Jim DeRogatis is leaving The Chicago Sun-Times and has written a run-down on his 15 favorite concerts in covering music. Inspired by this, I'd like to offer my favorites:
1. Wilco at Stubb's BBQ 9/22/2001 - the first great show I ever saw. Wilco was in Yankee Hotel Foxtrot limbo, and the whole country was in post-9/11 confusion. It was the first time I heard "Ashes of American Flags" and it was incredibly powerful. The band seemed taken aback by the applause for their set and played three encores, closing with a raucous version of "I Got You (At the End of the Century)".
2. Flaming Lips at Madison Square Garden 12/31/2003 - in a special New Years' show Sleater-Kinney opened and Wilco closed, The Flaming Lips stole the show. Dancing people in costumes, great music, unbelievable feeling and thousands of balloons made for an unforgettable night.
3. Fleet Foxes at Somerville Theatre 10/6/2008 - the Pacific Northwest band makes beautiful music, but it's not always the most high energy, so I didn't know what to expect. Live, their music was equally beautiful, with gorgeous harmonies and passionate vocals and playing. The crowd was totally swept up, universally standing in movie theatre setting. Afterwards I turned to my girlfriend, who hadn't spoken a word through the whole set. "Was that one of the best shows you've ever seen?" she asked? It sure was.
4. Art Brut at Middle East 5/16/2006 - the best live act going. I've seen them three times since, and they are always terrific. Eddie Argos works so hard to give everyone their money's worth, and the best part is you can see how much fun he's having the whole time. This was my first experience seeing Art Brut, and I've gone out of my way to see them every time since.
5. Okkervil River at T.T. the Bear's 11/10/2005 - like Fleet Foxes, this Austin-based group can be subdued on record. However, this live show was gripping, with singer / guitarist Will Sheff ripping his guts out on just about every song. The band didn't go on until midnight but still played two hours. In the final encore, Sheff gave the audience the choice between classics "Kansas City" and "The Okkervil River Song" and someone shouted out, "Both!" Sure enough, they played both, sending everyone home happy.
6. Sleater-Kinney at Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel 2/14/2003 - Something has been missing in my life ever since the Olympia, WA-based trio broke up in 2006. I saw them five times; this, the second time I saw them, made my Valentine's Day in 2003 as they tore up one of Providence, RI's best venues.
7. K'Naan / Wale at House of Blues 4/1/2010 - see review here.
8. Mutual Admiration Society at Paradise Rock Club 8/12/2004 - This supergroup consists of the members of the talented Nickel Creek as well as Toad the Wet Sprocket's Glen Phillips. The show was fine until partway through, when rather than all take a break different members would play some of their solo items. We were treated to gems like Chris Thile's "I'm Nowhere and You're Everything," Nickel Creek's ukelele ditty "Anthony," and John Paul Jones playing a solo mandolin version of Led Zeppelin's "Going to California." Yes, that John Paul Jones. After that, the band had the crowd eating out of the palm of its hand.
9. Phoenix at Austin City Limits 10/2/2009 - see review here.
10. Kanye West at Ryan Center 10/26/2005 - I might have been the oldest person at the rapper's show on URI's campus, but there couldn't have been too many folks having more fun than me. The music was powerful and Kanye showed a charisma not always present on record, killing it for one of the most energetic crowds I've ever seen.