During the past 12 months, PopMatters writers have been turned away from shows due to torrential rain, stood next to flaming cymbals, and stepped out of their comfort zones all in the name of objective reporting. Here are the best and worst musical events of 2008.
Edited By: Kevin Pearson
Writers: Chris Catania, Chris Conaton, Thomas Hauner, Andrew Martin, Ian Mathers, Wilson McBee, Kirstie Shanley, Zach Schonfeld, and Spencer Tricker
During the past 12 months, PopMatters writers have been turned away from shows due to torrential rain, stood next to flaming cymbals, and stepped out of their comfort zones all in the name of objective reporting. We’ve had metal heads at New Kids on the Block shows and photographers at the very front of My Bloody Valentine’s deafeningly loud sonic onslaught. With record sales continuing to slow, the touring circuit is fast becoming the only feasible option for bands wishing to make a living from this music thing. This means that, as we head into 2009, it’s conceivable that there will be even more shows for us to enjoy. But this feature is all about looking back not forward, and from the classic instrumentation and stunning live harmonies of Fleet Foxes to Girl Talk’s laptop-led, party-saturated sets, 2008 was a pretty great year for live music. Some might say the circuit is overloaded, especially the summer festival season. But this not only means more choice for us, the concertgoers, but it also puts pressure on bands to up the live musical ante—be it with better performances or everything-but-the kitchen-sink stage shows.
Which is where this feature comes in—a trip to see a band doesn’t always bring forth a commendable return for our monetary outlay. For every surprisingly good opener, we might see two bad ones. A show might soar until a heckler tells the performer to put a sock in it. The music might be awesome, but the outfits awful. There’s a certain yin and yang to live music that we all must live through. And with that in mind, we now present to you our Best (and Worst) in Show of 2008…
Tuesday, January 6 2009
Remember when LCD Soundsystem opened for Arcade Fire? How about when the Shins opened for Modest Mouse? Door times are for the birds, but sometimes it does pay to show up early.
Anyone can lay down a rocking riff, but it takes a real fiend to unleash the fire burning below. Dust off your devil horns, because these muthas didn’t just rawk our socks; they set those little bastards on fire.
Hecklers, bless their souls, push performers to say things that no person on stage should ever say out loud. Here we honor the best on both sides of this eternal dance of the foul-mouthed.
Theater ain’t just for drama dorks -- it’s the lifeblood of rock n’ roll. Here’s to the crazy-big effects, stage set-ups, and sets that made this a dramatic year indeed.
They may not have been Ziggy Stardust, but they certainly weren't wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Behold this year's haute couture.