Best concerts of 2009

Posted by chetan on December 31, 2009 in music

This year was something of an anomaly for me: I only went to five shows. Two of those shows, however, were music festivals and easily made up for the otherwise quiet concert calendar — Lollapalooza with a staggering 35 shows in three days and the Newport Folk Festival with another 6.

I also went to 3 free shows at Madison Square Park: Jonatha Brooke, Raul Malo, and the John Scofield Trio. I’m a huge fan of Raul Malo and the Mavericks so we ended up braving some of the worst rain of the summer to see him. It rained through most of his shortened set, but it was still worth it.

With so few real shows this year they all made the list, but here they are in order:

  1. Matt & Kim – at the Music Hall of Williamsburg
  2. The Thermals – at Bowery Ballroom (my favorite venue)
  3. Warren G – at the Music Hall of Williamsburg
  4. Raul Malo – in the rain at MadSqPark
  5. Jonatha Brooke – at MadSqPark
  6. The John Scofield Trio – at MadSqPark


The name of the game at lolla was coverage: we tried to see as many shows as humanly possible with the size of the venue, the crowds and the weather (from soaking rain to blazing heat) all working against us. Some shows we stopped at were simply on the way to a must-see show, while others we went to because they were starting on a nearby stage. All in all, we saw a ton of great shows, but these were the best:

  1. Dan Deacon – I’m actually not a very big fan of his [albums], but his live set was just amazing
  2. Passion Pit
  3. Depeche Mode
  4. Lykke Li – another surprisingly great set

Full list of shows:


DAY 1:

Heartless Bastards
Thievery Corporation
Peter Bjorn & John
Depeche Mode

DAY 2:

Miike Snow
Ida Maria
Los Campesinos!
Joe Pug
Carebears on Fire
Coheed and Cambria
No Age
Lykke Li
Animal Collective
Yeah Yeah Yeahs

DAY 3:

Friendly Fires
Portugal. The Man
Car Stereo Wars
The Greencards
The Kaiser Chiefs
He Say, She Say
Neon Hitch
Gang Gang Dance
Dan Deacon
Vampire Weekend
Passion Pit
Cold War Kids
Band of Horses
Jane’s Addiction
The Killers

Newport Folk Festival

Ramblin’ Jack Elliot
Ben Kweller
The Avett Brothers
Gillian Welch
Fleet Foxes
The Decemberists

They were all great shows at Newport, but the main stage was just too crowded by the time we arrived and the sound was sorely lacking at the further reaches of the field. We ended up sitting on the grass at just about the furthest possible point from the stage, save for the boats just off shore, on the only patch of grass that was not yet covered by blankets.

We had a terrific time, but the shows we caught on the smaller tented stages were far better, so I have to give the best in show prize here to Ben Kweller, whom I’m a big fan of. We also caught the last couple songs of Ramblin’ Jack’s set, which was just amazing. We even got to sing him happy birthday as he was celebrating his 78th birthday at the festival.

The weather was beautiful and it turned out to be a perfect day for outdoor music. What the shows lacked, the weather and the scenery more than made up for.