The best of the best of the live music I saw last year – shout out to all of the wonderful people I experienced these shows with.
Of the 50+ concerts I attended in 2019, there were a few that I will remember forever. These included trips to Seattle, Bend, and The Gorge – not quite as far away or exotic as my 2018 list but not too shabby, either. Since I’ve already written a post about each of these, I will keep this very short and include links to those contemporaneous reviews. All shows below were in Boise/Garden City/Nampa, Idaho unless noted.
#10 – Smooth Hound Smith (with The Trees The Trees) – Olympic 10/29/19
This husband and wife duo (actually a trio on this night) brings the goods via a soulful and bluesy blend of rock that was even better live than on their terrific studio albums.
#9 – Start Making Sense (with Radio Underground) – Olympic 2/2/19
My love for Talking Heads knows no end, and although I’m too young to have seen that band and haven’t yet been able to catch David solo, I saw this tribute band and it was truly incredible. The opener was a collection of local musicians covering The Velvet Underground’s Loaded album to great effect. What a night!
#8 – Cake & Ben Folds – Idaho Center Amphitheater 9/8/19
This co-headlining show exceeded my expectations, largely because of what a great performer and entertainer Ben is. His stock went way up in my book after this night.
#7 – Slothrust (with Rituals of Mine) – Olympic 4/2/19
On the first of two performances I would see from Leah and crew in 2019, the indie-rock swagger was brought in a big way. My brother even came along, which is as awesome as it is rare – and we rocked the fuck out.
#6 – Weezer & Pixies – Idaho Center 4/5/19
Another co-headlining set, this one of the dreaded arena variety. Despite the inherent negatives that go with being indoors in a giant room with chairs (chairs!) on the floor, this one was a hoot. Although the two bands couldn’t be more different in terms of performance style, there was something for everyone. Black Francis still has it, and owned the night as far as I am concerned.
#5 – The Suffers, Built To Spill, Black Mountain – Treefort Main Stage 3/21/19
Two of my favorite bands back to back on day two of the annual Boise music festival, with Houston’s own ensemble The Suffers to warm up – and a short walk over to the El Korah Shrine building for a nightcap with Night Beats. This was a great night that I hope Treefort IX can live up to.
#4 – Neil Young & Promise of the Real (with J.S. Ondara) – Paramount Theater, Seattle, WA 5/20/19
Seeing my musical hero for the 4th time was a treat, and as an added bonus Mom came along with me. I’m happy to report that at 74 the man still has it. He still plays the guitar like ringing a bell, and his mellower solo first half of the evening let him show off on the ivories and harmonica, as well. Long Live Neil!
#3 – Gov’t Mule (with Nikki Lane) – Revolution Concert House 8/23/19
When it comes to laying down licks on the ol’ six-string, Warren Haynes is as good as it gets, folks. Un-fucking-believable.
#2 – Spoon, Cage the Elephant, Beck – The Gorge, George, WA 7/13/19
Three great bands for the price of one made for an absolute must stop to begin my weeklong vacation that included biking and kayaking in northern Idaho, camping and kayaking in Montana, and three nights at Yellowstone. Cage the Elephant was the only band of the three that I hadn’t seen, and they didn’t disappoint at all. This review is worth reading if you didn’t see it at the time, if I do say so myself.
#1 – Father John Misty & Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – Les Schwab Amphitheater Bend, OR 6/9/19
Two of contemporary music’s finest songwriters and musicians at the same place at the same time only 300 miles from me was too much to pass up, even if that meant getting up mere hours after a rager of a housewarming party. Sure, I had seen them both before, but music this good has to be seen and celebrated while you can, and I’m so glad I did. Show of the year, hands down.
Here’s to more musical memories in 2020! Quick plug for my man Johnny Kunk who will be at Lost Grove Brewery on Friday January 17th – if you are in the Boise area, show up, and I’ll see you there.