Friday, December 31, 2010

My Top 5 Concerts of 2010

It’s the last day of 2010 and I’ve decided to celebrate by posting my top five shows of 2010 (that I attended anyways). Unlike my top 10 songs list, this one is in order.

1. Arcade Fire – August 14, Toronto Island
OK, so it was an outdoor show and the sound wasn’t perfect but otherwise this was about as an ideal of a show as you can ask for.

The SuburbsThe band members were totally into it, the audience was totally into it (people were crying!), all the right songs were played and because we were on a nice, green island with tons of space, there was plenty of space for all and no coked-out 15-year-olds were invading my dance bubble.

I enjoyed this show so much that I have actually included it in my top five shows of all time list (a list that currently exists solely in my head). It’s actually replacing another Arcade Fire show (Massey Hall in 2007) that while technically tighter and visually fancier, just wasn’t as fun and, as odd as this sounds, joyful, as this year’s island show.

Here’s to another island show next year! (Yeah right, I know the next time they’re in time it’ll be the ACC).

2. LCD Soundsystem – May 23, Terminal 5
So I heard the Toronto show was pretty great but I don’t know if it was as good as this one, which at the time was being billed at LCD Soundsystem’s last NYC show. This was the band’s fourth show in a row so I was a bit worried about how their energy level would be but they all in fine form, playing all the songs I wanted to hear. And when it came to the actual sound, four shows in a row must have been the magical number because our night had none of the sound issues that the previous nights had.

This Is HappeningThe only sad part was that our night was treated to just a few bars of the band's cover version of Jay-Z/Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind”, while the other nights go to hear the full thing. But we did get a balloon drop at the end of it all and that was pretty fun.

Also, to any New Yorker who complains about Terminal 5 being NYC’s worse venue, you need to check out something called “Sound Academy” up here in Toronto.

3. Gorillaz – October 14, Air Canada Centre
Tickets for this show were originally $80 so initially we passed on it, even though Husband really wanted to go. Passing turned out to be a smart move because ticket prices were eventually halved and we ended up getting some great seats in the 100 level for $40 each.

Plastic BeachAnd what did we get for our $40? Well, two hours of solid, big screen (and I mean that literally) entertainment. By the end of the show, I understood why tickets were originally so much; this was no doubt an expensive show to put on. At times there must have been 20 people on stage plus there was a truly massive screen up that showcased the animated members of Gorillaz in a series of vaguely related videos.

The ACC really requires a band to go big or go home and Gorillaz definitely delivered on the “big”. While I have no doubt that this show wouldn’t have been to everyone’s taste (at times it was easy to forget that there were live musicians performing, you could get that into the videos), I was certainly wowed.

4. Sleigh Bells/Die Antwood – July 20, Phoenix
Here’s another show that’s definitely not for everyone for so many reasons: bad sound, obnoxious audience, obnoxious performers (Die Antwoord; Sleigh Bells were more on the adorable side). But of all the shows of 2010, this one sticks out in my head the most after Arcade Fire.

$O$ [Explicit] [+Digital Booklet]I went to this show specifically to see Sleigh Bells, who delivered a super-energy, super-short set that left me wanting more (not that they had any songs left to perform). The sound was poor but this was sort of blessing-in-disguise since it help to hide singer Alexis Krauss’ weak vocals. But while the girl can’t sing, she can certainly move and get a crowd going.

However, her stage presence was nothing compared to what Die Antwoord delivered. Say what you want about their lyrics and overall shtick, this South African group can entertain and, as long as you keep things superficial, it’s incredibly fun (in other words, don’t think about how the majority of the audience seems to be taking Die Antwoord seriously). While I wouldn’t go out of my way to see Die Antwoord again, if they were say, performing at a festival I was at, I’d certainly check them out again.

5. The Dead Weather – July 15, Sound Academy
I had low expectations for this show because for one, I’m not a big The Dead Weather fan and two, it was at Sound Academy.

Sea Of CowardsBut a few tracks in and I was won over. Though the music’s too heavy and blues-influenced for my tastes, it’s damn fine songwriting that translates into a surprisingly watchable live show. A big part of this is due to singer Alison Mosshart’s stage presence. She’s like a crazy woman on stage, a crazy woman who can actually sing. Plus you have Jack White up there up who, without question, is one the most talented rock musicians out there (and apparently his talents extend to picking great sound guys because sonically this show was great, at least from where I was standing).

The fact that this show was in July meant we could take advantage of Sound Academy’s sole redeeming feature, its outdoor patio, which helped to make the venue more bearable.

The crowd didn’t move too much but given the music and the large number of white guys in attendance, this wasn’t surprising. And actually, this was probably a good thing since this was a sold-out show and sold-out dance parties at Sound Academy suck (if I was doing a “Worse Shows of 2010” list, Girl Talk’s June date at this venue would be in first place).

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