Live music is a big part of my life…Here are the basic statistics in the 2009 chapter of me chasing bands around the U.S.
Live shows attended: 81
Farthest traveled for a show: Vienna, VA (412 miles one way)
Artist seen the most times: Green River Ordinance (9 times, including 3 Rock Boat performances)
Runner up artist seen the most times: Tie – Gareth Asher & Sequoyah Prep School (5 times)
And, since it’s New Year’s Eve, I thought a list of my favorite/best shows of the year would be in order.
10. Boyce Avenue
Local 506, June 23
There’s something about seeing up and coming bands in grungy little college town bars that is so REAL. Boyce Avenue finally toured close enough for me to go see ’em…so I made the weeknight drive up to Chapel Hill along with my trusty roadtrip buddy Mindy to see this little band of brothers. And the 5 hour round trip was SO worth it. These kids have just got it. Perfect harmonies that only family can have. Great musical skills. A super set of originals and covers. Color me impressed.
9. Damion Suomi
The Evening Muse, December 16
I was introduced to Damion this year and have just fallen madly in love with his music, so I was pretty excited when a last minute end-of-the-year show got added at my favorite venue. Can I just say wow? Damion and his animated percussionist, Ian Little, filled that room with sound and energy in a way that most bands can’t. I have developed a serious musical crush…
8. Green River Ordinance
The Evening Muse, March 11
The Evening Muse tends to inspire artists to do shows that are a little bit different than what they usually do. Perhaps its the tiny size of the venue, or maybe its the intimate (and quiet) atmosphere it creates. Green River Ordinance was no exception this year. They stripped down and did an acoustic show on their trip to Charlotte in March, and then topped it off with a late-night Josh and Joshua acoustic campfire-circle type mini-set for fans who stuck around for awhile. We even got to hear Josh sing “Dancin’ Shoes.” It was a wonderful night!
7. Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band
Greensboro Coliseum, May 2
27 songs of glorious Boss-ness. What a flippin’ fantastic show. Bruce and the band were firing on 8 cylinders, just blowing it out. First time I can remember seeing “Johnny 99.” Got “Cadillac Ranch.” And “Hang On Sloopy” complete with house lights all the way up and the crowd singing along at the top of their lungs. Even the drunk guy who kept asking me why I was there by myself didn’t keep this from being one of the best shows of the year!
6. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
The Handlebar, June 9
I swear to God, I think Grace Potter could sing the alphabet and I’d find her mesmerizing. My 3rd GPN show was probably my favorite so far. Andrea and I got there early and were right up front. This band just SMOLDERS on stage. Three cups full of bottled lightning, indeed.
5. Carbon Leaf & The Alternate Routes
The Visulite, July 9
I’ve been a Carbon Leaf fan for a loooong time, thanks in large part to my little sister who turned me on to them years ago. I’ve seen a lot of great Carbon Leaf shows in my day, and this one was no exception. And helloooo acapella Carbon Leaf mini-set within a set? Yes, please. I’m a relatively new Alternate Routes fan, and the guys were playing as a trio on this night. Something about the combination of two Rock Boat bands, and being surrounded by a lot of my TRB friends, made this one of my favorite shows of the year.
4. Counting Crows, Michael Franti & Spearhead & Augustana
Uptown Ampitheatre, August 21
The Counting Crows are in my “pantheon.” There are some artists that are untouchable in my world, and collectively, the band is one of them. So needless to say, I will lay down a pretty penny to see them play. This summer, they came through and played Charlotte’s new uptown ampitheatre, an intimate little 5,000 seat outdoor venue, with Michael Franti & Spearhead and Augustana. The former I didn’t know much about, the latter I adore. Well, Adam (Duritz) made it clear through posts and e-mails to the fans that these shows were going to be different – and man, was that the understatement of the year. The bands didn’t do a traditional set – one band played a few songs, then the next band came out and joined them for a few songs, or all the bands were on stage together, or one member of one band and one member of another band. It was so mixed up and crazy, but it kept the show full of energy and movement and I looooved it.
3. The Rescues
The Evening Muse, August 28
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more powerful set of vocalists on one stage together. The Rescues left me in awe. I’m a little jealous of those folks out in California that get to see them regularly.
2. Joshua James
The Evening Muse, October 31
Being dressed up for Halloween in a yellow bathrobe (which you could only see through slightly, Joshua!) as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz was a ploy. Holy crap. I was expecting the Joshua James show to be rather mellow, but Joshua and his band absolutely KILLED it. Man, talk about a rock n’ roll show…hand clappin, foot stompin’, soul-filled rock. I was in love with Joshua’s music before the show, but this show made me a fan for life.
1. Will Hoge
The Evening Muse, April 23
I guess, for those of you that know me, this is one of the obvious choices for the top show of the year. For those that don’t, I’ll summarize quickly. Will had a near fatal accident in the summer of 2008. So for him to return to touring a mere eight months later was miraculous. Add to all of this that he is one of my favorite artists, and my favorite artist to see live, and you understand the emotional gravity of this show for me. The show was phenomenal, and despite sitting for the show, Will made it clear that he was back – and that nothing as piddly as a scooter versus a van was going to keep him down. Acoustic and with the band playing stripped down, at Charlotte’s most cozy (and my favorite) venue, it was a really intimate show…When added to all the other factors, it made for a magical night. I’m so glad I was there.
So there ya go, folks. My live show year in review. Here’s to 2010 and a year filled with music!