lows:

Most worth the wait: Neurosis. Now, you might think I’m talking about the wait since the band’s last area appearance, which was ages ago, but I’m talking about the wait through a torrential thunderstorm that passed through Baltimore just before the band hit the stage. We weren’t about to lose the front-row spots we’d staked out for this show, so we waited it out, getting drenched and making all kinds of new friends through the experience– the tuba Ph.D. student, the two Americans majoring in German, and the Australian who’d travelled over here just for this festival. Oh, and Neurosis’s set itself was the highlight of the festival, hands-down.

Second-best set of the festival: Orange Goblin. Seriously, who knew they’d be so damn great live?

Best last words: “Don’t listen to shitty music!” These were the final words of the final Skinless show.

Best farewell: Cathedral‘s final show.

Most disappointing set: Ghost, who closed out the festival on Sunday night. (Note: not to be confused with the Japanese experimental band Ghost— although I’m betting most MDF attendees are not exactly Ghost or Damon & Naomi fans). I wrote about their album Opus Eponymous for the Post (my review is here), and I was looking forward to their first-ever US show, but a super-long setup/soundcheck and a really short set (35-40 minutes, tops) made this a fairly disappointing show overall. Admittedly, the show was also hampered by some things that weren’t the band’s fault– an overwhelmingly aggressive audience (a fight broke out next to me over a place to stand) and ridiculously loud/unnecessary sing-alongs. Still, it was great to see the band play even for just a short set, and their costumes were pretty damn cool too.

Best circle pit involving costumed fans, inflatable animals, and glow-sticks: You might not think that there would be too much competition for this category, but there were two bands in the running: New Orleans’s Flesh Parade (Thursday night) and the Dutch Last Days of Humanity (Sunday night). I think Flesh Parade’s fans had a better execution, but LDoH’s music was (slightly) more enjoyable, so I guess you could call this category a tie.

Best Cover: Coroner‘s tribute to ‘the first thrasher’, playing Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze”.

Best Death Metal that I wish I’d been less tired for: Spain’s Wormed. They were great, but it’s always tough to re-focus to the indoor stage after spending the last few hours out in the hot sun. (Also, they had to follow Coroner, which is not an easy task.)

Most enjoyable band I’ve already seen twice this year: Kylesa. Didn’t get to see their whole set (yeah, it’s not like I was going to leave Neurosis early), but they sure sounded great in that main room at Sonar– a far cry from the compressed thunder of their set at the Black Cat’s Backstage this January.

Other highlights: Marduk, Exhumed, Tragedy, Buzzov*en, Corrosion of Conformity, and Aura Noir.

Saw a handful of other bands as well, but that’s about enough of my walk down MDF memory lane….

April 2011 Concert round-up

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Another month, another concert round-up. Didn’t quite hit my March high of 17 shows, but I did make it to 15 shows in April. Here’s what I thought:

Best crowd: the sold-out Black Cat for Titus Andronicus. Ordinarily, I bristle at sold-out shows, but this crowd was full of a good energy: everyone was jumping so much, I thought the whole club was going to levitate. And covers of X-Ray Spex’s “Oh Bondage Up Yours!” and Sham 69’s “If the Kids are United” certainly didn’t hurt. 27 April @ the Black Cat.

Best house show: Ilsa + Amarok + Spirals. Also wins the award for “loudest house show”. 13 April @ the Corpse Fortress.

Best local a cappella debut: the Agency at the Mid-Atlantic Harmony Sweeps. It’s always fun to see friends from multiple projects all come together and form something new. It’s also fun when an a cappella interpretation can make me enjoy a song I ordinarily can’t tolerate (in this case: “We Built This City”). 2 April @ the Birchmere.

Best mosh pit: I bet you’re expecting me to cite some metal show here, right? Wrong! Best mosh pit goes to the kids at an a cappella show in a school auditorium on a Friday afternoon: Cartoon Johnny + Vox Pop + the UVA Sil’hooettes + Capital Blend. The sound was a bit off, but man, those kids were having the time of their lives. Future rockstars, perhaps? 1 April @ Williamsburg Middle School.

Best roadtrip: I hadn’t gotten out of town for a show in ages, so it was great to hit the road with one of my favorite people from my Austin days to go see So Percussion up in Philadelphia. Even the snarky sighs from the dude sitting behind us (in a Flyers jersey and a do-rag (no, I didn’t make that up)) couldn’t ruin this show. 23 April @ the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.

Best spontaneously pre-planned conga line: Danielson, who could’ve won for “Best costumes”, but that’s too predictable for them at this point. 16 April @ the Red Palace.

Best use of flute: Bardo Pond. See also: “Best stoner rock band” and “Best way to end a great weekend”. 10 April @ the Black Cat backstage.

Best local band: the Chance, with their Cure-influenced pop songs. 15 April @ the Black Cat.

Smallest crowd: Fittingly, Low‘s “Tiny Desk” concert at the NPR offices. It brought back memories of watching them film an in-studio performance at the Yahoo studios in Dallas back in 2001. Great to see them performing really sparse (guitar + 2 voices) versions of songs from their newest album– “Try To Sleep”, “Nightingale”, and “Something’s Turning Over”. 25 April @ NPR.

Best request: “Starfire” by Low. ’nuff said. 26 April @ the Black Cat.

Worst band name: Hammer No More the Fingers. Yes, they’re good at what they do– a North Carolina indie-rock vibe a la Superchunk or Archers of Loaf– but sheesh, the name! 6 April @ the Red Palace.

Weirdest venue for a metal show: Don’t get me wrong, I love that Jammin’ Java hosted a metal show this month — Iris Divine + Division + TimeLord + Death Penalty— but it was certainly bizarre to see those bands on the same stage that my old a cappella group graced many times. 12 April @ Jammin’ Java.

Rudest heckle: “Better off solo anyway!” at Sharon van Etten, as she was joking with her bandmates. Read the full story here. 17 April @ the Red Palace.

Weirdest crowd dissipation: Krallice and Withered. I totally get that sometimes people are more into an opening band and choose to leave before the headliner takes the stage. But I was really surprised to see about 2/3rds of the (fairly small) crowd pouring for the exits during Krallice’s set– especially because they freakin’ ruled! And it’s not like the show was that late, either: the band was done by 1:30 AM, and it was a Friday night anyway. Really odd. 29 April @ Sonar.

Fewest memories: I definitely remember being at the Corpse Fortress to see Torch Runner + Artillery Breath + Fisthammer, and I also remember that the singer dude from one of those bands had an outrageous ‘fro. But this was also the peak of my monthlong tango with the flu, so all I really remember from this show is feeling like crap. A shame. 9 April @ the Corpse Fortress.

March 2011 Concert round-up

Friday, April 8th, 2011

After a quiet February, March certainly picked up for concerts. Here’s a round-up of the highs (and lows) of the 17 shows I saw:

Best aluminum-necked guitar: It’s a tie!!! Torche rocked two gorgeous EGCs, and Agalloch was of course playing a gorgeous Travis Bean. 20 March @ Jaxx and 21 March @ Sonar.

Worst opening band: No question, Worm Ouroboros. I don’t even want to think about it again to write about it here (so check out the write-up on, but it was a serious yawn. And also, really, NO ONE wants to listen to that much head voice. 21 March @ Sonar.

Best church show: Dropdead + Magrudergrind + Wasted Time + Cough + Ilsa. I still wish that this had been in the sanctuary, but it was still pretty awesome even in the rec room. I was surprised that the crowd dispersed so much after Magrudergrind’s awesome set (would’ve thought that Dropdead was the big draw here), but as good as that was, Cough was the real highlight for me. 12 March @ St Stephen’s.

Most offensive band name: Well, I don’t think there’s anything particularly offensive about the name Rotting Christ but some people might. 9 March @ Jaxx.

Most mismatched tour: Whose bright idea was it to stick Helmet as the headliner on a tour full of doom bands? Who knows. 23 March @ Jaxx.

Worst dancing: I know I should just let people enjoy live music in their own way, but it’s just really hard to watch people with absolutely no rhythm whatsoever try to dance and clap along to music, really off-tempo. And this was at an Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed show! Seriously, people, if you can’t find the beat at a soul show, you should just leave your dancing shoes at home. 10 March @ the Rock & Roll Hotel.

Best metal show at a gay bar: Palkoski / Xeukatre / Wolfnuke / Wolventhrone. I’ve heard that the Monday night metal shows out at the So Addictive Lounge in Herndon might be coming to an end, which is a bummer– while it’s certainly a haul for me to get my city-dwelling butt out to soccer-mom country on a Monday night, I’ve always liked the fact that this scene exists. 7 March @ So Addictive.

Best St Patrick’s Day Show: OK, Canadian hyperblast band Kataklysm has absolutely no relation to St Paddy’s day whatsoever. Fine. 17 March @ Jaxx.

Best colors: the Ex. OK, yes, with their solid-color t-shirts, they looked sorta like the Wiggles, and once you get that image in your head, can you really listen to the music seriously? 12 March @ the Black Cat.

Worst club experience: I understand that sometimes things don’t run on schedule. But when a club double-books shows and doesn’t let the bands playing the “late” show even start loading in (and soundchecking) until after the doors were supposed to open for their show, you know things are going to run really late. I enjoyed what I got to see of Dark Sea Dream (note: way more psychedelic/shoegaze than metal), but I may be getting too old for shows where the headlining band is just getting started at 2 AM. 18 March @ the Velvet Lounge.

Best plaid: The trifecta of plaid shirts worn by Mike Watt and his Missingmen. 31 March @ the Black Cat backstage.

Best bells: Admittedly, seeing Virginia Bronze made me kinda sorta miss playing handbells. 20 March @ George Washington National Masonic Memorial Auditorium.

Most covers (outside an a cappella show): Vetiver rocked covers by Townes Van Zandt (“Standin'”), A.R.Kane (“Miles Apart”), and Gene Clark (“Here Tonight”). And those are just the ones I remember. 25 March @ IOTA.

Best a cappella competition: Aca-Idol at SingStrong. Good mix of collegiate and post-collegiate groups. 4 March @ South Lakes High School.

Most panty-throwing at a high school a cappella competition: SingStrong‘s HS competition. Seriously, there’s a group called the “Manchoir”; who can keep panties on during that? 5 March @ South Lakes High School.

Worst a cappella headliner: Street Corner Symphony. Sure, they came in 2nd place on NBC’s Sing-Off. And yes, I can cut them some slack because their percussionist wasn’t able to make it. But that’s really no excuse: this set was sloppy, and that sloppiness had nothing to do with an absent member. (We can all be forgiving of that and even of tinkering with looping equipment to provide VP in absentia. But also: you’re at an a cappella festival! you could’ve found a substitute for the night!) What with inexplicable carrots thrown into the audience, time wasted with sheet music giveaways, and sub-par vocal performances (really, we all know that you sing abbreviated versions of songs on the show. but it wouldn’t kill you to learn those other verses of “Fix You” for a concert), this show was, as I texted a friend that night, a clusterf*ck of a trainwreck. 5 March @ South Lakes High School.

Best a cappella headliner: the Bobs. After the trainwreck of the previous night, it was great to see these seasoned performers (and seriously, Richard Bob = one of my favorite basses of all time) show us how a headlining set should be done. 6 March @ Reston Community Center.

February 2011 Concert round-up

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

So February was a quieter month for concerts than January was, but there were still some high points (and, um, low points as well):

Best horns: the ROVA Saxophone Quartet performing with the Nels Cline Singers. Admittedly, their collaboration album the Celestial Septet (New World Records, 2010) was great, but it was even more amazing to hear– and see!– them perform these songs live. Highlight of the set: “Cesar Chávez”. 27 February @ the Wind-Up Space.

Worst pick-up line: Dude at the Immortal show: “Hey, do you like Immortal?” Me: “I’m here, aren’t I?” 20 February @ Sonar (main stage).

Best house show: Inter Arma, Windhand, Fatal, and Revolta. Man, it’s been a while since I’ve been to a house show; this one was originally scheduled to be at Hole in the Sky, but it was moved at the last minute, due to a visit from the Fire Warden. 19 February @ the Candelhaus.

Worst crowd: sold-out Rock & Roll Hotel for Wild Nothing. Sold-out shows at the Hotel are always uncomfortable, but this one– with its overly-exuberant (and unnecessarily so!) crowd– was a bit much to take. 12 February @ the Rock & Roll Hotel.

Best local band: I’m embarrassed that it’s taken me this long to see Screen Vinyl Image but they were totally great. 11 February @ the Mansion at Strathmore.

Best show for reasons that had nothing to do with the music: Eyehategod. Don’t get me wrong, there were some great local bands on this bill that I hadn’t seen before– Misery Index in particular was awesome— but that’s probably not at all how I’ll remember this show. 17 February @ Sonar (Club Stage).

January 2011 Concert round-up

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

It always happens: I start every year with concert enthusiasm, then lose it when February rolls around. Still, it does make for a good January, so here’s a rundown of some of the best/worst of the month:

Best way to start the year: Jucifer. First concert of the year in 2009, 2010, and 2011. 11 January @ the Black Cat backstage.

Best percussion: the thunderous force of Kylesa‘s dueling drummers. 20 January @ the Black Cat backstage.

Best cover: Eli “Paperboy” Reed‘s take on “Ace of Spades” [Motörhead]. 15 January @ Rock & Roll Hotel.

Best guest: Victor Griffin of Pentagram joining King Giant for a cover of Skynyrd’s “The Needle and the Spoon” (video here). 29 January @ the State Theatre.

Best tears: I’ll admit it: Lyle Lovett‘s “If You Were To Wake Up” brought me to tears; then I went home and learned to play it on guitar. The friend who came with me to this show forbade me from ever listening to two Lovett songs in a row, for my own mental health (an order I’ve since ignored, by the way). 18 January @ the Birchmere.

Worst crowd: sold-out IOTA for Eilen Jewell. I’m happy IOTA has expanded– don’t get me wrong– but a full house of talking fans sure does make it hard to hear an artist perform. 21 January @ IOTA.

Earliest show: Who would’ve thought a 7-band Saturday night metal lineup at the Ottobar would end by 10 PM? Sorry, kids, totally stinks to have a curfew. 22 January @ the Ottobar.

Cutest Swede: Lisa Milberg of the Concretes. (Perhaps not fair, since there were no other Swedes this month….) 25 January @ the Rock & Roll Hotel.

Favorite local band: Night and the City (and yes, totally cheating, since they’re all friends of mine, but whatever). 17 January @ the Velvet Lounge.

Favorite concerts of 2010.

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Entries from previous years: 2000-2009 | 2009

In 2010, I went to 77 concerts at 28 venues in 6 states and saw a total of 195 bands. Here are some of the most memorable, in no particular order:

1. the Pitchfork Music Festival (16-18 July 2010, Union Park, Chicago, IL)
Yes, the P4k festival makes my list every year, and it’s partly because of the experience of catching up with old friends and partly because of the bands themselves: seeing killer sets by Robyn and by LCD Soundsystem, finally getting to see the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (I know, I know– where was I during the 1990s?!), talking politics and religion with a good friend during Pavement‘s fairly boring set, shooting photos of Sleigh Bells from the foot of the stage, running into a friend I hadn’t seen in 10 years during Beach House‘s sunny afternoon set, and seeing Lightning Bolt spit out its noisy attack from an actual stage. Not to mention the best chai tea latte on the planet, a gigantic slumber party in the P4k HQ, debates about Can-Neu!-Faust-Cluster, and learning how to keep up our perpetual groove. More, please!

2. Joanna Newsom (22 March 2010, the 6th & I Historic Synagogue, Washington, DC)
Newsom’s Have One On Me is one of my favorite albums of 2010, but it wasn’t just the strength of her songs that made this show (my review for Express is published here) so fantastic: it was her presence and the hushed silence of the venue that heightened the intensity of this show.

3. Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan (15 October 2010, the Rock & Roll Hotel, Washington, DC)
Lanegan has made my list two years in a row– his show with Soulsavers was on my favorite concerts of 2009 list last year. His three albums with Isobel Campbell are hit-or-miss, but his voice is absolutely breathtaking, and his presence live– barely cracking a smile, barely making eye contact with the audience, tattoos on every phalanx of every finger– heightens the pain in his seductively gravelly voice.

4. Isis and the Melvins (16 June 2010, the 9:30 Club, Washington, DC)
Despite being a huge Isis fan, I’d never seen them live, but their final tour ever seemed like a good enough time to break that streak. This show was great– I can’t even begin to capture the details here, but our friend Chris over at has a nice review posted here. The band was poorly-lit, but listening to the show in the darkness, I realized that it sounded as though Isis was playing with Travis Beans (i.e., my favorite guitars of all time). Once the lights went up, I saw that they were in fact EGCs, but hey, close enough– don’t know why I’ve been so out of the loop about Isis’s gear, but it just goes to show that these aluminum-necked beasts have one heck of a distinctive sound.

5. Arcade Fire and Spoon (6 August 2010, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD)
This concert remains memorable for me not so much because of the music (which was great, don’t get me wrong– my review for Express is posted here) but because of the experience. It was the first time in my concert-going career where I had a roadtrip/tailgate at a concert with a big group of friends. They all had seats up on the lawn, but they passed around my extra close-up ticket, so every 3-4 songs, I had a different friend standing next to me. It was such an incredible experience, watching everyone’s different reactions to the view and sound from close up, and it was pretty incredible to experience sharing music with other people when my concert-going ventures are usually solitary.

6. Swans (29 September 2010, the Black Cat, Washington, DC)
There’s so much I could say about this show; I said a lot of it in my review for Express, which is posted here. It’s almost impossible, though, to capture in words the experience of seeing live a band that I’d been waiting to see for 15 years, that I never thought I’d get to see. (see also: seeing the Jesus Lizard in 2009).

7. Jay-Z (3 March 2010, the Verizon Center, Washington, DC)
It’s no secret that I’m not really a huge hip-hop fan. I like some of it, sure, but it’s not what i seek out on a regular basis. Still, even I could appreciate how much Jay-Z absolutely killed it at his Verizon Center show in March (my original review, for Express, is posted here). After having just seen the Black-Eyed Peas phone it in at the same venue a few weeks earlier, it was refreshing and energizing to see a performer so invested in his live show.

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

Favorite concerts of 2000-2009.

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

I realize that it’s a little late to be looking back on the last decade, since we’re already about 25% done with 2010. But I’ve got a little time to kill, so I thought it might be fun to look back on the nearly 500 concerts that I saw from 2000 to 2009.

Let’s start with some statistics, shall we?
Total # of concerts attended: 498
Total # of (unique) bands seen: 906

First concert of the decade: November Project and Nancy Falkow at the New Market Cabaret, Philadelphia, PA (15 January 2000).
Last concert of the decade: Sarah Borges & the Broken Singles and Eilen Jewell at Jammin’ Java, Vienna, VA (12 November 2009).

Most active concert-going year: 2005, with 90 concerts
Least active concert-going year: 2000, with 16 concerts
Most active concert-going day of the week: Saturday, with 120 concerts
Least active concert-going day of the week: Monday, with 27 concerts

Most popular day to see a concert: 22 June – Emmylou Harris (2008), Michelle Malone (2004), the American Analog Set (2003), the Dismemberment Plan (2002), La Zona Rosa Songwriter’s Circle (2001).

States where I saw the most shows: DC (245), Virginia (147), Texas (35)
Other states where I saw shows, listed alphabetically: California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania

Venues where I saw the most shows: the Black Cat (62 mainstage, 27 backstage), the 9:30 club (62), Jammin’ Java (30)
(seriously?! Didn’t realize I’d been to so many shows at Jammin’ Java.)

Band I saw the most during this decade: Low (16 times)
Best live Low experience: Going on tour with them for a week in 2001.
Weirdest live Low experience: Seeing them open for Wilco at Merriweather Post Pavilion (11 June 2007) and instigating a Nels Cline jam on “Do You Know How To Waltz?”
Best guest appearance during a Low show: Gerry Beckley from America joining Low at the Black Cat, 12 October 2002.
Smallest audience at a Low show: myself, Scott “Starfire” Lunt, and Hollis watching the band film a Yahoo! in-studio performance in Dallas, 25 January 2001.
Best Low opening act: It’s a tie between former Swan Michael Gira at the Bowery Ballroom (19 October 2001) and Death Vessel at the Black Cat (4 February 2006).

Other favorite bands I saw multiple times this decade: the American Analog Set (7), Sonic Youth (5), Rye Coalition (5), Mastodon (4), Mogwai (4).

Bands I never thought I’d see once this decade: Mission of Burma (and yet, I saw them 4 times!), the Jesus Lizard, Slint, Gang of Four, Unrest, Eggs, Laibach, Os Mutantes.

Bands/artists I saw this decade that I will never see again: Jack Rose, Vic Chesnutt, Peter Paul & Mary, the Sun City Girls.

Best pre-inauguration show: the Big Shoulders Inauguration Ball (19 January 2009) with Jon Langford & Sally Timms, Eleventh Dream Day, the Waco Brothers, Andrew Bird, Tortoise, Ken Vandermark with John Herndon & Jeff Parker (performing songs of Sun Ra), Freakwater, and more.
Best post-inauguration show: Noise Against Fascism (20 January 2005) with To Live and Shave in L.A., Chris Corsano/Paul Flaherty, Mirror/Dash (Kim Gordon & Thurston Moore), Double Leopards, Magik Markers, and more.

Best Valentine’s Day show: Black Dice, Orthrelm, Dorkestra, and Nautical Almanac at the Ottobar, 2004.
Best birthday show: the Antiques at the Velvet Lounge.
Best St Patrick’s Day shows: SXSW 2001: Mogwai, Sally Timms, Anna Fermin’s Trigger Gospel, the New Pornographers, Jim and Jennie and the Pinetops, Flare.

Three memorable concert experiences:
• Built to Spill, Windsor for the Derby, and Explosions in the Sky at the Union Ballroom, Austin, TX (20 April 2001): Obviously, this was a great lineup, but this show was most memorable just for being in the company of good friends on the night before I got laid off from my dot-com job.
• Einstuerzende Neubauten at the 9:30 club (23 April 2004): There aren’t many artists who could take too long to get out on stage, come out and immediately insult the (extremely restless) audience, and still win everyone over within seconds of starting to play.
• Sigur Rós at the 9:30 club (25 September 2001): This was my first show at the 9:30 club, and it was also two weeks after September 11th. Sigur Rós’s music was just the perfect antidote for the mood in the city (and country) at the time.

Favorite house shows:
• Pretty much everything at 611 Florida, but especially Sir Richard Bishop in 2005 and the annual Free Folk Phantasmagory (including Sharron Kraus in 2004, Fursaxa and Samara Lubelski in 2005).
• Yellow Swans at Tarantula Hill, Baltimore, 31 May 2004.
• the Finnish folk tour (Lau Nau, Islaja, Kuupuu) on Frankfort Ave., Philadelphia, 3 September 2005.

You wanna see the full list of bands I saw this decade? It’s embedded behind the cut…. (more…)