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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.

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Concert Review: Foals

I was held speechless for several hours following this show. To some degree, I am still having trouble articulating what exactly happened that Friday night at the 9:30 club.

The two opening acts, The Naked and Famous & Freelance Whales, were awesome but, in the end, no match for what the Foals did to the 9:30 stage. Check back for songs from the openers after the jump.

The Foals brought it and it was insane. The energy hit the crowd immediately. Where people could openly hold conversations during the opening sets, not a word could be spoken while the Foals were ripping on stage. It was loud, in your throat, infectious energy.

Foals at 9:30 club

The lead singer, Yannis Philippakis, used the entire stage to stomp around and throw every bit of crazy into each song. Actually, there were several instances where the stage wasn’t enough for Yannis. He took a full speed stage dive and followed that by climbing on top of a giant speaker to get to a tiny balcony where he continued to tear into the guitar. Yannis’ microphone helicoptering was the cherry on top of it all.

Foals at 9:30 club

Total Life Forever, got the crowed amped up early on. It was at this point that I realized I was in for something wild.

The highlight of the show was a suspenseful, show-stopper rendition of Spanish Sahara. After lulling the club into mellow non-awareness, the song slowly built up to a raucous pitch that, by the end, had the crowd whipped into an all out frenzy.
Foals – Total Life Forever
Foals – Spanish Sahara

When it was all said and done, the club was completely out of breath. I’ve been to a lot of shows and the Foals are definitely up there with the best I have seen. It’s no wonder they were recently nominated for best live band.

photo credits: Theresa Highsmith
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