Quantization’s Best Concerts Of 2011
Over the past year, I’ve been lucky enough to sneak out and see some really incredible shows. While it may have cut into my “album-buying” budget, all of the concerts impressed me in one way or another…or in some cases…absolutely floored me. So what concerts were good, great, jaw-dropping? What concerts should you put on your list to check out in 2012? Let’s find out…
**Click links for a more detailed revue of the concert**
PBR, alt. country punk rock, and chick fights…how can you not have a good time?! Seeing Lucero has become an annual tradition, and like visiting your family every Christmas, it’s a dysfunctional fun. The music is a hard, whiskey drinking, shit-kicking good time…but it also leads to real life whiskey drinking and shit-kicking. While it appears last on my list, mainly due to it being the third time I’ve seen them, they are always worth seeing. I can’t wait to see them again next year.
The Pomegranates would grab me with a song, and then switch gears mid-song. Maybe I was in a bad mood…but pieces were good, they just didn’t fit together in some cases. It was good but frustrating at the same time.
Ra Ra Riot took the stage and where the Pomegranates seemed disjointed, Ra Ra Riot displayed cohesion. They picked up the pieces, and got the place rocking. If there is one thing Ra Ra Riot does best, it’s indie poppy goodness…a fun band to catch, but in the end…it wasn’t for me. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just where my taste diverges.
Two local bands lead off the night. First up was Half Gay, a local electronic art band which had artists up on stage doing paper mâché monster headdresses while their fuzzy beats blared in the foreground. Heavenly. The second band was a duo called Neé. The impressive thing about Née was their lead singer, she had a voice…a powerful yet fragile voice. They’re songs were poppy and they cracked a few jokes during the set…they had fun.
Cold Cave, the darkwave band out of Philadelphia came out and just blew the goddamn doors off the venue. For some reason they remind me of Depeche Mode and New Order…but harder and darker. Maybe it’s the dark set, dark leather jackets, and synths…but they definitely have that vibe in my book…but it’s a harder vibe. Just a wonderful experience, but the show was short. Too short…7 songs…but awesome nonetheless.
I very much enjoy Fleet Foxes and their harmonies. Their harmonies just whisk me away to a blissful place where no harm can be done…except by the odd crowd standing around me at The Pageant on Tuesday the 19th of July. The crowd totally ruined this concert for me. My anticipation for this show was at an all-time high, and the crowd just ruined it for me. From my view, I thought most of the crowd was there to be seen, rather that listen to the music…oh and a fight broke out near the bar. I don’t know how that is possible at a Fleet Foxes concert. And while the crowd was annoying, the sweet harmonies of Fleet Foxes was able to overpower even the loudest dickwhistles…It was just a disappointing experience. Fleet Foxes (9.0/10)…The Crowd (5.0/10)…Average (7.0/10)…sigh.
Tamaryn was quite impressive and I need to explore that vein deeper. What an incredible voice…echos of Mazzy Star…and the guitarist’s haircut reminded me of Robert Smith.
The Raveonettes did not disappoint. The Firebird turned into a hot sweaty mess, but they really can’t be held at fault. They can only do so much. The Raveonettes put on a great show…focused a lot on their newer album, which was fine, and dropped some older classics in as well.
The lead singer and bassist, Dave Monks, was sick…actually sick. And he reminded everyone of it a few times…not out of pity…just apologetic. I can appreciate that, but he didn’t need to apologize…they sounded great.
They played familiar songs across all of their albums such as “Breakneck Speed” (my favorite), “Bambi“, “Nature of the Experiment“, and probably their biggest hit “Tessellate“, among others. Somehow, the crowd gave Monks the ability to push through for about an hour before their set ended. They did come back for an encore with the members of Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin to finish off the night with a great rendition of “Cheer It On“. Whatever energy Monks had left was exhausted during that song…he looked beat…but in the end it sounded great.
Great show, great crowd, good performance…even if the conditions weren’t ideal. I’d look forward to seeing Tokyo Police Club again with a healthier Dave Monks.
Austra took the stage and was pretty incredible. They really can get the crowd moving…gyrating…swaying. It helps that the band has three very attractive female members, all with gorgeous voices. Well they definitely turned my head and when they played “Beat And The Pulse“…well…I just smiled. No matter how short Cold Cave’s set was going to be, I got my money’s worth seeing Austra.
Cold Cave came on next and just blew the roof off. Fast, Loud, Noisy and just giving you everything they have…but once again had to cut their set short due to instrument malfunction. They did get in more than 7 songs this time. I think I counted 9 or 10. I did get the opportunity to talk to the band after the show, and their equipment did malfunction…or so they said. I asked them about their set length. They agreed that it was a short set, but they usually play for about 45-50 minutes. Not a big deal, I found that pretty common when reading some of their reviews from other cities. It’s a great show, short…but powerful.
My overall impression of this show is mixed. The first 30 minutes seemed rushed and fast-paced. That’s not a bad thing if you’re The Ramones, but it worried me that I wouldn’t get enough bang for my buck from Interpol. Even drunk, I was worried about the pace….weird, I know. Around “Barricade”, things started to settle in, and a nice groove was set. The rest of the show built you up, with old and new songs, to the amazing encore which was worth the price of admission ($25). Hearing “Untitled” and “The New” live was mind blowing. Such great songs off an amazing album. Banks’ powerful voice reached out, grabbed your ear, and didn’t let go until “Not Even Jail” was rammed down your throat. It was a solid set, overall, that clocked in around 90 minutes including the encore.
Interpol opened up for U2 on a hot and humid day in July. They put forth a valiant effort to entertain a crowd that wasn’t there to see them (even though they are incredible). I enjoyed Interpol more when I saw them at The Pageant a few months earlier. Still, they sounded great, and played all of their most notable hits. I think 90% of their music was lost on the crowd, but I appreciated it.
U2 is well, U2. It’s a grand production that worth seeing. First, the stage…it was if a huge claw-like monstrosity landed in center field from outer space. Enormous is an understatement, and it had a huge disco ball on top, that when lit, shot beams of light all over St. Louis. It was the best eye candy I’ve seen at a concert ever.
Second, the setlist…drawing mostly from the 90′s, they played a lot of songs off of Achtung Baby…“The Fly”, “Mysterious Ways”, “Until the End of the World”, “Even Better Than the Real Thing”, and “One”. They also hit some of their later songs like “Vertigo”, “Elevation”, and “Beautiful Day”. They didn’t forget to add some oldies as well, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, and my personal favorite “Where The Streets Have No Name”. In between those songs they sprinkled in a few other songs that I can’t recall (it all runs together) but they ended up playing for 2+ hours.
I’ll slide this concert into my Top Concerts at #20
This is the concert I’ve been waiting for in St. Louis for quite some time: Arcade Fire & The National…together.
I’ve seen The National twice now, and both times I’ve been mesmerized. Matt Berninger has a voice that dispenses moonlight on a dark night. Their set list spanned all of their albums, and they seemed to hit all of my favorites. Berninger once again pulled off his “I’m going to walk through the crowd on top of the seats all over this venue while singing ‘Mr. November’”…and it never gets old. It was impressive that the microphone cord stretched that long, it had to be about 150 feet long.
Needless to say, I was excited to see Arcade Fire live. I was not disappointed. While I enjoy most of their slower songs, they kept the night uptempo and energetic. I was pleasantly surprised to be treated to so many songs off of Funeral and Neon Bible. Seriously. Out of the 17 songs they played, 9 of them were from their previous albums. That’s impressive considering The Suburbs was 16 songs of awesome.
This concert cracked into my Top Concerts at #10
I really didn’t know how Bon Iver would translate to a larger venue, but he surprised me with a twist. A mini-orchestra…nine pieces, to be exact, to help amplify his softness…into a brilliant, and sometimes chaotic, version of himself.
Many people wouldn’t care for such a transformation, but I ate it up. Bon Iver seemed to transform from a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly set on fire. It was amazing, to say the least…but what struck me the most was how beautiful and gripping his songs still were.
It made me appreciate the artist instead of the musician.
He may be 84 years old, but he can still play the guitar better than I ever will. I’ve lived in St. Louis for almost my entire life, and Chuck Berry has been playing once a month at Blueberry Hill as long as I can remember…and it’s just now that I got the chance to see him. I felt humbled to witness such Rock n’ Roll royalty.
Chuck played the oldies but goodies: “Johnny B. Goode”, “Roll Over Beethoven”, and “No Particular Place To Go” among others.
This concert cracked into my Top Concerts at #5
Have you ever seen a band that opened up their heart and gave everything they had to the crowd, only to have the crowd open up and give it all back, which then made them give even more? I have and it was at the Handsome Furs concert. When Boeckner took the stage, I got pretty excited. Both he and his wife Alexei seemed to be in really good spirits…and they were.
The amount of dancing that Alexei did that night left her breathless on the stage a number of times It may have been more for dramatic effect…but hell, I would have fallen down a number of times to rest too. They exploded through their synth pop set, but paused a number of times to discuss how awesome a night they were having, and how grateful they were to everyone coming out to the show. It was pure happiness leaving their bodies…I don’t think I’ve ever seen that happen from a band at a concert.
It was one of those shows where you wished you could just thank the band personally.
Quite simply, it was my favorite concert of 2011.
What a fun year 2011 was! Great bands, great friends, great shows!
There are some bands on here that will be included on my Top Concerts list (Bon Iver, Handsome Furs), but I haven’t had time to rack them and stack them like the others. I’ll make sure to do that in the next couple of weeks. In fact, I’m going to revamp that page/post and try to rank all of the concerts I’ve ever seen (or can remember).
Next year looks to be a promising concert going year with Radiohead and M83 on my list. So stay tuned…and if you’re in town, maybe we can catch a show together.
Thanks for reading and listening with me in 2011.
Posted on December 30, 2011, in Concert Reviews, Music and tagged Arcade Fire, Austra, Bon Iver, Busch Stadium, Chuck Berry, Cold Cave, Fleet Foxes, Handsome Furs, Interpol, Lucero, Off Broadway, Ra Ra Riot, Scottrade Center, Tamaryn, The Firebird, The Luminary Center for the Arts, The National, The Pageant, The Raveonettes, Tokyo Police Club, U2. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.