I started to think about this list last month. How will I be able to choose my top shows? What’s the criteria? I thought about many things: cultural importance, some sort of surprise, how much fun I had, who I was with, what I got as memorabilia, circumstances around the show….there’s a lot to think about. And when I was about to make myself dizzy trying to come up with multiple lists, I decided to scrap all the nonsense and just go with the shows that were the most memorable to me. These are the shows that I couldn’t get out of my head for days…sometimes weeks or months after. They touched my heart. I then vetted that list by going back and reading my reviews.
WOW. What a crazy year it has been for me. I’ve realized that not only am I writing this site to share my experiences and spread the word about bands I believe in, but I’m also essentially documenting my life. Because when I’m not at work or sleeping, there’s a pretty good chance I was at a show this past year.
How does one go to 115 shows a year? Well, first of all, it’s what I love to do-and I don’t do much else. Second, I have a good job that is supportive of my hobby. Third, I became single in May, and essentially, live music became my boyfriend. Forth, from about April on I’ve had the benefit of having my site at a point where bands and their PR firms will guestlist me for shows. And fifth, I’m crazy :-p
I know for a fact that several of these shows below were rather disliked by many, and for the NIN shows in particular, they might not be in the order you’d expect. But a concert experience has a bit of alchemy to it. Not only is the event affected by your expectations and familiarity with the music, but it depends on who you are with, where you stand, how you obtained your ticket, the people around you, your mood, what you ate, how much you had to drink…..These are the shows where the stars aligned for me.
I tried to keep it to 10….but I had to go with 20. I had 115 shows to pick from!!! And you’ll see it nicely aligns with my Top 10 albums list.
So here they are, with one sentence to explain why:
20: Psyclon Nine and Imperative Reaction @ DNA Lounge
I’d been wanting to see Psyclon Nine and Imperative Reaction for quite a while, and they didn’t disappoint with a really high energy performance of pure industrial music that I don’t get enough of live.
19: Fucked Up @ The Independent
It was one of my first shows of the year, and the memory of this special band hung in there throughout the rest of my shows.
Seeing a band of this stature play such a tiny venue was an amazing opportunity.
Yeah, I know……but these are the types of shows that become legendary later on, and I was there to see it with about 10 other people.
A star studded, intimate, affordable event for a good cause hosted by one of my all time favorite guitarists, Tom Morello.
15: Nine Inch Nails @ Bowery Ballroom
I remember having more fun at this show than most of the other NIN shows I went to, but the most special thing about this one was the size of the venue (and it kicked the Echoplex show’s ass).
Dressing up like a Zombie, destruction, an excellent drummer- that’s all you need to know.
13: Dead Weather @ Outside Lands
I went into it skeptical, but came out of it completely understanding what everyone was raving about.
12: Puscifer @ The Fox Theater Oakland
More than a show, I was finally able to see Puscifer after a couple failed attempts…and Maynard’s voice!
11: The Horrors @ The Independent
A very personally relevant show with a new band that I’m passionate about.
A hot summer metal fest with Behemoth….and Slayer and Manson from second row!
Supported by excellent openers, I finally got to see Satyricon, and got a setlist, and got to meet Frost!
8: Rob Zombie @ San Jose Events Center
Meeting Rob Zombie and being front and center made this one of the most purely fun shows for me this year.
7: Nine Inch Nails @ The Wiltern
The final Nine Inch Nails show..maybe ever…..please don’t ream me for not making this #1…I’m being honest here…it wasn’t the best and most fun NIN show I saw this year.
6: Nine Inch Nails, The Horrors @ Webster Hall
The Downward Spiral in it’s entirety was amazing…..but it still wasn’t my favorite NIN show this year.
5: Nine Inch Nails, Street Sweeper Social Club: NIN/JA Chula Vista
My first experience with the all day wait and being front and center at the rail, to Reznor joining SSSC for ‘Kick Out the Jams’, to a phenomenal first of many of the year NIN set, to meeting Reznor in the airport the next morning….this was the show that started it all.
4: Nine Inch Nails @ Henry Fonda
My miracle show- from the teased PHM beginning to the excellent special guests, this show was perhaps the best of the final NIN shows for me.
3: Mastodon @ Great American Music Hall
The show that made me follow the band around for the rest of the year.
2: Alice in Chains @ The Fillmore
One blissful evening with Alice in Chains that was perfect in every sense of the word.
1: Nine Inch Nails and Jane’s Addiction: NIN/JA Las Vegas
You get the most out of what you put the most into- and as far as time spent goes, from the time I started waiting for this show, until the time I went to bed after it, was approximately 36 hours…it doesn’t quite come across in the review, but this was, personally, my most favorite show of the year….I just couldn’t put it into words.
2011: the year of weird. I went to NAMM, had my second year at GRAMMY week, tackled SXSW, and conquered…
There’s one word to describe my 2011: WEIRD. I didn’t really have a home; I spent more nights in hotels…
I was kinda light on discovering new music this year. But, this is an honest list (last.fm keeps me honest…
Out of my 112 adventures this year….these were the 10 that rose to the top. How do I decide? I…
Most of the music I listen to would not be deemed as comforting. Sometimes life just gets to me. I…
These are some songs that come up on shuffle and I have to take a double take at the beginning….not…
OK, I think I’m done with my 2009 lists. It’s good to take a look back at the year, realize…
I was able to see some amazing musicians this year: the fabulous front people: Trent Reznor, Maynard James Keenan, Chris…
These were the openers. The ones who I went to the show not knowing well, and left loving. The ones…
It’s a questions I’m frequently asked: “So, HRC….I bet you see some crazy stuff at all those wild shows you…
HRC, a great listing here. Great job in stacking the shows. I am thrilled to see the Dead Weather make the cut. Jack White continues to impress me no matter what instrument he plays, or what his role is in a band…it's always great. And to have #1 not be the Wiltern NIN show is a bold move, but one you make a valid point towards. Thanks for the great reading in 2009 and keep up the great work!
First of all I want to thank you for letting us (those who could not attend as many great shows as you) get a taste of what you experienced. With that said, I was lucky enough to see the NIN/ja show at Chula Vista and also the Henry Fonda NIN show and yes they were fucking great! SSSC and Trent covering Kick Out the Jams was one hell of a treat. The only NIN show (for me) that beat out those 2 performances was the Hollywood Palladium. Trent was sick yet still put on an amazing show and played all of Downward Spiral. Something I definitely was not expecting.
Anyway, thank you for your reviews and this list of your top 20!