Certainly not my busiest year when it came to visiting the bars, clubs and halls searching for my new favorite band, but there were definitely some gems in these past twelve months. Here are the five that stood out most to me, with a few honorable mentions to start: #10-Moon Duo@Kung Fu Necktie, Philly
#9-Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears@Wiggins Park, Camden, N.J. (P.S. Watch this video!)
#8-Heartless Bastards@Union Transfer, Philly
#7-The Detroit Cobras@Johnny Brendas, Philly
#6-Monster Magnet@The Troc, Philly & Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn
#5- The Kills@ Chelsea Piers, New York City
From skateboard contests to underground comedy clubs, from all you can drink brunches to afternoon delight at the greatest bar in New York, I fell in love with The City over the three days we spent that weekend, and it culminated with my first taste of The Kills with their six piece drum ensemble on the edge of the Hudson River at sunset. With it being a free show put on by Converse for their Coastal City Carnage events, I have to admit that I half expected The Kills to just mail it in, collect their check and go to bed. They pretty much made an ass out of me and my thoughts on this evening, completely enveloping the park and surrounding piers with severe heaviness and an urgency onstage that could only be matched by my drunken desires to jump off the boat we inexplicably ended up on into what I now know to be the toxic dump that is the Hudson River. Life long friendships were formed that weekend, thanks in no small part to the help of my safe and dry arrival back to the little apartment on 23rd and 7th. Good luck this year guys....
Full show here
#4-Graveyard+Radio Moscow@Northstar Bar, Philly
The hype was unmistakable for this one. With friends flying in from across the continent and two days removed from seeing stoner rock legends Monster Magnet destroy Brooklyn, we arrived at the Northstar early, giving ourselves plenty of time to assure catching openers Radio Moscow, who did a rather impressive job of keeping the already packed crowd on its toes, considering what went down with the band just days before the Philly show. No such drama ensued on this night, just a solid rock n roll set that had heads bobbin' and the PBR flowing.
The band everyone came to see hit the stage next, opening with the slow burning Uncomfortably Numb before absolutely laying into it the rest of the night. Huge drums, riffs for days and a crowd frothing at the mouth for more. The tight walls and low ceiling gave the Northstar a great tunnel vision type vibe that night with enough swaying and boogeying that you were never beside the same crew for more than a song or two, friends included. Still have yet to hear a bad thing said about a Graveyard show, which has me wiggling in my chair anticipating Jan 24th 2013 here in Philly. Think it's a friend's birthday that night too.....
Graveyard 2013 tour dates here
#3- OFF!@ The Church, Philly
I'd been waiting damn near two years to see this punk rock "supergroup" so expectations were at nearly unattainable heights going into the sweatbox that is the basement of the First Unitarian Church in downtown Philly. With a historical timeline that includes Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Burning Brides, Red Kross, Black Heart Procession, Rocket From the Crypt, Hot Snakes and Earthless, I guess there's always expectations, but after seeing OFF! exhaustively annihilate that basement I'm also guessing they don't give two shits about what you nor myself think. Songs came at you like machine gun fire and the kids came at you just as fast. Beer cans, shoes and ripped off t-shirt littered the airways, much to the dismay of what I'm assuming were volunteer janitors, begging people to leave well after the lights were on but you couldn't blame 'em for hanging around. There was legend in the air, and we all needed to soak it in for as long as we possibly could.
This isn't Philly footage, but it doesn't look very different.
#2-The Tragically Hip@ The T.L.A., Philly
The footage above is not mine, but it was pretty much my exact vantage point.
#1- Jack White@Radio City Music Hall, New York City
Jack White had something to prove on September 30th. After getting torn apart by the New York media and on message boards across the country for cutting a very awkward Radio City show short the night before without any explanation, it was obvious before the first notes were played that we were about benefit from last nights apparent "travesty". Storming on stage to the first chords of Missing Pieces before leading into my favorite track off his solo debut Blunderbuss,Weep Themselves To Sleep, it seemed like the challenge had been declared and the gauntlet dropped. You want a good show? Beg for it. You want louder? Be louder. You want Seven Nation Army? Fuck you wait for it. With little to no time between tracks, his assault was relentless all night, throwing together medleys that spanned his entire career, unexpected covers all the while shrouded in a strange, pale blue light that rarely dulled or brightened. The legendary Radio City Music Hall of course had no problem with Jack's attack, its rounded, concave walls seemingly embracing all of us, suggesting that perhaps we are all one, and in fact can be friends. Always big on surprises, the international renowned riff known as Seven Nation Army did not play last, instead a very fitting rendition of Leadbelly's Goodnight Irene sent us into the chilly New York night, trying our best to find a way to thank some higher power for inviting us in on this final evening of September and so very, very thankfully, not the nights previous.
(There is no video that does this show justice that I can find. Guess you just had to be there....)