Top 10 Shows of 2011

Since I grow my music library by bouncing back and forth between decades and music styles, playing catch up on the music I’ve missed, I don’t really have a “Top 10 Albums of 2011”. I could do a list of “10 Albums That Were Released in 2011 That I Have” but that would make me look stupid since I’m pretty sure Duran Duran’s newest album is not one to the best 10 albums released this year. I could also do a “Top 10 Albums That I Discovered This Year” list, but then people would see how out of touch I am with what’s cool in music (see the LCD Soundsystem entry below). So here’s my “Top 10 Shows of 2011” list:

1.OMD – Terminal 5 March 8
This was the culmination of years of anticipation. OMD has been one of my favorites for many years, and I had been following their tour plans closely since they announced their reunion. After seeing them announce one tour after another in Europe, they finally made the announcement that they were coming to the US. Originally booked at Webster Hall, the show sold out quickly and was moved to the much more spacious Terminal 5. I got to attend the soundcheck and meet the band before the show, the whole day was a trip, and possibly one of the best days of my life. It’s all been downhill since then.

2.The Cure – Beacon Theater Nov 27
I was fortunate to score a ticket to the final night of The Cure’sReflections” series of shows which came to the Beacon Theater for 3 nights. The set was simply mind blowing: The first three albums in their entirety followed by a series of encores which added up to 3+ hours of music and 48 songs, all of which dated from the early phase of the bands’ career. If I was a bigger Cure fan, I’m pretty sure my head would’ve exploded.

3.LCD Soundsystem – Terminal 5 March 28
I didn’t even like LCD Soundsystem until I went to this show. I just bought a ticket figuring I’d get into them at some point in the future and I’d be kicking myself for not seeing them during their original run when I had the chance. It turned out to be a wise decision. Much like my #2 show, this one clocked in at over 3 hours. It was an awesome show, though the crowd was a bit too rambunctious for my taste, perhaps because they really thought the band was breaking up forever (I still think they’ll be back in 2017).

4.Royksopp – Music Hall of Williamsburg March 21
I had a ticket for this sold-out show, but wasn’t really feeling up to going out the day of. I debated whether or not to sell my ticket but in the end sucked it up and went in with the expectation that it was going to be a crappy DJ type show with 2 guys standing behind gear the whole time. Holy shit I was wrong, the guys brought in band members to spice up their tracks and the visuals were really cool. I’d definitely recommend seeing them even if you’ve never heard them.

5.The Damned – Irving Plaza Oct 22
It sucks that the Damned are so freakin’ old. This show celebrated their 35th anniversary by playing their first album (::yawn::) and the Black Album (::boner::) in their entirety. The Damned is my favorite band of all time, and the show should be higher up on the list, but this was a stupid Live Nation show at Irving Plaza. There were a million different sections on the balcony, and I had “VIP” tickets but was escorted to the wrong section at first then got moved to this horrible area with this horrible shrieking banshee of a woman behind me, who absolutely wrecked my attempt at recording the show. The day after the show, I fired off an angry email to Live Nation about how they’re an evil corporation and their customer service is lacking and ended it with the phrase “OCCUPY LIVE NATION!”. I’m still waiting for a response.

6.Cold Cave – Knitting Factory July 12
I’m glad I caught these guys at the intimate Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. I was unsure how good the band was going to sound, and I had heard they intentionally played more obscure tracks in lieu of their more well known songs. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised how much fun this show was despite Cold Cave playing only 10 songs. I’m looking forward to seeing them again, hopefully in 2012.

7.Soundgarden – Prudential Center July 08
This one wins the award for the best show with the worst sound. Soundgarden played their first NYC area show in 15 years at the cavernous Prudential Center. The set was awesome, the song selection was great, and the sound was awful. But it was still a good show. Plus, it could have been a lot worse: the band played the alcohol-free Jones Beach Theater on Long Island the next night. It has really, really, REALLY bad sound…trust me. And there’s a serial killer on the loose who’s been killing prostitutes and dumping their bodies in the marshes up the road from the place. So that can’t be good.

8.Duran Duran – Madison Square Garden Oct 25
I finally popped my “Floor Tickets to an arena show” cherry with Duran Duran playing to a definitely not sold out Madison Square Garden. Seeing a show from the floor at the Garden is an awesome experience, as the sound is way better than my usual tickets in the upper reaches of the arena. The downside is that there’s only one bar and it’s occupied by the 1%, who choose to order mixed drink after mixed drink in their continued effort to stop the 99% from getting a beer in a reasonable amount of time.

9.Deicide – Gramercy Theater Feb 21 My first death metal show in a couple years was a good one. Deicide brought the brutality and Satan was definitely in the house this night. I naively stood in the middle of the floor when the band took the stage, completely forgetting that mosh pits happen at metal shows. I was gently reminded and immediately got pushed to the outskirts of the floor, where the long haired dude in front of me kept whipping his hair around blocking my view. It was stereotypically metal.

10.Penguin Prison – Music Hall of Williamsburg Dec 30
My last show of 2011 managed to sneak into my Top 10 at the last minute. Though this shows’ appearance on this list could be chalked up to the fact that I only recently started listening to the band, I decided that I really liked the show and it was worthy of being named. You’re welcome, Penguin Prison.

Bottom 3 Worst Shows of the Year
Chameleons Vox – Home Sweet Home Nov 23
Believe it or not, I went to a show this year that was actually worse than Guns N Roses. Chameleons Vox is two original members of The Chameleons and two other guys playing Chameleons songs. They were playing the classic Chameleons’ album “Script of the Bridge” in its entirety, so I was really looking forward to the show despite the fact that it wasn’t the original band. I figured at least they had the original singer/bassist in the band, so how bad can it be? The answer? Really bad. The show was held at a bar on the Lower East Side during a goth night, there was no bathroom, and it was super crowded around the stage so I couldn’t see anything. As far as the sound, the drums weren’t miked so it was basically like going to a local band showcase. And the guitars, which were miked, sounded like they were underwater. It was produced by some NYC – based post-punk record label. They are dumb and do not know how to put on concerts and should not be allowed to book bands that I like. I was chanting “refund! refund! refund!” during the set (I was pretty intoxicated) but no one else in the place shared my sentiment. If the show was held at a real venue, it probably would’ve kicked ass because the band sounded fairly competent.

Guns N Roses – Izod Center Nov 18
Yeah, I know, it’s not really Guns N Roses. I knew going into this show that it was going to be bad. I heard that Axl had gained a lot of weight and that his voice was shot and that he had fallen on stage a couple times during this tour, so I was kind of hoping for a train wreck. Unfortunately what I got was more like a train fender bender. Axl sucked, but not enough that it was funny. He managed to stay upright the whole time, despite the fact that he constantly dashed on and off stage, leaving his band to fend for themselves through countless guitar solos and boring classic rock covers. By the time they went on stage at 11PM, beer sales had stopped and the buzz from my tailgating was wearing off. Though I did make myself laugh several times that night by referring to the arena as the “Kneel Before Zod Center”.

Chris Isaak – Jones Beach June 18
The only reason I had the misfortune of seeing this douchebag was because he was the opening act for Hall and Oates (don’t judge!) at the aforementioned Jones Beach Theater. Don’t get the wrong idea, I know he sucks and would never pay money or travel to see him. I just got to the show way too early. He played nothing but obvious covers (Pretty Woman, Ring of Fire, etc.) while undergoing multiple costume changes in the process. He didn’t even play his one hit, Wicked Game, which is actually not awful. My girlfriend and I tried to wait out his set in the concession area by slowly eating overpriced chicken fingers for about 40 minutes, and still got stuck witnessing his last 2 songs because he would not get off the stage.

Dishonorable Mention:
Rammstein – Izod Center May 5
These guys’ December 11th Madison Square Garden appearance made my top 10 show list for 2010. Then they came back to the NYC area a couple months later in May and played the EXACT SAME SHOW. Fuck that shit.

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