I went to a lot of shows in 2014. The most I’ve ever done in a year. It works out to 1 concert every 4.3 days for 365 days straight. Taking last year into consideration, over a 2 year span, I have attended a show every 5 days for 2 years. It’s total insanity. I don’t get into these for free, I am not paid to be there, I am not working for a website or a magazine to report on or review shows. The last two years have been the high watermark for my personal concert attending. It will not continue this way, simply because it can’t. I am burnt out beyond belief. Time for a break.
With all this in mind, since I am out there very often, I feel I am obligated to share what I felt were the best concerts I attended. It’s tough to do, there are many factors involved in what makes a great show, but here we go, in no particular order.
- Connan Mockasin @ Electric Owl:
This show at the Electric Owl had it all. A great atmosphere, fantastic opening band, and a headlining set where you felt that magic where anything could happen
Kirin J Callinan started the night with a captivating, passionate performance with his brand of music that fits in many genres. His shirtless, oddball appearance won you over once his personality shone through in his undeniably talent laden music. He set the tone for the evening, taking people by surprise, leaving us wondering how can Mockasin top this?
Speaking of oddball, Connan Mockasin was in town to support Caramel, his latest offering. It is an excellent collection of slow, psychedelic oozy funk, even if a little too experimental at times. Once the music started, the vibe was contagious. He was seducing us little by little. The sexuality was palpable, peaking with at least a dozen and half audience members tearing their clothes of on stage. Girls in bras, shirtless guys, most band members of the opening band and Connan’s, half naked all girating and swaying to trippy tunes, while a disco ball twirled. It was spectacle and the music was out of this world.
- Kraftwerk @ QET:
As a fan of electronic music and its roots, I had to be at this show. I am also a huge fan of old school hiphop. Afrika Bambataa has stated many times the importance of early electro and spun many a Kraftwerk tunes in his early pioneering DJ sets.
The show was an absolute feast for the ears and eyes. It was presented in 3D at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. The four members of the group barely moved all night, never wavering from their stance in front of their keyboards/synths. But what came out of that equipment, combined with the stunning visual presentation perfectly synced together, was unreal. This concert was a true epic in every sense of the word. Perfection.
- Gord Downie and the Sadies @ Media Club:
As a fan of the Tragically Hip and the Sadies, to see this combination in one of the smallest venues in the city was a real treat. It was a sold out show and I almost didn’t get in. But I did, and thank god. The Sadies are an incredibly, unbelievably tight, underrated band. Their speedy brand of country tinged tunes always leaves an impression. Now put Gord Downie, with all his passion and stage antics in front of them on a stage where he can reach up and touch the ceiling in front of a small faithful. It was magic and it got hot. They tore through song after song from their first ever collaboration LP. They finished the set with a blistering version of an Iggy and The Stooges classic “I Got a Right”. An incredible ending to a rare intimate night of rock n’ roll up close and personal with Gord.
- Purling Hiss @ Blacklodge:
Heavy, intense, loud. We attended this one in a DIY underground art space in Seattle recently. I love this band, and to see the guitar wizardry in this atmosphere was really something. From start to finish, this set was as raw as it comes. Crushing riffs, completely off the charts feedback and whammy magic, a drummer that would not quit, all highlights of this thing. I’ve never seen guitar strings bend so violently without breaking. The dark, grimy vibe of the venue perfectly complemented the drum kit destruction, while the only thing you could hear when the ear piercing feeback had waned, were people expressing their disbelief of what they had just witnessed. There is something to be said for being able to instantly show your appreciation for a set, by simply putting your hand in the air and getting a high five from the band because you were a foot away the entire time. One to remember.
- PsychFest @ Redgate:
This was a local event, showcasing psych bands from the Vancouver area. It was the inaugural year, and let me tell you, the promoters Art Signified, have set the bar mighty high for themselves for next year. The scope of this show was gigantic: 13+ hours, two stages, countless amazing bands, gnomes, bubbles, naked girls, the trippiest of visuals and the people. This was the single greatest gathering of like minded, nice, friendly people I have ever been to a show with. I had so many fantastic conversations. The greatest vibe at a party possibly ever. The setup was genius. As one band finished their last song, they droned out and the next band on the second stage started to drone in. This went on for hours. I only stayed for the first 8 hours of the party, and from what I witnessed in that time, I can only imagine what happened in the wee hours. I think the headliners hit the stage well beyond 3am. It was quite the unique experience.
- Pearl Jam in Memphis @ FedEx Forum:
They never disappoint. There were quite a few songs in this setlist I didn’t dream I would be seeing at my one off Pearl Jam show for the year. So it was a nice surprise to get some gems thrown into the evening. Case in point: It was the first time I got to see Nothing As It Seems live in nearly a decade.
Paul McCartney in Nashville @ Bridgestone Arena:
72 year old Beatle plays a career spanning 39 song, 2 hour 45 minute set. When those early Beatles songs start, there is nothing like that in live music anywhere else.