Time once again to calculate and list the ten best musical performances I saw in the past year in and around Washington DC.* This ‘best of’ article is one of my favorite activities as a music writer because it embodies the very essence of why I take the time out of my increasingly busy schedule to attend so many concerts and write about them. Simply put, I am a fan of great live music and when someone or a group of someones delivers a really special performance I want to tell as many people as I can about it. There is real magic happening during a great musical performance that is unlike anything else I have ever experienced; if I manage to share just a fraction of that magic with my readers by exposing them to a band they might not otherwise have heard then my job as a music writer is done.
In the last six months, positive events in my personal life have greatly affected my ability to cover as many concerts as I’d like too with the quality of writing that I feel they deserve. Because of this I have been writing much less than usual and I predict that this trend will continue for most of 2012. I know from reader feedback and from conversations with some of the great people I’ve met at shows over the years that my writing about music has had an impact on their musical world. Knowing this enables me to walk away from music writing fulfilled.
2011 was kind of a weird year for live music. The entire year felt like an odd hang-over from 2010 (one of the greatest years of live music ever). In recent conversations I think I have been undervaluing 2011′s shows, because now as I revisit all of the sets I saw, I realize that there were plenty of great performances, they were just obscured by a lot more mediocre ones than I have seen in recent years. Once I dusted away the humdrum and the disappointing, I was left with about 35 really great sets to choose from for my top ten list this year. Continue reading →
I don’t know if you’ve noticed but Sweden has been producing a ton of great new bands lately. So many, in fact, that I’m inclined to agree with Chris Richards of the Washington Post when he recently declared Sweden as the epicenter of emergent pop music for the new century. Lucky for DC music fans then that our city seems to be one of the friendliest frontiers for Swedish music in the United States. DC is virtually guaranteed a tour date from most of the Swedish invasion acts because we always give them a very warm reception. One of the finest examples of the new wave of Swedish pop is Little Dragon, who played a phenomenal set to a sold out Black Cat on Saturday night.
courtesy of Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival.
Everyone knows that sometimes the best way to appreciate where you live is to get away for a little while. It is also true that sometimes the best way for a music critic to reboot his love of music is to attend an awesome music festival without an impending review deadline hanging over his head. This past weekend I did both when I attended the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, California.
This was my third Coachella (2004, 2007*, 2010) and I think it is without a doubt the best music festival in the United States. After a three-legged, 12-hour journey by plane, I made my way into the California desert to enjoy some of the best music on the planet for three days. The weather was beautiful, the music was excellent, and I got the re-charge I was looking for. I decided to write mini-reviews of the bands I caught and to post them here for those who follow my music writing. Keep in mind, I was focused on enjoying the music this weekend without my reviewer’s hat on. So these little reviews are more personal and less detailed write-ups of the bands I saw over this great weekend.