The end is near… Of 2015! And my top 30 favorite sets of 2015. Here are the last 10.
This show is on the list for a few reasons. This was probably my 14th or 15th time seeing this Baltimore group since their formation several years ago, and this was to be my (and everyone’s) last time to see them. Their UN Fest (an excellent festival in Baltimore) set was advertised as their last, and I was able to experience the loudness and wild crowd, one last time.
The second set on this list was Pleasure Leftists opening for Chameleons VOX, at Metro Gallery. I have been a fan of this Midwest post-punk group for a while, and it was nice to finally see them live. I loved the singer’s dance moves.
The next one was something random for me, Sun Ra Arkestra at the Ottobar. I was hooked on their weirdo jazz, and loved every minute. The pissed off looking dude was my favorite performer of their raucous set.
This was one of the Wildhoney sets I saw. This noisy group gets better and better. This was their first set with a new guitar player.
Expert Alterations are some nice dudes and local indie pop heroes. This was their debut album release show. I made it there just in time to see them (performing with a member of Wildhoney as a quartet) give an inspired and impassioned performance.
I saw the Polyphonic Spree for a third time. This time I had a front table seat at a sit down venue. The Spree tore it up for two sets; one being their first album in it’s entirety, the second a greatest hits and covers and rarities set. I love the Spree and this performance further cemented my love.
I have seen Wolf Eyes a few times now. This was the weirdest of all of the sets. Which is saying a lot for the mavens of Trip Metal. This was almost a jazz set, and I think it was mostly improv. I could be wrong, but it didn’t sound like their new LP.
Wing Dam is one of my favorite bands. They always rock. They played Cocoon which is my favorite song by them and one I think they had not played the last couple times I saw them. They also had the best shirts (Miley Cyrus ones that can be seen in the picture below) and I added one to my collection.
At number 9 is DC band Paint Branch. This show was in a library basement. They are another band I have been into for a few years and finally saw. I think they are the new America (the band) with their harmonies and interplay (guitar and vocals).
The last of my favorite sets was actually tonight. And no I am not just throwing them on here. I felt like i might really dig it so I saved a slot, just in case. Good thing I did because the unseasonable heat and a packed basement in DC with one of my favorite singers belting out her old and new songs was too excellent. I had heard they were gonna break up, now it seems like they wont. Good, I want to see them again…
Until 2016 (and the one last show I have this year, or maybe two) my friends!
All images in all show pictures by me
I go to a lot of live music. Here were my thirty favorite sets, a quick sentence or two about each, and a picture. They are in chronological order. I wont be posting dates for each one though.
First up, Crimson Wave at Sidebar. It was their second to last ever show, and I included this over their last because while this was sad.. It was not as sad as the last one was.
This was from War on Women’s record release show. It was a great time with a diverse lineup, and War on Women slayed and made me a lifetime fan (I already loved the EP before this).
Downtown Boys at Windup Space. They made me even more of a fan of the sax.
The Body at CCAS! (RIP CCAS). This was one of the few times that I went to Charm City Art Space. This was a matinee show and the Body slayed like it was midnight. It was the loudest thing I heard all night.
I saw Prince on a date with my fiancee (she does not go to many shows so each one I consider a special event). Plus, motherfucking Prince yo.
This is Lightning Bolt right before they destroyed Floristree. I did not know that the crowd would be so crazy and I spent most of the show in the back of this DIY spot.
Scapescape is one of my favorite festivals. With a lineup focusing on local talent, there is always something playing that I would want to see. This was my first time seeing Blacksage (though not my last, I ended up seeing them two other times in 2015) and they did not disappoint. They should be huge.
This is another Scapescape performance, by Adbu Ali. His confrontational, emotional style of hip-hop was a thing of beauty and he had me dancing his whole set.
Chastity Belt was a band who I immediately loved when I first heard them this year. They did not let me down at their Metro Gallery show. Plus the lead singer plays the same guitar as me. I do not see tons of guitarists using it. Also props to Metro Gallery, my favorite venue. Venue of 2015!
Number ten and last of this bunch is Romantic States at the Crown. Their music is perfect pop songs with loud and soft dynamics. I saw them a couple other times this year, but this was my favorite.
I will keep this one short. Helmet had a solid run of albums for me in the 90s, including the excellent Betty, and I consider it a classic. This day I was able to see it live. They played it and minus a couple tiny hiccups (missed lyrics, sound issues (but I do not ever like the sound at the Black Cat, it is not great) it was a blast to the past and a lot of fun. I had never seen a Band X plays Album Y show before, that I remember, so that was a weird sensation; knowing what was coming next. I left after the Betty set, as I did not want to sit through any of their 2000s musical output. I do like other 90s albums, but I was satisfied with my Betty experience. I bought a shirt and called it a day. I had dug this shirt since my friend had it in high school (a different color, but the same graphic). I broke my avoid DC for anything but work rule for this, and DC did not disappoint in experiencing 30 minutes of looking for parking and running to the show so I did not miss a note.
photo by me from my Instagram account
The second show of that night, was the already in progress show over at the Metro Gallery. I sped off with my GPS guiding me to the venue from an unfamiliar direction. I was cutting it close – Crimson Wave were to play at 9:30 PM and Metro Gallery is pretty good with set times. The machine told me 15 minutes, but with the walk to my car, I was cutting it close. I finally got to the area, parked blocks away, and ran to the venue. I made it just in time. Local favorites Crimson Wave had just started. And it was packed. I had to stand on the side of the stage to see this final outing of this bummer pop outfit. I have all of their releases, and saw them three or four times since the first time at Baltimore Popfest 2013. I will miss them and the set was bittersweet to experience.
I was able to get a good spot at the front of the stage for headlining band, Superheaven. I guess they had less of a crossover appeal. Superheaven‘s crowd was really young, and the Xs on hands outnumbered the 21 year old plus bracelets. Not a diss, just an observation, as I am pretty sure I would have also dug this band if I was a teenager. They are definitely a grunge throwback. They played a shorter set than I expected (30 minutes) and that is my only complaint. The songs off of Jar (and their new single) sounded good on the sound system and I left a it disappointed that I did not have any money on me to buy a t-shirt from them.
After the show I hung out with a myriad of folks from Baltimore bands, and had a good chill time hanging out (something I needed that day). It ended up being a longer night than I was expecting (I got home around 3:30 AM) but it was worth it.
photos by me from my Instagram
My plan was to blog about every show that I go to in 2015. So far I am off to a bad start – last night was my third show and not a single blog post was written. Well, today I rectify that. I am going to write shorter catch-up posts and then will start doing them the next day after I go to a show.
My first show of the year did not happen until almost the end of January. I decided to kick off my show going year with a few solo artists over at the Crown in Baltimore. I had a friend in tow and we braved the cold to go see some music (both the cold outside and the frigid temperatures inside the Crown; we kept our hats and coats on all night) and eat some great food.
First up was local guitar player, Terrors. I do not know anything about him. All I know is he played a nice set of tunes on a guitar that looked better suited for heavy metal and not post-rock delay fests. He closed his set by rubbing a mandolin on top of his guitar for a little noise.
Next up was Nathan Bowles. I had already seen this banjo hero perform (several times) at Hopscotch in 2013. He played a nice set of virtuosic banjo plucking that I think my grandfather would have enjoyed. He finished off his set with Elisa joining him on her guitar for a tune.
The night was capped off with an excellent performance by Elisa Ambrogio, of Magic Markers fame, who was touring for her excellent record,The Immoralist. Nathan joined her on drums, and she played her guitar through her pedals and sang her songs. The set ended with her by herself. It was excellent, and my first time to see her solo. It was comparable to a Magic Markers set, slightly different vibe, but still similar. I also was able to hang with Elisa again, after meeting her and hanging with her and her band at Hopscotch 2013, and even picked up a copy of her album on vinyl, and got it signed. It was an excellent night and a great way to kick off 2015.
(all photos by me and from my instagram)