Monday, December 12, 2005

Rob's Top 5 Live in 05

I went to a shitload of concerts this year. And I opted for a lot more than normal because I could get in for free most of the time. That's the perk I miss about working at Pitchfork. Although it still pays off from time to time. Here are the five shows I enjoyed the most:

1. Intonation Music Festival
Union Park - Chicago, IL
July 16-17

For me, this is a no-brainer. Considering it was essentially put together by Pitchfork, I felt I was a big part of this. I didn't necessarily do that much for it myself, I knew and/or met a lot of people there, and walked around like I owned the place. Maybe the best part was hanging out backstage with free beer and sandwiches for two days-- the awesomeness of that can't be denied. But for the most part, the performances were great as well. The highlight was on day one, with the Go! Team. This was the first set that really seemed to get the 15,000+ strong crowd moving and really into it. At the end, they brought up all these little kids (all black) that were hanging out at the pool next to the park, and they danced their little behinds off. Great, great moment. Other standout spots included Les Savy Fav, Out Hud, the Hold Steady, and the Decemberists.

2. Animal Collective
Empty Bottle - Chicago, IL
April 27

I'd been hearing that the Animal Collective live show was crazy and super experimental. I thought it might be too jammy or weird for me, which would be odd, given that I like their weird albums. So I was setting myself up for disappointment. And boy, was I wrong. This show was unbelievable, and I can't really explain why. For one, the energy-- I don't know how they kept it at such a high level for so long. I mean, I was pretty drunk, but not at a point where it really affected how I felt about it. I would have enjoyed it sober. They played mostly songs from their most recent album, Feels, which at that point hadn't been released. But they were great. I think part of it is that I like that album more than the one before it, Sung Tongs.

3. LCD Soundsystem & M.I.A.
Metro - Chicago, IL
May 19

What a fantastic pairing. Also, I was drunk (this seems to be a recurring theme) and rocking out pretty fucking hard. M.I.A. was pretty good, but not outstanding. Still, I like the music so much that it didn't matter. I hear her live show has improved, which is good. But she herself was very energetic, which was great. LCD played next, and rocked my shit off. I knew it would be awesome but not as awesome as it was. "Losing My Edge" was great and "Yeah" blew my mind. This is a band you have to see if you can.

4. Sigur Ros
Chicago Theatre - Chicago, IL
September 21

Every bit as mindblowing as everyone says they are. I'm glad they played in such a big, majestic venue because their sound is so epic that it would requires such a space. I had no idea how they made some of those sounds on the album, and I still don't really know. One discovery was that he saws the guitar with a bow. But his voice! And the drums! Huge. I wasn't stoned and didn't need to be.

5. Art Brut
Schuba's - Chicago, IL
November 15

Because these songs are so hilarious, the show was naturally really fun(ny). Lead singer Eddie Argos has a fantastic stage presence, and his banter was some of the best I've ever seen. I loved how he kept referring to the rest of the band as "Art Brut". "Come on, Art Brut, are you ready for the next song?" Hilarious.

Five more (in no particular order):

Kraftwerk (Riviera, Chicago, June 4)
Read more about this below, but this was a great experience.

Sufjan Stevens (Metro, Chicago, Sept. 16)
This was a really nice performance, and since the album is called Illinois it was kind of like a homecoming show. With cheerleaders.

The Walkmen (Schuba's, Chicago, July 23)
So fucking loud and so fucking great. They played "The Rat" second, which I would argue takes balls.

The White Stripes (Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, August 29)
I'd actually never seen them before, and turns out they put on a damn good show. Plus, who knew Meg was so cute?

The Arcade Fire & Wolf Parade (Riviera, Chicago, Sept. 28)
I'd seen the Arcade Fire with a few thousand fewer people (Empty Bottle, Nov. '04) and about 30,000 more (Lollapalooza, July '04), so nothing was really new about this to me. I was more interested in Wolf Parade. Still, the show was good, and ended with the Arcade Fire walking out to the lobby and playing an acoustic version of David Bowie's "Queen Bitch". The band sounded better than a year ago, but something was missing for me.


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