51. Ezra Furman & the Harpoons – Subterranean: Not sure how this show fell out of the top 50! Ezra was one of the more likeable frontmen, the songs were catchy and his band was solid. Maybe because it was an all ages show. Which meant that I have t-shirts older than some of the girls who were there, and there were more than a few dispshit frat boys who thought it was a PBR drinking contest instead of a show.
52. Southern Culture on the Skids – Old Town School: I heard SCOTS put on a good show but this did not seem like the best venue for it. Old Town is perfect for the gentle musings of a Suzanne Vega, not for throwing fried chicken. I went anyway and I was right. Which should come as no surprise to those who know me. Even though they are classified as a semi-novelty act (I found a whoopee cushion on my seat), I was impressed with their musicianship and catalog. It was no barn dance (unless they play surf music at barn dances), but I still managed to have a good time.
53. Jeff Beck & Imelda May – Cadillac Palace: Argh. I respect Jeff Beck. He’s really damn good in case you didn’t know. But it’s still not the kind of music I can listen to all afternoon at home, you know, like White Zombie. So a couple years ago he toured with Beth Hart and I went, thinking she might bring something new to his music, but she only did a handful of songs and I wanted to punch him in the face. And that wasn’t very nice of me. This year he toured with another favorite, Imelda May, so I decided to go again. This time I was full ready for a Jeff Beck show with a hint of Imelda and thyme, but it was all Imelda and her band with Beck basically an added guitarist. Good stuff, but I wanted a Beck show. Not two turntables and a microphone, but Jeff Beck, you moron. I’d never punch Imelda in the face, but I was still a tad disappointed and would likely express it to her in the form of a haiku.
Watch Jeff & Imelda
54. Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Old Town School: Damn, these guys sound amazing live, but as I write this I’m realizing that most of this world music stuff I’m seeing has been a tad disappointing. Not musically, but performance-wise. I don’t think I’m so shallow that I need you to start the club on fire like Great White, but surprise me a bit. Don’t make me feel like I’m sitting on my couch at home watching a DVD. Go crazy… I promise we won’t revoke your visa. We let the Sex Pistols stick around, after all.
55. Shelby Lynne – Lincoln Hall: I walked in and found chairs on the floor of Lincoln Hall and in my best Tom Hanks voice from A League of Their Own I stated, “There’s no sitting at Lincoln Hall!” And then I took my seat. Shelby has an amazing voice, one of the best I heard this year, but, jeez, lighten up, Francis. I know life hasn’t been easy, but I use music as an escape from my own pathetic life and don’t need to be depressed about yours, too. Actually, the record is really damn good… I’m just angry that I’m not sophisticated enough to reconcile the beauty of the vocals with the raw sadness of some of the lyrics. That said, I’d totally see her again, so maybe this should be higher…
56. Booker T – Old Town School: I’ve seen him a few times before and it’s an enjoyable show. He’s a legend, full of talent, and the sound of that Hammond B-3 is literally music to my ears under his conservatorship. But once you see his show, experience that history, gain a full appreciation for his status; I’m not sure you need to see it again. Like Mardi Gras. Everyone should go once: Get blasted, throw beads, get naked, piss in an alley, make out with a stranger and wake up in the pokey with a fresh tattoo of Meat Loaf (the singer) on your back. Wow, that was fun, but I’m not sure I need to do that again.
Watch Booker T
57. Monte Montgomery – Fitzgeralds: Oh, Monte, it pains me to see you down here. It’s not you, it’s me. I’ve seen you so many times and adore your playing, your humor, your gentle smile… oops, did I say that out loud? And your band is one of the best I’ve seen on the road. It was an impressive set. Maybe I was tired. Maybe it was because it was the second night you had to spend in Berwyn. But I wasn’t feeling the energy that I normally do. I’ll be back. And we’ll have mindblowing make up sex.
58. Cold War Kids – Metro: I like the band name. I like the tunes. They definitely have a unique sound. I was excited to snag a couple tickets to their Lolla aftershow. So why did I leave the show thinking, “I should probably finish laundry when I get home.”
Watch Cold War Kids
59. Suzanne Vega – SPACE: I was on the fence for her show last year but went and was pleasantly surprised. She was likeable, her catalog was solid, and it was interesting hearing some of the tunes in a live setting. So when she came back to town this year, I was there. And bored. Silly. And annoyed by the crowd. Not because they were doing anything annoying, but they were just sitting there drinking their wine, wearing their sweaters and looking self-important because they were at a Suzanne Vega show. I know that’s probably not reality, but it was my reality that night and I can get in a weird place sometimes. But that experience did lead me to stop at the Double Door on the way home and see one of the best shows of the year, so I guess she came to town and served her purpose in that respect.
60. Leon Redbone – Old Town School: I went to this one out of curiosity. Curiosity satisfied. He was charming, talented, and it was cool in an extreme retro way. The reading lamp was a nice touch.
Watch Mr. Redbone
61. Richard Buckner – Schubas: After the Heartless Bastards show, someone had free tickets to the following Richard Buckner show. It’s music, it’s free, and what else am I going to do? Go home and practice drawing free hand maps of Minnesota? Try to create new recipes using that can of peaches in light syrup that’s been sitting in my cupboard for about four years? It was a solo show with fuzzy, looped guitar riffs, suggestive of a dark movie soundtrack, with trance like vocals mourning over the dirgeful noise. I liked it, but it got a little monotonous toward the end.
62. Marcia Ball – Old Town School: I’m down with the boogie-woogie piano and the R&B influences and the whole Austin music scene and was really looking forward to seeing Ms. Ball. She looked grand, sitting behind her keyboard, casually sitting with one leg crossed over the other, gently rocking to keep time, while her fingers flew across the keys with the efficiency of a Japanese auto factory. But that was the problem. It was too polished. It didn’t seem risky and lost any sense of rawness that kind of music should have. I didn’t feel like I might trip and fall on the serrated edge of the melody, requiring a trip to the emergency room but making for a great story for years to come. Instead, I just felt like I had been handed a butter knife and asked Marcia to pass me a dinner roll.
63. Cedric Watson – Old Town School: I spent a lot of time in New Orleans after Katrina, and I loved being able to take a walk down Bourbon Street after dinner on any weeknight and wandering into whatever random bar had Zydeco sounds leaking into the street. In those bars, I would, without fail, find a group of musicians who looked like they were having the time of their lives, whether playing an accordion, a washboard, guitar, bass or drums. The crowd, mostly local, also seemed to be living life, dancing with each other only to share the experience of the music they were feeling with another. I guess I wanted to recreate that feeling when I went to this show. Cedric was damn good, but it wasn’t the same. A trip to New Orleans is in order.