Photos and words by: Bradley Darby
Anymore it seems though every average Joe has to come up with their Best Of… list for the end of the year. Well, I’m no exception! This list started at 21 shows and I was able to knock it down to 10. I then decided I couldn’t make this list without including Split Lip Rayfield. So 11 it is!
2010 was a great year for me in terms of live shows. It all started off in February where I attended shows 4 consecutive nights including State Radio, Split Lip Rayfield and back to back nights of Yonder Mountain String Band. Three nights later it was Trey Anastasio. Instrumental jam bands like STS9, Galactic, and Perpetual Groove. From The Dead Weather and Flaming Lips to the legendary Furthur, Phish, Chuck Berry, Dave Matthews, Mark Knopfler and The Eagles….it seemed like night after night it was a different show. I decided to exclude the 2010 Wakarusa Music Festival, and the first annual Yonder Mountain String Band Harvest Music Festival, otherwise shows from those two magical weekends would have taken up a majority of the list. I think I’ve seen approximately 45,256 shows this year including somethings I never thought I’d see such as Jamie Lidell and Chiddy Bang, both of which I really enjoyed.
So here it is, my Top 11 Shows of 2010.
Click on the links throughout to link to a YouTube video, some are from the show listed, some are just ridiculously good live videos from other shows. Some also feature links to full reviews for said show. And most of all support these great bands and all (good) live music.
Honorable Mentions: Cornmeal @ 2720 Cherokee, North Mississippi All Stars w. Hill Country Revue @ The Pageant, The Bridge @ Old Rock House & Off Broadway, Stephen Kellogg @ Old Rock House
11. Split Lip Rayfield 2/18 Blueberry Hill & 5/12 Old Rock House – St. Louis, MO
Split Lip has become one of my favorite bands over the last few years, and their live show is a big reason why. A three piece band from Wichita, Kansas consisting of banjo, mandolin, and “Stitchgiver”, a standup bass made from the gastank of a 78 Grand Marquis, a piece of hickory and strung with one piece of weedwhacker line. They headlined at Blueberry Hill in February and opened for Reverend Horton Heat at the Old Rock House in May. Throw in a few shows at Wakarusa and Yonder Mountains Harvest Festival and I had the chance to be amazed by this band 7 times this year…..and can’t wait to see them again! Every show is dedicated to fallen former guitar player Kirk Rundstrom who passed away in 2007.
10. Furthur 11/11 – Chaivitz Arena – St. Louis, MO
Maybe it was because this was my first Phil Lesh / Bob Weir / Dead experience, or maybe it was because they did a cover of one of my favorite Ryan Adams songs of all time, “Magnolia Mountain”, but something magical was in the air on this November evening on the Saint Louis University campus. There were quite a few open seats and I went to this show ticketless, hoping to score one on the lot. No problem whatsoever thanks to a man also selling hippie crack on the open lot that was Shakedown Street. The show started with “Uncle Johns Band”, ended with “Attics of My Life” and included “Stella Blue”, “Cumberland Blues”, George Harrisons “Any Road”, and “Eyes of the World.”
9. Umphreys McGee “Monster Mashup” 10/30-10/31 – The Pageant – St. Louis, MO
Umphreys McGee as Paul Stanley Cup, Dr. Evil Knivel and Mini Me, Larry David Letterman, Yoko Bono
Halloween weekend with Chicagos best and one of my favorite jambands, Umphreys McGee. What more could I ask for? How about mash ups including Rage Against the Machines “Bulls on Parade” with “Mark on The Bus” by Beastie Boys. Guns N Roses “November Rain” mashed up with UM’s own “Cemetery Walk.” A mashup being called “The Way You Make Me Rule The World” (Tears for Fears/Michael Jackson) “Bitter Sweet Symphony” by The Verve mixed with another UM song. And you better believe, Journeys “Don’t Stop Believing” mashed up with “Spirit of Radio” by Rush. Throw in a sold out crowd full of mashed up costumes including Curious George Clinton, Alice in Wonderland in Chains, Lady GaGarth and Lil Waynes World and you have the makings of one of the best shows of the year! As for me, I was Abrahamburglar Lincoln.
8. Jackie Greene 2/6 The Pageant, 3/10 & 10/22 Old Rock House – St. Louis, MO
Jackie first played in St. Louis this year opening for Gov’t Mule in February, then came back to headline an acoustic solo show at Old Rock House. But when the FULL BAND show was announced for October, I went from 6 to 12! Jackie has an amazing voice, and is a great talent. He will be around for years to come and seems to channel Jerry Garcia on his “Grateful EP” featuring covers of “Sugaree”, “New Speedway Boogie” and “Brokedown Palace” available for download here. FREE! Also, heres a video, great quality, of Jackie with Gov’t Mule from the show at The Pageant playing “Don’t Let Me Down”
7. Avett Brothers & Grace Potter & The Nocturnals 9/24 – The Pageant – St. Louis, MO (Full Review)
Avett Brothers is a band I had been waiting to see live since I first heard them last year. Grace Potter is my make believe girlfriend. When I first heard the two were paired together for a tour, and The Pageant was on the agenda, nothing short of death would stop me from attending this show. GP&N opened the show and dominated the stage for roughly an hour, not long enough. She performed songs from all of her albums, including “Apologies.” The Avetts came out and played a killer nearly two hour set that featured 20 songs including “I and Love and You”, “Kickdrum Heart”, and a three song encore that started with my favorite song, “Murdered in the City” For a 3 (sometimes 4) piece band to do what they do, is impressive.
6. Trey Anastasio & Classic TAB – The Pageant – St. Louis, MO (note: all links are high quality audio/video, do yourself a favor and click them!)
Whats better to tide me over until the Phish summer tour than a TAB show at The Pageant? How about a Trey show that featured “Gotta Jibboo”, acoustic versions of “Kill Devil Falls”, “Bathtub Gin”, “Backwards Down the Number Line” and “Wilson.” That was just to close the first set. The second set featured a cover of Zeppelins “Black Dog”, “Liquid Time”, and ended with “First Tube.” Thanks for melting my face Trey!
5. Dirtfoot 5/13 – Ciceros – St. Louis, MO
Never heard of Dirtfoot? I’m sorry! You need to! Dirtfoot is the only Front Porch, Whiskey Swillin, Foot Stomping, Gypsy, Punk, Country, Grumble, Boogie band in the land. They are pretty much the Mulberry Mountain house band for Wakarusa and Harvest Music Festival, typically drawing large dedicated crowds at their infamous late night sets as well as their 9am set at the Chompdown, a free communal breakfast put together by and for the festi-folk. They claim Shrieveport, LA as home and use guitar, banjo, drums, percussion, washboard, upright bass and sax to create their sound. It’s tough to find a band similar to Dirtfoot, and even tougher to find one that can duplicate the energy of a Dirtfoot show! This marked their first trip to St. Louis as part of the Wakarusa Pre-Party Tour with Mountain Sprout. They pulled out a cover of “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash, and played a nice mix of their own tunes, most of which involve crowd participation. Favorites of mine include “My Girl”, “Cast My Plans”, and “Little Bit of Rum.”
4. Widespread Panic 5/1 – BOK Center – Tulsa, OK
This was my first time seeing JB & the Boys live, and well worth the commute to Tulsa to see great friends and great music. I was going to be seeing them in a month at Wakarusa and wanted to see what I was getting into. There is no surprise as to why Panic has been as successful as they have over the past 20 years when you see these southern rock / jam band giants live. The lightshow is one of the most spectacular things I have ever witnessed (see: The highlight of the night was during the second set during “Chilly Water” when the entire crowd seemed to scoop up every bottle of water in the building to make it rain. Seriously, you couldn’t find a bottle to purchase ANYWHERE. Also played were “Hatfield”, “Surprise Valley”, “Lets Get The Show On The Road” and “Impossible > Makes Sense To Me” to close it out.
3. Roger Waters 10/29 – Scott Trade Center – St. Louis, MO (Full Review)
My favorite band of all time is Pink Floyd. I have never had the opportunity to see anything other than Pink Floyd tribute bands, including Aussie Floyd, Think Floyd, and St. Louis heroes El Monstero. Roger Waters announced his “The Wall 2010’ tour and I was unable to get tickets up until a week before the show. $115 later, I was wishing I had paid $250 for floor seats. The production of this show alone was worth the ticket price, but throw in the fact I got my first actual Floyd experience and this show is damn near impossible to top. I knew it was going to be nothing but “The Wall” but I didn’t care. “Mother”, “Goodbye Blue Sky”, “Young Lust”, “Comfortably Numb” they all sounded amazing and I had goose bumps for a majority of the show. Now I just need to keep my fingers and toes crossed for a Gilmour tour next summer or a Gilmour/Waters/Mason reunion (yeah right!)
2. Phish 8/14-8/15 – Alpine Valley – East Troy, WI
Photo by : K. Soncasie
Last summer was the first time I had gotten a chance to see Phish, as I had taken their break as my chance to really get into them. Stupid, yes. Worth the wait? Also yes. Last summers Chicago stop was a great show, but was lacking something. Whatever that was, they found and brought it along for Summer 2010 tour. The weekend not only ended up being recorded and released on DVD/CD, but also was considered by many to be some of the best shows of the tour. We had lawn for the first night, and some amazing seats for night two but it didn’t matter. Set lists from both nights rival any other Phish sets I have listened to. Night one started with “Tube” and included “Fuck Your Face”, “Lawn Boy”, “Gumbo”, “Down with the Disease”, “Mikes Song”, and “Sneaking Sally” into “Weekapaug Groove”. Night two was bookended by “Tweezer” and “Tweezer Reprise” and also included “Divided Sky”, “Farmhouse”, “David Bowie”, “2001”, “You Enjoy Myself”, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Character Zero.” Thank you Phish, and no matter what most say, you are back!
1. The Black Keys 6/10 – The Pageant – St. Louis, MO (Full Review)
I have had a small obsession with The Black Keys for a few years and had been dying to see them for the same period of time. I was granted the chance twice this year, both within a week of each other. They played at Wakarusa in June, and just a few days later trekked through St. Louis to play to a sold out show at The Pageant. We had arrived early to get a premium spot. All the stars had aligned finally and I was going to get my eardrums exploded by the 2 piece monster that is The Black Keys.
The beginning of the set featured favorites like “Girl is On My Mind”, “The Breaks” and “Stack Shot Billy”. They ripped through songs off of the ‘Brothers’ album, my vote for Album of the Year, with highlights including “Next Girl” , “Howling For You”, and my personal favorite, “Ten Cent Pistol”. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney closed the night out with “Everlasting Light” and “Till I Get My Way” before leaving the capacity crowd on their feet, and scraping their faces off of their shoes.
This show lived up the every expectation and made me forget about seeing them days earlier at Wakarusa. From “Thickfreakness” all the way through “Til I Get My Way” the energy never stopped. Not only did they release my top Album of the Year, but this show was far and away my favorite show of the year, and a show I will remember forever.