2014: Concert Recap

One of my favorite things to do is to attend live shows of any musical genre. Gwar, Amy Grant, Steely Dan, N’Sync, Tori Amos. Let’s do it. Every year I set a goal to see at least twelve shows encouraging me to explore new music. I’ve fallen in love with acts that I went to see only because of one or two songs.

There weren’t a whole lot of blockbuster or well known artists on this years list and, having seen many eyes glaze over when I mention who it was that I was going to see, I decided to create this list as an introduction to some lesser known acts.

There is something here for everyone: rock, soul, funk, indie rock, rap, acoustic singer songwriters and others that I can’t quite categorize. I hope you enjoy browsing the list, watching the videos and listening to the all encompassing Spotify playlist I created. I would love to know your thoughts and get recommendations on people I should check out.

February 6th
Charles Bradley
The Columbus Theatre, Providence, RI

I feel so incredibly lucky to have attended this show. Bradley started his career as a James Brown impersonator and that is glaringly obvious from his performances. He came out on stage in a sparkly red, tight fitting suit and gyrated on stage while performing songs that would make you laugh/cry/horny. The audience for this one was particularly diverse with an entire high school basketball team, drunk bros dancing in the aisles and older men falling asleep. My friend, Sam, was stuck sitting in the back, which was better for people watching.

 

May 22nd
Mirah
Brighton Music Hall, Boston, MA

Having only seen Mirah perform as part of Thao and Mirah – my favorite “Oh my gosh, they came together!” musical duo, I was elated I was finally getting the chance to see her perform solo. There’s been a growing trend among artists to perform an entire album at their show instead of a sampling of their tracks. Mirah played her new album Changing Light from start to finish and closed with one of her oldest songs,”Mt. St. Helens.” I wasn’t familiar with the album going into the show, but I left obsessed with it. Her style is overly artistic. Songs tend to seemingly deconstruct and find their own catastrophic ending.

 

May 24th
Jenny Lewis
The Head and the Heart
Frank Turner
The Decemberists
Death Cab For Cutie
City Hall Plaza, Boston, MA

I finally got to see Death Cab For Cutie!!! Jenny Lewis is the front woman for my All Time Favorite Band, Rilo Kiley, and I freaked when she played my All Time Favorite Song of theirs “A Better Son/Daughter.” Frank Turner was delightful – even though that’s a strange way to categorize him. The Head and the Heart held the entire audience captive. The Decemberists were fine – they’re not my favorite.

June 20th
Salt n’ Pepa
City Hall Plaza, Boston, MA

This show was bizarre. Salt n’ Pepa and SPINDERELLA (!!!) came out and kinda played their songs and then kinda spoke to the audience about treating women with respect while playing clips of Erykah Badu songs. Everyone left when they closed with a prayer instead of “None of Your Business.” And that’s why they’re doing GEICO commercials now.

July 24th
Puss N Boots w/ Dwight and Nicole

The Sinclair, Cambridge, MA

This was one of the shows I was invited to and had minimal interest in. The ladies of Puss N Boots are adorable, but I was more impressed with Dwight and Nicole. A fist fight broke out towards the end of the show and I made my friend grab the set list since he loves Norah Jones so much. And then I think he threw it away.

July 26th
Veruca Salt
Brighton Music Hall, Boston, MA

As this show neared, I didn’t want to go. There was an exhibition boxing match at the boxing gym I had been training at and I was bummed to miss it. I’m glad I did – this show was incredible. Plus, I almost got in a fist fight of my very own. I wrote a whole thing about the show here.

September 7th
The War on Drugs

Lake Street Dive
Twenty One Pilots
The Replacements
Nas and The Roots
City Hall Plaza, Boston, MA

This ticket was given to me, for which I am forever grateful, and I had such a great time at this show. For a musica festival taking place in the heart of the city, Boston Calling is well organized and safe. There are water stations, affordable snacks and coffee, enough bathroom, phone charging stations, and everything starts on time!

Going in, I was only familiar with Nas and The Roots. Lake Street Dive is just a conglomeration of powerful voices. Twenty One Pilots reminded me that I am 32 years old. The Replacements aren’t my thing please don’t yell at me about it. Nas was great. Like, really, really great.

November 14th
San Fermin

The Sinclair, Cambridge, MA

You guys. The Sinclair is my favorite venue in Boston and I will see anything there. Excellent variety of beers, great sound, A/C and perfect views. It’s hard to go someplace and feel like you’re the only one there while being surrounded by tons of people. I love this place.

I also love San Fermin. A friend of mine raved about them, having seen them at Boston Calling in September, so I wanted to check them out. They’re incredible. When I’m asked about this show, I place my hand on my chest and gasp before speaking. They’re that good. Plus, practically every member favorited my instagram photo of their performance. BFFs now with San Fermin.

December 6th
Har Mar Superstar and The Pizza Underground

Brighton Music Hall, Boston, MA

Last time I saw Har Mar Superstar he had stripped off three layers of clothes and was wearing a Prince Purple Rain tour shirt while standing on a bar and singing Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” acapella. He is a national treasure.

The Pizza Underground sings pizza themed songs originally by the Velvet Underground. I believe the show was sold old partly because The Pizza Underground features Macaulay Culkin and people think that yelling quotes from Home Alone at him are hilarious. I know this because the gentleman next to me screamed “BUZZ, YOUR GIRLFRIEND! WOOF!” repeatedly in between attempts to light his joint and point emphatically at whoever in the band was singing. The bros next to me in Christmas sweaters kept saying “Dude, remember Home Alone, dude?” No. No one remembers Home Alone. Especially you guys who kept saying the reason why you were there was to “see Macaulay Culkin from Home Alone.” GO HOME!

I was right up against the stage so I managed to snag some of the pizza they handed out to the audience as well as a pixie stick from the Candy Boys, who were called up to perform a few songs. At the end of their set I felt inspired to start my own Ani DiFranco cheese themed cover band: Anbrie DiFranco. I will feature such songs as “32 Cheeses” and “Boursin Hands.”

All of the terrible people left when Har Mar Superstar came out and the fun people stepped up to dance with me. He rocked a few glittery ponchos before toweling off and performing shirtless. He even sang a few songs posed in a sideways handstand type thing. An audience request for “Too Many Cooks” was granted. By the end of the show I was covered in Har Mar’s sweat and the Corona that Macaulay Culkin shook and sprayed on me. I think that’s what 4D means.

The show was a blast and I’m having a hard time refraining from saying this was the best show of the year. I love watching people have fun on stage and, since this was the last show of their six week tour, the camaraderie that they had formed performing together was evident when they closed with one giant, fairly improvised number that sounded a lot like this.

Bonus: Between sets Anchovy Warhol played a video set to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” featuring adoptable cats whose names sounded like lyrics of the song. For example, “Chubby Checker, Psycho, Belgians in the Congo” became pictures of “Chubby, Checkers, Psycho, Belle, Gin, Indigo.”

Okay, I wrote much more about this show than I expected.

 

Hopes for 2015: Taylor Swift, Janelle Monae, Sleater Kinney, Neil Diamond, OutKast and Prince. Always Prince.

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