10 shows you should have seen in 2010

The 2010 musical year in review was a rich one. It seemed to witness a huge leap for the indie music world, with more and more bands getting their sound out there via the Internet. No more fishing for big record label contracts. The 21st century technology has been kind to up-and-coming bands. Following are ten shows that you should have seen with a snippit from each review. Most of these acts are not considered radio staples, but probably should be. Go to the links for each concert to read my full review (shows are listed chronologically).

SPOON at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, 3/20/10 – “While Spoon has had their ups and downs, it seems as if they’re in for a future of ‘ups.’ On this night, Spoon was the tightest four-piece on the planet. Even with two encores, the band left fans wanting more.” http://http://www.examiner.com/music-in-atlanta/spoon-rock-the-tabernacle

THE RUBY SUNS at the Drunken Unicorn in Atlanta, 3/22/10 – “Touring in support of their third studio album, Fight Softly (Sub Pop), the Ruby Suns spun some foot-tapping songs combining indie rock with world beats. At times, all three members were banging on drums. But usually, the tunes were made up of two synths and a drummer. With danceable beats and McPhun’s smooth voice, it frequently seemed as if all these people were enjoying an 80s new wave performance…in Hawaii.” http://http://www.examiner.com/music-in-atlanta/ruby-suns-bring-the-tropics-to-atlanta

WILCO at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, 3/26/10 – “As the evening progressed, the fans remained standing. The lush padding of the Fabulous Fox Theatre’s comfy seats was never utilized. The crowd stood the entire show (even much of the balcony). Tweedy recognized this and was impressed.” http://http://www.examiner.com/music-in-atlanta/wilco-the-experience

VAMPIRE WEEKEND at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, 4/8/10 – “The band opened the show with the heavily-Paul Simon-influenced ‘White Sky’ from Contra. Next up was the ultra-manic ‘Holiday.’ The crowd, already whipped into a seemingly uncontrollable frenzy, would not stop moving and jumping and singing until show’s end.” http://http://www.examiner.com/music-in-atlanta/vampire-weekend-live-atlanta

ARCADE FIRE at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Alpharetta, 8/11/10 – “Audience participation was mind-blowing and that only made for a better show. Win Butler and company have made a fantastic new record, and fortunately for us, know how to play it live. The show ended with Arcade Fire’s signature song from their first album. ‘Wake Up’ is one of those anthems that is instantly hummable and never forgettable. What a way to end the night.” http://http://www.examiner.com/music-in-atlanta/arcade-fire-and-spoon-burn-up-alpharetta

ORYX + CRAKE at the EARL in Atlanta, 8/28/10 – “If you’ve heard the CD by now (and you should have heard it by now), you’ll know that these are nine of the most talented musicians around. And live versions of the nine songs performed came out a bit edgier than those recorded. It was clear that the members of Oryx + Crake were pumped. Audience fervor is the only thing that overshadowed the band members’ enthusiam. It was a full house of an appreciative and supportive crowd.” http://http://www.examiner.com/music-in-atlanta/oryx-crake-have-arrived

CROWDED HOUSE at the House of Blues in Chicago, 9/5/10 – “The second song was ‘Mean To Me,’ from their 1986 debut album. This rocked even harder, with Finn’s voice as perfect – if not better – than it ever was. And he is one of the most underrated and superbly skilled guitar players out there. Of course, his songwriting is the only thing that surpasses his voice and guitar work. He is frequently compared to Lennon and McCartney for a very good reason.” http://http://www.examiner.com/music-in-atlanta/genius-of-crowded-house-proven-yet-again

JAMES at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta, 9/22/10 – “During ‘Say Something,’ Booth traversed his way through the audience, shaking hands and walking down a row of seats across the armrests. At song’s end, he was quite a distance from the stage, yelling to bandmates, ‘What’s the next song? What’s the next song!’ Then, the opening chords of ‘Laid’ began to a roaring crowd. He hastily made his way back to the stage and brought the house down with this excellent song.” http://http://www.examiner.com/music-in-atlanta/james-return-to-atlanta-and-feel-the-love

PAVEMENT at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, 9/26/10 – “While Pavement never had a #1 hit, ‘Cut Your Hair’ and ‘Gold Soundz’ may have been close, as far as fans are concerned. Malkmus comes across reminiscent of a Stop Making Sense era David Byrne, with his quirky mannerisms and jumpy moves. He does, however, put everything he’s got into his performance.” http://http://www.examiner.com/music-in-atlanta/pavement-burn-through-atlanta-on-reunion-tour

LCD SOUNDSYSTEM at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, 10/4/10 – “One more decibal plus one more jumping fan would have seen the crowd plummet to the basement. Murphy, with all his youthful exuberance (he’s a very young 40) and high octane energy, was exhausted at song’s end, doubling over with hands on knees and huffing like a chain smoker. The fans felt the same way. And the show was off to a smashing start.” http://http://www.examiner.com/music-in-atlanta/lcd-soundsystem-show-everyone-else-how-a-live-show-is-done

The new year of 2011 has some big shoes to fill. Better get started.

LCD Soundsystem earn it in Atlanta

Live Review: LCD Soundsystem at the Tabernacle in Atlanta, 10/4/10

James Murphy has hinted that this will be the last album and tour for LCD Soundsystem. DFA Records, the company which he cofounded and runs, has been consuming much of his time lately. After signing such up-and-coming artists as Free Energy, Holy Ghost!, and Hot Chip, he is a busy man. Nonetheless, fans all over dread such a thought as a world without LCD Soundsystem.

Touring in support of his latest release, This Is Happening, Murphy will take the band around the world before wrapping up in February in Australia. He has gone on record saying his band has basically set the bar high for live performances. He is correct. On this night in Atlanta, the band was on fire. Not literally, but almost. There is no argument that This Is Happening is one of the best new releases of the year. But a live LCD show is an LCD album to the nth degree / all caffeined up / on steroids. For those fans in the house who did not believe in earplugs, a true awakening was experienced.

When the lights came down to start the show, 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love” blared over the speakers. Then Murphy and the band took to the stage to screams and applause. As the opening chords of “Dance Yrself Clean” poured out over the crowd, Murphy sang, “Talking like a jerk / Except you are an actual jerk / And living proof that sometimes friends are mean / Present company expect it present company / Just laugh it off it’s better than it seems.” Then it went raucous. The massive vibration had to be a combination of the incredible music and the packed-like-sardines fanatics on the floor of the hundred-year-old Tabernacle. That floor is wood and there is a basement. One more decibal plus one more jumping fan would have seen the crowd plummet to the basement. Murphy, with all his youthful exuberance (he’s a very young 40) and high octane energy, was exhausted at song’s end, doubling over with hands on knees and huffing like a chain smoker. The fans felt the same way. And the show was off to a smashing start.

“Drunk Girls,” the catchy and addictive hit off Happening was up next, and the party got crazier. Each member of the seven-piece band is exceptionally talented and added their own unique spin to the LCD sound. Other highlights included “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House” (see video below), “Losing My Edge,” “All My Friends,” and “Yeah.” With each successive song, the volume increased as did the ferver of the band and the fans. Many fans on the floor never ceased with the arm waving, jumping, and dancing. Even the majority of the balcony was moving throughout the entire show.

Many have attempted to label LCD over their short history. Electronica. Dancepunk. Indie Dance. Whatever the label, The Soundsystem have left their mark on music and music lovers. Murphy has definitely fused an 80s sound into many of his songs. The influence of such New Wave groups as New Order and Depeche Mode can be heard in some tracks.

Between the crowd surfing and the crush of fans on the floor, tempers may have flared near the stage. Keyboardist Nancy Whang attempted to calm some nerves saying, “Are we okay here? Everyone okay? Let’s be nice.” Murphy then spoke up, saying, “If you’re taking pictures or videotaping, that’s totally fine. But when doing this, you are not really here. We want you here. But I’m not making any judgements.” A good point. And a polite guy. He thanked the crowd after nearly every song.

If, in fact, this is the last hurrah for LCD Soundsystem, they are going out with a bang. This was a fantastic live show that will not soon be forgotten. Murphy will more than likely put some time into his record label, then, somehow, get back into the studio. It’s what he does best.

Brooklyn-based noise pop duo Sleigh Bells (Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss) got the eardrum shattering evening off to a successful start. Supporting their new album Treats, the Bells have a massive sound considering their only instruments are a guitar and a laptop, with Krauss on vocals. The way the Atlanta crowd responded to Sleigh Bells, you’d have thought they were the headliner.

LCD Set List:

Dance Yrself Clean
Drunk Girls
Get Innocuous
Yr. City’s A Sucker
Daft Punk Is Playing At My House
I Can Change
All My Friends
You Wanted A Hit

Someone Great
Losing My Edge