(Or, how I got through my neurosis about the end of the world with the aid of my headphones)
(note: in case you missed the best of 2012 in tracks go here: Bring on Your Wrecking Ball: a best of 2012 playlist)
Part the 2nd – Shows and Observations
Wilco @ Hideout Block Party . . . so misunderstood
By year’s end, I will have made it to close to sixty shows in the calendar year, but the following evenings and performances were the most memorable to date.
Bruce Springsteen @ Wrigley Field
- A cold September night surrounded by bricks and ivy with the Boss, does it get any better?… well, see below
- The Boss and Eddie Vedder singing “My Hometown”
- Tom Morrello’s guitar playing on “The Ghost of Tom Joad”
- With a curtain of rain descending over and drenching the crowd, Bruce covering CCR’s “Who’ll Stop The Rain” and an all out romp through “Thunder Road”
- … yes there is magic in the night
Hideout Block Party
- Kelly Hogan‘s amazing pipes, Corin Tucker thrashing, Lee Field and Wild Belles grooving, and Wye Oak mesmerizing, topped off by…
- Wilco closing out the night with the Chicago skyline as backdrop.
- …going home via Chicago
Riot Fest (Chicago) @ Humboldt Park
- Watching Fat Mike and daughter listen as Alkaline Trio went old school on an emotionally hungry Chicago crowd
- Elvis Costello masterful, NOFX loud and pleasantly obnoxious, Promise Ring bringing back a little Emo, Gogol Bordello world eclectic dance party, Iggy Pop and the Stooges still as fiery and furious as ever.
- A punk carnival with Ferris wheels, sideshows, and performance art. I love when it gets weird.
- Jeff Mangum (of Neutral Milk Hotel) @ the Athenaeum – a sparse and haunting set of Neutral Milk Hotel songs
Kelly, Kelly, Kelly, Kelly Hogan (@the Vic & the Hideout x 3)
- No words can capture what an absolutely gorgeous voice Kelly Hogan has and I was fortunate to see her showcase it on four different occasions with her back up band and old friends. Lucky Boy!
- A stunningly gorgeous cover of the Magnetic Fields’ “Papa Was A Rodeo”
- Playing Cheap Trick in a crowded and steamy summer late night Hideout show (with Yo La Tengo in the audience)
- Mesmerizing and harmonizing with Robbie Fulks to standards old and new classics
- Adam Arcuragi (@Empty Bottle) and Sean Rowe (@Space) – two amazing singer-songwriters showcasing amazing musicianship, searing lyrics and heartwarming and blood chilling emotional depth. Can’t miss either of these guys.
- Patrick Watson @ Lincoln Hall & Of Monsters & Men @ the Double Door – these performers are masterful at working the crowd and illustrating how live music can be a communal and joyous experience
- Perfume Genius & Lost in the Trees @ Schuba’s – two of the most gorgeously intricate, tense, yet satisfying performances of the year; still get goosebumps of PG’s “Hood” live
- Shallow Diver @ Phyllis’ Musical Inn – debut performance by my friends; the only show that was actually perfectly loud and filled with unbridled joy
- Alt-J @ the Empty Bottle – electric, mesmerizing, can’t wait until they come back
- Sharon Van Etten & Shearwater @ Lincoln Hall – bursts of intricate epic sounds and soft, slow, delicately haunting reveries
Shows I’m really bummed I missed: Grimes, Father John Misty, Sleigh Bells, Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, Purity Ring, Chad Valley.
Shows still pending: Japandroids/DIIV, How to Dress Well, OMAM (again) and Hood Internet
(Okay and now some) Bitter Reflections:
- We lost some very talented and wonderfully gifted musicians.
- Rest in Peace and thank you: Whitney Houston, Donna Summer, Etta James, Levon Helm, MCA, Robin Gibb, Earl Scruggs, Davy Jones, and Dave Brubeck.
- Madonna: Kabalost? Or too much MDNA? the Material Girl hasn’t been on her game for some time but this was perhaps her low point. Nonetheless, she was easily one of the most influential performers of the late 20th century.
- Fiona Apple: I so wanted to like that ridiculously long titled record, but yet again I find myself unable to indulge in the non-traditional nature of her songs, and I like some really bizarre stuff.
- Nicki Minaj – from super bass to super boring, call it karma for dissing other artists
- The xx – perhaps it was inevitable after the brilliance of the first record, but aside from “Angels” I couldn’t even finish listening to Coexist
- Usher – you remind of an artist I once liked, so over produced it hurts.
- Ty Segall – he’s like the garage rock Ryan Adams so prolific it hurts, but I still can’t get into his stuff
- Where BKLYN at? After years of being home and haven for countless indie-darlings, NYC’s “hipsterist” borough seems like it’s off its game. #NotHatin’JustSayin’
- Minor disappointments: All these records fell below my eager anticipation and/or the critical praise showered upon them (for my taste): Yeasayer’s Fragrant World, Grizzly Bear’s Shrines, Dirty Projectors’ Swing Lo Magellan, and Animal Collective’s Centipede Hz .
Sweet (or things I discovered, loved, and learned via music in 2012)
- On the non-music entertainment side of things, Tig Notaro’s live set (click here) about dealing with her cancer diagnosis and the countless tragedies she dealt with in 2012 was the most inspiring, thoughtful, comical, and gorgeous thirty minutes of performance I heard all year. If you or anyone in your family has been affected by the blight and tragedy of cancer, please download and listen.
- Surprises from old faces: Jack White turns back the clock; Norah Jones getting down and dirty; Patti Smith and Bob Dylan, ever ancient, ever new; Leonard Cohen and Neil Young put out records (not a fan but make many others very happy); Jeff Mangum touring!
- Indie rock’s global imprint increases: Canadians, Swedes, Icelanders and Australians are taking over the Indie-Realm. See Of Monsters and Men (ICE), Japandroids (CAN), Grimes (CAN), Purity Ring(CAN), First Aid Kit (SWE), Jens Lekman (SWE), Tallest Man on Earth (SWE), Niki & the Dove (SWE), Stars(CAN), Gotye (AUS), Carly Rae Jepsen (CAN)(okay only slightly kidding on this one).
- Boys and girls still wait patiently for calls from the objects of their affection and pine with youthful optimism.
- I’ve still never heard a song by Justin Bieber or One Direction. Helps me keep my sanity.
- Michael Angelakos’ honesty about dealing with mental illness and the need to share with both family and fans was brave, moving and inspiring. Click to the right and listen to Gossamer
- Undiscovered home recordings can provide some genius inspiration for new and old. See Donnie & Joe Emerson’s Dreamin’ Wild (great for anyone stuck in that 1979 mind or your Uncle Rico)
- Chicago’s best kept secret, The Numero Group, is releasing fabulous dusty grooves while very few people are paying attention.
- Lots of really talented people really love (and demonstrated why) Philip Glass (is a genius).
- And yet again, Bob Dylan is touring … all is right with the world.
Tomorrow… the albums that won my heart.
for now images from the shows below…
Wye Oak @ Hideout Block Party
Death Cab for Cutie @ the Chicago Theatre
Kelly Hogan @ the Hideout