2011 in Review: Looking Back at an Awesome Year of Shows

As the year draws to an end, blogs and magazines all over the internet are naming their best albums of the year.  I am going to do a post with my favorite albums of the year, but for now, I’m going to try something different.  It’s been an amazing year for music for me, both with albums releases from my favorite bands and live shows.  For this post, I’m going to go through my ticket stub diary and talk about some of those amazing concerts.

1/23/11: The Menzingers at the First Unitarian Church:  I don’t go to many punk shows anymore, and this one was a fun time.  I don’t go to that sweaty basement of the first Unitarian Church nearly enough either.

2/1/11: Best Coast with Wavves at the Starlight Ballroom:  Two bands I discovered in 2010 happened to have lead singers that were dating, so they toured together.  It was a great time, and both bands put on great performances, despite Bethany of Best Coast being seriously under the weather.

3/2/11:  Murder by Death at Johnny Brenda’s:  As my first 21+ show, and in turn, my first show at Johnny Brenda’s, this one was special.  I’d been a big Murder by Death fan since I’d seen them open for The Gaslight Anthem in 2009, but hadn’t been able to see the band play a headlining show in Philly because I was underage.  I immediately fell in love with Johnny Brenda’s–it’s now one of my favorite small venues.  An added bonus, one of my favorite pop-punk bands, Fake Problems opened, and I snagged a setlist.

4/15/11:  The Mountain Goats at the TLA:  This one goes down in history as one of the best shows I’ve been to.  My boyfriend had loved the Mountain Goats for a while, and I had recently had an epiphany about how amazing they were.  I stopped listening to them casually, and started listening to them seriously as they skyrocketed to one of my favorite bands.  I don’t know what else to say, other than it was amazing.  During the last song, the lead singer, John Darnielle, actually went crowd surfing.  We had an awesome view, and I got a video of the performance:

4/27/11:  Brand New at the Electric Factory:  When Brand New announced these shows, after having been completely inactive for almost a year, I freaked out.  The show didn’t disappoint.  It wasn’t the best I’d seen them, but they were still great live.

5/14/11: Manchester Orchestra at the TLA: This was the second time I saw Manchester Orchestra, and it was a great show.  O’brother opened, and I was amazed at how much they’d improved since I saw them last, and An Horse played a great, energetic set.  I was especially excited to hear some of the songs from Manchester Orchestra’s new album, Simple Math, live, and they didn’t disappoint.

6/10/11:  Bright Eyes at the Mann:  I don’t go to a lot of big concerts.  I’d never been to the Mann before, and I’d never seen Bright Eyes, even though I’d been a fan for years.  I got amazing seats, and the show just blew me away.  It was visually stunning, and Bright Eyes sounded great.  They played a very long set with a lot of old and new songs.  Conor Oberst definitely exceeded my expectations as a live performer.

6/23/11: David Bazan at Johnny Brenda’s:  I had recently started listening to David Bazan, and it was the opener that sold me on the show: S. Carey, the band lead by Bon Iver’s drummer.  That show remains one of the few times that they audience was totally respectful and receptive to an opening band.  As S. Carey played their intense set, no one spoke, and when they finished a song, they were showered in applause.  David Bazan’s set was awesome, and he played everything I wanted to hear.

7/25/11: Kevin Devine at the Watermark (Asbury Park):  I’m a big Kevin Devine fan.  This show got announced a week or two before it happened, and I just knew I had to go.  I’d seen Kevin play before, but never at a solo acoustic gig like this.  The Watermark was just about the classiest venue I’ve ever been to–it was just this beautiful bar with an ocean view and fireplaces and couches everywhere.  Kevin Devine played over 30 songs that night, and it was just incredibly.

8/3/11:  Bon Iver at the Tower Theater:  I went back and forth with this show.  I really couldn’t afford to go, but after listening to the new Bon Iver record, I just had to go.  I couldn’t not go.  It was totally worth it.  It was worth being in the very last row.  It was worth every penny.  I can’t really explain the experience of seeing Bon Iver live, but it was really life altering.  It was just so beautiful and perfect, and it lead to an almost spiritual experience for me.  I can’t explain it.  You’d just have to be there.

This brings me up to the time I started the blog.  The other shows I went to have all been reviewed on here, and I’ll post the links to them now:

9/18/11:  David Bazan in some guy’s living room

10/13/11: Thrice at the Electric Factory

10/21/11: Kevin Devine at the North Star Bar

11/4/11: Frank Turner at the TLA

11/26/11: Brand New at the House of Blues

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About kategasch

I'm an English Major and Journalism Minor at Rowan University. From that you can probably deduce that I love literature and writing, which is absolutely true. I'm passionate about a lot of things, but I think my biggest passion is music. Since I was about 12 or 13, music has been a huge part of my life. I started going to shows when I was around 14 and in the 7 years since then, I've been to more shows than I can recall, at least without the help of my ticket stub diary. I generally don't go to a lot of big shows. I prefer intimate venues--venues so small that the bands have to walk past you to get off and on the stage. Bars and basements where sometimes, if you're lucky, those 200 other people love the band just as much as you do and fill the room with energy that can't be replicated. View all posts by kategasch

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