One of the things I wanted to do last year was see more live music.Â Iâ€™m pretty pleased with the amount of bands I managed to catch, but even having said that, this coming year is going to at least triple it I would imagine.Â The number of amazing bands/musicians touring this year is a little daunting.Â I need to stop discovering new music or something.
ANYWAY.Â This has been a work in progress for a couple of months now.Â Listing stuff in order is hard, okay?Â Iâ€™m pretty happy with the order of it now, and blah to me if I change my mind because itâ€™s POSTED.Â No going back.
My first choice is hardly surprising to anyone who knows me really well, but it kinda sticks out like a sore thumb only because of the type of gig and music it was.Â History most certainly counts for something though.Â Also, there are 3 shows here from the same music festival.Â Iâ€™ve written before how much I enjoyed the Great Escape last year, but the sheer quality of music was a bit staggering.Â Iâ€™ve treated each set I saw separately, rather than the festival as a whole.
So without further ado, here they are â€“ my top 10 live music experiences of 2006.
+ Howling Bells
Thursday September 21, 2006 â€“ Horden Pavilion
I am a fan of Placebo, but not a fan, if you catch my drift.Â I played Nancy Boy on repeat back in the 90s and I think Pure Morning is one of the best songs ever written about nothing at all.Â I had thought about picking up tickets to this gig, particularly considering Howling Bells were supporting (I was very keen to catch them live), but I didnâ€™t in the end because (as to be expected) tickets hit near the $80 mark.Â It just seemed a bit much for a band I was ambivalent about seeing.Â THEN Hellen got two free tickets through work.Â Hooray!
I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed this show.Â The band was tight, and Brian Molko has one of the best and most unique live voices in rock and roll Iâ€™ve heard in a long time.Â The classics were good, but what I enjoyed most were the songs from their latest album Meds â€“ they just translated so well live.Â The song Follow the Cops Back Home made all the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.
The only bad thing about the gig was the 3 encores.Â This is very rarely required ever, and was most certainly not required that night when after second encore most everyone was waiting for the house lights to come back on.
Still, it was awesome.Â Howling Bells also provided great support (and their debut album was one of my favourite releases last year).
9.Â The White Stripes
+ The Greenhornes
Wednesday January 25, 2006 â€“ Horden Pavilion
I have a bit of a celebrity crush on Jack White.Â I have had for some time now.Â Heâ€™s actually not that attractive, really, when you look at it objectively.Â At least, not from where Iâ€™m sitting.Â I think itâ€™s just that he has this tortured artist/musician thing going on.Â And heâ€™s so enigmatic â€“ youâ€™re never quite sure where heâ€™s coming from or where heâ€™s going.
Anyway, this was actually my first gig for last year, and a very good way to start.Â Iâ€™d never seen the band live before and Iâ€™d read enough to be really curious.Â I wrote a pretty long-winded review of it at the time, so I wonâ€™t rabbit on about it too much again now. Â It was a great deal of fun though.
Also, still crushing on Jack.Â Just so you know.
8.Â Augie March
+ Dan Kelly and the Alpha Males
Saturday April 29, 2006 â€“ @ Newtown
To be completely accurate in my description here, I remember very little of this gig.Â Here is what I do remember â€“
- I drank an awful lot of vodka that night.
- This is all Lukeâ€™s fault.
- I found an awesome seat in full view of the stage that wasnâ€™t so much a seat as the BACK of a seat that Hell was sitting on.
- I spilt my drink on poor Hell at least twice.
- I felt nothing inside of me but awe and JOY because I was hearing Augie March live.
- They played One Crowded Hour, Song in the Key of Chance, This Train Will be Taking No Passengers, Bottle Baby AND There is No Such Place.Â This should be enough really.
- I met a guy called Jordan from Hornsby who knew all the songs from the set list, like I did, and sang along with them all, like I did.
- We declared to the whole venue, once we found out we both loved the album August and Everything After by Counting Crows, that we were soul mates.
- I think this annoyed his boyfriend.
- Hellen threatened to never come with me to a gig again.
All in all, it was a pretty great night 🙂
7.Â Death Cab for Cutie
Saturday July 15, 2006 â€“ Rebel Rebel
This gig making 7th on the list is outstanding for a couple of reasons.Â Firstly, the venue sucked.Â Iâ€™d never been to Home nightclub before, nor Rebel Rebel, and itâ€™s the first time Iâ€™d had reason to.Â Secondly, the crowd was kinda annoying.Â They were rude, pushy, and more than a bit obnoxious.
Stands to reason then, given the setbacks it experienced early on, the reason itâ€™s sitting at number 7 is because the music at this gig was awesome.Â It really, really was.
They opened with Passenger Seat, my favourite Death Cab song OAT.Â The feeling they created throughout the set was brilliant â€“ they morphed from one song to another seamlessly, and they played a good mix of older and newer stuff.Â I wish weâ€™d got there earlier, and I wish Iâ€™d managed to stand closer, but even given the crappiness of the venue I came out of this gig buzzing.
Next time I am SO getting there early.
6.Â The Mountain Goats
Wednesday April 19, 2006 â€“ Annandale Hotel
Iâ€™d seen the band 2 days before at the Great Escape, and since that night Iâ€™d had a giddy feeling of excitement in my belly knowing I was going to see them again so quickly.Â This night was great for a few of reasons â€“ firstly, the Annandale is such a good venue for feeling like youâ€™re sharing intimate space with a band.Â We were maybe 2 people back from the stage and there was a lot of banter between JD, Peter and the crowd.Â Secondly, I was there with Tara, and it was the first time since sheâ€™d come back from Canada that weâ€™d had a chance to spend one on one time together.Â Â Â Thirdly, it was the first time Iâ€™d heard California Song live.Â Oh my god.
During the show they played Sometimes I Still Feel the Bruise (the Trembling Blue Stars cover from the Babylon Springs EP) and he remarked it was the first time theyâ€™d played it live.Â Then he went into a whole thing about Gene Simmons from Kiss, and how each time heâ€™d play a certain song at a gig, every single night, heâ€™d say â€˜this is the first time weâ€™ve played this song live!â€™Â The onstage banter from JD is one of my favourite parts of Mountain Goats shows.
This show lacked the unadulterated joy of the one from the Great Escape, but it was solid, and the crowd was so happy, and the set list was great.Â I mean, it was a MOUNTAIN GOATS show.Â So of course it was amazing.
5.Â Sigur Ros
Friday April 14, 2006 â€“ The Great Escape
Some musical experiences are more than the songs.Â Some are all around body experiences that hit every sense at once.Â Sigur Ros, on day 1 of the Great Escape, was that sort of experience.
Silverchair played before them and I actually think that wasnâ€™t a bad lead up for the band, given the sound of their new stuff.Â Iâ€™d heard all sorts of things about Sigur Ros live shows, but in a festival environment I wasnâ€™t sure what to expect.Â The two people I was with werenâ€™t really into the band, so I left them a little to the side and wandered into the crowd.Â When the front curtain lit up and the opening bars of Glosoli started, my heart just welled up and I was taken to a whole other place.
Part way through the set I pushed out of the crowd near the front and headed toward to the top of the hill, behind all the people.Â I still had a great view of the stage and the sound was great.Â Standing at the top of that hill, surrounded by warm autumn air, sublime sound and lamp light, I was suddenly struck with a sense of calm and contentment.Â It was as though all the stress and anxiety of the previous few days had left my body and floated away.Â Itâ€™s a feeling that stayed with me right throughout the festival and Iâ€™m sure a lot of the reason I had such an amazing 3 days.
4.Â Love Outside Andromeda
+ SubAudible Hum
Friday October 6, 2006 â€“ The Annandale Hotel
This post here is probably enough explanation as to why this all Australian gig is number 4 on my list.Â Sianna Lee, the lead singer and chief song writer of LOA, is one of my favourite people in the Australian music biz.Â Sheâ€™s a little temperamental from all accounts and kinda looks like sheâ€™ll strike you down at any moment, but holy crap can the girl sing.
Also, this was the night I really discovered SubAudible Hum.Â Their album In Time for Spring On Came the Snow was one of my favourite releases of last year
As I wrote in that review post, this gig was a perfect example of the fact that you donâ€™t have to spend over $15 to experience amazing live music.
3.Â The Black Keys
Saturday April 15, 2006 â€“ The Great Escape Festival
My anticipation of their tour here in May is in no small way due to how amazingly awesome this set from them was at the Great Escape last year.Â I first heard the Black Keys on a car stereo in the middle of the Cowra wilderness, and it was enough for me to pick up Rubber Factory pretty soon after.Â Itâ€™s pretty clear, from hearing any of their studio albums, that theyâ€™d kick ass live.Â They didnâ€™t disappoint.
Iâ€™m not sure Iâ€™ve seen anyone get sounds out of a guitar the way Dan Auerbach does.Â He also has one of those instinctive, guttural blues voices that can bring passion to most anything.Â And the way Patrick Carney plays the drums?Â Holy crap.Â Every other drummer looks delicate in comparison.
It had been a weird festival for me, in that I was with people I who werenâ€™t familiar with most of the music we were seeing and the vibe was very laid back.Â This set, though, was raw and pounding and sheer rock and roll.Â I went into the crowd full of anticipation and came out dirty, sore and missing a headscarf.Â And it was AWESOME.
2.Â The Mountain Goats
Sunday April 16, 2006 â€“ The Great Escape Festival
The open letter to John Darnielle that I wrote after this gig is testament enough I think.Â Actually, it took my fandom for this band from mildly insane to out and out crazy.Â The main thing I loved about it was the sense of community â€“ it was really the first time Iâ€™d experienced it at that level at any gig anywhere, and Iâ€™ve found since then that itâ€™s kind of a staple at Mountain Goats shows.
When the whole crowd sang along to This Year I swear my heart nearly burst.Â Feeling all that Mountain Goats love in one concentrated space was almost too much for my poor little brain to bear.Â It was the first time Iâ€™d heard Up The Wolves live, and they also played Color In Your Cheeks.Â I just â€“ well, thereâ€™s no words really.Â I think you get the picture.
+ Kanye West
Friday November 10, 2006 â€“ Telstra Stadium
Yes.Â My number 1 music experience from last year was a stadium sized gig played by an aging super group.
The anticipation I had for this gig was massive.Â They were playing in March, and then they cancelled, before finally hitting our shores in November.Â I saw them live in 1994 and when you factor in everything that was my first â€˜realâ€™ live music experience.Â It left me completely and irrevocably changed.Â I have already written about how I came to the music and how much it has meant to me at various times of my life, and while in some respects Iâ€™ve grown out of the music, itâ€™s still a very important part of who I am.
We got there a little later than I thought we should but it turned out it didnâ€™t matter â€“ we managed to be around half way back in the GA section, smack between the speaker stacks.Â The sky looked ominous and it was hot and sticky.Â I was almost surprised when Kanye West came on â€“ I hadnâ€™t really been paying attention to the main stage.Â The set was okay but the sound was lost on the open air.Â Because of this I was a bit nervous about the main show â€“ the sound was kinda crap.
Just as we were clearly heading up to U2 coming on stage, the skies opened up.Â Firstly the rain was just a pitter pat, then a steady pour.Â Then, inexplicably, louder than anything Iâ€™d heard so far that night, I heard the opening bars of Wake Up by the Arcade Fire.Â The sky completely tore open and the water came pouring down.Â The lights went down and the crowd went mad before the band came out on stage.Â I was utterly and completely swept away by the experience.
The opened with City of Blinding Lights.Â They played most everything I could have wanted them to play, including Angel of Harlem which was a complete surprise.Â Bono could tell me anything and I would utterly follow him anywhere.Â The man has charisma.Â He sang Miss Sarajevo and I almost lost it.Â I sang unashamedly to every single track and I didnâ€™t care about the rain.Â I was also there with someone who was as big a fan as I was, which I genuinely think adds to an experience like that.
Itâ€™s not the sort of show I could do all the time â€“ those big stadium gigs are so impersonal and the sound is generally not great.Â Still, this one was perfectly massive.Â Itâ€™s why U2, love â€˜em or hate â€˜em, are considered at the top of what they do.
Notable mention â€“
Friday August 18, 2006 â€“ The Marquee
This gets a mention because the night was so much FUN and because the band has pretty much called it quits.Â NP, due to Hell working so closely with the band, has been such a large part of my live music landscape for a lot of years.Â This night the venue was packed, there was a lot of long term fans of the band there, and they were on the brink of releasing their new album.Â There was so much potential and optimism in the air.
The Sydney local music scene is a fickle thing, however.Â They will forever be a perfect example of what could have been.
And the worst gig?Â With a bullet â€“
Friday July 21, 2006 â€“ The Metro
If you see a lot of live music in Sydney, the Metro Theatre is a venue you canâ€™t avoid.Â This is normally okay, because normally youâ€™re not surrounded by drunk belligerent asholes, normally the venue isnâ€™t clearly over capacity and normally you can see/hear the band.
The music was okay.Â It was a completely different sound to how I know the band in that it was more a rock show (which is generally something I am very open to) but the crowd at that show ruined every chance I had of enjoying the music.Â The security was non-existent and there was a hellava lot of argy bargy.Â I think, possibly, itâ€™s the worst live music experience Iâ€™ve ever had.Â And Iâ€™ve had a few.
HAH done.Â The best of 2007, if the quality of the music Iâ€™ve seen already this year is any indication, will be a very interesting post.Â I have a feeling though that I have already experienced the best gig Iâ€™ll see this year.
I am always, however, prepared to be surprised.