2008 was a pretty good year for me on the live music front, I was able to see quite a few shows in a variety of settings. Small clubs, large clubs, arenas, bars, tents, east coast, west coast, I really got a nice mix of throughout the year. Looking back, there were some real highlights that stick out in my mind and I'll try to share a handful of them.
10. "Ruby Soho" - Rancid at Irving Plaza
I had waited years to see these guys and especially this song in concert. Just a real fun show, great crowd....bunch of diehards.
9. "Let Me In" - REM at Madison Square Garden
This has been a favorite of mine for a long time and not a song I expected to hear on their summer tour. This version was stripped down to basically an acoustic guitar medley, a really cool arrangement. This song made the show for me.
8. "Champions of Nothing" - Matthew Good at The Highline Ballroom
It had been 7 years since I had last seen Matthew Good in concert, he just doesn't come around very often. This show was just down the street from me so I was beyond excited that he was finally playing. Hard to pick a single bright spot, there were many highlights for me but this is a really cool song.
7. "When Your Mind's Made Up" - The Swell Season at Radio City
I just loved the movie "Once" and this was my favorite song from the soundtrack. Jule and I lucked out with 2nd row seats for this show and seeing it performed live in Radio City was just a tremendous experience.
6. "Wonderlust King" - Gogol Bordello at The Coachella Festival
The last two years, I've traveled out to California for The Coachella Festival with four buddies......JayO, JayT, Dave and Chris. Without question, both trips have been some of the greatest times I've ever had while seeing live music. Coachella is really something hard to put into words.....try to imagine seeing an amazing collection of bands, surrounded by great friends and fans in an absolute paradise and you've got Coachella. If you're a fan of going to shows, this is something I'd say you should definitely give a shot.
Anyways, this was our first time seeing Gogol Bordello and we had all heard good things about their show. They ended up being one of our favorite acts of the weekend, people were having a blast during their set. At one point the singer Pink was running around in the middle of a large dance circle. Good times!
5. "Smile" - Pearl Jam in Hartford
Really, really tough to pick one song or moment on this tour, I was lucky enough to see 5 shows on the Northeast leg. Hartford was a really special show, many fans feel it was the best of the tour and it's hard to argue. "Smile" is a pretty rare song so it was a real treat to hear it at my home-state show, my brother Andy and I really had a great time at this one.
4. "The Wolves" - Bon Iver at Town Hall
I wrote about this song/performance about a week ago but it was really one of the best things I saw this year. The combination of Justin's voice and Town Hall's acoustics was the perfect mix, just beautiful stuff.
3. "Time to Pretend/Kids/Electric Feel" - MGMT at The Coachella Festival
We saw many great bands this past year, but this was one of the most fun parts of festival. I don't remember the exact order of the songs, but they saved all three to play one after another and everyone was just having a blast. You can't see us in the video but rest assured that we're square in the middle of that crowd. "Kids" is probably the song that kind of defines Coachella 2008 for me, just a ton of fun.
2. "One Big Holiday" - My Morning Jacket at Radio City Music Hall
This show was the best concert I saw all year and one of my favorites of all time. One of the great rock anthems in probably the best venue around, hard to beat this one. Unbelievable energy all around, especially during this song......felt like the roof was going to fly off Radio City. I was seated on the right side of the orchestra, right under the side steps where Jim James ended up playing during the song, pretty amazing stuff. Leaving the show everyone was pretty much shaking their head how good it was. EPIC.
1. "Waiting on the World to Change" - John Mayer (& friends) at Jones Beach
I feel like this has to take the top spot for me, it's not every day that you get a chance to stand on stage with a bunch of friends at Jones Beach and sing to several thousand people. One of the coolest and most unique experiences of my life. I'm pretty sure this will be the last time John and I ever share the stage, but regardless it will be something I'll remember forever.