02 January 2013

2012:: Favorite Live Shows

Once again a wonderful year of seeing live music. Got close to 100 shows, but didn't quite crack it like last year (a shortcoming I owe to multiple bouts of the flu & a hurricane).

The stats:
135+ bands seen (64 for the first time)
94 total shows
76 nights (or days) out
37 different venues

While I loved most of the concerts I made it to this year, several stood out above the rest. Here's are my favorite 10+ 2012 shows in some semblance of an order:

1. Freaks Ball XII @ Brooklyn Bowl 1/21 & 1/22 + Portugal. The Man 1/17 @ Bowery Ballroom
two nights of great music, including @neddyo faves Portugal. The Man one night (who I was lucky to see a few days earlier at the Bowery Ballroom (review here) as well, making it one long Freak week for me) and one of the better superjams I've ever seen the next. The Ball always makes my list, but this one was special.

2. Phish @ Jones Beach 7/3 + @ Madison Square Garden 12/30
I probably saw fewer PH shows in 2012 than in any other year in the past 20 (discounting years they were "off", of course), but they were still great. These two NYC shows were the tops of the ones I saw. Band is in fine form, hopefully they make it easy for me to see 'em in 2013.

3. The Heartless Bastards @ Webster Hall 2/24 + @ Irving Plaza 10/27
Best rock band going right now. The Bastards felt like they were in permanent rotation for me in 2012 and these two shows kind of book-ended the meat of the year. Great, great shows.

4. Newport Folk Festival 7/28 & 29 + Wilco/Blitzen Trapper/Megafaun 7/27 @ Fort Adams, Newport, RI
For me right now, the Folk Fest is the perfect festival: always a mix of bands I already love, bands I want to finally check out and new bands to discover and fall in love with. On those terms, the 2012 version was probably my favorite. Add in the pre-show party at the Fort, which would stand on its own as a top show of the year for me, and you have an amazing weekend of music.

5. Medeski, Cline, Martin & Wood @ Blue Note 12/12
Wow! On paper, the highest caliber of talent you can imagine. In reality, a set of straight improv of the highest degree. This was the jamming that all jambands wish they had in them, full four-man without-a-net interplay that was some of the best music I've seen in a while.

6. White Denim @ Bowery Ballroom 4/13 + Brooklyn Bowl 8/13
As I tweeted sometime during one of these bands: at the current trajectory, White Denim is on course to be the best band ever by the middle of 2013. These two shows were blistering sets from a band at the top of their game. The Bowery show reviewed here.

7. Fruit Bats + Yellowbirds @ Knitting Factory 7/2
Two of my favorite bands, a little bit too off-the-radar, in my opinion, playing together in the underutilized Knitting Factory in Brooklyn on one of those "off nights" right before the summer holiday weekend. Apparently a recipe for some fantastic music. I love both of these bands and haven't seen either of them play better than they did on this night.

8. Tame Impala @ Music Hall of Williamsburg 8/7 + @ Webster Hall 11/10
Tame Impala were my favorite musical thing about 2012, in no small part due to these two amazing shows reviewed here and here.

9. Bright Light Social Hour @ Bowery Ballroom 8/8 
Nine entries into this list and I'm trying to figure out some creative ways of saying "favorite" and "best." Let's put it this way, I don't think there's a more fun rock show than the one these guys put on. But beyond that, they rock their asses off and, on this night they proved they've got the makings of some seriously heady jams in them as well. Don't miss these guys!

10. Andrew Bird @ Riverside Church 12/10
Big rock shows are awesome. Quiet special ones like this can be even better. Reviewed here.

Honorable mention:

1/28 Rubblebucket/Superhuman Happiness @ Bowery Ballroom
1/1 + 4/29 The Bad Plus @ Village Vanguard + Blue Note
3/14 New Multitudes @ Webster Hall
7/25 Wilco @ Terminal 5
3/28 First Aid Kit @ Webster Hall
4/20 Portugal. The Man @ MHOW
2/8 Karl Denson's Tiny Universe + Anders Osborne (play Sticky Fingers) @ Webster Hall
2/23 + 8/3 Zeus @ Mercury Lounge
10/23 El Ten Eleven @ Bowery Ballroom
6/22 Anders Osborne @ Brooklyn Bowl
10/22 The Sea and Cake @ Le Poisson Rouge
9/20 Gosta Berlings Saga @ Hornstrung Strand, Stockholm, Sweden
7/24 Howlin Rain/Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound @ Studio at Webster Hall
12/29 The Punch Brothers @ Bowery Ballroom
10/17 Matthew E. White @ Union Pool
8/3 Shanir Blumenkranz's Abraxas @ The Stone
5/12 Oneida et al @ 285 Kent Ave
6/28 Marc Ribot Trio @ Village Vanguard

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