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
Durham, what a stunning evening & night last night was.
After a day of clouds and rain, the sun came out just in time for Woodear’s CD release in-store at Bull City Records.
Then almost everyone at Chaz’s went to Pinhook for the first in what I hope is a great series of Old People Shows starting at 7. Michael Chapman’s set was up first and sounded great.
Hiss Golden Messenger finished up the show at Pinhook with a truly gorgeous 5-piece band. The show was so beautiful, so packed, that it was almost odd to walk out onto Main and relize it was just dusk.
Then it was on to Casbah, for Ha Ha Tonka’s set. I don’t have words for how much I love this band. I have gone to shows just to see their opening set, so to see them here as the penultimate band on this night was just amazing.
And Langhorne Slim closed out the night, wonderfully.
I made my way out of the bar as the encore rang out, just at midnight, into the humid but perfect Durham night.
Durham, I’m running out of ways to say amazing, beautiful, perfect.
Photo sets from Woodear @ BCR, Hiss Golden Messenger & Michael Chapman @ Pinhook, Langhorne Slim & Ha Ha Tonka @ Casbah.
Well we’re just underfunded studies in our own mythologies,
We’re making mountains out of every single molehill that we see.
We don’t want to know the answers to the questions that might go to prove –
To show that this is really all a game.
I say that this is a snipe hunt, I can’t keep my mouth shut.
-Ha Ha Tonka, “Thoreau in the Woods”
It was only a (too brief) 45 minute set from Ha Ha Tonka last night, but it was perfect. Excellent setlist. Excellent, well, everything really. I walked out still amazed by how awesome they are, how amazing Novel Sounds of the Nouveau South is.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter–tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…And one fine morning–
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
-F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Happy New Year, everyone.
- 2. Ha Ha Tonka, Novel Sounds of the Nouveau South – I drove approx 10,000 miles this year and once I got this album it was a daily companion on those miles. On the drive across country, just for varieties sake, we tried not to play the album more than once a day (it was hard to do). This album was so important to my year that I’d feel bad about rating it #2 on this list if not for the fact that when I told Brian from Ha Ha Tonka that they made my second favorite album of the year, second only to Lucero, he broke out in a huge, and honored to be in such company, grin. I don’t know why this album hasn’t been on more end of year lists, I can only think it is because people haven’t heard it. Remedy that and grab that and grab the album, it won’t disappoint (then go see them live, buy merch and support awesomeness). Stand out track: Somewhere in the back of my head I knock around a list of my 50 favorite songs of all time and “Thoreau in the Woods” from this album is on that list.
Let’s get one thing straight from the get-go
This glimpse of brilliance is better than a long look at mediocrity
-Ha Ha Tonka, “St. Nick on the Fourth in a Fervor”
Taking a break from posting pictures of all the states I visited in 2009 to post this one of Ha Ha Tonka last night at the Recher. It was amazing to finally get to see and hear them live. Great show, great tunes, and they’ll be through town again in the spring as a headliner. ❤
Also, this photo is what happens when you zoom with the shutter open. I wanted a lensbaby-type look for the shot but didn’t have time to grab that lens, so I faked it with the zoom I had on.