Stray observations concerning this year’s gigs: Coldplay. Coldplay Coldplay Coldplay. Saw both American Idol and X-Factor, making me an official reality TV singing contest super fan. I saw Phillip Phillips twice this year. I can’t believe it either. Also saw Fuel, for free, at a local festival full of drunken white trash. You take what you can. I’m so happy to be back in the US.
- Coldplay, July 29, TD Garden, Boston, MA
There’s nothing I could write to convey the absolutely ineffable surge of pure joy and happiness that this concert provided. If you went to one of the shows, you know what I’m talking about. If you didn’t get a chance to, this video recorded in Paris gives a nice glimpse. Xylobands, man. Fucking Xylobands. It was the most interactive concert experience I’ve ever had in my lifetime of 300+ concerts. I laughed, I cried, I screamed, and I nearly fainted at one point. It’s concerts like this that make me pass on upcoming shows that I know won’t be as worth it. If for some strange reason I could only go to one concert again and again for the rest of my life (Groundhog Day-style), it would be this one.
- The Killers, December 17, Agganis Arena, Boston, MA
Wow. Just wow. I was scared…no, terrified… that this would be a monumental letdown brought upon by years and years of wishing and waiting and hoping (ahem, Oasis…). I had been waiting since 2004. I lived through a cancelled Beijing gig. And now finally I could see The Killers. First of all, they put on a fucking rock show. Pyro. Fireworks. Confetti. And they are no pussies either, killing it on guitar and Rock God stances. Brandon Flowers has grown into one of the most charismatic frontmen of our time and I’m happy to have seen him chipper, charming and upbeat. Touring behind my album of the year also didn’t hurt. Hit after hit after hit, the singalongs just kept coming. Simply exhausting. In the happiest of ways.
- Kaiser Chiefs, March 6, Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA
Crammed into a tiny club with an odd assortment of Kaiser’s fans, I proceeded to experience one of the best singalong concerts of my career. I forgot how much I love KC (and how well I remembered every single song lyric). I lost my voice, was sore for days, but age be damned, it was worth it.
- Florence and the Machine, September 14, Comcast Center, Mansfield, MA
I wanted a moment. And I knew precisely which moment I wanted. “During ‘No Light, No Light‘, I want a gusty breeze to blow through the crowd, awash in purple or blue light, flowing through Flo’s hair.” And lo and behold, maybe I was a good boy that week, but that happened. I couldn’t believe it. For that “moment” (see #2 above), the sky was still, the stars were shining and the moon was bright, a cool steady breeze streamed through the amphitheater, we were bathed in dim purple light, and Flo let that sustained note rip through the night air. Magically majestic.
- Keane, June 12, House of Blues, Boston, MA
Much like the Kaisers gig, the Keane show was all about the singalong. Although they were touring behind the relatively (even for Keane) boring album, Strangeland, it was still a great show. The live setting improved those boring new album tracks and their old hits were just ripe for audience ecstasy. Bafflingly, there were a bunch of rapey-looking douchebags there. The ones next to us were scamming on girls. Annoying jerks aside, it was nice to finally hear “Bedshaped” live.
- Of Monsters and Men, April 7, House of Blues, Boston, MA
Seriously, getting in on a band’s big break is something special. This was their first US tour and we were one of the first stops. The HoB was PACKED to the top sections of the highest balcony and each song had a singalong progressively cheerier and more uplifting than the last. It felt like a party with a band that had been around for decades. Here’s hoping they stick around.
- Ours, June 28, Johnny D’s, Somerville, MA
You don’t often get to stand face-to-face with one of your favorite singers of all time…while they’re performing, almost screaming directly into your face. But what if you’re in a crappy dive, a local restaurant with a dance floor and booths? It was sad, a bit pathetic and yet nothing to be ashamed of. Ours is severely underrated. They have shit luck. But their debut album is one of my favorites of all time, one of my top 5 desert island discs. So I’m glad they’re still trying, fighting to stick around. It was hard to absorb all of the energy when half the crowd was munching on dinner, but I’m just happy they’re still here for their fans.
- Neon Trees, December 7, Lansdowne Pub, Boston, MA
Yeah, I can’t believe it either. This performance kicked ass. We were there for a free radio show. Tristan Prettyman and Phillip Phillips opened. The crowd was full of mom-age women and girls in their late 20s. An odd mix of an audience for this flamboyant band who has toured with The Killers and 30 Seconds to Mars. But hot damn, as soon as they came on, I was a fan. They have one of the best frontmen I’ve seen and they exuded such determined energy for such a lame audience that I was quite impressed. I would have never, ever ever, in a bajillion years expected Neon Trees to put on such a great show.
- Joshua Ledet – American Idol Live!, August 26, Dunkin Donuts Center, Providence, RI
You remember moment #1 from the previous section? Yeah. I got to experience it live. In person. It knocked me on my ass. Sure it was nice to see Phillip Phillips sing “Home” with Deandre and Colton on harmony. But Joshua took us all to church.
- Ingrid Michaelson and Greg Laswell, July 27, Lupo’s, Providence, RI
What a double-billing: husband and wife, on tour together. It’s like if Gwen and Gavin brought No Doubt and Bush back on the road together, except for the quiet, contemplative indie-folk crowd. Greg underwhelmed us with an acoustic session (Bah!) but Ingrid gave us a satisfying mix of awesome musical talent and hilarious between-song banter. If she had a show, I’d watch it. Like New Girl, but less annoying than Zooey D.
- Fiona Apple, March 27, The Royale, Boston, MA
In all fairness, it’s not her fault I was so underwhelmed. After all, I had waited over a decade to see her, one of my favorite artists, and she was finally back for a tiny club comeback tour. Holy shit, this was going to be orgasmic! Incorrect. Paying nearly $1 per minute of this dismally short set (less than a fucking hour!), I wanted more. Not only more songs in general, but more older songs. She played mostly new stuff, which is okay, but argh, she showed little love to Tidal and Extraordinary Machine. WTF. Thank god for good company.
- Tenacious D, July 2, Bank of America Pavilion, Boston, MA
Hilarious. Seeing those two tubby motherfuckers perform all their classics in front of a giant inflatable Cock-Phoenix (complete with giant testes, confetti cum AND a combo vagina/anus doorway) was something I had looked forward to for almost ten years. Yeah, they’ve been around that long. But what I didn’t realize was that, in the 10 years since “Wonder Boy,” I grew up. Cock and ball jokes don’t crack me up as much as before. Giggling about marijuana intake, anal sex and rocking out are also in the past. I still love a good fart joke, but still, we were brought to the Altar of the D on a wave of nostalgia. Unfortunately for me, it was more of a Goodbye than a Welcome Back.
- Fuel, August 2, Mediera Festival, New Bedford, MA
Lord on high, this was a fucking hot mess. Even though we were literally a 5 minute walk away from the sofa to the “venue,” the crowd just ruined it. Even though it was free. Even though I’d been waiting a very long time to hear “Hemorrhage.” Even though, like I said, we were a 5 minute walk away. The combination of white and ghetto trash — all drunk, mind you — crammed together in a great awful slushie of August humidity just ruined it. We heard “Shimmer” and got the fuck out. No amount of “free” was worth it.