It is hard for me to narrow down my favorite shows of the year, mainly because I go to so many, but also because it is hard to put individual shows up against say, The Avett Brothers at Kings or any of the other extraordinary special nights (festivals or otherwise) this year. So, first, my top 5 favorite special event shows of the year.
So first my favorite of those standout nights:
1. 3/23/12 – The Avett Brothers/Old Ceremony/Filthybird/Schooner/Jack the Radio – Kings
There were two other venues participating in this one day Racing The Cure event. I’m sure those other venues were great that night too, but I was determined to get into Kings and see the Avett Brothers play a club show again. This was the only show all year where we actually sat outside the venue in queue starting at around 5 PM to get in. And the wait paid off . All the bands did a fine job leading up to the headliner. And then just a few rows from the front, it was magical to see the Avett’s like this again. photo set
2. 9/6/12-9/9/12 – Hopscotch Music Festival – mostly at Slim’s to be honest
At Hopscotch this year 80% of the bands I saw this year were either locals or playing at Slim’s or both. This means I had pretty much the best Hopscotch I could imagine. I was primarily at Hopscotch to shoot video for the Indy/Hopscotch video team and the coordinator for that, the alwayS outstanding Dan Schram, gave me a schedule that played right to the things I love. It made for a wonderful bar full of great friends, great music, and alot of time standing on the stairs at Slim’s leaning out over the crowd with my camera. All Hopscotch photos here and highlights here.
3. 6/12/12 – This day: Wood Ear – Bull City Records, Hiss Golden Messenger/Michael Chapman – Pinhook, Langhorne Slim/Ha Ha Tonka – Casbah
I’m a huge fan of earlier shows and this was just one of those days where everything lined up perfectly: Wood Ear’s in-store for their CD release, followed by Michael Chapman then Hiss Golden Messenger at Pinhook, and for a night cap the amazing Ha Ha Tonka opening for the wonderful Langhorne Slim. 5 stellar bands, otherwise ordinary night in Durham where all the concert stars aligned to remind me of how lucky I am to live in such a great part of the country for live music. Wood Ear pics here, Michael Chapman/Hiss Golden Messenger pics here, Langhorne Slim/Ha Ha Tonka pics here.
4. 8/4/12 – Janelle Monae – ArtsCenter, Pipe/Flesh Wounds – Pinhook
By my count there were 5 people, myself included, who went from the amazingness of seeing Janelle Monae in the tiny ArtsCenter to Pinhook to see Flesh Wounds & Pipe. And by my estimation we five were the luckiest people in the Triangle that day. Janelle Monae photos here & Pipe & Flesh Wounds photos here
5. 6/29/12 & 6/30/12 – Death To False Hope Fest – Motorco
I love you guys. I already said everything I need to say about this weekend earlier in the week. Don’t imagine I could say it better.
Posted in avett brothers, best of lists, bull city records, casbah, dtfh fest, durham, filthybird, flesh wounds, ha ha tonka, hiss golden messenger, hopscotch, janelle monae, kings, langhorne slim, motorco, motorco garage, old ceremony, pinhook, pipe, raleigh, schooner, slim's, woodear
Across all 4 venues on the night of 3/23/12 the Racing the Cure benefit raised $45K. It’s a stunning amount.
The music was as awesome as the cause. We were installed at Kings all night (got to Kings at 5P to line up, in fact) so we missed out on the other venues, but I hear they were all wonderful.
Kings was just a treat and an amazing night.
Jack the Radio started the night off and did a really good job getting the crowd moving.
Schooner followed and matched the energy in the room with a very energetic set – maybe it’s just because I’ve seen more Organos shows than Schooner shows lately, but I’d forgotten how much of a rock band Schooner is. Friday night was a great reminder.
Filthybird followed with a beautiful set.
The Old Ceremony turned back up the volume with a great set. They promised a new album in June. It’ll be great to finally have the newer songs on an album.
Then, finally, 7 hours after we got to Kings, The Avett Brothers took the stage. Y’all know I don’t consider myself a great writer about music, and even on my best day I don’t think I could sum up what this show meant for me and the friends I was with. This show, and the Cradle show a year and a half ago, are the two Avetts shows I’ll always remember.
This was the set list:
Murder in the City
When I Drink
Denouncing November Blue
Cigarettes and Whiskey
Look Up Look Down that Lonesome Road
I Killed Sally’s Lover
Go to Sleep
In the Curve
At the Beach
Just a Closer Walk with Thee
I cried straight through “When I Drink.” I called my mom and let her listen along during “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” (yes, at one in the morning, my mom is awesome). And for all the rest I sang and danced and enjoyed.
It was a delight.
full photo set
This weekend I saw Mark Kozelek play to 60 people,
Kurt Vile play to around 120 people,
and The Avett Brothers play to 250 people.
All were extraordinary events.
Thanks to Grayson Currin, Kings, and everyone else who helped organize Racing the Cure for the last one. Thanks to everyone at Duke Coffeehouse & WXDU who helped organize the Brickside Festival for the first two.
The Triangle really is an amazing place for someone who loves music. This weekend was a glorious reminder.
All the photos from Racing the Cure w/ The Avett Brothers are here.
All the photos from Brickside Festival at Duke Coffeehouse are here
I make my best of year lists a little in advance. They are all complete before the first part of one goes up. In years where I know something awesome will happen at the end of the year, I’ll mentally save a possible spot for it. But this? This I couldn’t possibly have known was coming. Three bands I adore, playing to a packed house at the Cradle.
The Avett Brothers supported by The Low Anthem & Bombadil at the Cat’s Cradle on 12/29/10
The photo at the top of this post belongs somewhere on my top shots of the year list, the whole show belongs on my top shows list. Everything about this show is the asterisk to my best of lists.
It was splendid.
The Low Anthem were amazing. I’m always impressed by how much quiet beauty they bring to the stage, and the new songs sound fantastic.
Bombadil were a delight. I was thrilled to see them again after their long break. Particularly since they came with a bunch of new songs and a promise of a new album eventually.
The Avett Brothers killed. I’ll always happily pay more money to see a band that has outgrown club shows, pack into a club. The crowd was great, the band was in excellent form and clearly delighted to be playing at the Cradle.
Just an A+ show.
Full photo set
There’s a darkness upon you that’s flooded in light
In the fine print they tell you what’s wrong and what’s right
And it flies by day and it flies by night
And I’m frightened by those who don’t see it
-The Avett Brothers, “Head Full of Doubt / Road Full of Promise”
- 6. The Avett Brothers, I and Love and You – Back in September of last year The Avett Brothers played “Kick Drum Heart” live, and when I heard them play it I knew that if the upcoming album held up the promise and awesomeness of that track, the album would be amazing. The album is amazing. Gutsy and beautiful. “Kick Drum Heart” & “Laundry Room” are the best back-to-back tracks on an album this year. If those two songs, back-to-back, don’t make you fall a little more love with music every time, there might just be something broken in your musical heart.
“But to concentrate on the names and dollar signs and intentional pining for mass appeal is to ignore the far more important point—for the Avett Brothers to make this record took ginormous, pendulous testicles. Having conquered every Saturday night music hall and holler between Asheville and Portland, they have made a record that is not just a stab at the mainstream—it’s a harpoon through its sternum.”
– Bart Blasengame, Paste magazine
The Avett Brothers’ new album I and Love and You is out today and I was going to try to say something about how much I love this band and how I feel about the new album but the review quoted and linked to above says everything far better than I could.