Lists: David Malitz picks his top 10 concerts of 2010
I didn’t quite match last year’s 237 concerts, but I did attend 221 shows in 2010. And, to quote Eric Cartman, about 80 percent of them were “fine, just fine.”
Maybe they just all blurred together. Maybe it was too many nights watching soundalike indie bands with 3 or 4 good songs and 3 or 4 not-as-good versions of those songs. Maybe my standards are too high.
I give every band I see a Pitchfork-style score and my spreadsheet is tattered with 7-point-somethings. Here are the ten that scored highest -- in D.C. or elsewhere.
1. Eddy Current Suppression Ring - Gooski’s - June 23 (Pittsburgh)
It was enough to finally see the greatest rock-and-roll band in the world today (statement of fact) rip through all of its best songs in perfectly precise fashion. But it was also a chance to step outside of myself for a night. I didn’t know a single person at this club, where the performance room was as big as a modest living room. You could still smoke in there, and most people were. It was disgusting. It was awesome. The bar sold 16 oz. Budweisers for $2.75. I ended the night caked in smoke, covered in sweat (mostly other people's) and with a few bruises. I'm a defender of the D.C. concert-going experience, but this show couldn't have happened here.
2. LCD Soundsystem - Merriweather Post Pavilion - Sept. 25
Sort of the opposite of the above show, this one needed to be massive. There needed to be a disco ball and confetti and glow sticks. How can a band possibly be this good?
3. Titus Andronicus - April 17 - St. Stephen’s Church
In a September interview, Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Stickles had fond memories of this show. “A lot of good vibes, which warm my heart, even now,” he said. Another sweaty mess of a show with sound bouncing off the walls. It was a freight train that couldn’t be stopped.
4. Jeff Mangum - La Passion Rogue - May 6 (New York)
More than a decade in the making, the elusive Neutral Milk Hotel frontman finally makes his return to the stage at a benefit for New Zealand singer Chris Knox. Would he flake? Would he play formless noise? Would he make everyone feel uncomfortable? Nope, he played five of his most beloved songs, in fine voice and made a few hundred people very happy.
5. Sonic Youth/The Clean - Matador 21 festival at The Palms - Oct. 1-3 (Las Vegas)
During an entire weekend of performances from indie rock A-listers, it was the two oldest bands that stood out. Both stuck to songs from their early years and were more punk than all of their younger labelmates.
6. Grinderman - 9:30 Club - Nov. 16
It’s possible this one show had the two most thrilling on-stage performers I saw all year: frontman Nick Cave and his scraggly sidekick Warren Ellis.
7. Blood Feathers - Black Cat - March 4
The most pleasant surprise of the year. A relentless set toggling between rockabilly-tinged stompers, Bo Diddley-inspired romps and fuzzy psych folk. It played out like a compilation of deep album cuts from a record collection lost 35 years ago.
8. Spoon - 9:30 Club - March 22 + 23
Such precision. I ended up seeing Spoon five times this year and I think we can finally strip away the “hit-or-miss” tag when it comes to their live performances.
9. Buzzcocks - Black Cat - May 11, Paul Collins Beat - Comet Ping Pong - Aug. 20 (tie)
These old-timer acts made their mark 30 years ago, but played with a fierce sense of purpose lacking in most of today’s bands.
10. Hole - 9:30 Club - June 27
OK, so this obviously wasn’t the 10th best show I saw in 2010. It was the worst show I’ve seen ever. But it sure was memorable -- even if for every possible wrong reason. As an added bonus -- thanks to my review's heavy play on this site’s home page and on the front of the Style section -- every “adult” I know had read about it, giving me a go-to conversation piece at every family gathering/slightly-formal get together for the rest of the year.
| December 30, 2010; 3:00 PM ET
Categories: In concert, Lists | Tags: Blood Feathers, Buzzcocks, Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Grinderman, Hole, Jeff Mangum, LCD Soundsystem, Paul Collins Beat, Sonic Youth, Spoon, The Clean, Titus Andronicus
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