Here’s our discussion for Favorite Shows of 2011 ::
Denton (Little Advances) :: How about that Criminal Records benefit at The Cottage? It was basically a 300+ person house show with an amazing vibe and most of my favorite local bands. Seriously not a dud in the lineup. That might be the most fun I’ve ever had at a show in Atlanta.
Me :: I definitely agree with Denton, the Criminal Records benefit at The Cottage was absolutely incredible. But in addition to that, I was lucky enough to go to two Daytrotter Barnstormers this year in Maquoketa, IA. The first was back in April. All of the bands were amazing, but I will never forget the performance by Guards. They rocked that barn so hard the power went out. My second Barnstormer experience was in September, and it was great. I went into it only being familiar with a couple of bands, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Hundred Visions, Wildlife, Madi Diaz and Princeton left lasting impressions on me for sure. Everyone should experience a Barnstormer at least once.
Bret (Hijacking Music) :: I am pretty confident that this year I attended more shows than I have ever before, and dwindling down my list was really tough.
In no particular order:
Kebbie Williams and Snarky Puppy @ 529. We walked in to Kebbie Williams with a massive horn section, two drummers, and a packed out stage. The whole place was already dancing. I had never seen Snarky before that night and became their biggest fan instantly.
BeATLanta house show festival – This event was fantastic. No drama, lots of excellent bands from all over. The BeATLanta creww kno how to throw a house party, and this was taking it to the next level. Hope to see it happen again.
Nophest – This years Nophest was easily the best one to date. I was out every night walking to different venues that all had a crowd. Giving different local artists their own stage and night to work with really made it feel like a community event. Looking forward to next year.
BOSCO @ Basement – Before 2011 it had been far too long since BOSCO had been rocking the venues around ATL as much as she has this year. The show she did at the basement was so great because when you walked in, the whole place had been transformed. Smoke, streamers, balloons, art wall, etc. The place was completely changed, the lineup was excellent, and of course BOSCO blew it up.
Protest the Hero @ Masquerade – Back in April one of my favorite bands came through to Masquerade and seriously brought the place down. People were jumping off stage, off the speakers, and getting crazy(in a good way) in Hell like I had not seen before. I was just glad to be in the middle of it all.
Christina (Promising Chord) :: Emily, I know you are always going to shows, what were some of your favorites you attended in Atlanta? There were so many phenomenal shows this year so I apologize in advance of the numerous shows I’m about to mention. First off, the most fun I had at a show was probably M83 and Active Child at the Masquerade on Halloween. It was the perfect way to spend my Halloween and both bands put on an exceptional performance. Every time I see Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun I have the best time. I respect the passion that they pour in to every gig and I’ve seen them live six or seven times so far this year. My favorites were their album release show and their free show at 529 with Sleepy Genes. Another great show was The Joy Formidable at The Earl. I couldn’t believe how a three-piece could create such a big powerful sound and I was blown away. My favorite house show was Dark Room and Fine Peduncle at the BeAtlanta house. Fine Peduncle is a one of a kind artist that really impressed the crowd and Dark Room is one of my favorite electronic acts to see live. O’Brother at the Drunken Unicorn was probably the most moving show I have been to this year because their music is so dark and heavy, it’s intense to witness live especially in such an intimate venue like Drunken Unicorn. I could go on for days but that’s just a taste of some of my favorite shows this year.
Adam (BeAtlanta) :: Any Sneaky Hand show, any Cousin Dan show. Every time I see those two bands I never leave unhappy. Any Psychedubaurus Rex show for that matter. They are the quintessential instrumental band in Atlanta as far as I’m concerned. Vegan Coke too.
The Jungol single release show for “Who’s in Bed” at the Earl in February provided an awesome atmosphere and an amazing time. Its a show I won’t forget.
I’d say the Hijacking Music festival was the best local festival I’ve attended. Much to my discontent, I didn’t make the entire festival but I was there for a lot of it. The lineup was great, the beer was cheap and the Goat Farm is absolutely the best place for a local festival held outdoors.
Dark Room and Fine Peduncle at the BeATLanta house was an absolutely spectacular show. Those two acts together in a close up, intimate setting was undeniably awesome. Everyone who attends the house shows agreed it was just an amazing setting and atmosphere for a show, one of the best at the BeATLanta house and best of the year.
Manchester Orchestra at the Tabernacle. Its been nice to see an Atlanta band breakout and become as big and as talented as these guys. I’ve seen them a few times in the past year and each show is better than the next.
On a non-local point I have to throw a shout out to Bonnaroo (Manchester Orchestra and Fine Peduncle played this year). Like the lineup or not (I usually do), it provides one of the best festival atmospheres I’ve experienced. I’ve gone the past 6 years and each time is as uniquely amazing and impressive…but be prepared for some heat.
I saw Metric at the Tabernacle and that left an impression on me.
I think Atlanta provides the music community with a wide variety of bands that play regularly and bring it to the stage every time. Its pretty damn hard to pin down those 2-4 local shows that you thought stood above the rest. I’d challenge everyone who reads these posts to make it to more shows in 2012 and experience more local bands. Believe me, there are bands you and I love that we have never seen or maybe even heard of yet. Plus, it helps our local economy and the bands we love. Other great shows: Detroit Mutant Radio, Jack of Hearts, Fishhawk, Odist, We the Lion, Opposing Suns, Today the Moon Tomorrow the Sun, Verge of Bliss, the Claymores, Merkava, NovaKord, Night Driving in Small Towns, Cusses (from Savannah) and so many more.
Rube (Atlanta’s A-List) :: Emily, I’m always jealous of your musical adventures. I just hang around here so my 2011 live show resume is a little less impressive. The year started with a show that really did blow my mind. On a last minute whim, I grabbed my girl and another pal and headed for Euclid Avenue one Sunday night in January to spend some time with Kevin Barnes and his cohorts who perform under the moniker of Of Montreal. What I didn’t expect that night was that little Miss Monae would completely steal the show with a performance that left my jaw hanging in awe. I had seen Janelle perform before at 500 Songs for Kids and was pretty familiar with her back story. I had the first EP and liked the concept and the “single.” When the full-length came out, I never could bring myself to like it nearly as much as I wanted to. I approached her performance as the typical warm-up form something I knew was worth seeing. Well, the young lady proved me impossibly wrong. She made yawners into anthems and stole the show by borrowing almost every stage trick ever invented, from the Velvet Underground to James Brown. This is her magical talent. If she could put together a record that matches her image, vision and performances in cohesiveness, she could be my favorite Atlanta artist. A mind-bending performance.
I didn’t have to wait too long before I was again blown away by a pixie on the stage. It was April when the Welsh trio, The Joy Formidable, made their very first appearance in our fair hamlet. There is no question that Ritzy stole the show with her energy and delivery but if I wasn’t sold by the end, she closed the deal by playing Matt’s drums with the head of her strat and knelling on stage in front of her six-stringed pet to make it scream with pains of feedback. Loved it.
With no intentional disrespect to the many great shows that Atlanta’s own put on this year, I also need to mention a couple of other out of town performers. Canada’s Rural Alberta Advantage simply blew me away. Paul Banwatt’s work on the skins was mesmerizing. I think I was in a trance (that is what mesmerizing is, isn’t it?).
Without having Chuck of Dead Journalist in the crowd this year, I am the lone representative of the Dad Rock movement so I have to say that Wilco still amazes me with every performance. I don’t care how much Max makes fun of me I will keep building my collection of live Wilco shows. I never get tired of it. That being said, Nick Lowe’s performance to start that night in Smyrna or Marietta or wherever the hell I was that night, truly caught my attention. Being old enough to remember hearing “Cruel to be Kind” on the radio (yes, I am that old), I was seeing Mr. Lowe for the first time. With silver white locks and an acoustic guitar this Englishman proved why he is the Jesus of Cool. That’s it for 2011. Thanks, Rube.
Tim (I’m A Bear, ETC!) :: I attended more shows this year than any year previously so it’s hard to choose. The best Atlanta show: The Criminal Records Benefit at The Cottage. 2012 will be the year of The Cottage in Atlanta, but this show was the perfect showcase of Atlanta music. Every band gave their best performance I’ve seen of theirs so far and the atmosphere was like no other.
As far as some of the best Atlanta shows I saw in Atlanta this year, Alabama Shakes would have to top that list. It’s hard to imagine a show where the front woman gave more than Brittany did on that evening at The Earl. Down to their last few songs and with nearly a breath left, she announced the have a few more songs to give us and they were a real treat. I had expectations for Tune-Yards live-show and she absolutely blew them away. They way she loops and does everything on-stage is unreal. In the greatest opening of any band this year, she started with a new track in which she screamed out “Do you want to live?” over and over while the audience responded. It was a real awakening.
Other quick highlights: Black Lips Valentines Day show at Clermont Lounge, my first time seeing Carrie Brownstein shred and hump the floor as part of Wild Flag, Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr’s two Atlanta appearances in suits and covers of “I Just Want to Dance with Somebody” and “Higher Love,” Cut Copy’s LCD door, goosebumps created from M83 opening up their Halloween Atlanta show with “Intro,”St. Vincent covering The Pop Group and Cole of The Black Lips humping Bradford Cox at the last-minute Deerhunter show.
Oh and my preferred festival is SXSW which always treats me right. This year’s highlight was seeing Death from Above 1979’s first show since reuniting and getting trampled by the crowd outside the venue.
Moe (Latest Disgrace) :: There’s a lot of love here for the Real Criminal Records Benefit at the Cottage and for good reason. Great bands, great atmosphere. It was a real coming together of artists, music and community. And it was an absolute blast.
On the national front, a lot of older bands seem to be jumping on the “playing (fill in name of album here) in its entirety” bandwagon. I know there are quite a few people out there who despise the concept because it reeks of a moneymaking venture, but I can’t deny that when it works, it can be pretty special, especially for those who may not have been able to see the band perform the material the first time around. I mean, if Queens of the Stone Age want to tour behind their self-titled debut, the last thing I’m going to do is complain. And they absolutely crushed it at Center Stage. Even if they hadn’t played an extended second set of newer material, I would have gone home grinning from ear to ear.
But getting an opportunity to see Glassjaw perform Worship and Tribute (also at Center Stage) this year topped everything for me. I grew up as a huge fan of New York hardcore and post-hardcore and Daryl Palumbo and crew played some of the most melodically aggressive and yet spacious post-hardcore music I’ve ever heard. But for a long time Palumbo’s ongoing problems with Crohn’s Disease had kept them basically on hiatus. When the band started recording and releasing new material, I was jacked. And when rumors started floating of an impending tour, I could only hope they would see their way to Atlanta.
And thank goodness, they did. Center Stage was wall-to-wall packed and Glassjaw tore the roof off the joint. The place went completely bonkers. There were bodies and limbs being tossed around all over the place. It seemed like everyone knew the words to every song and we were all screaming along with the band. But the real surprise was the encore set when the band played their new Coloring Book EP from front to back. At the time, nobody knew any of the songs, and it was a big musical transition for them. All of the sudden they were playing these extended atmospheric prog rock compositions that were much more complex and nuanced than anything they’ve ever done. It was mesmerizing. Everyone who was at the show got a free copy of the record on their way out and it hasn’t left my car since. One of my favorite records of 2011.
Max (Paste Magazine) :: I saw a lot of shows this year–including 100 bands at SXSW, a handful of the major U.S. festivals and a ton of local concerts. I discovered my two favorite festivals (SXSW and Newport), toured with Barnstormer 5 in the middle Hurricane Irene and got closer to the action than ever before. So what were my favorites from this year? Beirut (at the Variety Playhouse), tUnE-yArDs (at The Basement), Rich Aucoin, Charles Bradley, Fleet Foxes (at The Tabernacle), The Antlers (at The Masquerade) and Middle Brother all come to mind. It was a tremendous year in live music.
Davy (Ohm Park) :: Probably my favourite show of the year was Godspeed You! Black Emperor at the 40 Watt in Athens. They played for three hours without saying a word or even acknowledging the audience, and I still wanted more when they were done. I was sort of late coming to Godspeed, so I skeptical whether it would impress me as much as it did, but wow, what a monster they are live.
I also loved the St. Vincent and Destroyer shows at The Earl. Those were both amazing. And, I had a ton of fun at the two night Phish run up at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. I’m not a fan amphitheatres, but for some reason I do enjoy seeing shows at that one. Locally, my two favourites were the Criminal Records benefit at the Cottage, and the Ohmpark 4 Year Anniversary Party at The Earl back in January. I had such an incredible time at both of those. And I also want to shout out to the SOUL Project that’s been happening every two months over at the Goat Farm. It was my favourite concert series of 2011, with great lineups, and it’s helped raise money for the community, so if you haven’t checked that out yet, I highly recommend attending some in 2012.
Me :: In Atlanta? Well, hands down favorite show of the year was the Criminal Records Benefit at the Cottage. It was probably one of the greatest local line-ups I’ve seen. I was lucky enough to present another show at the Cottage in October with Gem Club, Holy Spirits, Places, and Vocabulary. It was beautiful seeing two of my favorite out-of-town bands and two of my favorite in-town bands together in such an intimate setting. And the Cottage is just great, am I right?
I feel like any show I see at the EARL is an instant favorite, notable shows include St. Vincent, Yuck, Alabama Shakes and The War On Drugs.
M83 at the Masquerade was another favorite for sure, that show was mind blowing. And Toro y Moi at the Masquerade was excellent, and what made that show for me wasn’t Toro, but the opening acts. Bass Drum of Death and Unknown Mortal Orchestra killed it.
I got to see Saskatchewan play a short, but awesome set at the 529 with Red Sea and New Animal.
Girls at the Variety and Youth Lagoon with Young Magic and Qurious at the Drunken Unicorn were probably my two most favorite shows to see here in Atlanta, besides the Criminal Records Benefit at the Cottage.
OH! And I have to mention Wild Flag at the 40 Watt in Athens. That night was magical. Eleanor Friedberger killed it. Wild Flag killed it, resurrected it and killed it again.
It’s so hard to remember all of the shows I went to, but those definitely stick out in my mind.
I would like to invite you guys to continue the discussion below in the comments section, what were some of your favorite shows of 2011?
See you at the show tonight! And stay tuned tomorrow Best EPs/Songs hosted by Promising Chord and Best Places to Buy and Hear hosted by Atlanta’s A-List!