I love going to shows. It’s more than just a passion. It’s almost a way of life. The band comes on, and there’s lift-off – a sense of excitement where anything can happen. Nothing else matters at that particular moment in time except the people who aren’t just asking for your attention, but in some cases demanding it.
The best places to see shows, are venues that are almost downright dirty, and grungy. The stale smell of beer. Though most of the places I go to see shows now are smoke-free, you can still smell the smoke stained in the floor and the walls. (This is why I think that Baltimore’s Rams Head Live is a intimate venue, it will be better in about 20 years when it’s been lived in.)
Today I’ll post 20 – 15, and tomorrow I’ll post the rest through the week.
20. The Dirtbombs (April 2008, Sonar – Baltimore, MD)
I never really heard of the Dirtbombs until my friend introduced me to them. The Dirtbombs mix of R&B, Soul, and funk played with an aggressive twist is made for a live-setting. It’s a non-stop party – a perfect setting for the dingy hole in the wall of Baltimore’s Sonar Club. This show holds the record for the smallest show outside of a bar-band that I’ve seen – but it was also one of the loudest, and loaded with energy. I’m pretty sure that The Dirtbombs only played for over an hour, but their short energized blast made it seem like they were playing for 3 hours. After the show my friend spilled his beer all over singer Mick Collins while trying to get a poster signed. A fitting way to end an awesome night.
19. Eddie Vedder (June 2009, The Lyric Opera House – Baltimore MD)
Normally you think of Eddie Vedder as a very serious dude, but at this solo show he was surprisingly funny cracking jokes and telling stories. The Lyrics is actually the complete opposite of Sonar – I sat in velvet cushioned seats! It was great to see one of rock’s modern legends in such a small place. Despite an aborted attempt at the looped vocal chant of “Arc”, Vedder put out on a show that was both loose and tight at the same time. Most of the material stemmed from the Into The Wild soundtrack, but he also threw in some Pearl Jam songs such as “Porch” and a pretty reverent cover of Springsteen’s “Atlantic City”.
18.. The Recipe – March 2005, 8X10 – Baltimore MD
Normally, I don’t particularly like the type of music that The Recipe specialize in which is jamming. But, unlike say The Grateful Dead, and Phish this band is fun. This is a show that I don’t remember much of actually, but this is one of those bands that I’ll always remember seeing because like the Dirtbombs, it was so much damn fun. My friend and I debated who would be fun to hang out with after the show – the cute fiddle player, or the old dude playing the banjo dubbed “Uncle Eddie”. I said Uncle Eddie, because he probably had the best collection of music in the band.
17. They Might Be Giants – June 1994- Wolftrap, Virginia
This gets an automatic inclusion just for the fact that this was my first concert. They Might Be Giants were one of those groups that I grew up by way of my older siblings. Sure, they’re silly but they’re kind of like The Ramones who were smarter than they actually let on. I went to the show with my three older brothers, and while I’m not sure if I would enjoy it on the same level, back then it was one of the highlights of my youth.
16. Lou Reed – April 2008, The National – Richmond Virginia
(This is from the actual show I went to.)
With Lou Reed you kind of have to look past the fact that he can be a bit surly, and just appreciate the music. This show was a case in point. Reed, has nothing left to prove anymore, so it was enjoyable just to see the man play. While there plenty of expected moments (distortion and feedback, some biting dialogue – particularly about “I’m Sticking With You”) there were also plenty of surprises including an energetic version of “Sweet Jane”, and a slow-burning take on “Ecstasy”.