December 10, 2009
Welcome to my top gigs of this year, 2009! I saw close to 100 which was… amazing, exciting, wonderful, whatever you want. It was tough to pick these gigs let alone put them in order but here we go….
10) Dananananaykroyd @ Dirty Dog Bar, SXSW, Austin, March 18th
Dananananaykroyd are so energetic live it’s almost unreal. They’re like the Energizer Bunny on meth or something similar and freaky. They amount of joy and humor and jumping and yelling at each gig is unreal. To add to this, this was my first show at SXSW where I got to go into a 21+ show (thnx, Sarah Pesin!) so I was even more jacked up. Hearing one of my favorite songs of the year, ‘Some Dresses’, live was just amaaazing and the Wall of Cuddles was just so excellent. Perfect way to start my SXSW 2009.
DOWNLOAD -> SOME DRESSES by DANANANANAYKROYD
9) Fool’s Gold @ The Echo, LA, April 27th
This show just fucking expanded my mind in a completely non-stoner kind of way. Each Fool’s Gold show that I’ve been to has such a wonderful sense of community and the joy just radiates from the band to the crowd, this time it was a bunch of Echo Parque hipsters who were grooving to their ‘world music’ and sensational beats and horn sections. The freedom and structured jams are what make Fool’s Gold gigs almost spiritual but without the ‘seriousness’ of that word. This was the last night of their April residency at the Echo that launched them into national view. Rightly so.
DOWNLOAD -> SURPRISE HOTEL by FOOL’S GOLD
8) King Khan & The Shrines @ The Echo, LA, May 30th
King Khan & The Shrines played two nights at the Echo in May 2009. Choosing between them was one of the toughest choices I’ve had in a long time (hello, I have an easy life!) but I think the second night trumped the first. Both had an incredible amount of energy and ridiculous outfits and organ and sax to boot. Both had King Khan being a crazy motherfucker with a voice from who knows where. What put me over the top, you ask, in favor of the second night? One of the Shrines getting up on the amp, pulling down his pants and tucking it back and waving it around during ‘I Wanna Be A Girl’. Yep, folks, that’s all it takes to sway me. Both these nights were FUCKING excellent. King Khan was one of the performers I saw most during 2009, and I bow down to him anytime I see him. So great.
DOWNLOAD -> NO REGRETS by KING KHAN & THE SHRINES
7) Beans on Toast @ Friends Bar, SXSW, Austin, March 20th
Beans on Toast has one of the greatest ethos’ in music today. He’s just a street poet who stands on a chair and plays a childs guitar and sings rudimentary songs with social and political commentary with plenty of humor and an excellent penchant for rhyming. This was such a special gig. I’ve loved his hilarious music since 2006 but had no idea who he was and thought I’d never see him live and then I met him at Jay Jay Pistolet’s gig and got to get to know the man a little – he’s such a hilarious little thing (Yeah, I’ve told this story about 1500 times but STILL), and seeing him at FRIENDS Bar just was … amazing. He’s so hilarious and the entire crowd was hanging on every word. Who else could get an entire crowd (cocaine users and non alike) to raise their hands and proudly proclaim they were addicted to cocaine?
DOWNLOAD -> FUCK THE SMOKING BAN by BEANS ON TOAST
6) The Strange Boys @ The Echo, LA, June 30th
The Strange Boys have been a live favorite of mine since early 2008. They continuously blow me away with their refreshing take on Nuggets-esque Garage Rock, their cool swagger, and Sambol’s howling caterwaul. This show was particularly amazing because of the support: The Growlers. The combination of the two was just unstoppable. The Strange Boys were way on the top of their game, but it feels weird to be going on and on about it because they are always that good. I’ve never seen them perform poorly, even the time I saw them playing in front of people playing dodgeball. No joke. The second best band in America right now – behind the Growlers. Funny how that happens.
DOWNLOAD -> DRUGS IGGY DRUGS by THE STRANGE BOYS
5) The Sonics @ The Echoplex, LA, August 21st
The Sonics. THE SONICS! I can’t even describe, figuratively or literally, what it was like to see these legends. IT’S THE FUCKING SONICS!!!! When they played ‘Have Love, Will Travel’, I was brought to my knees. They lumbered out of their coffins to give us an amazing early show at the Echoplex proving that the old timers (not to be confused with Alzheimers) still fucking GOT IT. They could actually play their instruments with dexterity, but that didn’t take away from the grungy, can’t-get-outta-the-garage, lo-fi before lo-fi was a real thing feel that has made the Sonics the legends that they are. Not to mention that Freddie Dennis can fucking sing. It was just deleriously amazing.
DOWNLOAD -> SHOT DOWN by the SONICS
4) The Maccabees @ Komedia, Brighton, September 29th
The Maccabees played a part in bringing together one of the most important friendships of my young life during their first American tour back in 2007, so seeing them play in Brighton at a much smaller venue than they could get away with – with the important friends…. just BLEW MY MIND! They fucking stormed the Komedia and played with more confidence and energy and …. experience than I’d ever have expected from them. Their second album hadn’t done anything for me up to that point, but hearing those songs echoing live and Orlando’s expansive, unique vocals really brought it together for me and from that gig, it became one of my favorite albums of 2009.
DOWNLOAD -> DIAMOND SOLITAIRE by THE MACCABEES
3) Black Lips @ Glasshouse, Pomona, May 2nd
Having severly disappointed me the evening before at The El Rey, I wasn’t expecting much out of the Black Lips. I know that’s rude, but I’d seen them like 7 times in the past 13 months or something so what more could they bring to the table? However, they came out and bounced back from the shitshow that was the El Rey and rocked my world. It was singularly the most rough, dangerous Black Lips gig I’d ever been to (bruised ribs for two weeks to prove it, ROCK AND ROLL) and Jared even stepped on my head! They played everything I wanted them to play and the energy and atmosphere, while way more rough than LA was just so much more… Black Lips! I emerged drenched with sweat, severly hurt and grinning like a maniac. That’s how I always want to leave shows.
DOWNLOAD -> NOT A PROBLEM (from LOS VALIENTES DEL MUNDO NUEVO) by THE BLACK LIPS
2) The Growlers @ Bootleg Theatre, LA, October 30th
I wish that I had taken photos of this gig. The costumes for the halloween gig were just incredible. But that’s to say nothing of the gig, which was just the best time I’ve ever seen the Growlers, who just like the Strange Boys are consistently consistent at being amazing. This gig was a two hour long Snake Sex special that saw Brooks Nielsen just act like a snake charmer – goading the audience into the most ridiculous dancing (MYSELF INCLUDED HOLY SHIT); and at the same time being charmed himself by Matt Taylor and the rest of the band. They played like a Greatest Hits (not their first album, just all their best ones) including ‘Underneath Our Palms Blues’ which saw me practically writhing on the floor from joy and amazement. And if my endorsement is not enough… Fab Moretti and Devendra were there. The Growlers are the best band in LA. Period.
DOWNLOAD -> UNDERNEATH OUR PALMS BLUES by THE GROWLERS
1) Peter Doherty @ The Roundhouse, London, September 20th
I felt really weird about making this my number one gig of the year due to the fact Doherty and I have fallen out a little bit this year, but nonetheless I’d been waiting almost 5 years to see this motherfucker turn up for a show (see: France, 2006). But he did turn up and it was beyond all my wildest dreams. We were on the left-hand side of the stage and I was peering backstage and I saw this tall man in a hat lighting a fag and I just didn’t know what to do with myself! Regardless of the fact that musically, I’ve almost moved on, Pete Doherty had a very heavy hand in shaping my world for a time and shaping my musical taste, too. Hearing songs from ‘Down in Albion’ one of my most played albums EVER just killed my heart. I was sad, to see all the production that went into his show frankly because he doesn’t need it. He doesn’t need an orchestra and five people on stage and two ballet dancers. He needs a mic and a fucking old guitar. But he has what he has, and he does what he does and he charms the bees knees off of everyone. ‘Arebours’ and ‘the 32nd of December’ and ‘For Lovers’? I have been and always will be a P.Doh fan and this sealed my fate: the most excellent concert of 2009.
DOWNLOAD -> A FOOL THERE WAS by PETER DOHERTY