Monday, December 12, 2011

Top 5+ Concert Experiences in 2011

What a year for live music!  I just counted up attendance at 30 concerts this year and on top of that I would need to add in three nights covering the CMJ Music Marathon and multiple shows at this year's Moogfest.  No wonder my ears are feeling a big clogged these days... might have to succumb to wearing ear plugs in 2012.  For now it's a happy trip down memory lane to recap the top five concert experiences of the year -- from the blowout of a send off for LCD Soundsystem to newcomers Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. along with the opportunity to enjoy seeing a few favorite bands finally play live.  I'll post best of videos from our NMMatterscorp YouTube channel thanks to my camera guy Paul (and yes you can hear at least one of my "wooooos" on each clip!)  For more info, link to my blog post write up for the concerts as listed.  With fond memories of each one, enjoy.

1.  LCD Soundsystem @ Terminal 5 -- March 28, 2011
This was the first and last time I'll see this oh-so favorite band who cranked out beloved dance hits for me to boogie along with every release.  Terminal 5 is not my favorite venue (a big, mutli-layered space and sound can be messy) but the entire place turned into one big dance party during this three-set night.  Walking around you'd have to jump through circles of people grooving along and there was not one person there who wasn't moving something, my kind of night. This video shows how it all began.


2. Flaming Lips @ Moogfest -- October 29, 2011
I had heard tales of the emotional overhaul that takes place at Flaming Lips concerts (funfetti, colorful balloon balls, frontman Wayne Coyne's antics) but I finally experienced the euphoria first hand this fall at Moogfest.  Supposedly the band plays each show as if it's every audience member's only Flaming Lips show so they are sure to play the hits along with anything new.  This night they also played a fitting tribute to Bob Moog, "Lucky Man" by Emerson, Lake and Palmer, with keyboardist Steve Dzord using an ipad to recreate Keith Emerson's famous synth solo.  Discussing the concert afterwards, my son described his concert experience as a "bawler" for him and asked if I cried during the concert -- I had to admit, "yes twice!"


3. Matt & Kim @ Terminal 5 -- June 29, 2011
This popular hipster band took over Terminal 5 on glorious summer night -- both the band (real life couple Kim Schifino and Matt Johnson, who I interviewed here last spring) and their adoring young fans were obviously "totally stoked" to fill the large venue for their own private dance party.  This video shows the energy that began the show and it continued non-stop throughout the night.


4. Peter Bjorn & John-- May 2, 2011
Many bands claim to put on "high energy shows" but this trio from Sweden could be an illustration to the proper definition.  The night I saw them they had two shows on the bill and they certainly did not hold back anything during the early slot.  Guitarist John Erikkson even bloodied his forehead with some crazy shredding and I kept waiting for him to at least wipe his face with a towel they had been using for sweat outbreaks on stage.  As seasoned performers, they obviously love playing their music even after all these years together (PB&J was formed in 1999) and nothing is slowing them down.  Their popular single, "Second Chance" was heard all over the place in 2011. I wish them all thia well-deserved success and more.

5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. @ Bowery Ballroom -- September 24, 2011
I wasn't sure what to expect when we arrived at the Bowery Ballroom to see the band Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. It's easy to venture right up to the stage there, so I introduced myself to Josh Epstein as he was plugging in equipment in order to snag another photo op with an interview subject (write up here).  We had a quick chat on the phone a few days earlier, asking him about the band's quick rise over the course of the year with their debut release, It's a Corporate World.  This duo complements each other so well, meshing vocal harmonies and pop hooks galore.  Then they add in some funky lighting, bubbles and stage outfits to make for a fun live show, including a killer cover for the encore (see below).

HONORABLE MENTION: Art Brut @ Music Hall of Williamsburg -- June 22, 2011
How can you not love this band?  After singing along to three albums worth of fun, tongue-in-cheek pop tunes, I finally saw Art Brut cranking them out live as if they were indeed on "Top of the Pops." I had a phoner with Eddie Argos a few weeks prior so was eager to see him in action (write up here). Argos could give lessons on how to be a charming frontman and he's having as much fun as anyone up at the concert being center stage.  When he jumped into the audience with a lengthy monologue during a favorite song, "Modern Art," I loved every minute. "Modern art makes me want to buy a t-shirt!" Argos was joking how this was their "Glass Ceiling Tour" and he should be thankful for that.  I say the music world is a way better place with Art Brut around and wishing for many more songs/tours ahead!