Whew. Whatta year, amirite?! Yes, new music may have been a bit lacking, but fortunately the one constant that remains is that there's a shit-ton of great live music coming through NYC year-round. When I moved to Williamsburg in '08, I did so almost entirely because of the proximity to so many music venues; nearly 6 years later, that remains my biggest motivation for sticking around.
In fact, my show-going affliction reached new heights this year - I did a rough count last week, and if I wind up going to the New Mastersounds afterparty following the Phish show on December 29th, I will have seen a robust *98* distinct concerts in 2013. According to Jalepzerz' / MeatBox archives, that's a personal record (although I've eclipsed 90 shows in several other years), and as proof, I uploaded literally hundreds of videos to my YouTube channel, effectively documenting my own crime spree.
So, here I sit on Christmas Eve, workin' on my final post of the year for this blog; a post that focuses solely on the highlights of my showgoing for the year. In 4 evenings, Phish NYE Run starts, and if some notable, epic shit goes down, several of these lists could be (at the very least) a bit out of whack and (at most) completely irrelevant. I welcome that. :->
See you in the new year, everyone!
Best Live Show of the Year - Phish at Hampton Coliseum, 10/20/13
Top 10 Phish shows I personally attended this year:
10.) 10/25/13 DCU 9.) 11/1/13 AC 8.) 8/4/13 BGCA 7.) 11/2/13 AC 6.) 7/6/13 SPAC (fuck off, I loved this damn show) 5.) 10/19/13 Hampton 4.) 7/14/13 Merriweather 3.) 10/27/13 Hartford 2.) 10/26/13 DCU 1.) 10/20/13 Hampton
The best three non-Phish arena shows I saw in 2013:
16.) Split Open and Melt at SPAC, July 6 15.) Rock and Roll at BGCA, August 3 14.) Crosseyed and Painless at Holmdel, July 10 13.) Twist > Under Pressure at AC, November 1 12.) Theme from the Bottom > Shaft theme at AC, November 2 11.) Drowned at Worcester, October 26 10.) Harry Hood at Merriweather 9.) Runaway Jim at BGCA, August 4 8.) Stash at Merriweather, July 14 7.) Carini at SPAC, July 6 6.) Carini at AC, October 31 5.) Golden Age at Hartford, October 27 4.) Piper > Taking Care of Business at Hampton, October 20 (yup, this is cheating) 3.) Light at Merriweather, July 14 2.) Seven Below at BGCA, August 2 (in spite of the butchered composed section) 1.) Carini at Hampton, October 18
1.) SONG OF THE YEAR: Palma Violets - "Last of the Summer Wine"
Just like countless other great rock n' roll songs, this one's greater than the sum of its parts. Yeah, the intro's too long on this song. And so's the outro. The lyrics are moronic. (The "official" video is absolute garbage - see above.) And the chord progression isn't exactly original but... there's just somethin' about the classic guitar tone and the finesse they play the lick with and the sweet, sweet melody that slays me every time.
After having never been inside Barclays Center during its first year-plus of hosting concerts and assorted events and such, I found myself entering the fortress of distressed steel for the third time in less than a month. My enjoyment of the two shows I saw recently at this venue (Yeah Yeah Yeahs in mid-September, Atoms for Peace a week or so later) was related directly to the concert sound inside the arena at each show (YYY's - great, A4P - shitty); what would Nine Inch Nails' live show have in store?
Within moments of Trent taking the stage it became plainly obvious that this evening would be more about the visual spectacle than anything else. And what a spectacle it was! In fact, this was likely the most visually stunning live show I've ever seen, featuring smoke, laser beams, innumerable lighting effects, and, most impressively, a series of huge, transparent curtains enveloping the band that allowed for all kinds of crazy bullshit. I'll spare you an excruciating description of what went on, because there are few things in life lamer than some dude trying to describe a light show (GOD! I WISH YOU COULD SEE IT!), but check out this article for some great GIFs and plenty of relevant quotes from Trent and his art designer.
My first time seeing Yeah Yeah Yeahs since nearly 4 years to the day at Radio City, at which point they were touring on the heels of their excellent It's Blitz record. This time around they're touring behind the decidedly more tepid Mosquito, so even though I was a little less psyched this time around, it was stupid to expect anything but a great performance from this great band.
I was draggin' ass getting out the door, and I had absolutely no interest in watching my second pasty, pudgy white guy of the day hop around in his underwear (I tend to get frisky after my morning iced coffee), I made it my business to skip the fuck out of [edit: be warned - this following hyperlink probably isn't technically NSFW but it probably should be]Har Mar Superstar's set. I wound up getting inside the arena towards the end of the second YYYs song, meaning I managed to miss two Mosquito tracks (yay!) as well as the choir (double yay!)
The rest of the set was jam-packed with YYYs classixxx. The mid-set "Down Boy" / "Zero" pairing was a highlight for me before three straight ballads kinda wrecked the momentum... which fortunately returned with a bang during "Gold Lion" and "Cheated Hearts" (see below for tidbits of both songs). The audience was at its rowdiest during the set-closing "Heads Will Roll," and the crowd-pleasing "Maps" / "Date With the Night" fucking ripped.
This was my first time actually being inside Barclays Center, and I was pleased that the sound was nowhere near as crappy as I'd heard, which bodes well for the Atoms for Peace show I'll be seeing there this Friday. Nonetheless, it's foolish to ever doubt a Karen O performance - she really hammed it up for the hometown show, and her enthusiasm and energy were the key to YYYs pulling off a massive arena-worthy spectacle.
Much was made about the YYY's revisiting creative techniques / methods from earlier in their career for the Mosquito sessions, which seems like a lot of effort to make just to turn out the poor man's version of 2009's excellent It's Blitz.Mosquito's bangers don't quite bang like "Zero" or "Heads Will Roll" did, and the ballads don't resonate like "Little Shadow" or "Skeleton." But it's still a decent listen, catchy and melodically pleasing at times, even if the last few tracks do kinda drag.
Survival - Survival
A split second into this record it's painfully obvious that Survival ain't Liturgy, which immediately leads the listener to wonder just how much better these songs would've sounded if they had been performed by Liturgy. Of course, the next reaction is remembering that superhuman drummer extraordinaire Greg Fox isn't even in Liturgy anymore, which sucks. Unfortunately, it's tough to listen to any musical project involving Hunter Hunt-Hendrix and not think you're being lectured to; Hendrix' scholarly defiance of all that is "kvlt" makes everything he does seem like some sort of musical manifesto. In this case, the music at hand is off-kilter, uber-proggy "variation on a theme"-style heavy stuff (a/k/a EXACTLY the stuff Liturgy did well), which sound decidedly dumbed-down in comparison to Liturgy's innovative virtuosity.
Kinski - Cosy Moments
Second-tier grunge from Seattle. While not bad, it's pretty obvious that each of the styles explored on Cosy Moments - (grunge, instrumental guitar rock / post rock, fuzzy l'il punk rave-ups) are done - and done way better - by many other bands.
With 2013 1/3 over, it's list time. The title of this post is a tad misleading; if this list comprised all of my favorite songs from this year, it would have more GbV / Thermals / Hendrix / The Men / etc. songs. Instead it's more like "one good song from each of the albums / EPs I've enjoyed most this year, plus the Roomrunner single." So, presented in no particular order, here's that.