Monday, August 16, 2004

Projekt Revolution: Nissan Pavilion, 8/10/04

Projekt Revolution 2004 was one of those classic summer festival experiences. A meeting of the minds on a beautiful summer day, with a few notable curve balls thrown in to encourage us to expand our musical horizons and the dimenions of our CD collection. In this case, that curve ball was...  


Snoop Dogg. What more can I say? He's the Godfather... or would that be the Dogfather? Either way, he brought the Dogg Pound posse out to Nissan Pavilion and showed us how to party in true West Coast style. Most notable were his old school hits like "Gin & Juice," and his most recent smash, "Beautiful," which he dedicated to the ladies.   


One thing I absolutely love about hip-hop shows is the crowd control that the MCs exercise with such ease. In the classic hip-hop tradition, Snoop had us dancing our collective @$$ off, waving in unison, & screaming the call-and-response lyrics -- most of which had to do with drinking, smoking, partying, smoking some more, and every possible combination of the above.    


That said, Snoop was playing to a tough crowd. Imagine if you will a crowd of nu metalheads trying to shake their groove thang. Hmmmm. I was getting down with my bad self, and so was about 1/3 of the audience, but Snoop was a tough sell to the rest of them.  If it was possible to respect the D. O. Double-G more than I had when I walked into the show, seeing him play to a tough crowd really cemented my esteem for him. He is a true professional, and the duly ordained High Priest of Party. So if you have tix to Projekt Revolution, get there in time to see Snoop Dogg and represent! His performance and his mere presence deserve a roof-raising reception.  


And now for something completely different... KORN!      



First, I must admit publicly that I am not well versed in Korn, and thus I am probably not the best person to be summing up a Korn show. That said, I went in knowing that Korn has a rabid fan base who show up in hordes to see Jonathan Davis & crew.    


Though I wasn't grooving to the music the way my neighboring concert-goers were, I definitely got the appeal. It was most enjoyable being part of the audience during the spectacle that was a Korn show. Jonathan Davis is a dynamic frontman and well deserving of his adoring fans.      



Some highlights: Big props to Korn for pulling out two inspired covers: Metallica's "One" and Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall." And did you know that Jonathan Davis plays the bagpipes?  That might explain the kilt. Who knew the bagpipes could rawk? You Korn fans did, I bet. Also loved it when Jonathan held up a flaming torch and called to the crowd to exercise the old school rite of holding up their lighters, during the closest thing to a ballad Korn would perform that night. Sounds kind of cheesy, but looked really cool.



Continued in my next journal entry...

Projekt Revolution Part II

And now on to the reason I bought my tix: Linkin Park. I've already waxed rhapsodic about LP in my Top 10 Shows of All Time list, so I won't go on and on all over again. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll use this entry as a photo album and let my picture-phone pics do the talking.







Some highlights: Every song. I was transported throughout so I'm hard pressed to choose favorites. (I apologize for the gratuitous gushing.) Although, a couple moments do spring to mind. First, Mike Shinoda sitting down to tickle the ivories...




Not that they needed help, but a few special guests graced the stage. Guest star Jonathan Davis belted out some of Chester's lines. The Used's frontman also rocked a duet with Chester. And later, Brad (guitarist) picked two fans out of the crowd to help Mike & Chester rap and sing their respective parts... 




More highlights: We went wild when Mike jumped into the audience...



...and were swept into a frenzy during the encore when Chester kicked out an inspired rendition of Nine Inch Nails' "Wish"...




A very satisfying show. And that's all she wrote.


Did I whet your appetite? Catch The Used, Snoop Dogg, Korn, Linkin Park & more when Projekt Revolution rolls into your town!

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Favorite Venues: In Praise of the 9:30 Club

9:30 Club, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

It's rare that a gritty club in a gritty part of town could attract the likes of Bryan Ferry, The Hives, Neil Finn, Jurassic 5, Dolly Parton, Wilco, Liz Phair, Los Lobos, Lucinda Williams, etc. It's also rare that a gritty club in a gritty part of town could induce folks from all over the surrounding countryside to brave the road rage-inducing tourist traffic of our nation's capitol.  But attract and induce it does.

In fact, I can think of no place I'd rather see live music. Truly.

Why? The room. When the crowd is light, the room never feels empty. When a show is sold out, it never feels claustrophobic. And in either case, the sound is phenomenal. I mean phenominal. The sound team seems equally at home with acoustic acts featuring hard-to-hear instruments like stand-up bass, as well as the heaviest riff-rocking guitars, and hip-hop's human beatboxes and turntables. You never strain to hear, nor do your ears ever bleed. But it doesn't end there, oh no! If you're not a fan of standing on the floor, or you're sick of being too short behind a wall of 6-footers, there are many options. Head on up to the balcony for a view down over the crowd and have a beer at one of the bars. Or pull up a bleacher seat along the side walls upstairs. You'll always be able to find a good view. And even up in the back balcony, you'll still feel as if you could reach out and touch the band. Optical illusion? Optical delusion? Who cares?! All I know is it's good.

Why? Musicians love playing there. Despite having a smallish stage (Bryan Ferry's band and back-up singers looked positively squished), every last band I've seen there seems to be having a fab time. Maybe the soundman is particularly adept at giving them a good monitor mix. Who knows? But every last one of 'em that I've seen has seemed to be kicking  proverbial butt and enjoying themselves more than usual. The interactions with the crowd are personal and the encores long. I think it must be the close proximity to the crowd. I imagine that for many artists used to playing huge venues to tens of thousands, playing at the 9:30 Club is like returning to your roots. Calling it "intimate" kind of falls short of the mark. Getting in touch with your fans can literally be achieved, as Neil Finn proved when he pulled a fan up on stage to lead the room in singing one of his songs, while he accompanied on guitar. It breeds such "special moments" like warm, fuzzy tribbles.

Why? Atmosphere. The 9:30 Club doesn't have to try. It just has that special something without all sorts of decor or theme-y posturings. It has just the right mix of tattoos and big, scary bouncers to make it feel like an equally great place to see hard core as hip-hop. And then there's the afore-mentioned proximity of the crowd to the stage. At about hip height, you can walk right up to it and determine if that's a Gretsch or a Gibson hollow-body the guitarist is playing, and read the set list taped to the stage floor. You can make eye contact with the band. You can hang out in the rafters and still feel as if they're singing just to you. That ever elusive quality of "intimacy" that so many venues strive for seems effortless here. It kind of feels like home to me now.

The numbers don't lie! The concert industry reports that the 9:30 Club is the single most popular club-size venue in the country, with the highest $$ earned and the greatest number of tickets sold. It's that magic combination -- musicians love to play there, and music-lovers hanker to head there.

Can you think of a better way of summing up the 9:30 Club? Post it here!  Or check out what the AOL CityGuide Editors had to say, and find out why they ranked it as the City's Best Place to See Live Music. Then find out who's playing next at 9:30!

Thursday, July 8, 2004

Breaking News: Morrissey

This just in from a press release from Morrissey's PR people...

"On Saturday, July 17th, Morrissey will perform at Chicago's House of Blues. This is likely to be his only US show this summer, and as such, tickets for the performance sold out in less than two minutes."

Why wouldn't he resched all his Lollapalooza dates with replacement solo US dates, you ask?  It's a mystery. 

Ben Folds, Guster & Rufus Wainwright at Wolf Trap

Ben Folds is The Man. I'm talkin the MAN.  THE man. 

Having gotten that brief observation out of the way, I'll start at the beginning...  

Last Tuesday night, I had the magic combination: Mix 3 parts superb performances, 1 part phenomenal acoustics & 1 part perfect weather. Shake it with a sold-out crowd, garnish with 10th row seats, and you'll get the divine cocktail I knocked back last week.  I had mysteriously stumbled across the ingredients to love potion number 9. Or the stairway to 7th heaven.  

Up first: Rufus Wainwright -- Rufus has been one of my favorite discoveries since he opened for Tori Amos at DC's DAR Constitution Hall 2 years ago. Rufus is a phenomenal songwriter with a knack for hummable melodies and deep-delving, often wickedly funny lyrics. I'm always impressed by young artists who can stand on a large stage all by themselves and hold a crowd with confidence. We were with him through the whispers and the crescendoes -- old fans and virgin ears alike. I love that he wears his alternative lifestyle proudly on his sleeve with aplomb. And his between-song banter is hilarious. (How rare is that?! Usually we just want singers to shut up and sing, am I right?)  

Some highlights: One of my favorite songs from his first album, Poses, "One Man Guy," originally recorded by his famous father, Loudon Wainwright. The kicker: the guys from Guster came out as his backing band and helped Rufus sing the four-part harmonies. Brought the house down. Keeping it all in the family with his musical mom, Kate McGarrigle on piano, he introduced the next song by saying that he started out his career performing it with her when he was nine. We all just about died when he busted out "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." What could have been shlocky dreck just for the laughs turned out to be a highlight of the show. Those who had only heard of Rufus through the Moulin Rouge soundtrack were thrilled when he played "Complainte De La Butte", sung entirely in French. Not a tall order for this native son of Quebec. I only wish he'd sung the Beatles' "Across the Universe" from the I Am Sam soundtrack. *sigh*  But all told, a divine performance, couldn't have asked for more.  

On second: Guster -- I'd never seen Guster before, nor had I owned any of their CDs. Suffice it to say that I am now the happy owner of two, count 'em, two Guster CDs. Plus, it kind of felt like old home week, as I remember them from the Boston music scene -- they formed at Tufts University. I must say, I'm a sucker for the bongo man. He took jangly folk rock and made it grooveable. Not that they'd be bad without the bongos. He just adds quite a bit to the mix. As does the multi-instrumentalist who swapped from guitar & pedal steel to piano and assorted noisemakers. I was surprised how many songs I recognized. I realized these guys have saturated pop culture far more than I gave them credit for.  The highlight of the set for me: They invited Ben Folds out to play piano and sing a tune.  Are you sensing a trend?  

Last, but not least: Ben Folds -- Did I mention that Ben Folds is THE MAN? Ahem. If I had ever at any point thought twice about including him in my Top 10 Shows of All Time list (I've never thought twice about it, but if I had...), his place in the pantheon was reconfirmed that night. If you ever, EVER have the opportunity to see Ben Folds within a three hour driving radius, DO NOT MISS HIM. He fills up the house with his personality within seconds of setting foot on stage. I've often wondered just what it is about Ben that puts his fans in rabid fits of rapture when he plays. I think it must be the hilarious lyrics that tell tales of a self-proclaimed misfit nerd making his way in the world. He's the everyman everyone wants to go have a beer with. Yes, that, plus his melodies are immediately hummable and the songwriting indulges in campy, rafter-rocking anthems. He held us in the palm of his hand (whenever it wasn't otherwise occupied pounding away on the piano).  

Highlights: Have you ever seen a lone artist on stage get an audience to sing in three part harmony?  He conducted us, standing on his Steinway. Did I mention that he also got the audience to divide into a horn section and sax section, to fill in for the backing band that wasn't there?  I'm not kidding!  It doesn't stop there. He brought Rufus out to help him sing a poignant rendition of "Careless Whisper", by, you guessed it, George Michael.  I loved the freeform jam he popped on the Guster boys without warning, giving them only "Key of D" as an indication of what was to come. He proceeded to sing as if he was possessed by the soul & pipes of Ronnie James Dio. They had a blast, and so did we.  Run, don't walk, to your nearest Ben Folds concert right now.

Inspired? Get tickets to the tour!

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Who's Your Daddy?

OK, so you've seen me ramble on and on about my Top 10 Tours (see Favorite Sites list at the top right of this journal). Tell me about yours!

It doesn't have to be a list of 10. It doesn't have to be fancy. It doesn't have to be funny. But maybe I'll learn something about some bands I should be checking out next time they're in town. Or maybe you'll find that long-lost someone you left on the beach blanket at the Buffett show who agrees it was the best concert ever. Sound off!

Don't Dismay! Lolla Artists On Tour

If you had your heart set on seeing your favorite artists on the Lollapalooza bill this year, don't give up all hope. Many are filling their recently emptied calendars with solo tours. Here's a handy list:

Ex-Day 1 Performers:  Sonic Youth -- Modest Mouse -- The Walkmen

Ex-Day 2 Performers:  String Cheese Incident -- Pixies -- Gomez -- The Polyphonic Spree -- Sound Tribe Sector 9

Personally, I wish Morrissey would hit DC this summer. After reading the glowing review of his show at the Apollo in NY in the June 10th issue of Rolling Stone, anyone would be a fool not to catch him. RS are more than happy to dole out 2 and 3-star ratings to live performances, but are notoriously stingy with a 4-star rating... and Morrissey Ranked 4 stars (sorry for the pun). This bit was the clincher for me: "Old classics such as 'Every Day Is Like Sunday' and 'I Know It's Going to Happen Someday' were amazing, but he zoomed past all expectations by dusting off a few Smiths tunes."  Smiths tunes?!  Please please please, Morrissey, come to DC! 

Breaking News: Lolla & Other Tour Cancellations

Lollapalooza: Yes, fellow music fans, it's true. Lollapalooza 2004 has been canceled. I am shocked and dismayed! Get the full story.

Wearing my "music industry" hat, on some levels I suppose I can understand. I think a 2-day traveling fest is a tough sell in the first place. Most folks will probably pick whichever day has the greatest percentage of their fave artists, rather than investing time & cash in both days. Second -- and you indie music purists will want to shoot me for saying this -- I don't think the lineups had any A-List artists capable of really roping in the $$$.  While any one of the bands on the lineup could easily support a solo tour, somehow their combined draw wasn't enough to support a 2-day fest.

Wearing my "music fan" hat, however, I was definitely seduced by the lineup -- particularly Morrissey and the Pixies. And I was looking forward to seeing what all the hubbub is about with several of the other bands on the lineup -- particularly Modest Mouse.

Why do you think Lolla couldn't make it this year? Give us your 2 cents worth.

Lollapalooza has a big place in my heart, being the source of an abnormally high number of my Top 10 concert experiences ever. (1st place, 4th place, honorable mentions, & more honorable mentions) I am saddened to see that it is having such a hard time sustaining itself in this decade. I hope Perry doesn't give up entirely next year. I'll keep my fingers crossed that he'll hit on a better concept that will prove irresistible to others besides just me.

Other Cancellations: News of Lolla 2004's demise comes hot on the heels of announcements of a slew of other A-List cancellations. First Ms. Dirrty herself, Xtina Aguilera backed out of her tour due to strained vocal chords. Next Marc Anthony (A-List status debatable) backs out, as well. Then (Ms. My-Last-Name-is-Superfluous) Britney cancels her tour due to knee surgery. With a dramatic lack of divas on tour, it's no small wonder Cher has stepped in to fill the void with her Farewell Tour muttering, "quitters!" all the way to the bank. The irony kills me.

Last year was a banner year for tours, leaving the industry wondering what the heck is happening this year?!  Tell us what you think.

Monday, June 7, 2004

Louisiana Swamp Romp

In the words of the immortal Maurice Sendak in Where the Wild Things Are, "Let the wild rumpus start!"

True to my words about fave local fests, I decided last-minute to ante up and head out to the Louisiana Swamp Romp at Wolf Trap on Sunday. First allow me to say how nice it is that Wolf Trap is one of the lone remaining amphitheatres that allows its patrons to bring food and beverages. A Louisiana Swamp Romp would certainly be less of a romp without the requisite bevvies, not to mention the Mardi Gras beads. Mass drunkenness aside, the highlight of the afternoon was the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. About them I will say just this: they can bring the funk. Hallelujah, brother.

As an aside: For those of you in the metro DC area who are curious about the cicada situation at an outdoor amphitheatre show, don't stress too much. I am NOT a fan of insects, and can think of few things I like less than cicadas dive-bombing my head. So I went to Wolf Trap with much trepidation. I'm pleased to report that it really wasn't that bad!  It wasn't a swarm of biblical proportions. Nor would I use the word "infestation". In fact, the cicadas really weren't that much of an issue. So don't let the cicadas get you down. Get thee to an outdoor show immediately and soak up the summer while it lasts.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Strange Gossip: Radiohead

Highly unusual, interesting news for Radiohead fans from MTV News: "Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood has been hired by the BBC Concert Orchestra to write songs as a composer in residence. Greenwood's music will be broadcast in the U.K. by Radio 3, and he will also write for BBC festivals and theme tunes for programs."

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

More Breaking News: Ben, Rufus & Guster

I am so psyched!  Luck would have it that Ben Folds, Rufus Wainwright & Guster will be touring together this summer! Hallelujah, I've got tickets in hand and am going to see the 6/29 show at Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA.

If you checked out my Top 10 Shows of All Time, you'll remember that Ben Folds ranked #6 on the list. So there's no question that I'd love to see him live again. I've also seen him with his band Ben Folds Five, which was extraordinary, too. Talk about a goofy group of guys who revel in their geekdom, play the heck out of their instruments, and combine wit & irreverence with highly complicated arrangements. It was like watching music from some hipster's Broadway musical comedy about being in your 20s in the 90s. But the intimacy of Ben's solo gig and his rapport with the audience was what pushed it into my Top 10. (To find out who else ranked among the top 10, plus some honorable mentions, check out the full Top 10 list.)

One lad whose praises I haven't yet sung is Rufus Wainwright. I LOVE Rufus, so let me sing said praises loud and clear now. I had never even heard of him when I saw him open up for Tori Amos one fateful night in 2001 at DC's DAR Constitution Hall. It was just Rufus behind a piano, followed by Rufus on the guitar. His voice was so clear, and his melodies so instantly hummable that I was riveted & immediately won over. His between-song banter was hilarious, too. So I hightailed it out to the lobby after his set, bought his then current CD (Poses), and had him sign it. I've been a big fan ever since, and am thrilled that I'll have the chance to see him again! I'll be interested to see if he plays solo, or if he pulls out the stops with a full band this time around. His most recent album, Want One, had big orchestral arrangements, so I'm curious to see how he decides to kick it live.

I've never seen Guster, but remember when they were playing the club scene in Boston way back when. I had the opportunity to listen to their most recent album via an AOL Listening Party and really dug it, so I'm looking forward to seeing what they're all about.  From what I hear, they're a band best enjoyed live.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Favorite Local Fests

Got any cool stories about the best local festivals that make your area special? Know of any local festivals we've left off our Summer Concert Guide that we should add?  Post them here & let me know!

A few of my faves:

WBCN River Rave in Boston area, MA. I particularly dug the year that Lenny Kravitz & Beck played the main stage. Both of them were over the top showmen. Can I just say that Lenny Kravitz looks better in a purple feather boa than any man has the right to. Also got to catch an impromptu jam with Me'shell Ndege Ocello in a side tent. Bass goddess. 'Nuff said. 

This year the River Rave features The Offspring, P.O.D., The Darkness, Puddle of Mudd, Dashboard Confessional, New Found Glory, The Chemical Brothers, Everlast, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Story of the Year, The Distillers, Finger Eleven, The Living End, My Morning Jacket, & more.

UMass Spring Concert [On the Pond], Amherst, MA. Yes, it was a nice way to spend a spring day in college, that's for sure. Over my four year tenure at UMass Amherst, I got to see Fishbone, Ziggy Marley, Phish, Bob Dylan & many others.

This year the lucky students get to see Busta Rhymes & Jurassic 5. Soooooo jealous. I guess they now hold it at Mullins Arena. Sort of a shame it's not outdoors anymore.

Louisiana Swamp Romp at Wolf Trap, Vienna, VA. It's cajun, blues & zydeco lunacy on the lawn. A slew of of people dancing their butts off under the summer sun, drinking bottled brew & imagining themselves down in New Orleans while the washboard keeps time on stage.

Breaking News: Good gossip on upcoming shows

Just got word that Jack Johnson is going back out on tour late this summer. I saw him last year opening up for Ben Harper, and have been wanting more ever since. I love that he's touring with G. Love and Special Sauce, who released Jack's song, Rodeo Clowns, as a single many moons ago. Can't wait to get tickets!

Another interesting combo is The Roots touring with 311 and Medeski, Martin & Wood on the 2004 Summer Unity Tour. I've been dying to see The Roots for a couple of years now, and it seemed like they just never seemed to play DC. Or maybe I was living under a rock the last time they were in town.

For info on these tours and more stuff coming to town this summer, check out the Summer Concert Guide. I'll be sure to post more gossip as I hear it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Snow Patrol at 9:30 Club

Went to my fave venue, DC's 9:30 Club, on Saturday to catch Snow Patrol, with opener Carina Round. I'd not heard of Snow Patrol until a fellow music-fiend recommended I check them out. (Thanks, Shannon!) With the help of another of our music-fiend friends, we were able to get on the list for free tix (Drew rocks!), so we were off and running  for an evening of Brit Pop.

Snow Patrol, out of Glasgow, Scotland, is some of the best new indie alterna-pop I've heard out of the UK in a while. I particularly like the moodiness in the songwriting, the melodic hooks, and the quality of the lead vocals. Something about their sound is evocative of a rainy Saturday at 3am in Glasgow. It's not overly earnest, boozy or romantic -- but you can hear hints of all three. Check out their latest album, Final Straw at AOL Music, and decide for yourself if this description comes even close. Post your own opinion!

Their live show was kickin. Definitely check them out, if you can. It's their first tour of the US and the crowd loved them, which really amped up their energy. I know the NY shows sold out, but I'd imagine that they're new enough on the scene that most other cities will have tickets left. Look for tickets.

Also worth mentioning is opener Carina Round. Her voice reminded me of a young Siouxsie Sioux, tempered with a little Sinead O'Connor (thanks, Shannon, for nailing the Sinead reference). Most memorable for me was the fact that their bassist played standup throughout most of the gig. I've never heard a standup bass sound heavy before. Amazing. Carina Round made for a great double-bill, which was a nice surprise.

All in all, a killer night. Don't you justlove going to a live show on a lark, and leaving loving the band with a new CD in hand?

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

More summer shows that wet my whistle

Great High Mountain: I'm not much of a country fan, but I fell in love with the soundtrack to O Brother Where Art Thou. Turns out that the Great High Mountain tour is all music from O Brother and also Cold Mountain -- which I loved, as well. Though Jack White won't be playing his tunes from Cold Mountain on the tour, Alison Krauss will be. Sounds like the perfect kind of show to get some lawn seat tickets, pack up a picnic with some friends, and listen to some bluegrass under the stars.  Word to the wise in DC & NoVA: It looks like the Wolftrap show is going on sale this Saturday (4/17).

Lollapalooza 2004: Morrissey, Sonic Youth, The Flaming Lips,  Modest Mouse, The Polyphonic Spree, and The String Cheese Incident. I'm a huge Smiths fan, so seeing Morrissey would be great, even though I only have one of his solo records. I saw Sonic Youth at the Orpheum in Boston, which was an awesome show. They've certainly got the whole tapestry of feedback thing down. Not sure when the Lolla dates are going on sale. Their official website is shockingly out-of-date. What are they thinking?!

Hey Morrissey fans: Can anybody recommend a fave solo Morrissey album I should check out?

Monday, April 12, 2004

Why You Should Buy A Plane Ticket Right Now & Get Your Butt to Coachella

I'm so jealous of all the folks going to Coachella this year!!!!  Let me count the reasons...

1. It's Radiohead's one and only show in the US for all of 2004, according to their website and several news sources. ARGH! 

2. A reunited Pixies will play, and I never got to see them in their heyday... made worse by the fact that they dropped out of UMass before I got there. (Yes, they wrote a song about how much they hated it there. It's educational!)

3. The Cure

4. Belle & Sebastian

5. The Flaming Lips

6. The Crystal Method

7. Dizzee Rascal -- THE biggest buzz in hip-hop imported from the UK.

8. Bright Eyes

9. Wilco

10. I've never been to Coachella before and this is the year to go.

Have you ever been to Coachella? Share your stories of Coachellas past and present.

What are your top 10?

I'd love to hear about other folks' top 10 shows ever. Or even your top 1 or 2 if you can only think of a few off the top of your head. Add your list so folks can see!

Shows I'm dying to see this summer

1. Projekt Revolution: I've already bought my tix to the Nissan Pavilion show in August. As you can tell from my top 10 list, Linkin Park are one of my faves, so I bought the tix mostly to see them. Plus, I love hip-hop and have always wanted to see Snoop Dogg live. I'm also really curious about Korn. I've never been a fan, but one of the best things about festival shows is that you see bands you wouldn't normally buy tix to see.

2. Incubus: Saw them at last year's Lollapalooza, and they blew me away. Can't wait to see them again. Just waiting for their MCI Center tix to go on sale. Any day now...

3. Madonna: Saw her Drowned World Tour in 2001 at the MCI Center in DC. I haven't bought American Life, but I'm still a huge fan and her live performances are so worth seeing, that I'll buy the tix even though I won't know her most recent stuff. Tix should be going on sale for this one over the next couple weekends, too.

Do you have any tickets already in hand? Any shows you're dying to see? Tell us!

Top 10 Shows of All Time - 1st & 2nd Place

Taking a cue from one of my fave movies, High Fidelity, I think it's appropriate to open this journal with a Top 5 list worthy of Jack Black and John Cusack. Except in this case, I can't limit myself to 5, so I'm opening the list up to 10. Hopefully they'd approve.

Tied for 1st & 2nd place:

1/2. Jane's Addiction at the First Lollapalooza: Great Woods Pavilion, MA, 1991. Jane's was my favorite band, I sat in the 10th row and was hit by the proverbial wall of sound for the first time. Life changing, really. They could have been the only band there that day and it would still have tied for first. Though seeing Gibby shoot a shotgun (Butthole Surfers), a young Trent Reznor toss his guitarist into an amp while pouring a bucket of water on his keyboards (NIN), Ice T screaming hardcore (Body Count), and Cory Glover (Living Colour) marching offstage from getting pelted with sod from the Great Woods lawn was all definitely memorable, I was there for Jane's. Dream came true with Summertime Rolls, Ocean Size, Coming Down the Mountain, Ted Just Admit It, Three Days, Classic Girl, Ain't No Right and of course, Jane Says.

1/2. Radiohead: Merriweather Post Pavilion, MD, 2003. Radiohead took Jane's place as my favorite band after The Bends came out in 1995. It took me another 8 years to finally see them live. It was transporting. I'm still speachless when I try to describe what it was like to see them live. I *will* say one thing -- the documentary Meeting People Is Easy makes it seem like Thom Yorke is depressed all the time. That man was having so much fun up there on stage. If he's a tortured musician in interviews or in his private life, it's easy to see why he plays music. That's where he's happy.

Top 10 Shows of All Time: 3-6

3. Nirvana with The Breeders: Hartford Civic Center, CT, 1993. Nirvana's last tour, my first time seeing The Breeders. Say no more.

4. The Beastie Boys at the Fourth Lollapalooza: Downing Stadium, NY, 1994. The Beasties did tunes from Check Ya Head, Paul's Boutique, etc playing their own instruments on the most funktastic tunes, including Adam Yauch on stand-up bass. Pure heaven to see it happen. Didn't hurt that Green Day and the Breeders played. The Smashing Pumpkins played as well, but I'm sad to say they usually sucked live -- their fast songs got away from them, totally not in sync with each other. I've seen them 3 times, and this was no exception. Hole also played that day, which was the only time I ever thought Courtney Love might not actually be Satan for five minutes straight. But then of course I regained my sanity.

5. Lauryn Hill: Great Woods Pavilion, MA, 1998. My first hip-hop show ever, and Lolly shook my ass. Busta Rhymes opened with machine-gunfire rap attack that was amazing to behold.

6. Ben Folds: Warner Theater, DC, 2002. Just Ben at a piano showcasing his incredible songwriting. His patter was hilarious, too. How rare is it that you actually want a musician's between-song patter to keep going?!

Top 10 Shows of All Time: 7-10

7. Beck: Brandeis University, MA, 1996. An incredible showman, celebrates kooky nerddom, a born entertainer. And that white boy can dance.

8. Seal: The Orpheum, Boston, MA, 1994. Some of the most divinely romantic, soulful crooning ever. Still can't tell which was sexier -- his silk pajamas or his silk voice. I know, I know, you can stop retching now. What can I say, chicks dig him.

9. Neil Finn: 9:30 Club, DC, 2002. I don't own a single one of his albums and only went on a lark, cuz the ticket was free. Man, am I glad I did. His connection with the audience was so personal. He actually hoisted a girl up on stage and had her sing an entire song for him. It was obvious that it was a dream come true for her, the audience sang at the top of their lungs with her, and I swear there wasn't a dry eye in the house. The venue's intimacy probably had a lot to do with that, which is the main reason it's my favorite place to see live music.

10. Linkin Park: Patriot Center, Fairfax, VA, 2004. These guys rock. I may be a bit old to be such a huge fan, but their songwriting actually speaks to me. It's that whole tortured, angst-ridden thing, I guess. Chester's voice sounded great on both the screams and the sensitive sung moments, Mike Shinoda proved he can actually rap, and the band demonstrated an ability to connect with a crowd that was way beyond their years. I mean they're like 12 years old, right? Amazingly mature performers. And fighting my way to the front of the pit was well worth it.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Top 10 Shows of All Time: Honorable Mentions

The following are some honorable mentions of shows that were unforgettable, but couldn't push the others out of the Top 10.

--Audioslave at last year's Lollapalooza: Nissan Pavilion, Middle of Nowhere, Northern VA, 2003. Audioslave completely stole the show. Again, being at the front of the pit probably really changed the experience for me. Incredible. Incubus was almost as fantastic. Their playing was right on, and Brandon Boyd is, well, let's just say he's the sexiest alterna-boy out there. (Feel free to retch again, but charisma is a big part of performing, and we gals account for a lot of record and ticket sales.) Jane's Addiction were fun after all these years, Queens of the Stone Age had a relatively strong show, but couldn't quite compete. Jurassic Five is one of my favorite hip-hop bands, but the engineers just couldn't figure out their sound and make it work at an outdoor venue. I guess that's a hazard of being the only hip-hop group in a sea of rock distortion and feedback. I'll have to see them again. Chalie 2na, Cut Chemist, I need more!

--Paul Simon: Pine Knob Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI, 1986. This was his tour in support of Graceland, and he brought along many of South Africa's foremost performers. Not only was this an amazing performance on Paul's part, but I also got to see Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Miriam Makeba perform with him. Felt like history being made.

--Bryan Ferry: Meadow Brook Music Festival, Rochester Hills, MI, 1987. This was Bryan's tour in support of Bete Noir, but it was his performance of the songs from Roxy Music's Avalon that were unforgettable. That is one of my all-time favorite albums, and I got to sit in the third row to see him croon those tunes.  In particular, More Than This, To Turn You On, While My Heart is Still Beating, and the female vocal solo on Avalon. Practically out-of-body experience-inducing.

Top Shows: More Honorable Mentions

The following are a few more honorable mentions to complement my Top 10 list. Jump all the way to the bottom of this journal page to view the Top 10 list in the correct order.

--James Taylor: Sultan's Pool, Jerusalem, Israel, 1988. James Taylor was the very first concert I ever saw when I was a little kid, and it was so awesome to see him again for sentimental reasons. I still knew every word to every song. But to see him in such an exotic locale as Jerusalem, sitting on a grassy lawn surrounded by stones that were well over a thousand years old was beyond transporting. Didn't hurt that he wished a close friend of mine a happy 18th birthday to the whole crowd.

--Sting: Pine Knob Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI, 1985. Yes I was still young enough that I was forced to bring my Mom to the concert with me, but considering Sting was on tour for Dream of the Blue Turtles, she dug the music as much as I did. Branford Marsalis toured with Sting, as his performance on this album was what really launched his career. Plus, I got to hear Sting do tons of Police tunes that I would have seen if only my Mom had let me go see the Syncronicity Tour for my 13th birthday. No, I still haven't forgiven her for it. ;-)

--Second Lollapalooza: Montage Mountain, Scranton, PA, 1992. This was one of those religious experience type concerts for anybody who was in the throes of the current grunge phenomenon. Check out this lineup: Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Ministry, Lush, Jesus and Mary Chain, Ice Cube and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Blood Sugar Sex Magik was currently my favorite album, and Flea is still one of my top 5 bass players of all time, so I was particularly psyched to see the Chili Peppers (even though Anthony Kiedis has a hard time staying on tune live). But a couple of the acts that I wasn't necessarily there to see really stood out. Ministry had possibly one of the most violent pits I've ever witnessed (from a distance), with a display of testosterone that was truly staggering. Ice Cube was the first rap artist I ever saw (Ice T's Body Count the previous year doesn't count, as that was hardcore), and he controlled the crowd in a way I'd never realized was possible.