Thursday, June 5, 2008

Top 5 Concerts You've Been To

Straightforward and strictly self-referential for a change of pace.

Ryan's Top Five

1. Badly Drawn Boy, Liberty Hall, Lawrence, KS (Oct. 2004) - When I put down all the concerts I've been to in print (not as many as I had thought), this one is far and away the best. First off, you have to factor in this--what are the fucking odds of A) Badly Drawn Boy coming to America to tour, B) Badly Drawn Boy coming to Lawrence, KS, and C) Badly Drawn Boy coming to my favorite venue in the world? Secondly, I definitely got my money's worth; he played his best album, "One Plus One Is One" (which had just been released), in its entirety, then they took a break, then he came back and did a full concert of older songs, then he came back for an encore. The show lasted almost four hours. By the encore, he was drunk and ranting about the upcoming election and George W. Bush. And to top it off, the opener was good, an indie band from England called Adem. My favorite concert, bar none.

2. Duran Duran, NTelos Pavilion, Portsmouth, VA (Aug. 2005) - This was easily the biggest concert I've ever been to, and Duran Duran did not remotely disappoint. They opened with "Friends of Mine," then Simon Le Bon says hello to the crowd and screams, "IS ANYBODY HUNGRYYYYY?!" before they launch into "Hungry Like The Wolf." This strikes me as one of the coolest ways to begin a show, ever--give the public what they want. Adhering to this, they did just about every song you could want them to do, not letting their newer stuff overwhelm the act. This included my two favorites, "Come Undone" and "Ordinary World." And when he dedicated the latter to the military men and women overseas and their families left behind--Norfolk after all is a Navy town, and plenty of Navy folk were in the crowd--it actually wasn't cheesy, doubtless because the song itself is so fucking awesome. Downside: the opening act sucked. All in all though, great show.

3. Colin Meloy, Liberty Hall, Lawrence, KS (April 2008) - I was psyched for this concert but I'll admit I was a bit leery of an entirely acoustic set. Fortunately, this concert was pretty great, all told. He did plenty of "The Crane Wife," including kick-ass versions of "The Perfect Crime 2" and "O Valencia." He's a pretty good stand-up comedian to boot; at one point he said he didn't want to "get too footnotey, like some fucking David Foster Wallace novel." Finally, he finished by leading the crowd in a rollicking rendition (says I) of "The Mariner's Revenge Song."

4. Ben Folds Five, Sokol Auditorium, Omaha, NE (Oct. 1999) - The concert itself was great, but more than that, this was at 16 my First Real Concert I ever went to, you know, of music I had discovered on my own and had listened to religiously for two solid years. (See #5 for clarification of "First Real Concert.") They did a few songs from Reinhold Messner (released earlier that year) but focused primarily on Whatever And Ever Amen (one of my top 5 favorite albums) and their eponymous debut. Highlights included awesome renditions of "Philosophy," "One Angry Dwarf...," "Narcolepsy," and so on. It was all good. Side-note: Train was the opener, before they were big. I suppose I liked them then, or anyway I liked "Meet Virginia."

5. Hootie & the Blowfish, Some Nebraskan Ampitheatre, summer, I believe 1997 - OK, not the best of recollections about this one... though I know I still have the ticket stub somewhere. This, in all fairness, was the First Concert I ever went to, so I have to include it here. Actually, it's easy to laugh about Hootie & the Blowfish now, but... well OK, it was probably easy to do so then, but I was still 13 and only a few years removed from "Cracked Rear View." Hey, you know what, fuck you all, I like Hootie & the Blowfish.

All The Concerts I've Been To Follow (I am pretty sure I'm not forgetting any...):

Honorable Mentions:
- The Swell Season at the Uptown Theatre, KCMO (this is #6 if I were ranking them, great show)
- Ben Folds, the Lied Center (at KU, this was an awesome show and I suppose is tied for 6th)
- Ben Folds, Rufus Wainwright, Ben Lee at City Market, KCMO (would have been great if lightning didn't preclude Ben Lee entirely and persuade a skittish Rufus Wainwright to fly through his set)
- Ben Folds at some venue in Norfolk (Portside? Somethingerother? This is how much Hampton Roads is into Ben, my dad bought tickets for the three of us (him, me, Tory), we get there, and they're handing out free tickets at the door...Anyway, good show, but nothing particularly Top 5-worthy)
- Jurassic 5, Abe & Jake's in Lawrence (my only hip hop show)
- Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band at the NTelos Pavilion in Portsmouth, VA (fun seeing a Beatle. Not quite as fun seeing members of Supertramp, ELP, et. al.)
- Nickel Creek at Liberty Hall (good concert, the music's not really my cup of tea, but still)

Dishonorable Mention:
- Tonic at Harbor View in Norfolk, VA (free concert...took forever for them to get onstage...after they performed about three songs we realized we didn't really give a shit about Tonic and left, which was enjoyable. They did have good barbecue, to be fair.)

Dan's Top 5:

1. Smashing Pumpkins, The Orange Peel, Asheville, NC (Jun. 30, 2007) - The Smashing Pumpkins did a residency for a little over a week in Asheville to promote Zeitgeist. I actually managed to get two tickets (a mere $20 each) out of I'm guessing 600 per show. The greatest thing about this concert was the venue. It's essentially the size of a school gym, so I got to stand about ten or fifteen feet away from Billy Corgan. Despite only beginning to get into Smashing Pumpkins at the time, it was still an amazing set. They played "Stand Inside Your Love," "Tonight, Tonight," and of course, "1979," which is a song that's in my Top 10, if not my Top 5 Songs of All Time. I Would have liked to see a show with the original lineup (i.e., with D'arcy and James) but let's not kid ourselves - Corgan is the band (for better or for worse - I blame him exclusively for Zeitgeist).

2. Gogol Bordello, The Lyric Theatre, Blacksburg, VA (October 18, 2007) - This one was a real surprise. I accepted a ticket after my roommate told me about the group, making this the first and only concert to go to where I didn't know any of the songs that would be played. For those who don't know of Gogol Bordello, the music is best described as Eastern European Gypsy Punk. Yeah, wrap your head around that. Anyway, I managed to squeeze into the front row, but of to the side, where there was no punk activity (minor crowd surfing and possible moshing took place) so I could focus on the performers. The concert ranks so high because I was right up front for an extremely high-energy show. All the performers were really into it, and I got to shake all their hands at the end of the set.

3. Radiohead, Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Charlotte, NC (May 9, 2008) - I had to settle for lawn seats, but for fucking Radiohead, it didn't matter (I was in the front against the railing anyway). The band did twenty-four (24) songs and wrapped up by 11, letting me get back to Blacksburg by 2. It seemed fast at the time, but it was two-and-a-half hours. Naturally, they did their In Rainbows songs, but they also pulled a few tricks by playing songs like "Optmistic," "Exit Music (For a Film)" and "Planet Telex." The encore consisted of "Paranoid Android" and "Reckoner," and will probably be the best encore in the history of ever. My only complaint is that they didn't play any of my top three songs ("My Iron Lung," "No Surprises," "Fake Plastic Trees").

4. Rush, Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Virginia Beach, VA (Jun. 22, 2007) - I've only been really into Rush for under a year, and this concert really made me a die-hard fan. I knew that each member of the trio was one of the best in the world at their instrument, but I wasn't expecting this level of awesomeness. I get to say I've seen a Neil Peart drum solo live, and that makes me happy. I didn't know but half of the songs, but one of the highlights was a clip of South Park introducing "Tom Sawyer." The band really has a good sense of humor. The encore was capped with "YYZ," which took it to a whole new level of kickass.

5. Sudflood XVIII, Top of the Stairs, Blacksburg, VA (Apr. 22, 2006) - I'm going to pull a fast one and include an all-day music fest that my former band, Rex Bedlam, played in. We were originally slated to play an hour and a half, but technical issues and other bands running over time shaved our set down to about half an hour to 45 minutes. The first song, our drummer broke his kick pedal, and the second song, our electric guitarist broke a string. However, we gave it our best and even managed to cover Zeppelin's "Black Dog." Afterwards, other visiting bands (all of which were good) gave us props during their sets. Pretty awesome. Oh yeah, we also got unlimited free beer for twelve hours.

Honorable Mentions (i.e., the rest of the concerts I've been to, ranked in descending order of greatness):

Muse w/ My Chemical Romance, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD - Muse fucking rule, but because they were openers, their set was a mere 45 minutes.

Red Hot Chili Peppers with Gnarls Barkley, John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA - RHCP was really lackluster, as they played mostly newer songs (i.e., post-BSSM), but Gnarls Barkley was the shit. However, their bass was clipping because their sound levels were off, resulting in a non-ideal show.

The Last Dispatch, The Hatch Shell, Boston, MA - Dispatch's supposed final show ever. (They reunited recently at MSG for a series of benefit concerts.) Awesome music from a single band for three and a half hours, but way too many people, way too hot, and most of the fans were hippies.

ZZ Top, Ted Nugent, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Virginia Beach, VA - This was my first concert ever, and I went with my dad (which, if you know my dad, is not an uncool thing to admit). It was pretty enjoyable, but Ted Nugent ruined his set for me when he avidly supported George W. Bush during some inter-song banter.

Carbon Leaf w/ Ben Lee, Burruss Hall Auditorium, Blacksburg, VA - I was in the second row for this one, and I'm a solid fan of Carbon Leaf. Ben Lee was pretty good too. I expect this to be the standard for an acceptable concert experience.

Sudflood XIX, Top of the Stairs, Blacksburg, VA - Overall, most of the bands were boring, but Carbon Leaf was there, and I found out that they did the show for free (proceeds this year went to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund). They also signed my copy of Echo Echo.

Ben Folds, Burruss Hall Auditorium, Blacksburg, VA - This concert makes me suspect that Ben Folds hates, for some reason, the state of Virginia, Virginia Tech or even me personally. He seemed really detached from the audience, and even forced us to listen to him start "Gracie" about five or six times because someone in the audience "woo"-ed in approval. (He neared completion of it twice, only to start it over.) What a douche.

O.A.R. w/ Michael Franti and Spearhead, Burruss Hall Auditorium, Blacksburg, VA - I think I was in the front row for this, but let's be honest, O.A.R. sucks. Spearhead was pretty cool, though.

Tim's Top 5:
Ryan jumped the gun on this one, I'm pretty sure the Springsteen show I'm going to 7/27/08 will be #1 and I suspect the Pearl Jam show (and maybe, god willing, R.E.M.?) in June may crack the list, so I was holding off.

1) 4/00 - Guided by Voices with Sense Field at The Sokol Auditorium, Omaha, NE - I was probably the only person watching Sense Field, but they became one of my favorite bands after the concert -- and shortly after the concert had to abandon their hopes of ever releasing their album with Warner Bros. and it became the abortive effort that was released on Nettwerk and scored them 15 minutes of fame with "Save Yourself". Then GbV put together a greatest hits concert that captured the era of GbV at its finest -- this was right after Do The Collapse, so they didn't have the stuff from Isolation Drills, but it led them to get the best of the Fading Captain Series and favor stuff from Alien Lanes and Bee Thousand instead of the most recent album. The only drawback is one that would follow GbV for years, their steadfast avoidance of material from Mag Earwhig!, which was and still is, my favorite GbV album hands down.

2) 6/13/03 - Pearl Jam with Idlewild at the Mid-American Center, Council Bluffs, IA - Bu$hleaguer on the Riot Act album...boring. Bu$hleaguer live -- played in the heart of Republican country -- unparalleled in awesomeness. This is the concert that made me think Riot Act was one of Pearl Jam's greatest albums, even though only me and four other people own it. I don't think I'm wrong. They closed with Rockin' in the Free World, which is definitely the chosen song to end Pearl Jam shows, they covered The Police's Driven to Tears, The Clash's "Know Your Rights" (both have since become favorites of mine) and unfortunately Crazy Mary (a song which I have no affection for). It was really an amazing show, no Katowice, Poland, but amazing nonetheless.

3) 7/28/07 - The Old 97's with Ha Ha Tonka at The Chameleon Club, Lancaster, PA - I'd seen the Old 97's the night before on the Rockin' on the River cruise in New York but discovered they had a show far closer to me the next day. They ended up playing three encores -- one with Rhett by himself playing a couple of solo songs and a cover of the Pixies' "Wave of Mutilation", then the band returned to join him for a couple more Old 97's tracks. After half the club had left, they came out and played two more songs, both of which were unrecognizable at the time. The venue was astounding for a middling college town in the middle of Amish country, and the crowd really seemed to know their work much more than the NYC crowd. Ha Ha Tonka was an entertaining enough band, more on the side of country than alt-country, but they waited at the back of the show to watch, which is the true sign of an opening act that deserves some respect. I've meant to get their album for a long time now. I should really get around to it. There were still a couple of songs I'd have killed for them to play (seriously, "Nite Club" and "If My Heart Were a Car" warrant playing), but it was an exhaustingly amazing show. I drove the long trip home having absolutely no regrets about seeing them for a second time in two days.

4) 4/06 - Franz Ferdinand and Death Cab For Cutie at Barton Hall, Ithaca, NY - The venue was awful for acoustics, I had absolutely nothing to drink (thank you, Cornell University), but the two acts were amazing. Franz Ferdinand went through the vast majority of their material, but still managed to hold things back that I'd forgotten were awesome; Death Cab played a good sampling of their material, even though I was unfamiliar with 90% of it at that point. I owned Plans within the week and have since developed an appreciation for their work as a whole.

5) 7/07 - The Police with Fiction Plane and the Fratellis at Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA - Sure, it might as well have been pre-packaged, because The Police played only two sets during the entire reunion tour (Philadelphia warranted the long set at least), but they reminded me that there was a period before I was really sentient that Sting used to actually, you know, be kind of cool. And rock. They really put together a great show, the venue wasn't bad, and the beer flowed freely. Definitely one of the highlights of my employment thus far. You know, other than all the "law" stuff.

Honorable Mention: Ben Folds with The Divine Comedy at Seven Flags Event Center, Clive, IA - This was on the Ben Folds and a Piano tour after Rockin' the Suburbs, before he went off the musical deep end and became dead to me forever. The audience interaction seemed fresh (it wasn't, as you learned from the live album, it was all a scripted show with the same banter at every stop), and the music was awesome; Smashing Pumpkins with Fountains of Wayne at the Omaha Civic Auditorium, Omaha, NE - My first concert still warrants mention, although I knew so little of either of these bands' work when I went to the show that it really cut into the awesomenss; Snow Patrol with OK Go and Silversun Pickups at Tweeter Center, Camden, NJ - the headline act wasn't what I went to see, but they put together a good show, OK Go played most of their catalog and Silversun Pickups are as solid a second opening act as I could envision. Venue wasn't particularly good.


Dan said...

Hey, what's wrong with Hootie and the Blowfish?

Vulpes Ryanis said...

Of course, the day after I post this Top 5, Gnarls Barkley announces a KC date and we get tickets.

I think I just jinxed my way into an awesome concert.

Fool'sErrandBoy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fool'sErrandBoy said...

I don't think any of those on my list would still be on it.