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.
So here I am again, playing catchup with my blog posts. I don’t know why I feel the urge to slack off and do nothing most nights, as I could be writing. Or a lot of things. The point is, here is another post. The third in a day. This gotta be a record for me.
Anyway, I had a great time at this show. I actually a mission at the show, other than just seeing some good music. My first mission was to deliver a box of cassettes to babelfishh. He was supposed to be opening the show, but was nowhere to be found. So I stood there with a box of tapes between my feet, and watched the first act of the night. Curse are a band that I was slightly familiar with, but had not ever seen them or heard their music. I was digging the sounds they were able to get as a two-piece. It was a cool electronic set that also featured some enthusiastic vocals.
After Curse finished I overheard a person asking if anyone knew where the promoter was. I put two and two together, figured this was babelfishh, and I brought him his tapes. My mission was a success, and I Had an Accident records saved some shipping and handling. He was the second set of the afternoon (oh yeah, it was a day show). He skipped using the stage and instead setup his gear in the middle of the floor (a music box of some sort with pedals) and proceeded to give an inspiring set that left most of the crowd a bit bewildered. They were there for metal and noise, and his blend of hip hop and noise and everything else was unexpected. He did win the crowd over when he would do his death metal guy voice rapping, and I enjoyed the performance.
Next up was Noisem. They are a local metal band. They rule. Their set was loud and fast and heavy. Shout out to the punker who tried to get a pit going.
The final band of the day was the Body. I have only recently became a fan of them, and this was my first time seeing them live. I first found out about them when they teamed With the Haxan Cloak for the excellent album, I Shall Die Here. I also listened to their collaborative work with Thou; You, Whom I Have Always Hated and Released From Love. But this set was my first exposure to their music as a duo. I loved it. Their stack of amps crushed my soul and vibrated my being. It was one of the loudest spectacles that I had ever experienced. Thankfully I had on my earplugs. There was a couple next to me and the woman had her fingers shoved in her ears the whole set. I did not understand why she did not move towards the back, or tried to get some earplugs (I imagine someone was selling them). I bought two shirts, as they had some great designs, one for me and one for my fiancee. I cant wait to see them again (I regretfully had to skip them a couple nights ago).
2014 was a great year for electronic music (or at least for the kind that I like). From noise, to experimental, to pop remixes, to hip hop, to shoegaze, and witch house; there were great examples of all kinds of knob twiddlers this year across a ton of genres. These are the ten “electronic” releases that I enjoyed the most this year. As with my Baltimore list, I included a link to Mixcloud that features a mix that I made highlighting one song per release.
That Was Then This is Now – Fables: This duo (producer BLVCK CEILING and vocalist Moon Mirror) make dark electronic music heavy on the beats and the melodies. They make music that could be described as haunting, and beautiful. This full length by them was in heavy rotation for me this year.
Screen Vinyl Image/Bloody Knives – Split: This was one that could have either gone on this list (it does feature synths) or on my next list, for “rock” releases (it does feature guitar/bass guitar). I am a huge fan of both bands, and am glad they were brought together for this twelve track release by the ever excellent Accidental Guest Records. RIYL Shoegaze.
Thom Yorke – Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes: Two things about this release. 1. It is minimal interesting little electronic ditties by Thom, RIYL Kid A. 2. He had an interesting way of releasing it, focusing on torrents (link is in the title).
clipping – clppng: Clipping might have been the most exciting act that I saw this year, (I am still working on my live list) and also dropped an album that is the perfect mash of noise and rap. The lyrics are tight and delivered with a fast flow, while the beats bang and hiss, just on the edge of being grating (in a good way).
Meth Dad – Remixes: This is the first ever non-Baltimore release that Friends Records has put out. And for good reason, Meth Dad slays the pop world and makes beautiful beats. This features his re-imaginings of such artists as Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry.
the Body – I shall die here: The Haxan Cloak plus the Body? Yes please. This eerie album pairs scary atmospherics with a relentless beat and pounding bass. Wailing is had. This is what pain sounds like.
Pharmakon – Bestial Burden: Pharmakon delivers another monster of an album. Seeing her live is quite the treat, and she is able to somehow capture the intensity of her live shows, in record form. I look forward to seeing her again (saw her at Hopscotch in 2013) next year.
Aphex Twin – Syro: I bought Drukqs while living in South Korea, and was quite disappointed by Aphex Twin’s (one of the first electronic musicians that I got into in high school) last album. That was a long 13 years ago. A lot has changed. Including the fact that their is now a new Aphex Twin album, and it is actually good. The tracks are all solid, beat driven affairs. The formula is followed: glitchy beats, distorted and twisted sound and synths, and weird track names.
††† (Crosses) – Crosses: Chino from Deftones side project that is a mix of shoegaze like guitars, electronic beats, and synth soundscapes. Prurient might be my favorite song of the year. I was really blown away by the tunes, and this one ranks up there for me for amounts of times I listened to it.
Zola Jesus – Taiga: Rounding out the list is Zola Jesus. I have been a fan for a couple years, but this album really caught my attention on first spin. Masterful electronic tracks that recall a handful of subgenres, her music could definitely blow up and become the next big thing. I could see this competing against some of the other heavy hitters making modern pop music.
Cover image of clipping is by me, taken at Metro Gallery in Baltimore in 2014.