Thursday, December 23, 2010

Best of 2010: Live Performances

Alright! I'm back finally back with some new stuff! And I promise I'm going to try and be better about updating this blog next year. But let's get to some best of the year stuff first.

I attended between 20 and 25 concerts this past year, so I obviously can't claim this to be a comprehensive list of the best live acts of 2010, but the following bands really blew me away. Think of this as recommendations for bands to catch in concert next year, or something like that.

So, in no particular order, my five favorite live artists/bands of 2010:

Sufjan Stevens: Say what you will about Sufjan Stevens' divisive new album, Age of Adz, the guy knows how to put on a show. And by show, I mean a laser-light rock opera kind of performance including the entirety of the 25-minute epic "Impossible Soul," which resulted in a sort of awkward dance party throughout Kingsbury Hall. But through all the fuss, Sufjan kept the audience mesmerized with that beautiful voice. I've never experienced anything quite like this outrageous performance, and I doubt I will again.

The Gaslight Anthem: Talk about getting your money's worth. Everyone at this show payed only five bucks to be in attendance, but Brian Fallon and company played for over two hours and seemed thrilled to do so. Fallon sang his heart out and carried a grin the entire evening, and the band was razor sharp as they made their way through what must have been every song in their catalog. I love to see a band that so clearly understands what makes a great rock 'n' roll show.

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings: I have never--and I mean never--seen an artist work so hard during a live performance. Sharon Jones sang, danced, gave monologues that stretched songs into 10-minute jams, ran all over the stage and invited audience members up to join in the party. She must have been up there for nearly two hours, and while I probably would have died from exhaustion, the 54-year-old soul singer just. kept. going. I'll never forget this one, I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

Thao/Mirah: Thao and Mirah sharing the stage for this one-of-a-kind tour proved to be an inspired decision and a treat for fans of either artist (so, bonus for me because I love both of them). The combination of their unique musical personalities along with the intimacy of the evening resulted in one of the more engaging shows I saw this year. They traded songs, sang beautiful harmonies and made it fun each member of the small but appreciative audience. Also, Mirah's dance-music version of "Gone Are the Days" was worth the price of admission.

Rubik: Not too many people know Rubik, the awesomely weird indie rock band from Finland, but these guys are fantastic live. They opened a show to an audience that had absolutely no idea who they were, but by the end of their relatively short set each and every person in that crowd was a convert. They blasted horns, pounded keyboards, and played with such fervor that they simply won us all over and received a standing ovation usually reserved for a headlining act. I can't wait to see them again.


Paul Mayne said...

Glad you enjoyed Sufjan as much as I did. Amazing. I'll have to check out the other's you've listed.