Approximately 25 favorite shows


Ago 25 2009, 1:53

(cross-post from my facebook)

My friend Laura posted 50 shows attended, and I responded with a very quick list of 50. My friend Annie posted 50 shows with comments and mentioned that "50 is not a very big number." She's right, 50 is not that many bands/musicians, and my earlier list was kinda dumb.

As it happens I had a kind of list on my computer of my favorite live music performances ever, though it was sort of tentative and incomplete, but it even had some web citations and stuff where I found precise dates. So I dug it up and updated it a bit. Here they are, not in any particular order.

Ween (930 club, 10/28/96)
We were near the front of the stage, I nearly died of euphoria when I heard "The Blarney Stone" for the first time in my life. This was after their country album and before The Mollusk, some of their awesomest material. They were backed by a bunch of Nashville session players. Amazing.

Journey & Foreigner (Nissan Pavilion, 7/13/99)
We were in our early 20s, everyone else there was either under 12 or over 40. Left MANY empty beer cans in the car before the show. Journey was great and we didn't even know that it was different singer from Steve Perry until like halfway through the set. Foreigner weren't so great though. Weird.

Fugazi @ Fort Reno in the rain (many summers, for example w/ Flin Flon 8/26/09)
Reading this review I remember how we all kind of liked Flin Flon though they only played for a couple songs -- Mark Robinson was all shifty and weird. Then Fugazi played for a little while until they stopped the show for lightning. It always rained for Fugazi and it was impressive to watch them try rocking out in the downpours. Luke has some good Fugazi-in-the-rain photos somewhere...

Lightning Bolt/Black Dice/Orthrelm/Avey Tare and Panda Bear (Black Cat, ca. 2001 or 2002)
First and only time I've seen Lightning Bolt and it was earth-shattering. Orthrelm was awesome too. A.T. & Panda Bear went on to be mildly famous with Animal Collective. The bands all played in different parts of the floor and you could just gather around them and watch. If you watch the Lightning Bolt DVD called "The Power of Salads and Milkshakes" it looks exactly like what we saw. That tour on the DVD was from around the same time, and in the credits you could see some references to Washington, DC, so I think there might be a few snippets from this show on there. Another life-changing show. It was sometime not long after this when Sonic Youth decided they would rather open up for Lightning Bolt rather than try to take the stage after them.

Wilco (930 Club, 9/26/2001)
Whoah thanks to researching this list, I found out you can download this show! I'll have to do it tomorrow at work. This was a great show. They were singing about the ashes of American flags a couple weeks after 9/11. It was freaky. It was awesome. This was also the first time I saw Wilco, though I'd seen Jeff Tweedy do a solo show sometime beforehand.

Mogwai (black cat, 9/1/99)
another amazing show. This was the loudest thing I had ever heard, I think, yet it had quiet moments too (and flute!). I just listened to this show again recently thanks the magic of the internet! It is available for download right here

Dead Meadow (many times ca. 1999-2001, occasionally since)
Dead Meadow was this amazing phenomenon where people we kinda knew (I knew them less well than some of my friends) turned into Led Zeppelin all of a sudden. As Annie's list mentioned, the famous naked show was not the best, but I remember it as a night of spontaneous naked dancers, drugs being passed around the crowd, heavy psychedelic music, all like a crazy time machine where we got to all experience 1971 for an hour. Everyone should get a chance to have their own Led Zeppelin-in-1971 moment at least once in a lifetime.

Ted Leo solo concerts ca. 1999/2000
Ted Leo was not a friend but around ten years ago it seemed like I saw him everywhere, playing shows in various places around DC, record stores, Fort Reno, the Black Cat, whatever. You expected him to be out playing guitar on the streets at any moment. He would play solo shows with a Fender Twin amp and a retro curly guitar cord that looked like a phone wire (I believe he still basically does the same thing today). When his first proper solo album came out (The Tyranny of Distance) I already knew all the songs. What a troubadour. I am still a big fan but miss the days when he was still a local secret.

Versus (various shows including black cat, opening for yo la tengo at 930 club, at galaxy hut, others?)
I saw Versus a bunch of times and they gradually became one of my favorite bands. Way underrated! The first time I saw them ('96 or '97?) I got the song "Glitter of Love" stuck in my head and still remember how James Balayut (the lead guitarist) played the main riff. Nobody in rock and roll could smoke a cigarette the way Richard Balayut (the main singer) did -- nodding to shake the ashes off the end while playing some stylish indie-rock chord progression. And I am still kind of in love with the other singer, Fontaine Toups, after all these years. She has a rad lightning-bolt tattoo on her arm and a rad guitar strap.

Songs: Ohia (macrock, April 2002)
This was a toally memorable show in a theater at JMU. The theater got too crowded and people were sitting in the aisles, then some security people came and started kicking out the people in the aisles, so Jason Molina said something to the effect of "this sucks let's just go meet across the street" so we went outside and surrounded him as he played for a little while with a battery-powered mini-amp. Awesome rock and roll moment from somebody who might like Sabbath but is not usually too "rock and roll"

Paul Flaherty & Chris Corsano (Noise Against Fascism festival, Black Cat, 1/20/05)
This was an anti-Bush-inauguration party and was a whole day of bands mostly making random noise. But then Flaherty and Corsano came on and blew my mind completely. Corsano is a young (30-ish) drummer while Flaherty is an old (60-ish) saxophonist. They made this ungodly racket of free jazz skronk that was so intense that my jaw dropped wide open. I have never seen such a performance and may never again. This is the kind of music where you really think these dudes sold their souls to the devil. I am kind of scared to see them ever again though I will go willingly, like a moth to the flame.

Fugazi/The Ex/Lungfish (Electric Factory, 12/4/99)
Fugazi deserves to be here twice -- they were always great live -- but this show is special to me because of the other two bands. The Ex were fantastic! Lungfish were even better! I would love to go back and see this show again. A day before (or after?), I saw Fugazi and The Ex at the 930 Club, but this was the first of only two times that I've seen Lungfish and I was just getting into them at the time. Since then they've become one of my all-time favorite bands. Dan Higgs just bobbed around on stage, throwing a water bottle into the air, spitting out his bizarre lyrics. I remember The Ex had a system in a couple songs where the two guitarists would use hand signals to pick a crazy riff to play, then pause, then throw another hand signal. Awesomeness! I'd like to hear more from The Ex, I got one CD based on this set of shows but never listened to anything else by them.

Kerosene 454 w/Bluetip and Burning Airlines (Black Cat, summer or fall 1997)
This was the first-ever Burning Airlines show (and I had seen the last-ever Jawbox show too) but I was not impressed by B.A. as much as I was by Kerosene 454. Forgotten but fantastic band! But not forgotten by me ever since this show! Their CD "Came by to Kill Me" is still one of my favorites.

Cows/Reverend Horton Heat (old 930 Club, 1995 or 96)
Cows were the first band of their style I'd ever seen, aggressive noise-rock, I guess you'd call it, but with a bugel thrown in. The singer/bugel player from the Cows had a baby-doll head strapped to his crotch, a magic-marker mustache painted on, googly eyes glued to his eyelids, and was nearly naked. Intense! Noisy! Fun! The Reverend Horton Heat was great too, I saw him a few times and will see him again next month opening up for Motorhead and Nashville Pussy.

Rah Bras and Edie Sedgwick (DC9, 2007 or '06?)
Speaking of zany! Edie Sedgwick is very good -- at the time it was just Justin Moyer in drag doing crazy electro-techno songs about celebrities with film clips to match. I like it a lot but am kicking myself for missing out on Rah Bras up until this show, which I think was their last in DC. They were from Virginia and totally insane -- drums, keyboards, and keytar! They wore those "Heely" roller shoes and skated around the club. They dedicated a song to Pluto (the ex-planet -- it was just demoted that day or the day before). I can hardly explain how great they were.

Made Out of Babies (Rock and Roll Hotel, 2007)
We went to this show all bleary and drunk after some intense partying, and it was so awesome, just this chick shouting over pseudo-metal, jumping around on stage, kicking things around. After the show we all tried to talk to her and buy her drinks but she was sick and actually drinking cough syrup in between alcholic beverages. Saw them again another time and it was less awesome but I am a huge fan of Made Out of Babies. Even the name! Actually, especially the name!

Blonde Redhead (2000-ish?)
saw them a few times but the best was around 2000 or so, at the Black Cat, before they became super popular but they were on their way there. They played this song called "Futurism vs. Passeism Part 2" where, on the album version, Guy Picciotto recites some lines in French, so at this show he jumped up on stage and did the same. very cool! This was the last time I saw and liked Blonde Redhead -- later they seemed to get too heavy into just playing along to backing tracks.

Dismemberment Plan & Death Cab for Cutie & Cex (2001 or '02)
The Dismemberment Plan grew on me over the course of seeing them live lots of times, and Death Cab made only a mild impression on me at the time, I didn't know them too well (still don't really), but the highlight here is Baltimore's Cex. I saw Cex open for the Dismemberment Plan at least one other time and he was so awesome! Freestylin' about the Baltimore Ravens, singing his lame rap song about bikes. Dude was talented and I'm not sure whatever happened to him.

Luna (farewell tour @ 930 club, December 2004)
My only time seeing Luna and I was amazed out how great it was! Also -- Britta Phillips! Hot! She played bass and sang backups and I couldn't stop staring at her. Luna were a great band, sort of like a Rolling Stones of indie rock, just great basic rock and roll. Glad I saw them.

The Fucking Champs w/Cherry Valence and Drunk Horse (Metro Cafe, 5/4/2001)
Saw the Fucking Champs a few times and they were absolutely great; this show is memorable because of how much I liked the other bands. I still like the Cherry Valence and have one of their CDs.

Pearl Jam (merriweather post pavilion, with the Fastbacks, 1996)
first time I saw Pearl Jam and really enjoyed it. also I liked the Fastbacks a lot and still do. we got lost on the way back to DC (and could it be any easier??) and ended up going the long way around the Beltway which added on like an hour to the return trip. still worth it, though. by the next time I saw Pearl Jam I had lost a little of my interest in them and didn't even mind standing in line for the bathroom during "Alive." the fist time though I was still mostly a true believer.

Sleater-Kinney's last local show, at the 930 club, August 2006
So Sleater-Kinney were going on hiatus and announce a few final dates, including one here, and we went and there was an electrical problem outside the 930 Club during the opening act, with smoke pouring out of the grates, so they had to evacuate the club, and nobody knew what would happen to the show. But they came back two days later! and played a great farewell show. the awesome French Toast got the call to be a last-second opener for the second show.

The Raveonettes "Electric Duo" show (Rock and Roll Hotel, 2007? or 08?)
This was the first time I saw the Raveonettes and I've been going back to see them since, each time they come to town, but nothing has been as good as this first show. It was stripped down, just the two of them, switching among bass, guitar, drums, and vocals. They did some good covers including Sonic Youth's "100%" and I loved it. The hippest thing ever.

Drive-By Truckers (930 Club, July 2006)
I was a little late to the DBT party but this alcohol-fueled show certainly won me over. Glad I saw this incarnation of the band, with Jason Isbell as third singer/guitarist/songwriter -- I think he contributed a lot to the band. A boozy blast.

RANDOM METAL BANDS (at JAXX on my birthday, 2002? or 01?)
I don't even remember who these bands were but they were one of the best surprise presents I've ever received.


  • nonsensor

    The Ex are way high up on my list of shows (seen them twice) but have never had the chance to see Lungfish. Most peoples' impressions of Lightning Bolt seem to be great, but the thing that stuck out for me (saw them with Arab on Radar and the Locust, killer show) was that they didn't play on stage, rather off in a corner of the club somewhere. Rad. I dunno if they're your bag, seems like they might be based on your other shows, but Deerhoof is a band I've seen about 5 times and who keep getting better.

    Set 2 2009, 17:18
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