A Slice of Fried Gold

Concerts are my favorite things

Monday, April 14, 2008

So, as I said in the title, concerts are pretty much my favorite things. I'm a huge fan of music as it is a big part of most every aspect of my life. I never write without it, never work without it, and the majority of my free time activities involve it - yet I can't play a note on nearly anything? Odd. Growing up in Alaska though, I never had a lot of opportunity to see a lot of shows. The first show I ever went to was MC Hammer (with Boyz 2 Men opening, the 6 year old in you fellow 23/24 olds just dropped their jaws in envy - don't deny it), and the majority of other events I went to rarely expanded outside of shows my parents saw such as Reba McEntire or Neil Diamond (with the latter being one of the best performers I've ever seen).

In one of my last years in Anchorage before I went to school, I caught the Offspring with Millencolin opening, and I was instantly hooked. I LOVED the concert experience. It was so invigorating, and I was enraptured with hearing a favorite band playing all of their songs, and I had discovered a new band to follow by seeing their opener. It was an eye opener and a half, and soon after moving to college I quickly started seeing shows.

Starting with the unparalleled genius of Andrew WK at a small club in Spokane, Washington, I managed to see 140+ bands after that show in October/November of 2002 until now. Not a crazy amount for many, but for a kid that grew up in Anchorage, Alaska and went to school at the University of Idaho, it was plenty. Bands seen ranged from musical giants like Radiohead and the Wu Tang Clan, to bands that took giant leaps over the time period such as Death Cab for Cutie and the Shins, to emo/punk/screamo stars early in their career like My Chemical Romance and Taking Back Sunday, to the stars of festivals such as Bumbershoot in Seattle and the Warped Tour at the Gorge (for a full list of bands I've seen, see here)

As I changed, my concert going habits changed, going from "always up front" to my current state of "up front for pictures, but then I'm outta there," and I went from going to shows with big groups of friends to quite often flying solo. It didn't matter. I loved it all.

The point is, I'm not done yet. Just because I'm in Anchorage again does not mean my aspirations to see great live music has changed. With the current slate of upcoming music in Anchorage, it hardly has to. However, there are many bands that I really, really would like to see at some point, which is the point of this exercise.

Below, I have a breakdown of the top 10 bands I'd like to see, with a little snippet of why I want to see them more than the rest. They're of course revealed Rick Dees style, from 10 to 1.

10. Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens is a pretty unique artist. He for the most part records all of his albums by himself, but due to the orchestral nature of the albums and the rather large sound he creates, it is obviously impossible for him to perform them live. Without help, that is. The man is simply one of the best artists making music today, and even though I know it'd be tough for his traveling band to recreate his extremely complex sound, I still would love to see him live, if only to see the cheerleader bits and dance sequences in between songs, as he and his bands often perform at his shows.

See above to watch Sufjan perform his track "Casmir Pulaski Day" off Illinois.

9. Incubus (But only before they released Light Grenades and A Crow Left of the Murder)

Incubus is a very perplexing band to me. S.C.I.E.N.C.E. is one of my all time favorite albums, and with two of their albums (Make Yourself and Morning View) they have one of my favorite three album samples of any band. Yet I cannot stand their two most recent ones or their debut. So Incubus places on my list, with one caveat: they only play music off those three that I love. Very unlikely I'm sure, but at the very least it'd be worth it to see them once and chance that they're feeling saucy that evening.

See above for them performing their track "Vitamin" off of S.C.I.E.N.C.E.

8. Beastie Boys

These guys were my favorite band for quite some time, and they still are one of my all time favorites. They've fallen off in my book over the last couple albums, but I love brushing off my Sounds of Science greatest hits album every once in a while and just throwing down 50 straight Beasties tracks. I missed an opportunity to see them (TWICE) last year at Sasquatch, and I'm sure it would have been a blast, but it wasn't meant to be - yet. The reason they are this low considering my love for them is frankly, rap translates poorly live. It's not who they are, it's what they perform.

See above for the Beasties performing "Ch-Check It Out" off recent album To the 5 Boroughs on David Letterman.

7. Anathallo

Based off sheer volume of performers, Anathallo should win with seven total members cramming on stage. This band made my favorite album of 2006 and one of my favorite albums ever with Floating World. They're not very well known, but those who know them love them and those who've seen them live rave about them, as they are very interactive and a ton of fun to see live. Never had the opportunity to see them, but I cross my fingers every day that they'll be added to Sasquatch.

See above for the band performing "Dokkoise House" from Floating World.

6. Eels

Eels are a "band" that only features one permanent member: Mark Oliver Everett, also known as "E." This band has been one of my favorites for a long time, as they've released only good albums throughout the history of this band. They never stick with one simple style, and they always challenge themselves to try something new. I've heard mixed things about them live, but I love them enough that I simply have to see them at least once. Plus, anyone who has an original piece of art from Y the Last Man in his bathroom is cool in my book (E does).

See above for them performing "In the Yard, Behind the Church."

5. the Strokes

The Strokes are unusual band. They're one of the biggest "hype" bands of the 00's, but they've managed to continuously expand their sound throughout their career, growing more polished and arguably improving with every new release. Even though due to familiarity, classic debut Is this It maintains its status as my favorite, I love all three albums whole heartedly. For this reason, and for the fact that I think there would be a decent chance lead singer Julian Casablancas may fall asleep on stage, they are number five with a bullet.

See above to see the band perform "Reptilia" off album Room on Fire.

4. The Flaming Lips

This band is supposed to be about as much fun as any band around live, and you know what? I'm seeing them in May, closing out the Sasquatch festival in massive amounts of style with their special U.F.O. show. I cannot wait!

This band is one of the strangest around, and assuredly their live show will match. The good news is, their live show is a spectacle and they are supposed to sound perfect, so what more could you ask for out of a performance?

See above for them performing "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots."

3. Rage Against the Machine

The band that put on one of the greatest shows I've ever seen (on DVD, I'm a cheater) is back together, and I would absolutely love to see them live before they break up again (as they assuredly will). This band is one of the tightest groups live, and their sound and energy are hard for anyone else in the world to match. I'm envious of anyone who has seen them.

See above for them performing "Testify" at Coachella 2007.

2. Sigur Ros

Ironically enough, the first place I ever saw or heard of this band was live, with the Icelandic band performing track "Svefn-g-englar" live on HBO's old concert series Reverb. As I watched the lead singer sing and play his guitar with a violin bow, I knew immediately that this was the most beautiful music I had (or maybe ever would) hear. They are really 1b, but someone had to finish second and the first band could not be overtaken.

See above for the band performing "Hoppipolla" off album Takk....

1. Muse

Maybe the most powerful rock band in the world today, Muse makes some of the most epic and driving and hauntingly beautiful songs you will likely ever hear. The mere fact that they do it with just three members is even more incredible, and lead singer Matthew Bellamy may be the single most talented frontman of any band around today. All four of their albums are pretty much genius, but it was Absolution that really made me stand up and take notice. Interestingly enough, they just released a live album titled H.A.A.R.P.and the votes are in - it's one of the best live album/DVD combos out there. Color me not shocked in anyway.

See above for the band performing "Blackout" from Absolution.


Patty said...

Ditto to some of them.

Erik said...

Recently I feel as thought I have been able to listen to an insane amount of music because work is a very music friendly environment. We have ipods blasting all 8 hours a day and everyone seems to bring great music to the table. I feel as though I am able to appreciate music more and more every day with my collection growing exponentially. I don't know why it took me so long to get around to them, but Pink Floyd now holds the title of my favorite band. I just watched their live DVD "Pulse" from 1994 without Roger Waters, but it was unbelievable and makes me regret that I will never be able to see that show live myself.

This also makes me very glad that we get to experience Sasquatch together! I am so excited!

Erik said...

Stupid system not letting me edit thought to though.

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