Narrowing the massive group of 55 shows I saw this year down to ten was no easy task, but I’ve come up with a list that I feel good about. I have written about each of these before on this blog, so I will keep it short and sweet. The original posts (and setlist playlist links) are still out there in the “Live Music” thread if you are interested…
#5 – Drive-By Truckers / Lilly Hiatt (Knitting Factory 2-5)
Folks, you know you had a damn fine year when seeing America’s greatest country-rock band in your hometown from about twenty feet away is the fifth best of the bunch. Pat, Mike, and crew gave us a solid effort, passing singing duties back and forth throughout the set and generally kicking ass the entire night. They thoroughly lived up to all of my expectations, which had been built up bigly in the ten years since I last saw them. Bravo, boys – keep doing what you’re doing, and please come back!
#4 – Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit / Marie & Lapento (Bass Concert Hall – Austin, TX 8-25)
Somehow the former Drive-By Trucker and his band put on an even better show, and absolutely blew my mind on the second evening of their three-night Bass Concert Hall stint. I swear it’s not because they closed the night by jamming CSNY’s “Ohio” for six minutes – but that didn’t hurt!
#3 – Father John Misty / Lucy Dacus (Knitting Factory 8-12)
Josh Tillman, aka FJM, aka The Greatest Songwriter of the 2010’s finally (and, to be honest, somewhat inexplicably) paid a visit to Boise and completely tore down the house with his blistering attack on everything that is 21st century America, all the while doing his best larger than life Jim Morrison impression. Oh, and his band made the crowd (myself included) dance our asses off. I love this man so much and it was “Total Entertainment” for two glorious hours; I had hyped this up so much in my head that it could (should) have been a disappointment – somehow he delivered.
#2 – Chris Stapleton / Marty Stuart (Idaho Center 8-4)
What a night! What a talent! Surrounded by some of my favorite humans, I got to witness up close and personal one of America’s finest musicians and songwriters. Chris is otherworldly and made me holler, gave me goosebumps, and made my friend cry – he is THAT good. If he comes back, I will pay whatever it costs to go see him again, and I suggest you do the same. Oh, and folks – Marty Stuart: dude is so cool, even at his advanced age. This is a show I will tell people about twenty years from now.
#1 – Pearl Jam (Safeco Field – Seattle, WA 8-8)
They (ok, I) don’t call ‘em America’s greatest rock band for nothing. If you stopped paying attention to them in the 90s, I feel bad for you. If you have never seen them perform live, you haven’t lived. Truly epic, their “Home Show” for their hometown was an unbelievable three-hour affair and one I will literally never forget. As if I had forgotten their 2000 Nampa appearance…
All the better, I got to see them next to Mom and one of my musical buddies from work, in the friendly confines of my beloved Mariners. If God himself came down and asked me what show I wanted to see, this just might be it – maybe with better tickets, but I digress…
Here’s to more kickass live music in 2019!!
I’ll throw the entire list of 55 out shortly in case y’all are interested, then next up is the year’s best songs and albums before we get started on 2019 music!