The 10 Best Live Shows of 2011

The best stuff we saw on stage this year, from thrash to Kpop

TRL success and jokes about guyliner, and he did so deftly. At the Studio at Webster Hall last month, he was supremely confident, blowing through the ebullient "Everybody Wants Somebody" and the swaggering one-last-drink resolution "Run Dry (X Heart X Fingers)" in such a way to expand the basement room's walls to arena size.

tUnE-yArDs. The fearless way with which Merrill Garbus attacks her instruments (I'm including her voice, which she loops live on stage) is inspiring, bringing up urges to seize the day as soon as humanly possible. That the show coincided with Bastille Day turned out to be a wonderful coincidence; as the last notes of the defiant "Killa" rang out, fireworks went off across the Hudson. Even though they technically were part of a Bastille Day celebration, they might as well have served as the night's final pyrotechnic exclamation point.

Honorable Mentions: Battles at Webster Hall (three musicians at the top of their game); blink-182 at Jones Beach (bratty pop-punk turns into the ideal soundtrack for oceanside splashing); Ke$ha at Jones Beach (a loft party gets blown up to shed size); The Olivia Tremor Control at (le) poisson rouge (underground psych-pop icons prove that they can still make a glorious mess after all these years); Razika at Cameo Gallery (Norwegian twee in the crucial moments before they were devoured by the Internet); Wild Flag at the Rock Shop ('90s refugees refusing to rest on nostalgic laurels).

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13 comments
Shammon Julme
Shammon Julme

Patrick Stump is an amazing performer!!!! His vocals are wicked and his musical talents is unbelievable And I love him!!!!. Also with the live Kpop show, i think its the excessiveness that makes me an avid listener.

Noway
Noway

Well, Patrick Stump certainly rocked! Nice to hear original, intelligent lyrics for a change!

Brian
Brian

I was at the Big 4 show...2nd row from the stage and it was a incredible show. Megadeth played a fantastic set, the only negative was that it was much to short. All 4 bands were excellent and it was well worth the extra money for the VIP seats.

Hayley
Hayley

Girls' Generation has nine members, actually. Otherwise, I agree with your review of the concert (the over-the-top nature of K-Pop is probably the main reason I love it), and like that someone else can be a fan of K-Pop and PJ Harvey at the same time.

CJ Strongbow
CJ Strongbow

Addendum - I actually love Sade, and saw her perform in 1993 at the old Paramount Theater in MSG, and she was fantastic. So exclude her artistic output from the Zappa vs. the Rest of Your List equation I posited above. Still works out in Zappa's favor by a country mile.

CJ Strongbow
CJ Strongbow

Stay away from crappy pop music and you might have a better time. This list is a joke.

Marcello
Marcello

You've got to be fucking kidding! When did the Village Voice become more lame than Rolling Stone or Spin? Did anyone from VV go to Rebirth Brass Band at Beekman Beer Garden? How about even one night of Bowl Live (10 nights of Soulive with special guests at Brooklyn Bowl)? Funky Meters at Brooklyn Bowl? No? Return To Forever with Zappa Plays Zappa at The Beacon Theater? Guess not. Sheesh. I'd rather puncture my eardrums with a rusty icepick than listen to more than a minute of most of the shows you listed as the year's best.

maura
maura

That's funny because I feel the same way about anything involving the self-indulgent music of Frank Zappa. Different strokes, I guess!

CJ Strongbow
CJ Strongbow

You pimp for Beyonce and some loser from Fallout Boy and yet have the nerve to diss Frank Zappa, who produced more of artistic value in the first 5 years of his career than your entire list put together. How did you get a job as a music critic again?

Epac
Epac

Obviously, you missed the Motorhead / Valient Thorr show earlier this year...pity, since that took the cake over some of the bigger names above.

maura
maura

I missed a lot. There's no physical way *not* to miss a lot.

 
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