I refuse to whittle this down to just 10 shows. There were just too many standouts from this year, and all of them deserve to be recognized even if it means the defiance of a pretty number.
Kyp Malone is a member of TV on the Radio, one of the most incredible bands of this decade. That he would put on a fabulous solo show is more or less a given. Read the full T-Sides review here.
In a live setting, the music is not only more interesting, but more palatable, somehow. Read the full T-Sides review here.
Whatever you do, SEE THESE BANDS whenever you can, particularly Heavy Winged. Religious Knives plays somewhat frequently, but the members of Heavy Winged are scattered in various states, so when you see a chance – take it. They have sold out of most of the copies of a lot of their material, and their live act reinforces the reasons why. Religious Knives don’t translate best on recording, but show impressive innovation in a live setting. Together, these bands put on a show that served as a reminder of where rock should be heading and why it isn’t dead. You can listen to a live track from this show on Heavy Winged’s MySpace page.
When I first saw Two Gallants in 2002, it was at a tiny house show in Seattle. Fast-forward five years and they’re playing opening a Times Square venue for Les Claypool and headlining a venue in New York City that gets acts as big as Wolfmother. This is only the beginning. Just you wait. Watch a video of their entire Blender Theater set here.
Sufjan Stevens found an evolved form of expression with his multi-media classical-form ode to the BQE. Read the full T-Sides review here.
His band’s name for the night was “Spiritual Boner,” the Grand Ballroom smelled like the up in smoke tour, and Devendra Banhart sang a love song about wanting a woman to take care of him as though he were a child. This is merely a glimpse at the warped but oh-so-fun world of one of his live performances. I entered the show as a skeptic, but left as a fan.
Explosions in the Sky is one of the best live bands that currently exists. Period. Read the full T-Sides review here.
Vanderslice himself felt that this show went so well that HE BOUGHT EVERYONE (who wanted one) A BEER. That just says it all.
For their “Second Annual Last Show Ever” in Seattle, Harvey Danger celebrated the upcoming 10th Anniversary of Where Have All The Merrymakers Gone? by playing the entire album, from start to finish. Flashback! Paging: 1998. When Sean Nelson & Jeff Lin came through NYC as a duo, they more or less took requests all night long, for a good two hours. Imagine having the set list of one of your favorite bands entirely at your disposal. Exactly. The only bummer was that they still wouldn’t play “Love Bug.” Not only that, but they filled the room with enough sound and energy that they could sound almost like the full band if they needed to, but the audience still got the benefit of hearing the songs re-worked to the pared down format. Beautiful. They’ll still manage to top both of these when they play their entire catalog in chronological order at the Triple Door in Seattle in the Spring.
My mom flew across the country to go to this with me. Enough said. Read the full T-Sides review here.
The woman behind one of the most memorable albums of 2007 was also behind one of the most memorable concerts of 2007. Heavy on audience participation and the kind of quirks that make Leslie Feist who she is – a mini choir, a music box that plays “Mushaboom” – her performance was also just full of gusto, the kind that shows you that the performer is giving their all throughout every word, every note.
1. Beyoncé @ MSG, Aug. 4th
There’s a reason why it costs an obscene amount of money to see this woman. For three hours, she danced, sang and went through costume change after costume change. She had an all-woman backing band, and an all-male dance troupe. It wasn’t just about how empowered Beyoncé is (and she is), it was about empowering everyone in the audience, especially the women. As sentimental as it sounds, it worked.