Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Top 10 Live Shows, 2000-2009: part the second

This is the second in a three part review of my favorite 10 shows of the decade that was. I've figured out the last show to include, but I'll save that for another post so I don't drown everybody with words.

5/05 Shins in OKC—A very nice show (Shins sound live exactly like they do on record) that was nicer because I was there enjoying it with Lauren. We hadn’t been dating that long at that point, and we drove up with our friends Bill and Rick. We all made it back to Ft Sill the next day to attend my Hail and Farewell from the Army. I was allowed a speech, and as many know I enjoy (a bit too much) any chance to be on the microphone. My speech that day concluded with: “Peace in the middle east, no blood for oil, I’m out!” and made a lot of people mad. It also caused one of my fellow officers, a 6 foot 5, 280 lbs black guy, to tell me that I was “one funky Caucasian”. Good times. Lauren and I wrapped up the weekend with a going away party at Rick’s place. Great weekend, and the Shins were a big part of it.

08/04 Wrens/Magnolia Electric Co in Denton—drove down by myself from Fort Sill to Denton, a city famous for death metal bands and being north of Dallas. I didn’t know anyone so I chatted with either band before the show. Indie shows are cool like that (especially back in 01-05 before indie blew up). Both performances were strong, and it was great to see two of my faves on the same stage. After several beers at the show I slept in my car until the next morning and then drove the 4 hours home.

6/06 Radiohead in Berkeley—The perfect culmination to years of Radiohead hero worship. Memorable because of the beautiful Berkeley summer night, and time spent with friends David Hyman, the Rotblats, and Nate Anthony. If I never see Radiohead again it would be a shame, but I am very cool with this night being my lasting memory of the Radiohead experience.

4/05 Wilco in OKC (2)—Bill Rausch and a sportsjacket. I don’t think I can legally say anything else about this show besides that. (Also, go see Wilco live. It’s expensive to do, nowadays, but it’s worth it.)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Top 10 Live Shows, 2000-2009: part the first

In no order whatsoever, here is the first half of my live music retrospective on the decade that was. Part 2 will run later in the week. These aren’t necessarily the 10 best shows I saw, but for one reason or another they were the 10 most memorable.

(Editors Note—part 2 currently only has 4 shows. If you attended a really memorable show with me in the last 10 years that didn’t make it in this post, please send me some inspiration!!!)

5/03 Built to Spill in LA—I’ve seen these guys more than any other band, and one show had to go on the list. This was easily the best show I’ve seen them play. They closed with a 15 minute version of Cortez the Killer during which Jim Roth did things with his guitar the likes of which I’ve never seen before or since. Epic. I have a poster of this show on the wall of my apartment.

4/06 Daft Punk at Coachella—I was there with several great friends Berkeley friends, to include the Kaplans and Anna Utgoff. DP wasn’t why I went to this festival, but it’s the one thing I’ll never forget about Coachella. This was the first show DP did with their giant laser pyramid (top left). It was as cool as everyone says it was.

12/05 Wrens in SF—I love the Wrens, and they’re always great live. I had seen them maybe 6 months earlier at the Pitchfork Intonation Music Festival in Chicago. At that show, for one song, they brought fans up on stage to play percussion with the band. When that song came up at this show I left my friends (Dan and Kelly) and pushed to the very front. I had a Bruce Springsteen/Courtney Cox moment with a member of the band, and he pulled me on stage with several fellow fans. When the singing came in I did what I do at shows—sang along. The band member, seeing I knew the words and wasn’t a completely awful singer pulled me into the mic so I could sing along with the band. We did it up, back-to-back 80s hair metal style, for the rest of the song. It was probably the coolest moment I’ve ever had at a concert, hands down.

3/06 Magnolia Electric Co/Okkervil River in Austin—At SXSW I won an MBA music case competition with Any, April Chris and Sung Hu. We had no passes (the guys at McCombs let us down) but a couple of us managed to hop the fence at this outdoor set and enjoy two really nice performances.

9/06 Silver Jews in SF—This was a good but unspectactular show on September 10th 2006. I went by myself and had made plans to try to meet up with David H, but he got held up doing other stuff. The show was memorable because I got my letter in the mail from Uncle Sam the next day calling me back to the Army. I saw a few other good shows before I cut myself off from music in 2007 to go overseas (Islands and Phoenix in SF come immediately to mind) but music wasn’t quite the same for me after this show, not for a long while at least.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Decade of Music, In Context...

Once upon a time I loved making music lists. Really, really loved it. The problem was that my list skills never quite caught up with my enthusiasm for making them. For example: I spent an entire summer in 2003 trying to come up with a mix CD worth of songs that featured hand clapping. Sounds simple enough, right? But the project never really came together.

In my mind, the songs had to be good, satisfactorily indie and/or ironic, and non-obvious enough that I would feel good (and snobby) about attaching my name to the list (so no “Theme from Friends”, etc). The whole thing started when I was driving around Alaska listening to “Nothing’severgonnastandinmywayagain” by Wilco, a song I loved (still do) so much that I would take my hands off of the wheel to clap along with the chorus. Same deal for “Alone Down There” by Modest Mouse and Ted Leo's “Timorous Me”.

But those three songs ended up as the list. When I couldn’t think of any other songs that really got me excited I brought Megan and her brother Jeff into the conversation, and they had great suggestions that for whatever reason still didn’t quite make me happy. The final analysis: good idea, poor execution.

In business school and in Seattle (when I was with Amazon) I made a lot of live music lists in an effort to get people to come to shows with me. It was fun, but didn't work that well either (I went to a lot of shows solo).

Putting all that aside, I want to start 2010 with a few music lists for old time's sake. In a couple of days I'll lay out my favorite live music experience of the last 10 years, but tonight I'm going to rank where music fits in with all the other crap going in Exnicios-land circa 2000-2009. We'll call my parents emeritus to this list and not in the official running. Without further ado:

1. Lauren (my beautiful wife)

2. Graduating Duke (and all that went along with it)

3a. Going to war (even if I wasn't getting shot at)

3b. Being in the Army generally (I'm better at push ups and shooting things than I would have been)

5. Graduating from Berkeley (and all that went along with it)

6. Calhoun and Bailey (my dog and cat)

7. Music (only top's got to feel a little disappointed)

8. All of my other friends and family not captured by Duke, Army, Berkeley, etc.

9. The Washington Redskins (0-1 in the new decade!)

10. All the books I read

Saturday, January 2, 2010