Now that enough time has passed to digest since the last shows of 2005, it's time to pick the best. My top 5
in no particular order:
at Southpaw in Park Slope, Brooklyn (sometime in winter). Joe Russo is a monster on drums. I saw a lot of the Duo this year but this is my favorite due to the small venue, chill crowd, and special guests (Eric Krasno!). The Duo has quickly become one of my favorites. The picture below is actually from Camp Bisco over the summer.
-New Years Eve with the new drummer. Best of the 10 or so I saw this year. High energy, sick new lighting rig and M.E.M.P.H.I.S. to bring in the new year. Allen- it's good to have you in the band. Future is promising for tDB. moe. Tsunami Benefit
w/Trey Anastasio, John Medeski, Sam Bush (who I also saw guest with Yonder Mtn String Band in the fall at Irving). Big big Plane Crash with Medeski. Trey played all of set 2 including his own mini-acoustic set in the middle. Peaches->After Midnight for the encore was really hot. And all for a good cause.
on the big boat
on June 3rd. They seemed a bit more techno than Radiohead this show. Lots of dancing and a great view as the boat went up and down the Hudson. Crowds on the boats are always fun because you don't get as many casual fans coming since you can't just leave in the middle if you don't like it. No tix and no pix for this one.
Mike Gordon/Leo Kottke
-Irving plaza. Short but sweet show. Leo on acoustic guitar and Mike on electric bass. They complimented each other nicely. The songs were quirky lyrically yet bluesy and rootsy. Slow version of Twist was awesome.
Antibalas & Soulive
on June 24 in Prospect Park, Brooklyn for free (well-$3 donation but close enough)! Great venue for these local bands. Antibalas really brings the spirit of Fela alive. Love the horns.U2
at MSG . We had seen their show in the spring at Continental Arena (one of the worst arenas for a concert anywhere) so we knew pretty much what to expect but the energy was way higher- even approaching electrifying for some songs. During Sunday Bloody Sunday the floor was bouncing as much I've ever felt it- and I've probably seen 20 shows there including 3 NYE shows. Cool lights too- pic is from the Continental show though:
@ Crobar. Weird place for a concert- big club in Chelsea. Despite the fact that he didn't play any Velvet Underground material, I thought it was a really good show. Lou is an excellent guitarist and a fantastic storyteller. Very entertaining.
Phil Lesh and Friends
in Newark Chris Robinson on vocals. Great sounding theater. Lots of wood everywhere. Phil put on a really good show and Chris Robinson is a perfect fit on vocals, even if he is a bit shaky with the lyrics at times. Lots of fun to hear all the Dead tunes.
Tibet House Benefit
- Carnegie Hall. This was my second Tibet House benefit and it was great again. Lots of diverse talent onstage. Highlights included: Lou Reed doing Perfect Day. Ray Davie's entire set-he is a great performer, very energetic. Nellie McKay is so quirky weird but good on piano and she has a great voice- Tori Amos meets Mike Gordon. Trey debuted Love is Freedom which was kind of weak and he played Flock of Words with Nellie McKay which was awesome. The Phillip Glass songs were pretty eerie too.
L-R in front row in the pic is: Patti Smith & Chocolate Genius, Ray Davies & Lou Reed, Trey Anastasio & Nellie McKay. Phillip Glass is playing piano. Later Trey tries to sneak in on the Lou Reed/Ray Davies microphone and then he puts his arm around a bewildered Tibetan Monk. Go Trey.Rebirth Brass Band
- Central Park- free! Wow. Love the New Orleans funk. Especially outdoors, in the park, free, with temperatures and humidity making it feel like NO. Had tons of fun at this one. Rebirth parades through the crowd to start and gets EVERYONE moving. Nice diverse crowd too.
Halloween- Hammerstein. They had some interesting theatrics going on with people suspended by and swinging on ropes. MMW was funky and not too spacey. They can be sort of hit-or-miss and this was a hit.
@ Jones Beach. Way too much slide guitar, Warren Haynes wankfest, totally boring after a while. However, it was only $15 and moe. opened, so bad show but good value.
at The Beacon. He did not player guitar once the whole show. The best thing about this show was Merle Haggard opening. Nice Mama Tried. This was my second and last time seeing Dylan. I'll keep further criticism to myself because he's a legend and one of the best songwriters ever but I'm done with him live. That's him in the middle of the picture with the hat on playing keys.
@ Hammerstein (spring x2). Almost an embarrassment. All that money to see him play so many covers. He did redeem himself with an above average show in Philly and an even better one at Roseland in the fall. Well designed tickets too. The picture below is actually from the Cincy show, which was ok.
String Cheese Incident
@ Prospect Park- They played as part of the Big Summer Classic. It was pretty bad- they need to go back to their bluegrass roots because the sound they have now is just generic. Although to Michael Kang's credit he was pretty good on electric guitar with the band that opened for Brothers Past at Bowery Ballroom in Nov. The rest of the festival was pretty good, Michael Franti is awesome, Umphrey's was decent good despite some sound problems . Note the ticket stub is the wrong venue- they changed it up after they issued tickets due to slow sales. Prospect Park is a lot better (and closer).
Finally, my favorite ticket stub of the year is (and probably venue of the year):
What did you think was the best of '05? Leave a comment.