I haven't written much about music, other than my own, on this blog. I guess I don't consider myself much of a music critic. I know what I like and, when music grabs me, nothing anybody says can pry it away.
I'm the only straight guy I know who openly admits to loving Belle & Sebastian. But it doesn't end there, I also like Rufus Wainwright, Mercury Rev, Kings of Convenience, you get the picture (not so "manly").
To follow-up my Seattle music rant (and with my Seattle departure just days away) I'm thinking about all of the great indie music concerts I've seen over the past 4 years. I'd like to share some of the highlights:
My brother was visiting from Wisconsin that weekend. They played Graceland, which holds maybe 800 people. This is a rock band that fills stadiums around the world, and they brought all of their energy that night.
Belle & Sebastian (2 times)
This band changed my life while I was still living in Colorado. I love all of their songs and they are the best band in the world. They don't tour much, and years ago I never thought I'd see them play in my lifetime (let alone twice). Seeing them also forced me to come to terms with the fact that they are, indeed, mere human beings.
Rufus Wainwright (3 times)
The first time I saw Rufus was at Seattle's annual music festival, Bumbershoot. I caught his show after a long day of other great concerts and he opened my ears to a new kind of music all his own. Don't ask me to categorize it.
Badly Drawn Boy
Prior to the show, I ordered a drink over Damon Gough's shoulder (lead singer). He turned around and looked at me as though he expected me to ask for an autograph...or at least say something...but I only recognized him when he went on stage. He's one of the better Brit-pop songwriters around.
I went to an Elliot Smith concert within a year of his death. I nearly tripped on him as he came out on stage. I was on my way to the restroom and we sort of crossed paths. I'm sure he didn't notice, as he was really in a drug-induced haze. He came on stage far too late and could barely get through songs. Still, his recordings have greatly influenced me and his death saddens me deeply.
Jonathon Richman (2 times)
A nearly unknown genius of music and comedy. He's better known from his early career as the lead singer of the Modern Lovers. These days, Jonathon and his drummer come at you with a perspective all their own...singing about the things that go on in your head which seem too silly to speak of. They have the audience grinning from ear to ear at every show.
Decemberists (2 times)
Everything this band puts out is unique and interesting, but the latest release, Piqueresque, is one of the best albums of the year. I saw them just weeks ago at the Showbox. The concert was heavily promoted, so the place was packed. 8 members strong, they came out dressed as Gypsies. The last song they played is in the style of a very popular kind of music in Slovakia - Cardas (pronounced "chardash"). As one of our last shows in Seattle, it was symbolic to Sofia and I.
Radiohead (2 times)
My first Radiohead show was at The Gorge. They played against a desert and canyon backdrop, and sitting on the grass listening to the lyrics "rain down, rain down on me" watching the sunset on that clear, warm night...perfect.
Kings of Convenience
Everything coming out of Norway these days is excellent: Sondre Lerche, Royksopp, and Kings of Convenience, to name a few. I went to this show with friends from Colorado Springs (who don't get out much). All of their songs are light acoustic (I guess comparable to Simon & Garfunkel)...only odd because one of the "fragile" indie singers went crowd-surfing when the tempo picked up slightly.
With his Elvis-like swagger, Sondre knows how to entertain. From Norway, he and his band have probably the best vibe I've ever seen on-stage. The Crocodile Cafe was half-full of Norwegians...probably the happiest and friendly people on the planet.
Here are a few of the other artists I enjoyed live over the past few years:
Minus the Bear