Best Live Shows, 2007

Here’s my top 5, based purely on objective and unassailable criteria:

5: Arcade Fire/LCD Soundsystem
4: Gomez
3: Mute Math 
2: Interpol/Shout Out Louds
1: Fall Out Boy/The Academy Is…/+44

This was a difficult list because all of these shows were fantastic.  But FOB and friends deserve the top spot because of the bands they toured with, the quality of the show, and let’s face it: they rock.

 Your thoughts?

43 thoughts on “Best Live Shows, 2007

  1. I saw roughly 16 shows this year (probably more but I wasn’t diligent about noting all of them down this year and may have forgotten a few I couldn’t get my camera into). Which is a low number for me—last few years I’ve seen at least 20. It pains me to have seen so little. I’m trying not to think about all the incredible bands I’ve missed in the last few months who played LA that I couldn’t make it to.

    (I’m actually missing a show tonight—Amon Amarth, a death metal band my son wanted to see.)

    Anyway, I basically only go to shows I really want to see, with bands that are terrific, so it’s always hard to choose which were the best. Here’s who I saw:

    Low (2 times)
    Bang Camaro
    3 Inches of Blood
    Alison Krauss & Union Station
    Ted Leo
    The Frames
    Hoodoo Gurus (2 times)
    Willie Nelson/Jackson Browne

    I have to say, seeing Alison Krauss & Union Station is a major highlight for me, and not just for the year. I’m talking lifetime highlight. Same with Jackson Browne, one of my all-time favorites. Not to mention the Hoodoo Gurus! I still can’t believe they reunited and toured–and I got to see them twice! AND they did “Arthur” and “Dig It Up!” No matter how often I see Low or the Frames, they never fail to move me. So emotional it can be hard to even talk about.

  2. That’s quite an eclectic list, Susan. I would have really loved seeing all of those bands. The Hoodoo Gurus are a favorite of mine from way back. Is it true that Alison Kraus played shows with Robert Plant this year? Is that the show you saw?

  3. I’ve never heard Fall Out Boy, but I could never vote for them strictly because of that shirtless guy in the photo. Yeesh.

  4. Fall Out Boy makes me feel old. Not that many bands do that. For the most part, I feel like a badly aged adolescent. But something about Fall Out Boy just makes me shake my head and mutter like an old fogy sitting on his porch with the garden hose, just daring those kids and their dirt bikes to cross into his yard.

    Them and My Chemical Romance.

  5. The only thing I saw live this year was the touring company for SPAMALOT, and they were great.

    I am waiting for something good to come along so I can take my 14 year old to his first concert – great bonding moment to be had.

  6. That reminds me. Also saw Linkin Park w/My Chemical Romance. But only cuz we got free tickets (and backstage passes).

    The AKUS show I saw wasn’t with Robert Palmer. Which I’m happy about. I only wanted Alison and Union Station. Jerry Douglas was there. Couldn’t have been more perfect. It’s really astounding, how amazing they are live.

    I also saw the Melvins/Mudhoney “Don’t Look Back” show, which was terrific. Also Megadeth opening for Heaven & Hell (basically Black Sabbath w/Dio singing rather than Ozzy).

  7. Greg: I can’t stand My Chemical Romance. I do actually like Fall Out Boy, but if it wasn’t for my 13 year old, I probably never would have heard of them or All American Rejects, his other favorite band.

    TS: Ha! I saw Spamalot too! It deserves special mention. Maybe we should have another category called best theatrical shows. It was definitely one of the highlights of the year.

    Susan: Robert Palmer? Did you mean Robert Plant?

  8. Haha. Yeah, Robert Plant. I still don’t have the album, either, but I want it. But then it’s my goal to someday own all the records anyone in the band has ever put out. All 1,000+ of them. (Jerry Douglas is all over the place.)

  9. Unlike the cool kids I only saw one show this year: The Who

    I thought it was great.

    If Zeppelin tours next year I’ll attempt to go to that as well. The bootleg of their Dec 10 concert in London is very promising.

  10. MCQ:

    First impressions being what they are, that picture and how much of a FWD the shirtless guy is will be on my mind whenever I hear the band’s name for awhile.

    Plus he still looks like a putz in the new picture.

    Sorry! I never claimed to be fair with these observations.

  11. I sadly missed Crowded House this year, but I’m assuming it was THE BEST simply because.

    And my thoughts? FOB does not rock. They merely pretend they do. Or wish they did.

  12. Brian: FWD? Care to translate? Pete Wentz may not look like much to you but my impression is that he is a very talented guy (for a bass player).

    gabby: must you always blaspheme? Have you seen them live? After seeing them, I would say that +44 rocked harder, but how can you say that “Sugar, We’re Going Down” does not rock? You can say you don’t like them, but objectively, you must admit that they do rock.

    I am a Crowded House fan too, but they are not exactly the rockinest band in the world, can you tell us who you think does rock?

  13. I think FOB suffer from over-production, which makes them sound like everything else on the radio. Very generic. I listened to that link you provided above and they’re awfully poppy. I wouldn’t call that rockin’. I think Linkin Park (who I think of as bubblegum angst) rock more than that.

    But then, this is my standard. Or this. (I was at the show on that last link, with my son—just off to the left of the stage.)

  14. Only show I saw was Interpol (but, sadly, with the Liars instead of the Shout Out Louds).

    I don’t have a ton of experience with live shows, but I thought Interpol was excellent. They have a very tight rhythm section. Paul Banks’ vocals weren’t swallowed by the music. And Daniel Kessler is a very entertaining, active guitarist.

    They played songs from the latest album, but weren’t too uppity to play some of the good stuff. And they ended the encore with a rousing performance of PDA.

    In all, they seemed to be a very polished, tight band. I’ve read that their first major tour wasn’t that great so it seems as if they have improved.

    I think that a concert should not only be an enjoyable time (and it was), but also give you some insight into the band’s recordings. I came away with an appreciation of Carlos D and Sam Fogarino. Yes, Interpol is a bit of a Joy Division knock-off. But if you are going to knock-off Joy Division, you better have the rhythm section to back it up, and, imo, Interpol does. Carlos D isn’t the genius that Peter Hook is, but the bass still does what it needs to do.

    But more than that, seeing Daniel Kessler play and move around the stage gave me an appreciation for how his guitar parts work in Interpol songs. How he weaves in and out of the bass and drums and the vocals and adds texture and nuance to the songs.

    Good stuff.

  15. I should add that there was some interesting drumming in the Liars set, but although I get what they’re trying to do, I don’t find it all that compelling.

  16. MCQ – “gabby: must you always blaspheme?”

    You say blaspheme, I say truth…I have not seen them live, nor ever will. I agree with Susan. They are too over-produced and sound just like_____(enter any other pop band popular right now). Yes, I said pop. Not rock.

    Crowded House does not rock. Never said they did. I just said it was the best show I missed this year! But, then, I am in love with Neil Finn and he can do no wrong in my eyes. Clearly biased.

    As for who I think rocks? Paul Weller. Hands down. Best damn show I’ve ever seen in my life.

  17. Sunflower is my FAVORITE song by him, if not my favorite song ever. Period. By anyone, anytime. To see it live was…spiritual. Completely.

  18. Susan, for the record, I already agreed they were poppy and didn’t rock as hard as +44, for crying out loud. And no one rocks up to your standards, I thought we already established that long ago.

    WM, Liars were with them when I saw Interpol too, I just couldn’t bring myself to note that, because it was such an awful detraction from an otherwise good show. Thanks for your fine review of Interpol, I agree completely, they won me over in much the same way. I love how you headed off Susan’s obligatory Joy Division comparison before she was able to make it. (Ha, Sorry Susan)

    gabby, (sigh) you are a lost soul, obviously, who needs tutelage on her musical categories. Repeat after me: “Pop” means Britney Spears. FOB may be pop-punk, or pop-rock, or pop-emo-punk-rock, or some such combination, but they are not just “pop.”
    Hope you have that down now, because this will be on the test.

    Here’s how you know I’m right: you were unable to complete the sentence. Why? Because there is no other “pop” band that sounds like FOB. They are actually kind of a new genre. I call it funky-punk, and there’s darn few practitioners out there, and none that do it better.

    Oh and Paul Weller does rock.

  19. Did anyone else see Arcade Fire, Gomez or Mute Math? They were all incredible. My wife put Arcade Fire #1. Pete Yorn was my #6.

  20. gabby: after watching those clips, I have to seriously question your judgment (again). Weller does rock, but harder than FOB? This is a guy that is (1) old, (2) a purse carrier, and (3) -gasp- brittish. He may be the perfect rocker for over-the-hill metrosexuals like SuperG and the Brit, but for red-blooded Americans? Let’s just say he’s always going to be an acquired taste. If you put him in a battle-of-the-bands with FOB, the only way he could win is by swatting them with his purse.

    Susan, on the over-produced thing: If they can play it live and it sounds as good or better than the recording, it’s not overproduced.

  21. HA! I can assure you I need no guidance in musicality. Pop = popular be it Britney or FOB. Sure, one may be a little different from the other (and more annoying), but in my mind the same sort of people listen to both. But you can call them Funky Pop if it helps you sleep better at night.

    And I didn’t finish that sentence on purpose (and the purpose wasn’t that I couldn’t!). I was illustrating a point that there are any number of bands you could put in that space. They are all popular right now and interchangeable sound and image-wise. (In fact I thought the All American Rejects and FOB were the same band for a long time…)

    And thank heavens you are smart enough to like Paul Weller…

  22. Clearly I need to amend my last post! Paul Weller is a legend, not old. There is a difference. FOB only wishes that when they hit 50 they will have had 1/2 the career Weller is still having.

    He could dance circles around them and all they would be able to do is bow to his greatness and weep for their life choices…

    So says this hot-blooded American!

  23. gabby, I saw the Rejects last fall and I love them too. They are much more pop than FOB. They actually sing ballads. I predict they will drop a new album in ’08 and conquer the pop music world. You heard it here first.

  24. Ohhhh, so it’s Weller’s dancing that you’re into. Now I get it. The whole man-purse thing is starting to make sense.

    gabby, FOB are emo, which means they already weep for their life choices without any help from Weller’s dancing. But if it will make you feel better, I will agree that his dancing would undoutedly cause them to break into a new round of weeping.

  25. I don’t define over-produced by whether it could be reproduced live. If I did, then I’d have to say the Cocteau Twins or U2’s The Unforgettable Fire is over-produced. When I say over-produced, I mean they sound like…well, like Fall Out Boy. And every other band you hear on the radio. It’s like all the soul has been removed from the music somehow. It sounds generic. It’s pop-rock by numbers. Or pop-emo, or pop-punk, or whatever. (It’s still pop. And it’s still by numbers.)

    I’m always impressed whenever any of those bands can reproduce their sound well live. In fact, I tend to think they’re just lip syncing when they do. Take Green Day on the Grammy’s. Was that lip synced or not?

  26. “I predict they will drop a new album in ‘08 and conquer the pop music world.” Such a daring prediction considering AAR is in studio now finishing it up. You should charge $2.99 a minte for us to read you. AAR is one of my faves for no particular reason btw.
    Not big on FOB at ALL, sorry.
    The only one I saw live this year was Rascal Flatts. One of the best arena shows of my life to be quite frank. Lots of energy, lots of audience involvement, lights, cranes, pyro, the works. Some good solo jamming from their musicians too.

  27. No worries here, mm. You can start sending your 2.99/min to me anytime.

    Susan, The moon is not made of cheese, the London Underground is not a political movement, and Green Day does not lip synch.

  28. didn’t get out to as many shows as i would have liked, but saw the following (* w/ susan m.)

    built to spill
    mono/world’s end girlfriend/the drift
    sonic youth (don’t look back series, they daydream nation in its entirety)
    beastie boys

    shows i’m bummed that i missed:
    high on fire/mono
    the sword
    dinosaur jr
    do make say think

    hoping to hit more in 2008.

  29. oh yeah, and i caught beck at a small show a few weeks ago, a warmup for his current int’l tour. it was fun, if a little sloppy.

  30. I think I’ll start a blog dedicated to “live performances” that were actually lip synced.

    Mike you should come to the Melvins on 12/30.

  31. “If I did, then I’d have to say the Cocteau Twins or U2’s The Unforgettable Fire is over-produced.”

    I’d have to say that the Cocteau Twins at the Warfield in the early ’90s is the concert that was the biggest letdown out of the few I’ve been to.

    I didn’t think their sound would be the same as on their studio albums, but I also didn’t think that the mix would be so loud and muddy that you couldn’t hear the vocals and the guitars were bad noisy instead of good noisy.

  32. Is that the band’s fault, the venue’s fault, or the sound guy’s fault? Probably all three.

    I’ve heard live recordings of the Cocteau Twins that blow me away, I can’t believe they’re live. (Of course they use backing tracks for some of the vocals.)

  33. I don’t know, Susan. The Warfield is generally supposed to be a pretty good venue. I’d probably say the sound guy’s fault.

    I do know that when I saw New Order with the Chemical Brothers at the Henry J. Kaiser in Oakland that the problem was both the venue and that the sound mix was clearly set up for the Chemical Brothers instead of New Order. :-(

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