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Posted at 3:00 PM ET, 12/30/2010

Lists: David Malitz picks his top 10 concerts of 2010

By David Malitz

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.

lcd(Photo by Kyle Gustafson)

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?

Original review

titus(Photo by Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

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.

Original review

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.

Original review

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.

Original review

grinderman(Photo by Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

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.

Original review

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.

Original review + Set list statistics

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.

hole(Photo by Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

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.

Original review

By David Malitz  | 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  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Be specific: Eugene Hutz talks about life in Gogol Bordello
Next: In concert: Gogol Bordello at 9:30 Club


Dave obviously didn't see The Allman Brother's Band at DAR back in November. In between a Mountain Jam sandwhich were almost 3 hours of tasty blues morsels like Black Hearted Woman, Just Ain't My Cross to Bear and the mother of all encores for dessert; Whipping Post. Warren Haynes was simply on fire and Gregg sang like a man just given a reprieve from a death sentence(which, thanks to a new liver, he was)! Outstanding display of musicianship and pure MOJO. Where were you, Dave?

Posted by: rcupps | December 31, 2010 2:04 AM | Report abuse

Dave probably didn't see DMB's final show of 2010 in Charlottesville. I know they aren't everyone's cup o tea, but that was an epic show. Took me back 15 years, a four hour rock out performance. It was really something.

Posted by: cvillehammer | January 1, 2011 12:46 AM | Report abuse

No love for the Arcade Fire at Merriweather? That was a great show!

Posted by: agl132 | January 4, 2011 2:20 PM | Report abuse

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