During 2011 we were treated to quite a few stellar shows. The typical blockbuster tour, of the past, was almost non-existant, instead the year was a barrage of high intensity performances. The further the music industry moves away from the album-pays-my-way days, and moves more towards an existence derived by performances, the better all the shows seem to get. Back in the day a band could sit back on an album. When they decided to go on tour, people were just grateful to see them. Now a days, a band has to tour to support themselves. This means that you see more of each band, and that each band has to fight harder for your attention. All this industry rivalry is adding up to shows that will blow your mind.
Over the past twelve months we had a ton of amazing events. Here are my top ten for the year:
- The Black Keys with Cage The Elephant – Deer Lake Park
- My Morning Jacket – Orpheum Theatre
- Soundgarden with Queens of the Stone Age – Rogers Arena
- OFWGKTA (Odd Future) – The Vogue Theatre
- Foo Fighters withe Cage The Elephant – Rogers Arena
- Tapes ‘n Tapes with Chain Gang of 1974 – Biltmore Cabaret
- The John Butler Trio – Live at Squamish
- Ween – Queen Elizabeth Theatre
- Band Of Horses – Commodore Ballroom
- The Headstones – Commodore Ballroom
Now, looking at that list it is easy to see why most of them made it. There are some big names tere. Let me break down each show a bit and give some explanation of why they made the cut. We will start from the bottom and work our way up.
The Headstones were the last show I saw for 2011. They brought a truly powerful show and delivered it with a genuine love for music. The sense of nostalgia that brought me there was quickly over powered by the work ethic and dedication this high impact group brought to the stage.
Band Of Horses were near perfection. They had the entire room eating out of the palm of their hand the entire night. There delivery and connection with the crowd are second to none. I found myself lost in the music for a good portion of the night. Anyone in attendance will tell you this show was beautiful.
Ween made the list simply because they were a train wreck. Watching the lead singer slip into oblivion before my very eyes, made this a unique show to say the least. To their credit the majority of songs they played were superbly performed, it was just the last half of the show when Gene Ween suffered a momentary mental lapse that really made it memorable.
The John Butler Trio is a band I actually knew nothing about. When I got to Live At Squamish they had little to no buzz about them and frankly I nearly took off a little early just to beat traffic, which would have meant missing their set. I am so glad I didn’t do that. JBT came out and delved into an eclectic set of roots rock that left the entire group of festival goers blown away. Over the next week anyone I talked to thought their performance that night was one of the most special things they had ever seen. The biggest mention of their presentation was the nearly twelve-minute slide guitar solo. All I can say is WOW!
Tapes ‘n Tapes is a lesser known group, but they should not go unnoticed. This foursome from Minneapolis, blew the roof from the Biltmore Cabaret. They spent a good part of the night grinning from ear to ear. It was almost like they enjoyed performing as much as the crowd enjoyed watching. Having a group in such good spirits, deliver such a special brand of indie rock, really sticks in your mind.
Foo Fighters played for three hours at Rogers Arena, enough said. Moments before that Cage The Elephant spent 45 minutes stirring up the audience by sending their lead singer, Matthew Shultz, continuously swan diving head first off the stage. The combination of these two bands, is enough to leave an intense impression. But the biggest memory I have is the scar I got on my arm when Matthew Shultz landed partly on me. These are the memories worth saving.
Odd Future lived up to their hype. They tore The Vogue Theatre apart. I have never seen a crowd more ramped up in my life. It was one of those things you will never forget. This group will be huge in the coming years. They ran that stage with a level of ferocity you rarely see these days. These guys, and gal, are the real deal.
Soundgarden got back together and went on tour. They stopped in Vancouver. They played an insane set, that left the hairs on my arms sticking upwards. Not to mention that Queens of the Stone Age opened for them and Josh Homme killed his vocal part with such emotional delivery that I was wide-mouthed in awe for the entire set. And to top all of that off The Meat Puppets, started the night out by bringing a nostalgic air to the arena, that had people singing along after the 3rd song. That is a pretty great setup for a show, wouldn’t you say.
My Morning Jacket is a band that I only recently started to enjoy. When I saw Jim James, lead singer, power through the set, with both a hungry animatistic passion that grabs your attention and a soft delicate emotional contribution that can spellbind an audience, I was done for. By the end of the night I was in love with this band. I immediately went home and bought more of their music. This band is nothing short of perfection.
The Black Keys are a band that has eluded me for several years. Every time they are scheduled to play Vancouver I am simply not here. I was finally able to witness them over the summer at Deer Lake Park. Opening the night was my favorite up and comers, Cage The Elephant. It was a match up that left me drooling. Cage The Elephant came out with their high intensity stage show and got the crowd rallied up into a frenzy. Then the sun started to set and out came Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney. For the next 90 minutes we were treated to some of the best live music I have ever heard. By the end of the night I simply laid on the grass, and reveled in what I had just experienced.
Well there she be, a complete run down of my favorite shows from 2011. It was a relatively slow year for me, I was only able to attend 45 shows over 12 months. I promise next year to buckle down and try a bit harder. Now let us start planning our 2012 concert season.