The Best of 2008: Concert Edition


A lot of bands toured this year and made stops at venues in New York City, so I got to see a bunch of great shows. Here are my top picks for 2008:

Best Free Concert: The Avett Brothers @ Stuyvesant High School
Although thunderstorms threatened to cancel this free outdoor concert, the show still went on with the help of the Stuyvesant High School auditorium. Good move. Thank you, River to River Festival.

Best Band Performance at a Festival: Band of Horses @ Monolith Festival
One of the highlights of the Monolith Festival, Band of Horses performed like they were the only band playing that day. I had been wanting to see them for a while, and they did not disappoint.

Band of Horses

Band of Horses

Most Attentive Audience: Bon Iver @ Town Hall

Best Last Song of the Night: Cloud Cult’s Love You All @ Bowery Ballroom

Best New Venue: The Bell House in Brooklyn
Big space, good bands, and everyone has a good view of the stage

Best Concert I Almost Didn’t Go To: Frightened Rabbit w/Oxford Collapse @ Southpaw
Yup, I almost didn’t go to this one. What a pity that would have been. I bought two tickets on a whim, but nobody else could join me. But I decided to go anyway even though I knew nothing about Frightened Rabbit except the fact that the songs on their MySpace page sounded good. Needless to say, I’m really glad I went, which leads me to the next category…

Most Anticipated Concert of 2009:
Frightened Rabbit @ Bowery Ballroom 1/17/09. This time I will be prepared. I know the lyrics, I know all the songs. This will be a good one.

Band I Saw Most Often: Pela — yes, I saw this band on three different occasions this year (Music Hall of Williamsburg 2/27/08, Bowery Ballroom 6/6/08, Mercury Lounge 10/23/08), which means they are giving The New Pornographers a run for their money. Was it band overkill? Not at all. If they decided to play tomorrow night, I’d go in an instant.

Pela @ Mercuty Lounge

Pela @ Mercuty Lounge

Best Song to Hear Live: I Woke Up Today – Port O’Brien
This is the pots & pans, crowd participation, leave-’em-wanting-more final note of the Port O’Brien show.

Best Impromptu Acoustic Performance: Robin Pecknold, of Fleet Foxes, played “Oliver James” while his band mates took a break offstage.

Best View from My Seat: The National @ BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
I was in the second row, so I felt like I was one of the few attendees at a private concert.

Best Views at a Venue: Monolith Festival in Denver, Colorado

Best Seating Idea: This blow-up chair courtesy of Qdoba served as both a comfortable chair and a territory marker.

Most Successful Attempt to get onstage: This guy in a wonderfully neon costume made his way through the crowd until he got Sharon Jones’ attention and was invited up onstage.

Riskiest Attempt to see a Show without Paying: With the aid of a parachute, this person tried to just drop in on the Monolith Festival.

Here’s to another year of concerts in 2009. Cheers!


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