Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Best Concerts Of 2011

Okay, it's the end of the year, and time for everyone to make his or her lists. Lists of best films, best records, best this and that. If you know me, you know I love to make lists. I even have a list of every book I've read since 1988. So of course I'm going to write a few lists of my own for the year. So here is my list of the five best concerts I attended this year. And yes, there still are a couple of weeks left, and there's a chance I could see some amazing band on New Year's Eve (that is, if I get a free ticket, or suddenly come into a ton of cash). But as it stands now, these are the best shows I saw in 2011. I tried to put them in the order of how much I enjoyed them, but I could not settle on such an order. Each of these shows was wonderful. So instead I've put them in chronological order.

1. The Monkees at Lowell Memorial Auditorium, June 15, 2011

My first favorite band was of course The Monkees. I was four years old, and couldn't get enough of them. And now I'm much older, and still can't get enough of them. I've seen them in concert a few times - the first time being in 1986. And I can say in all honesty that this year's show was the best I'd ever seen them do. The sound was off at the beginning of the show, but that was fixed after several songs, long before they went into their Head set. If I were forced to pick a favorite Monkees song, it would be "As We Go Along," from their 1968 film, Head. I always wanted to see them perform it in concert, but never expected to see them do it. After all, it was never a hit and wasn't featured on the television program. Well, they played it at this show, and it completely blew me away.

2. The Greencards at The Mint, July 5, 2011

Holy shit, do these guys put on a great show! Incredible energy, great songs, good vibes. And hell, they covered Cheap Trick's "I Want You To Want Me." My friend that night told me he'd never seen anyone play mandolin like that. Check this band out whenever you get the chance. You will not be disappointed.

3. The Grownup Noise at Silverlake Lounge, August 15, 2011

Often I'm the only one dancing at a concert. I don't mind that one bit. It takes a lot to get folks dancing in Los Angeles. I'm not sure what it is about this town. But when The Grownup Noise played the Silverlake Lounge - not a venue known for dancing - I was certainly not the only one moved by the music. I love that people are catching on to how great this band is, but I'm also worried that soon they'll be playing large venues and I won't be able to afford to get in. They played some new material at this show, and it's as good as anything these guys have done. And remember, they have a cello. So there.

4. Wagons at The Hotel Cafe, September 21, 2011

Yeah, it's true they didn't play my request - "Moon Into Sun" - but who cares? Wagons put on a kick-ass show. I love The Hotel Cafe because it's a small room, and yet doesn't have a claustrophic feel. The only problem is that the shows there are rigidly timed. I hope the next time Wagons come to town, they play a much longer show. Henry has a great rapport with the crowd. These guys are great musicians, and are also seriously funny.

5. The Brian Kinler Band at M Bar, October 8, 2011

Okay, this is definitely in part because they played "On The Dark Side." I watched Eddie And The Cruisers at least 75 times when I was a teenager. And I saw John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band twice in concert - once when I was a teenager (they were on the same bill as Roy Orbison and The Beach Boys) and once in my twenties (they played a bar in Springfield, Oregon). Anyway, at this Brian Kinler show Kelly Zirbes (from Kelly's Lot) was the guest singer, along with Perry Robertson on guitar. And they did an extended version of the song that totally kicked ass. But beside that song, the band did a really wonderful version of "Open All Night." And it was the original lineup for this show - Jon Weiner flew down for this concert, borrowed a drum kit, and was excellent. Band members were adding new touches to songs. Dave Welch did some great stuff on horn. Even "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" felt fresh.

There were a lot of other great concerts this year. Limiting my list to these few seems wrong somehow, because the list doesn't include Patrolled By Radar or Fur Dixon & Steve Werner or Ellis Paul or Stone Darling or The Evangenitals or The Nields. I saw The Nields perform a special show at The Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, Massachusetts on June 11th, and it was a wonderful night. And I'm sure there are a lot of other concerts that I'm forgetting at the moment. But at any rate, these five shows were true stand-outs this year.

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