Live Music Experiences of 2010

9 Nov

We are closing in on 2010 (as in, only 46 shopping days left until Christmas!!).   And this has been a surprisingly cultured year for me, I’ve seen more than my fair share of plays and concerts.  Today, I thought I’d share the concerts and venues that I enjoyed in good ol’ 2010 (pronounced twenty ten in this case).  Sorry AR people, all of these are TX concerts and venues.  I hope to enjoy some live music here in LR soon, but I’ve only been here for 3 weeks, so give me a break!  For your reading pleasure, I suggest you play your favorite tunes, read the post, and reflect on your favorite live shows of the year.   If you haven’t seen any yet, get out there!  It is a great experience (and I totally won’t judge you if you bring ear plugs, I regret not doing it every time).

Vampire Weekend

Stubbs BBQ – Austin, TX

Award:  Most enjoyable show of 2010

Vampire Weekend, I am happy to report, sounds as great live as they do on their albums.   If you’ve never heard them, they somehow pull off an African inspired pop vibe.  Their energy is fun and their content simple.   And since they have limited material for now, they were able to play most of their stuff at the show and almost everyone there was able to sing along.  So FUN!!

The venue was basically a dirt-floor alley behind a restaurant.  We were close to the stage, so the crowd was lively (I don’t know how people in the back felt about the show).  As for cons, it was an outdoor show in TX so it was a crowded, hot, and smelly experience.  But, I was able to get past all the smoke and sweat and really enjoy the music.  If Vampire Weekend comes to your town – don’t miss them!

Houston Free Press Summer Fest

Eleanor Tinsley Park – Houston, TX

Award:  Most opportunities to people watch

Summer Fest was my first music festival.  And boy, it was interesting just to watch the people walking around.  My favorite find was a girl in a green 2 piece swimming suit and (are you ready for this?) a tail.  That’s right she was wearing this belt thing that had a black cord that extended to the ground in the back.  Why was she wearing a tail?  Well, to do her hula hoop dances of course!   And that, I assure you is just the tip of the iceberg.

I will admit that I didn’t have that much fun the 2nd day, when it rained all afternoon (that’s Houston for ya).   So to get to the main stage everyone had to brave their way down a steep muddy hill.  People were falling all over the place.  I guess you could say it was an unforgettable experience.

What about the music?  I know this may make me sound lame, but I didn’t really enjoy the main headliner, the Flaming Lips.  Sure the whole human gerbil ball (gimmick) was cool, but after a long muddy day, I couldn’t get in the spirit.  The one musical jewel that we did stumble upon was the Givers.  This new band out of Louisiana has great energy and a funky rock Caribbean vibe.  They remind me a little of the New Pornographers.  So if you like those guys and gals check out The Givers!  I don’t think you will be sorry.

Bob Dylan

The Backyard – Austin, TX

Award:  Coolest venue AND most legendary performer

The Backyard is a wonderful natural amphitheater in the hills near Austin.  And as an added bonus they have FREE PARKING!   The atmosphere was casual.  A lot of people spread out their blankets, sat down, and enjoyed the music.  And there didn’t really seem to be a bad place to plop down.  The stage was easy to see from everywhere.  If you have a chance to go to the Backyard, do it!  It is a great place for live music.

As for Bob, I don’t think I need to say that he is a living legend.  He is a great poet and a distinctive singer who will always be important to folk and rock history.  However, in 2010 he is impossible to understand.   And his insistence to change up all his songs makes even his obvious songs unrecognizable.  And finally he does not interact with the audience at all; in fact he seemed almost to not acknowledge our existence.  But do I regret going to the show?  Heck no!  I can say that I’ve seen Bob Dylan.  Can you?  That’s what I thought.

Sufjan Stevens

Long Center for Performing Arts – Austin, TX

(sorry, forgot my camera for this one…man it would have been cool to be that close!!)

Award:  Most transcendent and AWESOME

Sufjan Stevens did not disappoint.  I was in music heaven as he played Impossible Soul, his 25 minute track off of his new album, The Age of Adz.  He is great, and I really believe he is one of the more talented song writers and musicians of our age.  Although the show was focused on his new material (that I didn’t know as well), he did play some of my favorites from Illinois after the encore.   I left content with what I had heard.

My only complaint was the venue.  The venue would be great for a play or an orchestra concert, but for a rock (ish) concert, not so much.  I think that I could have forged a deeper connection with the music if I would have been able to stand up and (gasp!) dance.   However, this concert was completely worth the money and the drive till 1:30 am back to Houston.

That’s it!!  Hope you enjoyed the show.

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