Rarity In Form: Top 5 Concerts of 2011

M83, Live, Black Cat DCWow. What a year this has been for live music. I’ve seen so many incredible shows throughout DC, Northern VA and Richmond. It’s not going to be an easy task getting this down to five. Just to give you an idea of how great this year was, Mumford & Sons, Fleet Foxes, Iron & Wine, among other great shows, didn’t make the cut. There have been a fair share of “damn, can’t believed I didn’t get tickets” and “shit, I missed them?” moments throughout the year. I only wish I could have seen every concert.

I have never rated anything like this before, so I don’t really know what I’m doing here. Just go with it, I guess. I’m such an amateur that I couldn’t narrow this thing down to my top five. So you get a bonus and we start at…

6.  The Black Keys @ Merriweather Post / Free Fest

The Black Keys were the sole reason I trekked to the shitty state of Maryland and the techno vomit that was Free Fest. Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of great bands there (Cut Copy, Okkervil River, Two Door Cinema Club) but it seemed like all everybody wanted to see were the “press play-button” artists. I was there for the Keys. And man, did they deliver. It doesn’t matter where you are, the energy oozing from The Black Keys is enough to impregnate all within earshot. Closing with I Got Mine was one of the musical highlights of my life.

5.  Foals w/ The Naked And Famous @ 9:30 Club

I’m going to call #5 the upset of the year. I bought the tickets on a whim and went in with zero expectations. The Naked And Famous played the part of primer to perfection. Everyone was juiced, jazzed and ready to go by the time Foals came on. Unfortunately that wasn’t enough because I was very quickly gaping at the spectacle unfolding before me on 9:30 Club’s historic stage. Yannis Philippakis tore the rafters from the ceiling while leading a stage-diving, microphone-coptering, speaker-climbing all out rage. Once I finally got my mouth off the floor, I realized I was right in the middle of one hell of a show.

4.  Civil Wars w/ Milo Greene @ Lincoln Theater

The Lincoln theater is easily the most impressive and vintage venue on this list. It proved the perfect backdrop for a charming night with two over-the-top incredible bands. Milo Greene nearly stole the show as the opener. They brought the Lincoln Theater crowd to their feet with incredible harmonies and addicting indie-folk sound. Marlana Sheetz was so kind to steal my heart with her ridiculous talent. Forever in my dreams…

The Civil Wars were probably the most adorable performance I have ever seen. John Paul White and Joy Williams swooned the audience all night with their playful stage banter throughout the mesmerizing performance. The stage was lifted among the stars and, for a brief time, the audience was content on being lost in the sky.

3.  M83 @ Black Cat

If you do one thing, see M83 perform live. I was fortunate enough to catch M83 as they kicked off their North American tour; even better, I shared the moment with some great friends. Anthony Gonzalez took Hurry Up We’re Dreaming into the stratosphere live. You know you’re watching something special when a live performance can trump an incredible album like that. With every song, it was like I was hearing it for the first time. I count my lucky stars that I live in DC and get to relive the experience this March @ 9:30 club.

2.  Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. (Red Palace & The Camel)

What more can I say about these guys. I reviewed both shows and have a handful more postings on Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. I’ve met and chatted with Zott and Epstein at each show (awesome, down to earth dudes). Naturally, I feel a special connection to DEJJ that comes full circle whenever I see them live. Their shows are more than special. They are magical, inventive, creative, inspired, and downright awe-inspiring. DEJJ delivers on stage with an in your face passion that they delightfully pair with their blithe enjoyment of the moment. All Zott and Epstein want you to do is rejoice in that moment, dance it all in. DEJJ  may be harnessing some of the best talent to hit the music scene this year. If you have the chance to catch DEJJ, do not miss out.

1.  Bon Iver @ The National

Bon Iver, The NationalWhile looking back at this show, memories start rushing to the forefront of my conscience. It then becomes difficult to put into words what was so special about this show. I made Bon Iver @ The National #1 for a reason. This show changed me, it brought realization to my life. I know, cut the shit, Thomas. But seriously, somehow Justin Vernon was able to spark something in me that helped me to gain perspective. And before you start calling me some crazy person, I did not receive my “marching orders” or my “purpose” in life. I’m not some fundamentalist hack-job, come one, give me more credit than that.

The magic that is Bon Iver overwhelmed me that night. I didn’t realize it before the show, but it now has become clear as day; Bon Iver has had an immeasurable impact on defining my musical development. Bon Iver is why I am here, blogging about the music I love. So, thank you, Bon Iver. You made the year for me and that night in Richmond will likely go down as one of the best concerts I have ever seen.

So long, 2011. It’s been a great year and I know ’12 will bring even more/better shows. Have a happy and safe new year, everyone! Thanks for the support. Indie on!



Posted on December 15, 2011, in Concert Review, Music and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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