Thursday, December 18, 2008

music madness: top eight of '08

Every year I feel like I didn't see enough shows, then I look back on my calendar and realized that I see more shows per month (at least 1-2) than some people see in a year. Even though only one "stadium" band made my list, I do appreciate that I was able to cross seeing Stevie Wonder, The Police and the tireless (3.5 hour set!!) Bruce Springsteen off my "must see before I die."

Before I get into my "Top Eight," here are a couple of honorable mentions:

Best show I was at, but had a miserable time: Girl Talk @ Lollapalooza (August) - this is on so many top lists this year, but for me it was ruined by the grossest couple in the world

Best show I missed this year: Fleet Foxes @ The Pabst Theater (October) - What was I thinking missing that? It was ten bloody dollars!

Most rockin' non-rock show: Holst's The Planets @ The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (June)- I mentioned this in a later symphony post, but really wish I'd blogged my reaction immediately following. This was the most ass-kicking classical performance I've ever attended.

And the official "TOP EIGHT OF 2008"...

8. M.I.A. @ Turner Hall Ballroom (May) - My second time seeing M.I.A. always a ridiculously fun show, even if you may get seizures from her background videos.

7. Vampire Weekend @ Turner Hall Ballroom (April) - Say what you will, but the show was fun, they interacted incredibly well with the audience (BLAAAAAKE'S GOT A NEW FACE!) and I bonded with people who became really fantastic friends this year.

6. Two Cow Garage live @ Brooke & Craig's wedding (January) - The only time I got to see one of my favorite live acts this year. After an incredibly boozy and busy day, it was great to wrap up the fun with a good ol' fashioned rock show.

5. Jamie Lidell @ Lollapalooza (August) -

Jim was one of my top albums of the spring, and Jamie Lidell was a true performer, even in the hot Chicago sun. I'd love to see him again live at a non-outdoor setting.

4. Spiritualized @ Turner Hall Ballroom (September) - Another "must-see" band for me, glad they came to Milwaukee this year.

3. Jens Lekman @ The Pabst Theater (March) - This was the most under-appreciated show of the year. Not many people went, it was only $10, but no one knows what they were missing. Lekman's song are top notch, but so is his ability as a performer. He was hilarious, engaged the audience, and solidified my opinion of him as "Morrissey on Prozac."

2. Bon Iver @ The Pabst Theater (August) - Not only was this a chance to show off a Milwaukee gem to my brother, but a chance to see Wisconsin's finest, and most relevant, musical output since the Violent Femmes in the early '80s (we were a bit overdue). I haven't finalized my albums of the year list yet, but this show helped argue the case for this band. It was truly a magical concert experience. My one regret is that we only caught the tail end of well-lauded opener A.A. Bondy.

1. Radiohead @ Lollapalooza (August) -

This concert was a redo for me, as I royally screwed up losing my Radiohead virginity at Alpine Valley in 2003. This show helped me redeem myself and proved to me that Radiohead is a band everyone should experience. The set was sublime; there were even fireworks integrated into it (may have just been coincidental, but it worked). None of the other "mainstage" acts at Lolla could top Thom Yorke and friends Friday night show. And unlike other stadium bands, I like Radiohead's new offerings just as much as my first loves off The Bends and OK Computer. This is why they are the "big show" that makes the list -- not only is it a mindblowing music experience, but their music is still relevant.


  1. You really missed out by not seeing the Girl Talk Election Night show, but I can understand your reasons for not going (Personally, I disagree, and I had an even better night for the election by watching Gregg tear it up again. You only get to see Girl Talk salute the election of our first Black president live, once.) And I only disagree with your M.I.A. selection because the sound was so awful that night. (Very glad I saw a much better set previously) Although it was fun dancing with her on stage during Boyz. Did you happen to catch Diplo's set at Moct in March?

  2. I didn't catch Diplo at Moct, I really wanted too, but I can't remember what came up.

    Just to clarify, my reason for missing Girl Talk on Election Night was because I was actually in Grant Park watching Barack Obama speak live.

    Now that was a rock show!

  3. I'm still pissed at myself for the 2003 Radiohead experience. UGH, stupid cheap wine.

  4. Radiohead Alpine 2003 blew this show away...but it was still good.

  5. I loved Radiohead at Lolla! That was the best show of the year.

    I actually wanted to go to the Girltalk show on election night but I was stupid and didn't think they would be sold out so I went there after class only to find out I would have to buy from a scalper. I went home instead but heard from friends it was an amazing show.


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