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The most awesome concerts I’ve seen in the last decade

The most awesome concerts I’ve seen in the last decade

By Jon Levine Guest blogger on keepitsurreal.com

There have been a good deal of noteworthy concerts lately and it’s gotten me thinking about some of the most enjoyable shows that I’ve had the opportunity to attend over the last decade or so. So this past weekend, as I stood there with my mind melting sometime during the second night of Phish’s three night stand in Atlantic City, I started to compile this list.  
These shows are in no particular order and the fact that they appear speaks to the memorability of the overall experience, and thus does not necessarily rely purely on the prowess of the particular performers.  So please join me in playing along; agree, disagree, add your own, send me money…whatever you feel is right.  Anyways, without further ado and in approximate temporal order…

The Strokes (w/White Stripes) at Radio City Music Hall

I know this show was sometime in 2002 when the Strokes were at the top of their game.  What made it especially fun was the fact that Julian was on crutches and thus confined to a chair for most of the show, but often got so fired up he’d try to stand up and just fall down. Unfortunately for some reason or another I can’t remember many specifics about this one but I know I was only a few rows back and had a great time.  Miss these bros. Click here for a video from that night of the band performing “New York City Cops” with guest Jack White.

Jurassic 5 at Vanderbilt University Frat Row

Just an awesome way to start off another college night down south.  Highlights included us yelling out “Cut Chemist” at the dj throughout the show and then hounding him at the after party at Beta, only to find out Cut Chemist had taken the night off and it was actually DJ Nu-Mark.

Broken Social Scene and Metric at Exit In

One of the great things about Nashville is big indie bands at small venues that don’t sell out.  In this case we went for Broken Social Scene but wound up discovering the show-stealing, sometime BSS members, who opened for them; a pre-fame Metric supporting their 2003 album, the great Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?  Couldn’t get that shit out of the cd player for weeks.  

The Faint at Webster Hall

Sometime in 2004 or 2005 we caught the Faint at Webster Hall and it remains one of the most energetic shows I’ve been to; I can still remember the sensation of the floor moving underfoot like it was water.  Plus the band invited everyone to their after party at the Soho Grand and they actually showed up there.  I even got to ask the bass player why so many indie bands were coming out of Omaha at the time.  His answer: “There’s nothing else to do.”

The Cure at Randall’s Island

In the summer of 2004 Curiosa festival came to New York, featuring bands such as Interpol, Mogwai, the Rapture and Muse.  Interpol’s set was so tight and energetic that I found my excitement for headliner the Cure falling fast, but that all changed shortly after they took the stage.  The show was so well crafted and Robert Smith’s guitar work so (surprisingly) good, I was literally sad when it ended.  Add to that the super chill vibe of the mostly thirty-something crowd and you get a great, but undervalued, festival experience.  

Wolfmother at Webster Hall

High energy as always, lots of moshing, afros and good times.  The good ole days of 2006.

Nine Inch Nails at Madison Square Garden

This was an electric, special effects-packed arena show in support of the With Teeth album.  Trent Reznor is truly a rock god and he proved it again here.  Feel bad for the friend that passed out in his hands for most of the show…you know who you are bro.  

Flaming Lips at Webster Hall

Nothing but good times, balloons, colors and Jelly at this feel good 2006 performance.

Sigur Ros at the Good Shepherd Faith Church

One of the coolest shows I recall from back in 2007 was a special super secret acoustic Sigur Ros performance in a church on the Upper West Side, as part of the Wordless Music Series.  It was both intimate and epic and the free church wine only improved the situation.

White Stripes at Irving Plaza

In 2007 the White Stripes teared through an intimate set at the Irving at Fillmore Plaza, or whatever the joint was called at that time.  When together the Stripes are one of the best live bands out there, and even when they were touring regularly it was nearly impossible to catch them in a venue this size.  Preceded by a trippy, part vaudeville part evil carnival show opener, this was simply one of the best.  Props be to Drazin for getting in line at 8am (see if you can spot him in the video!).

LCD Soundsystem at Bowery Ballroom

The more I write this the more I yearn for 2007 to come back around again.  LCD puts on one of the most fun and danceable shows you can find these days, and they were arguably peaking around the time of the release of their second LP, Sound of Silver.  Sure the recent spurt of shows at larger venues like Terminal 5 has been great, but when you have the opportunity to see a great band at a place like Bowery or Irving you best take it.

Arcade Fire at Judson Memorial Church

There’s something about seeing live music in a church, especially when the subject matter is so relevant (in this case indicated by a “neon bible” handing over the stage).  Admittedly I was a little bummed that AF didn’t make use of the huge, built in organ, but the fact that they started off the first song of the show wailing on their instruments in the middle of the audience (check it out!), strapped on drums and all, more than made up for it.  

TV on the Radio at Brooklyn Masonic Temple

One of the first performances of the Dear Science material, this show was just plain rad and the crowd was enraptured.  

CSS at Webster Hall

Super high energy, crazy Brazilian costumes, and singer Lovefoxx striding runway-style through the audience while she sang.  Fun show, wish they’d start touring again.

Radiohead at Liberty State Park

I hadn’t planned to attend any of the first All Points West festival but after seeing the Radiohead performance on the first night, a friend convinced me the second night was not to be missed.  Granted, all Radiohead shows are pretty damn good, but something about this one…the crazy lights, the crowd energy, the majestic backdrop of the New York City skyline and Statue of Liberty…made this one of my favorites. 

Etienne de Crecy at Liberty State Park

The final act of the 2009 All Points West festival, this DJ set was more like a pagan religious experience than a concert.  From his pulpit inside a giant, suspended interactive Rubik’s cube structure turned light show, Etienne works his revelers into a frenzy a la True Blood season 2, and you remain helpless to perform any action other than dancing like mad until the last note sounds.  Need to see this one again if he ever comes back to the States, but in the meantime check out this video for a taste.

David Byrne at Radio City Music Hall 

A fully choreographed set of mostly Talking Heads material complete with interpretive dance, and sitting second row orchestra didn’t hurt either. Not that it needs saying, but Byrne is one of the all time greats and he consistently proves that he’s still got it.

Osheaga Festival in Montreal, Quebec


Photo by Matt Drazin

Just a surprisingly great festival experience overall which is hard to come by these days.  The musical highlights were clearly the Pavement reunion and Arcade Fire’s tour opener/homecoming show, but what really made it worth the price of admission was the overall vibe of the attendees, the chillness of the security, and the good planning and implementation of all the logistics.  Another highlight was the dj stage which was constantly poppin’ off and culminated in a sweaty performance by Major Lazer.

Roger Waters at Madison Square Garden 

Roger Waters - The Wall @ MSG from matt drazin on Vimeo.

Photo & Video by Matt Drazin

Waters is currently in the midst of his worldwide tour to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Wall and to put it simply, it’s not to miss.  Sure the ticket prices are high but really, when are you going to have a chance to see this again?  More aptly described as a musical experience than a mere concert, the Wall managed to surpass my already astronomical expectations.  At first I was concerned when I read that Waters had updated the themes and imagery of the show to put less emphasis on his personal psychological and emotional distress and aiming to reflect more of the political and socioeconomic events transpiring in the world today; but true to form he did an outstanding job of maintaining the original underlying themes of the Wall (e.g. self-imposed isolation, loss, fascism, overindulgence, etc.) while using imagery from both the original film and tour and modern times to get the point across.  It’s as much of an emotional roller coaster as it ever was and lucky for you, you’ll get another chance to see what I mean this Saturday at MSG.

Honorary Mention - Unisex Salon at the Knitting Factory  

Photo by Matt Drazin

Yes I realize how self-serving it is to put your own band on this list, but the first Unisex show at the Knit was a night to remember and I can’t help myself.  Sure the second one included tranny fights and cops being called to the scene, but Knitting Factory I contained such epic moments as the debut of “She Got Shot” and a Forbes sponsored camera crew, plus the band actually got to perform.  

Jemina Pearl (ex Be Your Own Pet) rocking out at the Bowery Ballroom on 11/05/09.  Her band opened for the Islands and totally rocked.

I have a shit ton more pictures to upload but here is a little taste.