In considering potential guest post topics for A Multitude of Drops, I sought a subject that would meet three qualifications that I feel are important:
1. It must match and make sense in the context of Cory’s previous blog topics
2. It must be an expression of something that I care about and blog about
3. It must somehow reflect my friendship with Cory
In light of these requirements, I have chosen to create a list of my favorite concert experiences. This matches the content of A Multitude of Drops in both its subject (pop culture/entertainment) and its form (a list). Music is a big part of my life and I love attending concerts, so it meets my second qualification; and Cory and I (along with our friend Dut) have rocked out at many concerts together, so the third requirement is also fulfilled.
Now to the list:
5. Over the Rhine at Moonlite Gardens at Coney Island, on August 31, 2007
This is the concert from longest ago that made my list. This was the very first time I saw Over the Rhine in concert. I’ve now seen them live five times and own about 20 of their albums. They will eternally be one of my favorite bands. Even better live than in their recordings, Karin’s voice smolders and Linford’s piano shimmers. They generally play intimate venues and their shows are unfailingly satisfying. This particular show is doubly connected to Cory, as he is the one who first introduced me to Over the Rhine’s music and he also attended this concert with me. The venue was great and we sat under a summer night sky of twinkling stars listening to Karin croon our favorite tunes from The Trumpet Child.
4. The Decemberists at the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, Rhode Island, on July 30, 2011
Every act that I saw at the Newport Folk Festival last year was stellar. I really mean that: I enjoyed every band I heard that weekend. The whole vibe of the festival was awesome. The setting was beautiful, the crowd was a mix of the hip young and the still-hip middle-aged, the mood was laid back and friendly. I would recommend this festival to anyone and everyone. Over the two days of the festival, a couple of the concerts to me stood out as really exceptional. One will be featured later in the list, but first I must mention The Decemberists. Prior to this concert, I was a Decemberists skeptic. Don’t ask me to explain why. Lots of cool people in my life had commended them to me at one point or another, but – for some reason – the little bit of their music that I had sampled had just not convinced me of their merits. Well. Skeptic no more. Colin Meloy was witty and engaging; their musicianship was impressive and original; they created a feeling of friendship and collaboration on stage that extended to everyone in the crowd. It was a fantastic concert. Cory was also with me for this one.
3. Arcade Fire (with The National) at the Pepsi Coliseum in Indianapolis, Indiana, on April 27, 2011
Originally, this concert was scheduled to take place on the Lawn at White River State Park, but was rained out and moved to the Pepsi Coliseum. As the Lawn is a cool place to see a concert, I was a little bummed about the change; however, by some beautiful stroke of luck, I ended up dead center, about three people back from the stage – which would never have happened on the Lawn. And let me just tell you – this concert blew me away. Arcade Fire is a FORCE of music. Somehow, they manage to balance and meld the many band members and layers of instrumentation into one cohesive, deep and beautiful wave of music. It was an overwhelmingly good visual and auditory experience. Absolutely fantastic.
2. Amos Lee at the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, Rhode Island, on July 31, 2011
We’ve come to the second of two concerts that I attended while at the Newport Folk Festival last summer. If you’ve ever read my blog, it’s likely that you’ve picked up on the fact that I am a big fan of Amos Lee. My musical sweet spot is where folk, soul, and blues meet, and there is no artist I know who embodies that intersection better than Amos Lee. I love his soulful voice and his earthy instrumentation. I had been looking for an opportunity to see him perform live for awhile, and his presence on the NFF artist list last year sealed my decision to attend. He performed in the afternoon on the main stage during the second day of the festival, and it was the highlight of the whole weekend for me. I spent the hour riding on the sweet swell of the melodies that I know so well. I also SWEAR that we made eye contact several times. Cory attended a little more than half of this show with me before scampering off to see another band.
1. The Head and the Heart at Headliners in Louisville, Kentucky, on March 6, 2012
This was the perfect storm of concert conditions. The venue was big enough to get lost in the crowd, but small enough to feel personal; the show was sold out with fans who knew all the lyrics to all the songs; the band was generous and charismatic and the crowd loved them for it. Sometimes bands play with a freshness that demonstrates a simple joy at playing music together. This is how it felt watching The Head and the Heart. Nothing was stale or routine or dishonest. They seemed to genuinely love playing music together and playing it for us. I don’t know that I’ve ever been part of a more loyal and enthusiastic crowd either – it was clear that these people didn’t just stop by because there happened to be a concert going on: these were fans. They played a great mix of new songs and old favorites, and I left with a great desire hear their new album and see them in concert again soon. Cory took in this concert with me too…man we really DO go to a lot of concerts together.
And there it is! A lot of great shows almost made this list, but these are my official top five. What’s the best show you’ve ever seen?