Friday, May 27, 2005

Something light

For the holiday - I wanted to make things fairly low-key. I just saw Green Day at the Qwest. I initially said I would put in my 'top ten' but I started thinking and I do have to say the show just missed my top ten - joining the ranks of The Eels at the Ranch Bowl in Omaha in 2003 and Def Leppard in Omaha in 1987 and the Beastie Boys with Fishbone and Murphy's law in 1987 for their Licensed to Ill Tour.

So - here's my informal 'Top Ten' list for best concerts I've attended.

10. Pearl Jam/Bad Religion - Red Rocks Stadium (Colorado) - 1995. This was during their Vitology tour. Besides Bad Religion's near-flawless set and Pearl Jam being on top of their game, the nostalgia of seeing Red Rocks for the first time put this above such stellar shows as Green Day in Omaha and The Eels at the Ranch Bowl.

9. Beck/The Flaming Lips - Orpheum Theater (Minneapolis) - 2002. Beck touring for Sea Change. The Flaming Lips touring for Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. Beck at his heartfelt best.

8. The Flaming Lips - Knickerbockers (Lincoln, NE) - 2000. I'm still trying to figure out how they put on a show that was supporting what NME called 'Album of the Decade' in a dingy bar that could sit barely more than a thousand people. With band-issued headphones passed out to the crowd and talking sock puppets, the worldwide scope of The Soft Bulletin was reduced to a beautiful essence - even the beer tasted supernatural.

7. Reverend Horton Heat - Royal Grove (Lincoln, NE) - 1997. It's Martini Time was the album. To that point, I had never seen a mosh pit so frenzied and so intense. My friend was lost in the mosh pit for almost a minute, he came up, lost his shirt in the pit and I got my first chance to see the 'Rev stand up on Jimbo's upright bass like a crazed surfer. Absolutely amazing.

6. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Sokol Hall (Omaha, NE) - 2004. A sold-out show. At the top of their game. Karen O coming onstage wearing a utility belt that was circa era Luke Skywalker 1977. Yeah, Karen O is rock-star-worship worthy, but Nick Zinner was the unsung hero of the night for his guitar antics.

5. Pixies - Pershing Auditorium (Lincoln) - 2004. Ever wish you could see a band that broke up long before you formed a love for them. Ever have that band reform, but when you saw them, the band was a pale imitation of their prior glory, making the nostalgia all the more bitter to swallow? Didn't happen when the Pixies reunited last year. Thank god - now let's just hope Husker Du can do the same.

4. Radiohead - Alpine Valley amphitheater (East Troy, Wisconsin) - 2003
Finally got a chance to see this band. I've been building up more than six years of anticipation on how these guys would perform live. They didn't disappoint. Highlight of the show: being scrunched in with thousands of other geeks, on a grassy hill that felt like you were going to fall over into a human boulder - and having that energy explode when the band tore into "2+2=5."

3. Tori Amos - Midland Theater (Kansas City) - 1994
Couldn't have been a more elegant place to see Tori Amos support Under the Pink. Her other shows at the Orpheum in Omaha were solid, but this was the first time I saw her - and the only time where her albums didn't contain a smidgen of filler.

2. U2 - Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City) - 1992
The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy and the Sugarcubes opened up. U2 was supporting Achtung Baby. Bush I was about to get the boot - and partial thanks was because of MTV and U2. It was a big event - big and bloated - with vid walls and old cars used as spotlights. Long before webcasts, this was one of the foundations on how concerts were to be judged. Ask anyone who saw this concert in their late teens and early '20s and you'll get basically the same response: most kids felt like they could change the world after seeing this show - or at least have a helluva story to tell their grandkids on how they were AT the Achtung Baby tour.

1. Morphine - Music Hall (Lawrence, KS) - 1997
No question. The opening act couldn't perform, so Morphine simply opted to put on a longer show instead of string out the anticipation. Mark Sandman was the epitome of cool and the venue was perfect for the band's ultra-intense coolness. The venue's single Jack and Cokes were actually doubles. The audience lapped up Sandman's beat-poet banter with the audience and Dana Colley's dual-saxophone attack so much that the audience didn't let the band leave the stage until they heard basically their entire catalog - and a few quirky tunes in-between. I wanted to move to Lawrence for three years after seeing this show. RIP - Mark Sandman.

Disclaimer - this list subject to change as I'll be seeing Neko Case on June 6 and Wilco with the Roots on June 17 at Red Rocks...


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