New Years is over...No excuses.

So, I took a bit of a break at the end of December. It was my birthday, then I got sick, then it was Christmas, then I got sick, then it was New Years, then I had to go back to work. So, lots of easy excuses. Well, no more. For my first post in 2013, I want to take the time to do something I meant to do at the end of the last year, but late is better than never! As some of you may know, I went to 100 concerts last year. Approximately 2 a week. It was intense, awesome, exhausting at times, and really, really fun. I saw some bands twice, or three times, and some bands that I barely knew until I saw them live. I saw big concerts, little concerts, festivals (Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza), and introduced some of my friends to some really cool live bands. Since I did this, I wanted to spend a bit of time and a blog post to comment on my favorite concerts of last year, and hopefully encourage you to see some of these folks live in 2013.

 

(The videos below are most likely not from the actual show I attended. Sorry!)

 

1. Noah Gundersen - 11/6/12 (SPACE in Evanston)

Seeing Noah Gundersen on election night, in this intimate, wonderful venue was an unforgettable experience. Noah, and his sister Abby, who I rave about every chance I get, kept an entire audience of people with election night jitters totally silent and unmistakably moved for well over an hour. His stage presence is phenomenal, and I'm so glad I had a chance to experience this one.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3txd7MUfZVo&w=640&h=360]

 

2. The Head and the Heart - 3/8/12 (The Vic)

The Head and the Heart are one of my favorite bands, and certainly one of my favorite live bands. They have an impeccable knack for getting me dancing, while feeling absolutely all of the feelings I could possibly feel. I saw them three times this year, and this show was probably my favorite. Drew Grow and the Pastors' Wives blew me away with their opening set, and The Head and the Heart followed it up with a set with a lot of new songs I hadn't heard, and wonderful renditions of those I had heard countless times. The video below is from their Lollapalooza set, which I was also at and was also incredible. Go see them live. As many times as you can.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YL3LoTsMHk&w=640&h=360]

 

3. Hey Rosetta! - 6/7/12 (Bonnaroo)

We left Alabama Shakes' Thursday night headlining set at Bonnaroo because the energy wasn't there and the sound was awful. In doing this, we happened to stumble upon Hey Rosetta! playing a 1 am set at a tiny stage in the middle of the woods, well outside of the actual Bonnaroo stage area. They played till almost 3 am, covering most of their material, and providing an unbelievable, unforgettable end to what had already been an incredible day. Their ability to write catchy rock music with astounding musical and lyrical twists and turns just makes for such an awesome set.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nv0udRjXqFs&w=640&h=360]

 

4. Daughter - 10/25/12 (Schubas)

Elena Tonra, who performs with her band under the moniker 'Daughter', has an eery, expansive folk sound that is inescapably beautiful live. Her show at Schubas came right on the heels of them getting in a car accident that day, and even though they were visibly shaken up, they managed to encompass the entire crowd with their enthralling sound. Really a beautiful show, and one I'm so glad I was at. I expect them to get bigger and bigger, and they really are meant to be seen in that size venue (200 or so).

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55XNinX7HhU&w=640&h=360]

 

5. Bowerbirds - 11/12/12 (SPACE)

The first time I saw Bowerbirds was in a slightly larger venue, and it had left me feeling a bit unsettled. Seeing them at SPACE was perfect, and I got to spend a lot of time just letting the music of a band I've loved for 4 years or so wash over me. We also got to spend some time with them before and after the show, and Phil and Beth really are some of the sweetest, most interesting people I've ever met. They played a gorgeous set, and I truly am grateful I had a chance to see them in this space (no pun intended).

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5WxpLngaDo&w=640&h=360]

 

6. The Lumineers with Kopecky Family Band - 4/13/12 (SPACE)

This show was exceptional if for no other reason than the fact that The Lumineers had already clearly blown up well beyond the size of SPACE, and it felt like a tremendous privilege to be there. Not to mention, Kopecky Family Band put on an incredible set as well, and are some of the coolest artists I've met. This show was unbridled energy, explosions of feelings, and a hell of a good time. When The Lumineers closed their encore with a cover of Talking Heads 'This Must be the Place (Naive Melody', the entire audience felt like it was crying and jumping for joy at the same time. What a show. (Posting a link for this video, because the embed code is breaking everything. Sorry.)

http://www.vh1.com/video/misc/815709/naive-melody-you-oughta-know-live.jhtml#id=1689765

 

Those were really the ones that blew me away in 2012, and I can't wait for 100 more in 2013! (Also, a new mix should be on the horizon in the next 2 weeks or so!)

 

Happy new year y'all!

Live Sessions (They're Great!)

As I was bouncing frenetically  around the internet yesterday, scouring the dark corners for things that would perk me up in the middle of the week, I realized how many of my favorite representations of artists I love online came from certain "session style" recordings, generally done by various groups who film, with exceptional production values, random (and frequently acoustic) sessions of great bands. I wanted to take today to highlight some of my favorite people doing this right now, in hopes that you might unearth the massive amount of awesome that exists in their troves of footage. So:  

Hear Ya! Sessions - Filmed in Chicago, these guys grab bands who are playing shows in the area, and have them record one or two songs in their studio. Here are two gems from Hey Rosetta! and First Aid Kit:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qH8qJFPsL6o&w=640&h=360]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Grkt4R8u3yI&w=640&h=360]

Show Me Shows - A monthly release from St. Louis. All of their videos are great. Here's one of my absolute favorites, The Head and the Heart performing 'Virginia':

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7rPbzBP8NY&w=640&h=360]

The Sight of Sounds - These are just amazing. That's all. Here's The Lumineers 'Stubborn Love' on a bus. Yea.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnTxjfVZlPs&w=640&h=360]

Fuel/Friends Chapel Sessions - Many of these are audio only, and all of them can be downloaded for free at www.fuelfriendsblog.com (Which you should also read, because it's awesome). Check out this stunning video of Bryan John Appleby:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tm8tr-UDYH8&w=640&h=360]

Take Away Shows - I can't even begin to address the number of amazing bands/videos/everything done by La Blogotheque, who are responsible for these amazing Take Away Shows, which generally consist of bands wandering the streets of Paris/NYC/Los ANgeles and making awesome music. You should probably watch all of them, ever - but feel free to start with these two, from Local Natives and Bon Iver respectively:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hhE_sqJG3g&w=640&h=360]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLOr_FrJJWA&w=640&h=360]

 

There are so many more, absolutely amazing people doing amazing sessions like these every day, and hopefully I'll have a chance to feature more in the future. For now, enjoy this little boost - the weekend is getting closer!