I just got back from seeing The Magnetic Fields, and it was a great show. It got me thinking about the most memorable concerts I’ve seen over the years.
In no particular order …
- Weird Al at Toad’s Place in New Haven, 1991 (or 1992). I know how deeply uncool it is to admit this, but I’ve seen Weird Al live, and it was great. I think this was the first rock concert I ever went to, in fact. Weird Al did a great live show, with all sorts of wacky costume changes, weird dances, and a generally kick-ass performance.
- Most of the They Might Be Giants shows I’ve seen. I think they may be the second band I saw live, and I’ve seen them many times since.
- The first time I saw Einsturzende Neubaten. I was amazed at how good the sound was for such a complicated set of instruments. I also appreciated the fact that it was loud, but not way too fucking loud, like many concerts I’ve been to.
- Tokyo Incidents at the Kamakura Cultural Center. This may be the single best concert I’ve ever been to. This band is amazing, and the singer, Ringo Shiina, is one of the best singers I’ve ever heard. A lot of what she sang was quite vocally demanding, and she and the band nailed every note. Combine that with great sound and acoustics (yay for concert halls).
- Seeing the Minneapolis Orchestra perform Messiaen’s Turangalila, and a few years later Britten’s War Requiem. These are two of my all time favorite pieces. I’ve also loved seeing George Crumb’s chamber works live. I saw Music for a Summer Evening (Makrokosmos III) and then years later Vox Balanae, and both were amazing.
- Seeing Low perform at Orchestra Hall. The acoustics of the hall worked incredibly well with their minimalist music. I’ve seen Low many times live, but I think this was my favorite, just cause it sounded so good.
And finally, one dishonorable mention.
- The Polyphonic Spree at The Fine Line. This wasn’t the band’s fault, I think they might have been doing a fine job. However, the sound was so amazingly loud that I couldn’t really hear any music, just a roar of noise from which I could sort of pick out musical sounds. This was a huge disappointment, because I’d been very excited to see them. I think some sound engineers are deaf, and they crank everything to 11. They need to be fired.