1. Beck – The Palladium – Los Angeles
Beck is an unbelievable showman and he pulled no punches in a set that captured all of the best moments from his discography including “Girl”, “Loser”, “Lost Cause” and “Devils Haircut”. He also had a youth choir join him on stage which added an even more amazing element to the show. Guitarist Jason Falker shined throughout the evening and added a nice dynamic to everything as the show closed with two more classics in “Paper Tiger” and “Where It’s At”. Truly a performance for the ages.
2. Joan Of Arc – The Satellite – Los Angeles
A captivating performance at one of my favorite places to see a show. I love the way Joan Of Arc blends experimental sounds into more traditional song structures. The highlight for me was hearing “This Must Be The Placenta” live as it’s one of my favorite songs of the last year or so. Overall an awesome night of mind bending bliss.
3. Cheetah Chrome/Dead Boys – The Whiskey – Los Angeles
This performance was crushing from beginning to end. Cheetah was on his game and lead the band through a full performance of The Dead Boys classic album “Young, Loud & Snotty”. From the opening chords of “Sonic Reducer” vocalist Jake Hout was full of energy and swagger and pulled off the Stiv Bators vibe in fine form and the rest of the band were top notch as well. I was totally blown away and fully satisfied. Hope to catch this crew again soon.
4. Murder City Devils – The Teragram Ballroom – Los Angeles
An action filled night that never let up. MCD laid down all the classic cuts including “18 Wheels”, “Rum To Whiskey”, “Press Gang” and “Dancin’ Shoes”. It was a packed sweaty show, full of energy that cemented what a real rock n roll performance is all about.
5. PJ Harvey – The Fillmore – Philadelphia
Elegant, breathtaking and precise are just a couple of the words I’ll use to describe this stellar performance from the legendary PJ Harvey. The set consisted of a lot of newer material which was fine by me and saw Harvey playing a lot of saxophone vs guitar. Her voice was truly beautiful and haunting as only PJ Harvey can do and her band was made up of a who’s who of long time touring musicians that gave everything an almost orchestral feel to the performance at times. They did cut loose for a relentless rendition of the classic “50 FT Queenie” which left the crowd reeling as well as a stunning version of “Down By The Water”.
6. Against Me, Bleached – The Norva – Norfolk, Virginia
I must have seen Against Me 20 times over the years in all types of different settings from house shows and pool parties to major festival events. This show was particularly great and probably the best time I’ve ever seen them. The band was seriously at the top of their game blasting through a 26 song set that included “I Was A Teenage Anarchist”, “Thrash Unreal” and “Reinventing Axl Rose”. They also did covers of Tom Petty and The Mountain Goats before closing the night out with long time favorites “Pints Of Guinness Make You Stronger” and “Sink, Florida, Sink”. I can’t say enough about how strong of a performance this was.
Opening band Bleached also put on an impressive set that included favorites “Wednesday Night Melody”, “Love Spells” and “Dead In Your Head” plus Nirvana and Misfits covers that left me wanting more. Pick up their album “Welcome The Worms”.
7. Washed Out – The Norva – Norfolk, Virginia
This was Washed Out’s first show in several years and it was a privilege that they kicked off their tour in Norfolk in support of their incredible new album “Mister Mellow”. The performance was both musically and visually stunning. I was seriously inspired by all the work that went into the art and lights as it was one of those shows that is so good you find yourself submerged in all of it and just get lost in the sound and vision of it all. Stellar in everyway.
8. Street Sects – Charlie’s American Café – Norfolk Virginia
One of the most intense and “Disorienting” shows I’ve ever seen. This industrial/experimental/noise unit cranked the volume to the highest level and filled the room with fog to the point that the crowd really wasn’t sure were they were. Add in a pulsating strobe light and you just might think you are witnessing the apocalypse right before your eyes. Certainly one of the most brilliant performances I witnessed all year.
9. Mayflower Madame – Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia
First off I spent 20 hours on a bus round trip to catch this show but it was sooooooo worth it. Mayflower Madame are one of my favorite bands of the last few years and it was so great to get to work with them on their album “Observed In A Dream”. This was their 2nd show on their first U.S. tour and they sounded amazing. Their shimmering guitar tones and haunting rhythm section blended together great and the mind bending, psychedelic vocals filled the room perfectly. Can’t wait to see them again.
10. Poptone – Irving Plaza – New York City
Poptone features Bauhaus/Love & Rockets/Tones On Tail alumni Daniel Ash on vocals and guitar and Kevin Haskins on drums along with Kevin’s daughter Diva Dompe on bass. I was ecstatic for this show and it did not disappoint as the band played classics from all of their previous outfits including Love And Rockets signature numbers “Mirror People” and “No Big Deal”, Tones On Tail “OK, This Is The Pops” and “Go!”, and Bauhaus “Slice Of Life”. It was also incredible to hear their cover of The Temptations “Ball Of Confusion” as Love And Rockets covered that on their album “Express” and I’ve gone back to that version over and over for years. Great gig.
11. A Deer A Horse – Pando – Queer Kevin – Cat Tatt – 603 Bushwick – Brooklyn, New York
A Deer A Horse are certainly one of my favorite bands and such awesome people so it’s always a great treat to get to see them. This show was literally a stacked bill as Pando, Queer Kevin, and Cat Tatt were all amazing and unique.
Besides the latest A Deer A Horse E.P. “Backswimmer” which came out on CMM, all of the other bands from this show have awesome releases out. Pando made a really cool cassette called “Everagain” that captures their jangly lo-fi indie pop perfectly, I’ve been blasting “Litter” by Cat Tatt for the last few months and Bass and Drums duo Queer Kevin have an amazing 7 track release out called “If I Had Known” which inspires me which each and every listen. Such an awesome show in a fun intimate setting
12. Kill Alters – Pioneer Works – Brooklyn NY
There was no shortage of energy flowing throughout Kill Alters set at Pioneer Works this past summer. Bonnie Baxter’s vocal delivery and dancing certainly sent things into mind melting territory as former Black Dice member Nicos Kennedy provided psychedelic/experimental sounds that worked perfectly alongside Hisham A. Bharoocha’s frantic drumming. Look this show up on youtube and you will see what I’m talking about and by all means go see them live.
13. Nihilistics, Sick Shit and more – Tompkins Square Park – New York City
Nihilisics have been going in the NYC area for decades and I hadn’t seen them since my old band Façade Burned Black played Loud As Fuck Fest with them at CBGB in the early 2000’s so to hear Ron Rancid and the boys and all their antics again was pretty great. Sick Shit out of Jersey were also on the bill and they played an intense blend of blistering punk and hardcore that was totally crushing. The show was in memory of the 29th annual Tompkins Square Park Police Riot and an homage to NYC political activist David Peel and also included sets from Leftover Crack, Trashy and Damn Kids.
14. Sound Of Ceres – Charlie’s American Café – Norfolk Virginia
One of the must amazing shows you will see anywhere. This performance was other worldly and the sonic textures mixed with the lights and aura that Sound Of Ceres create is like nothing else. Go see this band any chance you get.
15. Psychedelic Furs – The Norva – Norfolk Virginia
One things for sure. Psychedelic Furs still have it. Richard Butler showed why he’s one of the most charismatic front men of all time and the band bashed out an impressive set that echoed their 80’s heyday. “Pretty In Pink”, “Into Like A Train” and “Heaven” never sounded better and the crowd swooned and sang along to “Love My Way” sending people home happy and satisfied.
16. We Are The Asteroid – Charlie’s American Café – Norfolk Virginia
Made up of former members of Butthole Surfers and The Pain Teens, We Are The Asteroid play intricate, cagey rock n roll that dabbles in elements of prog and arena rock. Their performance featured some of the best musicianship I witnessed all year and it was matched with plenty of attitude and energy. Don’t miss them when they come through your town.
17. Rancid, Dropkick Murphys – Amphitheater At Coney Island Boardwalk – Coney Island
I had not seen Rancid play since 1995 and I’d actually never made it to Coney Island so it was a nice setting to take in the show. The band performed a collection of songs from their vast discography which happily included old cuts like “Nihilism” and “Radio” new tracks like “Ghost Of A Chance” and the fan favorites “Roots Radicals” and “Rudy Soho”. It’s nice to witness a band that has stayed a family for so many years and still seems to share that comradery between each other as band mates and with their audience. Dropkick Murphys put on a powerful set that kept the crowd moving throughout and they even brought a ton of people up on stage to dance and sing along at the end of their set. The show ended with both bands getting together to do a quick covers set that included songs by The Ramones, Johnny Cash, Cock Sparrer and Sham 69.