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Discussion in 'Pop Culture Board' started by Mike Ness, Oct 29, 2009.
Is anyone going to Osheaga? So stoked for my first time!
Rock on the Range was amazing! Three days of amazing concerts and one hell of a road trip. I've never been a big Linkin Park fan but I was blown away by there performance. The only bad act I saw was Scott Weiland & the Wildabouts. The band was good but Scott Weiland was completely fucked up and sounded like shit.
Reviews of concerts that I have been to in the last year or so:
I saw them at Philips Arena back in December. I grew up listening to them and I still love their music. Unfortunately, this was not a very good show, despite the fact that their tour got rave reviews. Lindsey Buckingham can still own it on guitar, and it was great to see Christine McVie back with the band, but they just did not sound that good. It was worth it to be able to see them, but I may have gotten my hopes up by watching clips of their shows from years back on YouTube. 6/10
She is my favorite music artist, and I have been able to see her 3 times in the last year. The former child actress has become a very talented singer whose style is mostly a blend of indie and country. All three times that I saw her she did solid setlists that had songs from her solo albums and the albums that she recorded as the front woman for Rilo Kiley. The first two of her shows that I saw were incredible. I doubt that anything will ever top Clapton back in '06, but those two concerts were easily the second best shows that I have ever seen. The third concert was a little bit of a letdown, but I think that it had more to do with the venue than with her and her band. So a 10/10 for the first two times, and a 7.5/10 for the third time.
There is not a lot of indie music that I like, but I have been a fan of The Decemberists for awhile now. The indie-folk band played a lot of their old classics as well as some of the songs off of their newest album, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World (which is a better album than the disaster that is The King is Dead). Colin Meloy is as good a front man as I've seen, and the entire band did an excellent job. The only bad thing was that the show was at The Tabernacle, which is an old church turned concert venue. Most Atlanta natives love it, but the sound inside of it is just not that good. Still, it was a great show. 8.5/10
Zappa Plays Zappa
I have been a big Frank Zappa fan since I was a kid (thanks, dad!), but am too young to have seen him live. Dweezil's tribute band is the next best thing. They did an amazing set, which started with them playing the entire One Size Fits All album. The remainder of the set consisted of several of the classics, including "Montana," "Dancin' Fool," and "Muffin Man." I was a little disappointed that Dweezil didn't have any of the musicians who had played with Frank playing on the tour with him this time around, but his backing band was still amazing. The singer was the only part that was kind of a letdown, but I wasn't expecting them to have anyone who sounds like Frank. Also, Dweezil shook hands with several people after the show, and the band stuck around for a little while and mingled with fans. 9.5/10
She is another one who I've wanted to see for a long time and finally got around to. She sounded great, but most of her set consisted of covers of rock and pop songs, as she was promoting her newest album, Wallflower. I generally don't care for her pop covers and mainly listen to her for her songs that are strictly jazz, so I hope that I will be able to see her again in the future. 8/10
Atlanta was one of the first stops for The Who's 50th anniversary tour. Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend can still put on one helluva show, and they were joined by Ringo Starr's son, Zak Starkey, on drums (who was amazing) and Pete Townshend's brother, Simon, on guitar. As expected there were some songs where Daltrey's voice did not sound very good (e.g. "I Can't Explain" and "Pinball Wizard"), but there were others where he actually did a great job (e.g. "You Better You Bet" and "I Can See for Miles"). The band did have to postpone some shows after this one because Daltrey was having trouble with his voice. Hopefully they will be able to finish the tour without any major problems. 8.5/10
I have never been a big Rush fan, but I wanted to see them because I had heard such great things about their live shows. Even though their music is not exactly my cup of tea and there were some songs on which Geddy Lee definitely sounded like he was past his prime, they still put on an excellent show. They said that this tour, their 40th anniversary tour, will probably be their last big one, but we'll see. I'd gladly see them again. 8/10
I guess this can go here. Has anybody signed up for Qello concerts? http://qello.com
I heard about it because of Rush's current tour. You can watch old concerts, and there are current behind the scenes short little webisodes. (This one is pretty cool: https://qello.com/concert/R40-on-the-Road-Webisode-2-Jonathan-Dinklage-6356# ) But, there is some really fantastic stuff on there.
I went to the Marilyn Manson/Smashing Pumpkins show in Cincinnati on Saturday. It was the second to last show on their End Times Tour. My thoughts on each:
Manson performed first. The show was at Riverbend, the large outdoor amphitheater in town, and it was odd watching him perform such dark music when there was still plenty of sunlight. He opened with his new single "Deep Six", which I like a lot, and performed all of his biggest hits, even much older songs like "Lunchbox". Musically, it was a well-performed show. There were plenty of set and costume changes and while I appreciate the effort to make the show visually interesting, it all seemed a bit contrived. I haven't been the biggest Manson follower over the years, but it seemed that he would re-invent his image for each new album during the 90s. Paying homage to those eras made the show seem like a nostalgia act more than anything. Burning a (fake) Bible, groping Twiggy, and bantering about drugs came off as a little awkward to me. I would've liked to see him embrace one new persona during a live show. 6.5/10
The Pumpkins' bare bones performance was a sharp contrast. They opted for a simpler set of dangling white sheets of varying lengths from the rafters which made for some nice light effects. Whereas Manson had a five minute intro sequence before he appeared, the Pumpkins literally walked to their instruments and started with "Cherub Rock". From start to finish, the focus was on the music: instrumentally and vocally, they were tight, technical and booming. They played three songs from their new album, most of their older hits, a few deeper tracks including an OUTSTANDING rendition of "Thru the Eyes of Ruby", and closed with an encore performance of "Geek USA", one of my personal favorites. I'll dock them one point since Billy didn't interact with the crowd much, but otherwise, it was a fantastic show. 9/10
They had an opening act, a goth rapper called Cage. He... SUCKED! Very gloomy lyrics, no energy, performed the whole set half slumped over. 1/10
As someone said earlier in the thread, this will be the last time I buy a lawn ticket at Riverbend. Bad sight lines, cigarette smoke everywhere, skinhead douchers knocking my wife and I over from behind trying to start a mosh pit unannounced. I'll pay the extra for comfort next time.
I saw Modest Mouse in Columbus a couple weekends ago. I enjoyed the music, even though it's a big departure from the booming Pumpkins/Manson show I went to in August. Obviously a much more docile crowd, which my wife appreciated. One thing I've noticed about Modest Mouse is that their setlists vary drastically from show to show in terms of both song choice and quantity. Sometimes they won't even play "Float On". Got lucky; they played just about all of their known songs minus "Ocean Breathes Salty" and "World at Large". They even played a four-song encore.
The venue was LC Pavilion which can toggle between an indoor and outdoor venue. Our show was outdoor where it was freezing balls. Even Isaac Brock had to change clothes. He went from a jacket, to opting for a tee shirt, then back to a hoodie while lamenting his choice to perform "sober as fuck."
Pretty good opening act in Hop Along. Female lead singer with a real raspy wail. They have a nice stage chemistry.
I saw them about a month ago. I am not a huge fan, but since they are from my neck of the woods and I am a '90s kid I still knew that it would be fun to see them. They put on a good performance and played all of their really big hits, plus some new material. Also, Drivin' N Cryin' opened for them, and they were also very good. 8/10
Even though Ben Folds' (Five) music is very hit or miss to me, I still consider myself to be a big fan and will try my best to go and see him when he comes to my area. I was in the very front for his show on November 5, and it was an amazing experience. I saw Ben Folds Five when they did their reunion tour in 2012, but this was my first time seeing him perform without them. He mostly played songs off of his new album, So There, which was recorded with a classical ensemble. He also performed classical versions of some of his older Ben Folds Five and solo songs. I wish that he had done more than one song off of Rockin' the Suburbs, since it is one of my favorite albums of all time, but it was still a great show. 9/10
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Just announced a tour which brings them pretty close to me on March 16, 2016. A Wednesday night during my busiest work time. I have not seen the Boss in over a decade and I do like the theme of this years tour. The ticket price is way too much, no one else really wants to go see him. The concert will get out way too late and I am too old to recover easily the next day. On the other hand he is the Boss and he probably will be doing quite a few cuts from the River, which I really enjoy. Tickets go on sale tomorrow so I still have like 18 hours to think about it.
My son just turned 12 yesterday, and he asked to go see Joe Satriani for his birthday. We went last night in Providence RI.
Show was fantastic! 2 1/2 hours long, and we were 8th row center so you could actually see how fast Joe's fingers were flying all over that guitar.
Sad fact: The venue had 1900 seats and was nowhere near sold-out.
This is basically the show we saw, but this was recorded in Milan.
This prophets of Rage thing has really piqued my interest. I've been watching YouTube videos for the last hour of their show in Brooklyn. Rage is pretty much the only band that was popular in my teenage years that I haven't seen live. I think this may just cure my hankering for a few more years. Chuck D and B Real really fill the void left by Zach well.
Did six music festivals in six weeks, just got back Monday. Did Shaky Knees in Atlanta, Hangout in Gulf Shores, Sasquatch near Seattle, Gov Ball in NYC, Bonnaroo in Tennessee, and Firefly in Delaware. Did a Reddit AMA if you're interested in some of the details.
Reviews of the concerts that I went to this year. I will put them in spoilers since probably nobody cares and this is really just therapeutic for me:
10. Jenny Lewis
I saw her most recently in Birmingham. It was my fifth time seeing her live, and like one of her previous shows that I saw this one was ruined by a venue with shitty acoustics. I could barely hear her voice over the instrumentation. The two opening acts also went on for a combined 2.5 hours, which was far too long and was complemented by her doing a shorter setlist than normal. The only bright spot was that she handed me a rose off of the stage after she performed her second song of the set.
9. Tool (and Primus)
I'm not a huge fan of either band, aside from the fact they have a few songs that I really like. But I had always wanted to see Tool live since I had heard such good things about their shows, so I endured the 30-minute wait online to buy a ticket. It ended up being a decent show, but not worth the price of admission. I can't complain about Primus, but Tool was underwhelming. I thought that Keenan sounded horrible, standing behind the stage throughout the entire show in an outfit that covered him from head to toe and looked like it could have been based on that of a Mortal Kombat character. But I am still willing to believe that they usually sound better than they did in this one instance, and I would consider going to another Tool show in the future.
8. Dashboard Confessional (with Taking Back Sunday, Saosin, and The Early November)
This was a guilty pleasure. I listened to a lot of Dashboard, Taking Back Sunday, and Saosin during my first two years of college, but more or less grew out of their style of music. But I'm a sucker for nostalgia, and since they do have some songs that I still listen to I decided that it would be fun to go see them. It turned out to be about as good a show as one could reasonably expect from this lineup. And big surprise: I definitely saw more empty seats and standing room at this concert than at any that I have ever been to, as the amphitheater was probably a little less than half full.
7. Tegan and Sara (with TORRES)
I went to this one purely because I wanted to see TORRES. I hadn't listened to Tegan and Sara much before this, but I thought that they were amazing and ended up enjoying them even more than their opening act, whom I had really gone to see. Also, I saw this concert on the Friday of the week that Trump was elected; if you're familiar with Tegan and Sara then you can probably imagine that they had some choice words about his election (though they weren't nasty about it and still had nothing but great things to say about the South).
6. Blink 182 (with the All-American Rejects)
These are two more guilty pleasure bands, except that I am actually still a huge Blink fan, even though their newest album sucks. Luckily they didn't play too many songs off of it and went with enough of their old classics to make it an awesome show. I was also tickled that they played "Dysentary Gary," which is my favorite of all of their songs (it was never released as a single). It wasn't quite the same without Tom, but Skiba did a better job filling the void than I had anticipated.
5. Alice in Chains
This was my first time seeing them. I didn't know what to expect, since I have never made it through more than a few songs from the DuVall albums (in fact, I'm only crazy about a handful of their songs outside of Dirt) and they were playing at a venue that had always had terrible acoustics and had thus never previously delivered a show that blew me away. The low expectations may have a little bit to do with it, but I really thought that they knocked it out of the park. In fact, I can't see even the most ardent old school AIC fan who resents their newer albums not enjoying this show. I will do everything in my power to see them when they come anywhere that's within a 4-hour drive of where I live at any point in the future.
I got to see them for the first time when they played on the second night of a back-to-back here in October. I like Phish, but I'm not a diehard fan of theirs (which is how I feel about most jam bands). It turned out to be an amazing show, and the most fun that I have ever had at a concert in terms of the fans and the atmosphere. Concerts usually bring out sketchy weirdos, but the Phish heads managed to weed out most of them. I also talked to a very nice husband and wife during the event who sat next to me and had come up from Augusta to see the show, and they even offered to buy me drinks. It was also the first time that I had ever been offered pot at a concert (but I don't smoke).
3. Rabbit Fur Coat 10th Anniversary Show (Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins)
When my favorite artist announces a show for the 10th anniversary of her first solo album there is not much that will keep me from making a 4-hour drive to see said show, and it turned out to be well worth it. Unlike the second time that I saw Jenny this year, this show was almost perfect. The first set featured her playing the album that was the namesake of the show all the way through. A BIG surprise came when Jimmy Buffet came on stage during the performance of "Handle with Care" (a Traveling Wilburys cover that is on the album) and sang the male vocals for the song! I'm not a big Jimmy Buffet fan, but I still thought that it was a nice surprise to include him. My only complaint about the show was that her second setlist didn't contain many of the songs that I consider to be her best ("See Fernando", really?). But it was still an awesome show at a beautiful venue at which I hope to see many more concerts in the future (Ryman Auditorium, in Nashville, TN).
2. Eleanor Friedberger
I saw the former lead singer of the Fiery Furnaces for the first time in Nashville back in April. She's another one of my favorite artists, and depending on the day I might even say that she is my favorite. She was on tour to promote her third and most recent solo album, New View. The majority of the songs that she performed were from that album, and most of the remaining songs in the set were filled out by great choices from her first two solo albums (though I would be hard pressed to name more than 3 weak songs from those 3 albums). Even though she played at a bar venue that only holds 300 people it was still an unbelievable show that I'm really glad that I made the trip at the last minute to see.
(I also saw her in Athens a few days later, where she played at the bar that is on the rooftop of the Georgia Theater. It turned out to be a good decision to make the trip to see her in Nashville, because the sound at the rooftop bar wasn't nearly as good.)
1. Dweezil Zappa Plays Whatever the Fuck He Wants
Thanks to my dad I've been a huge Frank Zappa fan since the days when I probably shouldn't have been allowed to listen to him. Last year I finally saw Dweezil's cover band for the first time, back when it was still called Zappa Plays Zappa. It was a great show, so I wasn't going to pass up an opportunity to see it again. I bought a VIP ticket, which meant that I received a poster at the door, got to go to the soundcheck party before the show, and got first dibs on where to sit or stand. Dweezil didn't come down off of the stage (but a couple of his band members did and actually knew a few people who bought VIP tickets), but he did sign all of our posters and talked with everyone for a few minutes.
As for the show itself, it put the performance that I saw last year to shame. As much as I love Frank's music I will readily admit that he put out plenty of subpar material (though that's to be expected from an artist who was as prolific and diverse as he was), but even the weak songs that were in the set sounded incredible. One reason for that is that the venue that I saw both shows at had been renovated since the beginning of last year. The other big positive was that the guy who sang for them on the last tour was no longer with them. I thought that he was terrible and was the only weak spot in the band, so it was a pleasant surprise to see that he was replaced by a male vocalist (who sounded very similar to Frank) and a female vocalist who were both way better. To top it off, Dweezil took a few shots in between songs at his younger brother, Ahmet, presumably over taking legal action against him that forced him to change the name of the band.
It was such an excellent show that I'm going to Nashville next month to see them again!
I've never been much of a Radiohead fan, but I was talked into going to see them last night at Philips Arena. It turned out to be arguably the best concert that I have ever been to. I figured that they would play "Idioteque," which is my favorite song of theirs (and probably one of my top 10 favorite songs of all time), but it was also a nice surprise when they ended the show with "Karma Police" as the one song of their third encore. And truth be told, most of the other songs that they did sounded better live than the two that I really like. If you have a chance to see them then I highly recommend that you do.
If anyone here is thinking of seeing them on their current tour or has already bought tickets: don't, or sell them.
I saw Soundgarden on Wednesday night and it was, hands down, the worst performance that I have ever seen by a non-opening act. I was really excited about the show because they are one of my favorite rock bands, I had never seen them before, and it was at one of my favorite venues (the Fox Theatre). A friend of mine saw them in Tampa a few days before I did and said that they were really dull and just looked like they didn't want to be there, and a lot of the fans left not too long after they started playing. I actually thought that Chris Cornell was a decent enough frontman, but the band as a unit sounded terrible and came nowhere close to justifying the hearing loss that I no doubt have now because of their show.
Fuck. I'm supposed to go see them on the 25th. This is not what I wanted to hear.
I had a VIP ticket and got to go to the soundcheck and meet her before the show. We were told to be there at 5:00 and would not be let in if we were late. I was there around 4:40 and could hear her band warming up when I got there. The music stopped a few minutes later, and then most of the other fans showed up. It reached 5:30 and we were all still waiting outside in the hot sun. One person called inside to the venue and they said that they still weren't ready. By the time 5:45 came along we heard music playing again, and one angry woman started knocking on the door demanding to know what the hold up was. Two door men came out and said that the band had not yet approved us to come in and the decision was up to the band, not them. She reiterated that we were told to be there by 5:00. He apologized again and said that the band "was still doing the soundcheck." She paused for a second and reminded him that we were supposed to get to see it. He looked confused, but the other door guy said something like "uh yes, they are." They then started checking us in immediately.
We heard two songs during the soundcheck, then lined up for pictures and autographs. Michelle was friendly enough, but it did seem as though she was just going through the motions and wasn't too thrilled to be there.
As for the show, Ms. Branch was promoting her new album, Hopeless Romantic. I'm not a fan of the album but I do like her older stuff as kind of a guilty pleasure, so I was excited for the chance to see her in concert. It turned out to be a pretty awful show. I don't know why she wanted to try to be a rock star--maybe it's the influence of her drummer fiance from the Black Keys--but as energetic as she was, her songs did not sound good at all with the hard rock flares to them. Aside from the couple of acoustic songs she did it was just a lot of really bad noise.
The one silver lining was that the band that opened for her, Haerts, was amazing. The lead singer has a phenomenal voice--which was surprising, because their studio recordings that I have heard are nothing special. I highly recommend seeing them live if you get a chance.
The only other positive was that Michelle has a NICE ass. She wore a tight pair of light black jeans that did a very nice job accentuating it. But not even that could not save this performance.
I saw Guns N' Roses on their Canadian tour about a month ago. Holy shit.
I'm not a massive GNR fan, I know their hits and have a healthy respect for Slash as a guitarist having learned a few their songs when I was learning guitar. I went because because I knew it would be a fun experience.
And I was blown the fuck away by how good it was. For a bunch of guys in their 50s who don't even really like each other, they sounded fucking terrific, and put on an amazing show. Massive screens in the background showing close ups of them playing and other cool images, confetti cannons, fireworks, flame throwers, and 3 hrs of straight music with very minimal breaks.
Axel couldn't hit a few of the really high notes, but still sounded really good. Slash played a 15 min solo that didn't get boring even for a second. I was happy.
I think I had low expectations because the last 80s rock band I saw in the last 10 yrs was Motley Crue and they sucked wet pieces of dog shit. Maybe it was off night but I didn't even stay until the end of that one. Airborn opened for them and blew them out of the water.
We went to see Amos Lee Sunday night. Juat him and his guitars and holy shit was he good. He's one of those rare people that perform their songs better live.
His opener, Mutlu, was pretty impressive as well. We could have gone just to see him.
I went to 25 concerts this year (of 24 different acts), which is easily a record for me. Reviews:
I feel bad about having posted the negative review upthread, given Cornell’s untimely death just a few weeks later. But this was still not a good show.
23. Michelle Branch
Due to this being a historically bad show I already posted the review above. I don’t have anything to add, except to say again that the opening act, Haerts, was excellent and the lead singer had one of the most amazing voices that I have ever heard. Go see them instead.
22. Neil Diamond
He’s not a performer whose music I’m passionate about but I had heard good things about his live shows, so I wanted to check him out while I still could. His voice definitely isn’t as powerful as it once was but it was still an okay show. The only bad thing was that I was stuck in a seat at Philips Arena between two old, fat guys (and I’m 6’3’’ and 205 lbs myself). In fact, I think that I was the youngest person at this show by at least a quarter century.
21. Green Day
They were my favorite band when I was in high school but I don’t listen to them much anymore--not even to their old stuff. I had also told myself that I was done with their concerts, since the last two times that I saw them I got bored with Billie Joe extending solos by 10 minutes and running his mouth the entire time. But they were at least still good when they actually played their music and it had been 12 years since I had last saw them, so I decided that seeing them for the fourth time would be a good way to kill a Friday night.
Maybe it’s because my expectations weren’t high, but I actually found Billie Joe to be slightly less annoying this time around. On the flip side, this was probably the least that I have ever enjoyed one of their live performances in terms of the actual music. They played enough of their songs that came out before 1997 to make this a decent show, but it wasn’t enough to make me look forward to the next time that I inevitably end up at one of their concerts.
20. Queen Nation (a Queen tribute act)
One of my friends decided that for our Christmas party this year we would do something different and go to a bar and see a Queen cover band. I loved the idea, even though I’ve never really gotten into Queen’s music. As much as I would have liked to have seen Freddie Mercury perform I have just never cared for his voice, but this was still a fun show.
What was even better though was the opening act. It was a guy who did acoustic covers by himself and he played a lot of really good songs—“American Girl,” “Wonderwall,” “What I Got,” Under the Bridge,” “Wagon Wheel,” and several others.
19. Red Hot Chili Peppers
The fourth concert that I ever went to was the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the summer of 2003, between my junior and senior years of high school and shortly after John Frusciante had rejoined the band. Even though Snoop Dogg opened for them and was awful it was still the first concert that I ever went to that really blew me away, so I took the opportunity to see them again. I wasn’t the biggest RHCP fan then and am still not now (and I have long maintained that they are second only to Dave Matthews for the title of the band with the douchiest fan base, and attending this concert reinforced that), but I also think that they’re one of the most consistent bands in terms of putting out music that is almost always good, even if they’ve never recorded anything that I love.
They didn’t have the magic that they had 14 years ago, but it was still an enjoyable show. I was also happy that for once an artist that I was seeing actually played the setlist that I liked the best out of the ones that they were using on their current tour! (FWPs, I Know)
18. Roger Waters
I was raised on Pink Floyd and they have always been one of my favorite bands, so I was excited to see one of their members in concert for the first time. I had heard that Waters’ shows were still excellent, but I had doubts as to how his voice would sound. He handled more of the lyrics than I thought that he would (about 80%), and he actually still sounded pretty good. As one would expect from a Pink Floyd show, the visuals were also excellent.
I was not a fan, however, of all of his anti-Trump rhetoric. I’m far from a Trump supporter, but I still thought that it was way too over-the-top and also hypocritical (I’m also not too thrilled about all his BS against Radiohead). I’m glad that I saw him once, but I have no plans to see him again.
17. Modest Mouse
I had wanted to see them for a very long time and finally got around to it. This was my first show at the new Coca-Cola Roxy, next to SunTrust Park. They also played the night before we got hit by Hurricane Irma, so I was relieved that the show was able to go on.
They put on a good show, but it fell a little short of achieving greatness. And this didn’t come as a surprise, but I was disappointed that they didn’t play “Float on” or “Ocean Breathes Salty.” I know that they have better songs than those and they don’t always include their most popular tracks in their setlists, but both songs bring back good memories of my early college years, so I was hoping to hear them for old times’ sake.
16. Lady Gaga
I’m not a fan of the majority of her work, as most of her catalog just sounds like bubblegum pop to me. But she is clearly talented, and I tend to like her upbeat dance songs (“Bad Romance,” “Poker Face,” and “Alejandro” in particular), so I wanted to experience one of her shows. I knew that the theatrics would be as much a part of it as the music, but I held out hope that she would do a good job of balancing them with the music.
Unfortunately she didn’t, not that I was surprised. It was fun to see the visuals and the dancing for a while, but combined with her excessive talking between some of the songs it was just too much. I generally get annoyed when an artist shortens or lengthens even one song in their set, but she did one of the two on nearly every song. She was excellent when she sang the traditional versions of her songs, but not nearly enough of her show consisted of that. One thing that I didn’t mind at all though was all the costume changes, as they never took her more than a minute or two and I really liked being able to see her prance around in all the different outfits.
Hell, who am I kidding? I would see her again if the opportunity came up.
15. Ben Folds with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
This was the second of three times that I saw Ben this year, and in this instance I did the VIP experience. I attended the masterclass and soundcheck before the show and then I was able to get his autograph and have my picture taken with him. I had always heard that he’s a jerk, but I was pleasantly surprised at how friendly and outgoing he was with everyone.
The concert consisted of him playing his concertos and classical renditions of some of his more popular songs. From a purely objective standpoint this show probably deserves a higher rating, but I just don’t enjoy classical music enough to rank it higher than most of the other shows I saw this year. The classical renditions of his pop songs were excellent, but more than half of the concert consisted of the concertos, which are just not my cup of tea. But I still recommend seeing Ben in any capacity.
14. Badfish (a tribute to Sublime)
Sublime is another band that was one of my favorites when I was in high school but I don’t really listen to anymore. I thought that it would be fun to see a cover band play their songs, and it was a very good, high energy show. I was surprised that the lead singer sounded pretty close to Brad Nowell. I have never seen Subime with Rome play live but based on the videos I would say that the singer in Badfish is better than Rome Ramirez.
13. Jenny Lewis
I didn’t want a full calendar year to go by without seeing my favorite singer, so I drove to Bloomington, Indiana, to see her for the sixth time. All five of her shows that I had seen previously were hit or miss, but this one fell into the “good, not great” column. She did play a few new songs, so it was hard to decide how much I liked them after only hearing them one time, but my first impressions were not very good.
As for the trip, Bloomington seemed like a cool little college town, but the drive from the northern Kentucky border through southern Indiana into Bloomington was a miserable experience. I hadn’t stopped to stretch or use the bathroom for a while (though I had plenty of gas) and didn’t realize that there is literally nothing there for the full hour and a half drive until you get to Bloomington. If I do another road trip like that through unfamiliar territory then I will try to be better prepared!
12. Luna (with Eleanor Friedberger)
I went to this one because I wanted to see Eleanor, who was the opener and is one of my favorite artists. When I saw her last year she had her full band backing her, but this time it was just her and her guitar. There were even a few songs where she just sang over an instrumental studio recording. Her voice was excellent, but it still wasn’t the same as having the full band.
I wasn’t familiar with Luna, but I checked them out before the show and thought they were pretty good, and they didn’t disappoint in concert. Rolling Stone once referred to them as “the best band that you’ve never heard of,” or something along those lines, so I thought that was pretty cool.
I ended up with the night off from work, so I decided to take a trip back to 5th/6th/7th grade and go see the ex-original members of Third Eye Blind play at a bar venue. They played the band’s self-titled album all the way through and then played a couple of their later songs in the encore. It was a really fun show, and while I have never seen Stephan Jenkins perform live I thought that Tony Fredianelli may have been a better vocalist.
Another pleasant surprise: the rock band that opened, Stocklyn, was phenomenal. I didn’t have high hopes when the members of the band went on stage and they didn’t look like they were even old enough to be out of college, but they killed it. I really hope that I hear more from them in the future.
10. LCD Soundsystem
This is a group that I like but am not super passionate about but had always wanted to see in concert. I caught them on the second night of a back-to-back after I had driven back up from my friend’s wedding on Jekyll Island. They sounded very good from start to finish and had some of the coolest visuals that I have seen at a show. From a purely objective standpoint this one may deserve a higher rating, but for personal reasons I still enjoyed the shows that I’m ranking above it just a little bit more.
9. Styx (with REO Speedwagon and Don Felder)
Styx is another group that only has a few songs that I really like but I’ve still always thought would be fun to see perform. They were on tour with Don Felder (a former member of the Eagles who mostly played Eagles songs) and REO Speedwagon. As much as I don’t care for both the Eagles and REO Speedwagon I found both acts to be tolerable; neither artist really showed their age.
I was worried that Styx would be over-the-hill themselves, but they were amazing. If ever there was a live act that I have seen that sounded as good as a studio recording then it was, much to my surprise, Styx. I thought for sure that they would be a one time, just for the hell of it concert, but I would gladly see them again.
8. Abbey Road Live!
They are a local Beatles tribute band that I saw for the first time at the beginning of 2007, when they played Abbey Road all the way through. This time they played Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in its entirety to celebrate that album’s 50th anniversary. Like the previous time that I saw them, the second half of the show consisted of them playing a mix of other Beatles songs from all over the band’s catalog.
The first half of the show was underwhelming. Their performance of Sgt. Pepper just felt really restrained, and nobody in the audience seemed to be into it. The second half was a lot more fun, as the band played more upbeat songs like “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “All You Need is Love,” and “Baby You’re a Rich Man.” A lot of people got up and danced, and it was really cool to experience that kind of atmosphere with a crowd of only about 100 people at a venue that normally holds 1,800.
7. Ben Folds and a Piano
I saw Ben Folds play by himself twice this year, once in Asheville, NC, and once in Atlanta. At the show in Atlanta he took song requests during the second half by letting fans throw paper airplanes onto the stage with the name of the song that they wanted to hear. Rockin’ the Suburbs is by far my favorite of his albums and is one of my top five favorite albums of all time, and he did most of the songs from it at both shows, so it’s hard for me not to rank these two shows highly.
Also, Sarah Jarosz opened for him at the Asheville show. I’m not really a fan of hers, but Ben calling her an “overqualified opener” was very apt.
6. Metallica (with Avenged Sevenfold and Volbeat)
This was my first time seeing Metallica as well as my first time at SunTrust Park. I didn’t know what to expect, but I have to admit that I had high expectations.
Metallica easily met them. And the first band that opened, Volbeat, is a Danish metal band that was very good and did a fun rendition of “Ring of Fire.” But Avenged Sevenfold sucked…don’t ever go to an Avenged Sevenfold concert.
5. Big Thief
I’m a big fan of their 2016 debut album, Masterpiece, so I jumped at the chance to see them when they played at a bar venue here in March. Adrianne Lenker just has a phenomenal voice, and she was even more amazing in a live setting. I have never seen a more emotional singer, either, as she struggled not to cry during several of their songs and even had to stop for a minute at the beginning of one of their songs that was really personal to her and compose herself. They also did some new songs off of their since released second album, Capacity, which I actually can’t get into despite several attempts but still enjoyed seeing them perform songs from.
Don’t miss them when they next come to your city.
4. The Decemberists
I saw them in April, two years to the day after I saw them for the first time. When I saw them in 2015 it was at The Tabernacle, which generally has the worst sound quality of any venue that I’ve been to, so it was a bit of a letdown. But this time they played at the Fox Theatre, which is a much better venue, but I still wouldn’t have guessed just how big a difference it would make.
It was a show for the ages. Also, Colin Meloy is probably my favorite frontman whom I have seen in concert; he’s very good at telling stories and interacting with the audience without distracting from the music. The band even performed a setlist that they said that a fan had suggested on Twitter, and it turned out really well.
To make it even better the opening act was Julien Baker, who was amazing and turned out to be my favorite opening act, ever. Definitely check her out.
3. Paul McCartney
I was raised on The Beatles and have always been a big fan, and this was my first time seeing any Beatle in concert. I had heard mixed things about Paul’s recent live shows; some said that he was still amazing while others said that his voice was gone. The YouTube videos also didn’t give a definitive answer.
I’m happy to say that the people who said that he still has it turned out to be correct. His age only showed to a very small degree, and he was able to play for 3 hours while only stopping for a very brief period between the last song of the main set and the encore.
The first half of the show actually wasn’t anything to write home about; he opened with “A Hard Day’s Night” and mostly did older Beatles songs and deeper cuts from Wings and his solo material. But the second half was truly something special. I’ve never liked Wings, but I don’t think that I have ever been more moved at a concert than I was when he played “Maybe I’m Amazed” and images of him and Linda were shown on screen. He also did a very touching tribute to George where he played “Something,” which is one of my top five favorite Beatles songs.
I don’t think that I will ever be gladder to spend too much money on a concert ticket.
2. Dweezil Zappa Plays Whatever the Fuck He Wants
I drove up to Nashville in January to see Dweezil’s tribute band to Frank once again, after I had gone to their show in Atlanta two months earlier. Nothing was different from when I saw them in 2016, except for the venue, so I can only add that I enjoyed Marathon Music Works in Nashville. I think that it was actually a warehouse that was converted into a concert venue, so it’s not the prettiest venue in the world, but the sound was still very good.
I posted my review of their show right after I saw it since I enjoyed it so much, so there’s not much that I can add here. I will say again that this probably ties with Eric Clapton in ’06 as the best concert that I have ever been to when speaking purely objectively. And as much as I’ve tried since this amazing show, I still mostly can’t get into Radiohead’s music. I guess that you can say that they are the anti-Bob Dylan: amazing live, but listening to their studio recordings puts me to sleep.
Saw Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit over the weekend. They played an hour and a half show and sounded great. Definitely see them if you get a chance.