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A Look Back

Howdy, folks. So the end of the year (nay the world!) is neigh and I guess that means I should do a recap post. What did I learn? What were my favorite shows? Will I ever see another concert again? What’s next?

This has been a long and eventful year. I began with a goal I wasn’t sure I’d be able to pull off. A goal I figured would eventually fall by the wayside, as things so often do. I’ve ended the year both richer (in musical knowledge and bands that I love) and poorer (uh, concerts are expensive you guys.) I also started the year single and I’m ending it with an exceptional and lovely lady in my life. I don’t know that that is related to my concert quest, but it certainly gave me something cool to talk about on our first date.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned in this quest is always go for the opener. Always. There are too many absolutely great bands out there opening shows for other great bands. I was rarely disappointed in an opening act and I never regretted getting to the show early to see them. In the end I’ve learned about excellent bands by getting to shows early that I ever have from listening to the radio or reading things on the internet. Music is not about stadium shows and big names. Music is about passion and love, joy and pain. Music is about life and often you get a much clearer picture of that from a little know band than you ever would from an international superstar.

I will of course be attending concerts again, many of them hopefully. Though possibly not too soon as they really can be expensive. I love music too much to not keep going to concerts, even if I am a little burned out after seeing 52 in a year. Odds are when I do see a show I’ll return here and write about it because I’ve really enjoyed doing that. A couple of people have suggested that I do 52 different kinds of shows next year, so 52 community theater plays, or 52 stand up comics. I kind of like that idea but I don’t know that I know enough about either of those things to write weekly reviews. I also don’t know that I care enough to stick with it. I’ve also been considering doing a Let’s Play of Crusader Kings II in the form of journal entries. Though I’m not sure what kind of interest there’d be in that, and if I did that it wouldn’t be here I’d start another blog. I’ve also recently started a Game of Thrones tabletop game with my gaming group and it might be fun to recap that as it happens. We’ll see what happens, I’d like to keep writing on this big blank internet wall though.

So, my top 5 shows of the year. It has been no mean feat narrowing these down. I saw so many great shows this year but I didn’t want to do a top ten list because that felt like too many. So, here they are:

#5 Alabama Shakes with A. Tom Collins at The Fox Theater on 2/4/12

I talked about this show way back in my very first post. At that time I had a feeling that the Alabama Shakes were on the cusp of blowing up and apparently I was right. Their song Hold On was named the #1 song of the year by Rolling Stone and they are playing sold out shows everywhere they go. And I saw them for $5. I’m weirdly happy because I can be totally hipstery and tell everyone about how I saw them before they were famous. Of course I learned about them from Mumbles but I can leave that part out.

This show was also great because it introduced me to A. Tom Collins who are now my favorite Denver band. Their music is wonderfully different being a beautiful mix of ragtime and rock. They perform with a reckless abandon that is fun to watch and I’m pretty sure they ended up being the band I saw the most this year.

#4 The Lumineers with The Outfit and Sawmill Joe at The Bluebird on 5/11/12

This is another band who has skyrocketed to stardom since I saw them. Though arguably their rocket had already taken off by the time I saw them in May. They play the sort of antiquated acoustic folk that I love. Their songs are well written and they bring a ton of joy and passion to their live performances. I actually saw them twice this year, on back to back nights actually, but I chose the first show over the second because it introduced me to Sawmill Joe.

Sawmill Joe is a bluesman through and through. His voice is rough and soulful and his songs reside in that part of the heart that exists to ache. They just crawl right in there and ease that ache away. Which is what the blues are supposed to do.

#3 Trampled by Turtles with Brown Bird at The Ogden on 5/18/12

Trampled By Turtles is one of my favorite bands so it would have taken something monumental to leave them off this list. Actually it took two somethings monumental to make them number three. There were a lot of reason this show was great, though I will admit that chief among them was that it was the first show I saw with my lady. The crowd was raucous, the opening act was great and the Turtles delivered as they always do.

This band plays with so much speed, so much energy, so much life. I’ve seen them many times and I’ve never been disappointed and I will see them again (I’m hoping in mid January.)  Though I will say that the next time I see them I probably won’t stand quite so close as the front of the stage is about as close to a mosh pit as you can get at a bluegrass show.

#2 Mumford and Sons with Dawes and Slow Club at Red Rocks on 8/28/12

This was as much a cultural event as it was a concert. It was a destination show. The kind of show that people plan a vacation around. It was monumental and I loved it. There really is something about witnessing a band’s first Red Rocks show that is exciting. The place just has this history of being a place that you play when you’ve made it. It’s a place that bands aspire to. It a place bands film documentaries about and I kind of love that I live within an hours drive of it.

Mumford and Sons put everything they had into this show and it was clear that the night was special for them. It was a beautiful night, with beautiful company, filled with beautiful music. It was actually a better show than I had expected which is saying a lot because I had high expectations.

#1 Pearl and the Beard with The Foot and Shaky Molars at The Hi-Dive on 3/8/12

Interestingly this was a show that was all over the place from an opener that I probably gave my worse review of the year to to a closer that didn’t have much of a crowd to play to. It really seemed like it didn’t have the makings of an incredible show, certainly not the best show of the year. But it wasn’t just the opener and the closer. No, between them was nestled one of the greatest musical experiences of my life in the form of pearl and the beard.

They have so much charisma, so much life, so much joy. They play so incredibly well together. Each song was like an arrow directly into my heart, my soul. I was simply spellbound by every note, every word, every moment. It was like nothing I’d ever seen because they are like nothing I’d ever seen. Their songs aren’t typical, nor formulaic, but they are beautiful all the same. Perhaps it is the uniqueness of their music that makes it stand out so much. I don’t know. All I know is that they are exceptional and you should see them. Seriously. I said that a lot this year about a lot of bands but this is the one you really absolutely can’t miss. See them. Seriously see them.

This show also contained the single greatest moment I’ve ever experienced at a live show when they came off the stage and played Lovin’s For Fools. When I am an old man withered and bent and stuck in a home somewhere I’ll still be telling everyone who will listen about the time that Pearl and the Beard played that song two feet away from me. Unamplified and off mic. I will never, ever, forget it.

This post has been light on images and music so in closing I’ll leave you with this song by Pearl and the Beard which is another thing by them that is exceptional.

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One comment on “A Look Back

  1. Wow this is a really awesome blog idea. Sad I just found out about it as you are ending, but I will definitely try to go back and read some of your old posts. This is the kind of thing I would LOVE to do. Maybe someday when I have more money I too will attempt such an arduous task.

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