This is my favorite post to write each year. There are many reasons why but the main one is that I love how it tasks me with reliving my year in music. I have re-read every review that I have written in the past year. I have thought about every show and every individual set that I have seen in 2010.* I have made numerous lists of the sets I have seen, and I have broken them down into categories to determine the best of the best in each. I always enjoy the concert-to-concert combat that rages in my memory as I try to boil down a year’s worth of experiences into a shortlist that best represents the year. I am equally surprised and proud to discover that this is the sixth year that I have completed this process of list making.
2010 may be the single best year of live music that I have experienced in my eighteen years of concert-going. Collectively the shows I have seen across the U.S. and in and around DC this year have provided me with more moments of music nirvana, pure aural bliss, then I ever imagined was possible. I often say I am on a life-long quest to attain music nirvana and 2010 is as close as I have come to discovering it in a sustained form. With a year this good, my usual challenging task of narrowing the field down to the 10 best concerts was more difficult than ever.**
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.
Even though I consider Muse one of my favorite bands, I have written very little about them over the years. The majority of the 6 times I have seen them perform took place far away from DC and therefore the majority of their shows did not end up reviewed on any of the DC sites I write for. It is fitting that Monday night’s show at George Mason University’s Patriot Center is the one to finally get a feature review out of me. Fitting because it was without question the best performance of theirs that I have seen. Fitting too because I have followed this band since they first washed up on American shores and have witnessed their progression as a live act. Over the seven years or so they’ve been touring here, Muse have not so much shown an evolution as performers as they have consistently demonstrated their massive power as a live act; an act so huge that whatever stage I saw them on seemed tiny in comparison to their unbridled, power-pop fury. With each tour, each stage got a little larger, and Muse seemed one step closer to realizing their master plan of becoming the best live band on the planet. Having seen them on Monday night, I think it is safe to say that they have finally realized that master plan. Continue reading →