Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Caryn's Top Five Live Shows of 2004

Please forgive me as I’m not as anal as my sister-in-arms Amy Phillips, who just so happens to keep a written tab of every single show she’s gone to since she’s worn braces. As a consequence, the dates may be a bit off on my rundown. But everything’s in the general vicinity of being accurate.

(In vague backward chronological order rather than order of importance.)

1) Patti Smith. Bowery Ballroom. New York City. New Year’s Eve.

Everyone should go to the annual last day in December Patti Smith-a-thon once in their lives. It’s the anti-Dick Clark Rockin’ Eve. You get Patti kicking it all shaman-like. Patti making out with her outrageously foxy and notably younger beau/guitar player. Patti inviting a cast of thousands on stage. This particular night she had Steve Earle with her and there were many stabs at explaining our collective political predicament. Patti Smith’s hunted howl somehow made it seem all that much better. Yeah, people have the power all right. Alas, it wasn’t the portent I’d hoped it would be.

2) Dizzee Rascal. Volume. Brooklyn, NY. February 7.

This was Mr. Rascal’s American live debut and the new (yet sadly short-lived) club Volume did it right for the Vaseline-tongued Brit. Instead of a stage, they had this huge pimped out flatbed truck which kinda made it theatre-in-the-round. When Dizzee went a cappella, I was sure that he was consorting with an alien. But was I that sister from another planet? Dizzee, can you hear me?

3) Kiki and Herb with The Last Town Chorus. Bowery Ballroom. New York City. February 14.

First of all, I saw Boy George that night. Be mine, be mine! All the Valentine a girl could need, really. Then, Megan of the LTC was funny as shit. She asked all sympathetically, “Who here doesn’t have a Valentine?” All these people raised their hands or hooted. “Good,” she said and waited with perfect dramatic pause. “Go fuck each other.” Then she started tapping out that morose code of hers on the lap guitar. Next, it was a visit to that pleasantly musky cultural waste processing plant lorded over by definitive operators Kiki and Herb. Yeeeessss…was the start of my last jam and here it is again, another def jam. For sure.

4) The Thermals. Three times in 2004.

Yep, I saw the Thermals three different times this year. Once, at Northsix. Another time opening up for Sleater-Kinney at the Hammerstein Ballroom. Lastly, at the Mercury Lounge. Thing is, most Thermals shows seem to be similar. There’s Hutch as MC Declarative, the bouncing bass of Kathy and the firm hand of Jordan on drums. Simple. Elegant. Fuckin’ A. It all goes by pretty quickly and by the end you feel like a snow globe that’s been run through the centrifuge. That shit’s good is all.

5) Rock-n-Roll Camp for Girls Showcase. Aladdin Theater. Portland, Oregon. July 29.

You know that old saw about how only 10 people went to the Sex Pistols show in Manchester (or insert some legend about The Velvet Underground here) but all of them started bands? I definitely got that revolutionary feeling at this show. Not so much that these girls would themselves go out and take over the world (but some of them were so good that they just might) but, rather, the mechanism behind rock camp is so right on that it is sure to change the course of music history.