End of the Year 2014: Favorite Concert
Zack Baker, Editorial Director
Modern Baseball, Tiny Moving Parts, The Hotelier, Sorority Noise @ Webster Hall, NYC
Deciding on my favorite show wasn't easy for me. 2014 was truly a Hashtag Blessed year for me in terms of live music, I got to see bands I never thought I would get to see live and saw new favorites multiple times in venues big and small. I saw Alex G in my friend's kitchen, got a hug and thank you from Felix from Told Slant after seeing them play their biggest New York venue yet and got to interview and then see fucking Mineral with a handful of my best pals.
In the end, I kept coming back to a show I went to at the beginning of the summer, right after I got to New York to start my internship. It's strange, because while I love all of the bands that were on the bill it wasn't really about the music at all.
I got off the L train at Union Square like I had done hundreds of times the summer before, walked alone to the Chipotle down the block from Webster Hall for my ritual pre-show burrito, then awkwardly waiting in line to finally get into a show at the venue without having X's on my hands.
The show was stellar of course, Sorority Noise were the shredmasters I expected them to be, The Hotelier became my favorite live act of the year (although their headlining set I saw later was even better), Dylan from Tiny Moving Parts blew my the hell away by being able to rip and belt it at the same time and Modern Baseball were probably more fun than anyone else I saw this year. But it wasn't my favorite show because of the bands.
That show is where I met the people I would spend the summer working with along with a bunch of people who would become good friends over my time in New York. That night set the tone for my summer, and I can't imagine a better way for it to start.
Megan Fair, General Manager & Copy Chief
Arcade Fire & tUnE-yArDs at the Schottenstein Center
Arcade Fire is one of those bands that have the ability to create albums that embody a time and
place, mark a feeling of transition or create worlds that are so easy to become lost in. I studied each album, shared moments of bliss and pain with the band members and found myself marking milestones in my life by whatever AF album I was listening to at the time. When Arcade Fire won a Grammy for The Suburbs, I was jumping on my couch and cheering, so filled with pride that an album that had defined my K-12 experience to a T. I even constructed my commencement speech around “Wasted Hours” and “The Suburbs (Continued).”
I remember watching live streams of festival performances, especially the Bonnaroo 2011 performance and just weeping, not only because of the amazing music but also the desperate longing to be a part of the chaos of the crowd, surrounded by people screaming their hearts out and dancing with such immense joie de vivre. I never had the chance to see them, but I knew my turn would come. When they announced the Reflektor Tour, friends and I poured over the dates and screamed with delight when we saw a Columbus date. I remember sitting with Garrett and Abbie as we refreshed our pre-sale access pages waiting for the pre-sale tickets to go live. And when they did, we somehow managed to get three seats together. It was a miracle, a beautiful amazing miracle.
On the day of the show, April 29th, five of us donned our formal attire and piled into the car, all buzzing with anxious excitement about what they would play and what they would wear and what the stage would look like. When we arrived, we scrambled indoors to catch tUnE-yArDs, which was an amazing treat. You could tell Merrill Garbus was incredibly nervous, never having played to an arena before, and yet she and her incredible team of backup musicians were killing it. While most of the crowd sat in their seats, I couldn’t help but dance along to “Gangsta” and “Water Fountain,” in awe of the amazing musicianship and strange polyrhythms that somehow created massively appealing pop.
Kid Koala, who was an incredible turntablist/DJ, performed in-between tUnE-yArDs and Arcade Fire, but my heart was racing with anticipation for the headlining act. As crowd murmured and buzzed, it came time for the real MVPs to arrive and Arcade Fire took the stage as I nearly hyperventilated, opening the show with “Reflektor.” I couldn’t help but leap to my feet with Garrett and Abbie, the three of us dancing and singing. It took everything in my power not to cry at the sheer presence of Arcade Fire. Besides skimping on Neon Bible material, they played a great mix of new and old, even debuting “Get Right,” an unrecorded rock ’n’ roll banger that I want to have in physical copy so bad.
There was unreal bliss in singing and dancing, with Abbie and I often turning to each other to sing and celebrate the party that AF was hosting for us. I was doing a really good job of not crying until they played “The Suburbs” and “The Suburbs (Continued),” but as soon as the piano-pounded introduction hit my eardrums the pipes burst and I wept, recalling every bittersweet memory of my youth. And when Win Butler changed the verse about having a daughter while he’s young to sing, “but if it’s too much to ask, then send me a perfect, perfect son,” I cried even harder at such a loving intimation about Regine and his little boy. I have never been more happy to be overwhelmed with emotion.
And I know it’s cliché, but when they closed with “Wake Up,” I found myself crying tears of joy as a whole arena of people belted out the ahhhs and shouted along to the lyrics. I was holding onto two people I love more than words can really ever express and singing along to a live performance by my all-time favorite band. I don’t think it gets any better than that.
As I laid in bed that night, I reflected upon the incredible evening and our absurd and perfect post-show Waffle House experience, and I realized that Arcade Fire had given me the show of a lifetime and a perfect evening to remember.
Abbie Doyle, Reviews Editor
The Wild Family @ A Kitchen
The VERY BEST show I saw this year was the aforementioned experience of listening to The Wild Family play with their whole heart in a little kitchen. I was on a (very recently achieved) friendly level with a few of the members, having drunk a few beverages on a porch with them before the show began and when they started playing, it was like looking at a brand new group of people.
Their music actually transported them into a different realm than we’d previously been in and I went to that place right along with them. The sound was incredible, even if the acoustics weren’t professional and I actually almost cried. When the set finished, I grabbed the bassist by his shoulders and demanded, “WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME YOU GUYS WERE SO GOOD, I WAS NOT PREPARED,” which in hindsight probably wasn’t the most polite thing I could have said but I really was not prepared to have my feelings so perfectly demolished by such talented, young musicians. It was an incredible night and easily my favorite show of 2014 and I am absolutely considering the fact that I saw Arcade Fire twice this year.
Marlena Scott, Features Editor
Deafheaven and Pallbearer @ Backbooth, Orlando, FL
The crowd for Pallbearer was small, which was okay because Backbooth is a small, dark venue and it always feels intimate. The band grabbed me in a chokehold and swayed me for an hour that felt more like a day and some middle-aged dude with tribal tattoos held up devil horns over and over again. I moved to the back for Deafheaven. The crowd got bigger, its music is faster and I would have probably died.
I’m not going to lie, when George Clarke came out on stage, the guy next to me and I had a quick giggle about how serious he looked donned in an all-black, priest-like fit with his curly hair greased down from a side part that eventually came apart due to sweat into a little frizzy mess. The giggling was quickly silenced when Clarke started screaming and gargling with the beauty and grace found on Sunbather's recording. Not to mention, Clarke is an incredible performer, acting as a puppeteer conducting all of his crowd-minions and not missing a beat with that shrill screaming.
When the band got to “Dream House,” I couldn’t help but run to the front and I couldn’t feel my body. I love them forever.
Sammi Nelson, Blogs Editor
Chiodos @ Columbus, Ohio
Over summer break I took a trip up to Columbus with a bunch of friends to see a great throwback band that’s an old favorite of mine: Chiodos. The show was incredible. Right before Chiodos came on stage, Emarosa played, which is another great throwback band for me.
Although the band has gone through numerous member changes in the past, including the departure of their original lead singer, Jonny Craig, the band created a whirlpool of moshing fans with their set. I remember reaching with several other attendees for vocalist Bradley Walden’s hand when he reached out to us.
When Chiodos came on stage, the crowd erupted. They opened with “Ole Fishlips Is Dead Now” off their 2014 album Devil and I can honestly say that my heart was bursting with emotion. I moshed harder than I ever had before at that show; my bruised feet could attest to that.
They played two encore songs at the show, one of which was “Baby, You Wouldn’t Last a Minute on the Creek,” which is arguably their most popular song and another throwback memory for me. My friends and I moshed and screamed our hearts out. I had seen Chiodos play at Warped Tour before, but this show confirmed for me that Craig Owens is a great showman and probably the cockiest bastard alive onstage, and I loved every minute I watched them perform.
Alexa Smith, News Editor
Futurebirds @ The Basement, Columbus, Ohio
A big part of experiencing music is not only the show you’re seeing, but who is accompanying you on the journey. You can’t deny that a show is way more enjoyable for all parties involved when everyone in the room is vibing off of each other. Me and my best friend saw the Futurebirds on Tuesday, November 11. It was at the Basement in Columbus, with maybe two, three-tops handfuls of chill guys and gals. I nearly killed us on the way down, with my wicked-sweet driving skills, but we made it nonetheless, but ended up missing the opener.
We ran into friends from Athens, with equally fantastic tastes in music, and we all enjoyed the show dancing amongst one another. I always like to try to make an impression on the band that I’m experiencing, creating an experience for them too. I pride myself on being a good audience member, very passive to the music, letting my body go where it takes me and reflecting their music back on them. I like to think the Futurebirds and I had an interaction, me trying to get the slide guitarist to smile back at me, and also receiving many funny faces from the insanely enthusiastic guitarist. I walked away from that venue smiling and with the persona of who I call “happy Lex,” the highest high of happies that I am capable of feeling. Show accomplished.
Christopher Reinbold, Staff Writer
La Dispute, Pianos Become the Teeth and Mansions @ Altar Bar, Pittsburgh, PA
If you have read any of my year-end lists, you can guess how much of a La Dis fan I am. I finally got the opportunity to see them in April 2014 in Pittsburgh right after they released Rooms of the House. I have never seen a more intense live show. The ENTIRE crowd knew every word that Jordan Dreyer yelled, and they moved like a tumult of ocean waves in a hurricane. The set was a complete catharsis for everybody there, audience and band. I remember screaming my heart out to “The Most Beautiful Bitter Fruit” and “Andria,” among others.
The room was filled with energy equivalent to that of a nuclear warhead. By the climax of the band’s encore, their opus from 2011’s Wildlife, “King Park,” the crowd joined Dreyer in screaming: “Can I still get into heaven if I kill myself! …” I could have cried. Seeing La Dispute is hands-down the best show, not of the year, but that I have seen.
Eric Perzanowski, Programming Director
Amon Amarth @ Newport Music Hall, Columbus, Ohio
There was something magical about the atmosphere at this concert. Just waiting in line at the doors, I could feel the collective excitement from everyone. Sunday nights are not typically the best nights for shows, but that mattered not. It seemed as if the crowd wasn’t just there for Amon Amarth, but for Sabaton and Skeletonwitch as well, and that added to how great this show was.
It takes a really good performance to get me to go in the pit, but I found myself at the center of it multiple times during all three sets. I even crowd surfed during “Cry of the Blackbirds” in Amon Amarth’s set, and if someone like me can crowd surf at a show with no problems, that’s how you know it’s a good show.
Eric Bishop, Guest Contributor
The Sidekicks & All Dogs @ The Lodge, Athens, Ohio
This show was really special and the set-up with the lights and the fog and the people made it even more special. I left the show with an All Dogs poster, 7-inch and two shirts (someone gave me their shirt to hold on to I still have it by the way) and a stupid ecstatic grin on my face because of how cool it was to play with those bands especially The Sidekicks because I grew up seeing them in Cleveland and I really like how they’ve evolved throughout the years and I’m not sure I can make this sentence any longer. One of the best shows Ghost Stories has played to date for sure.
You Blew It! was also very sick.