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Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Best Shows of 2009

Posted by Ned Lannamann on Thu, Dec 31, 2009 at 12:40 PM

David Byrne at Arlene Schnitzer, June 23
  • Photo by Minh Tran
  • David Byrne at Arlene Schnitzer, June 23
Here is an incomplete and poorly remembered list of some of my favorite shows of 2009. I am sure I am overestimating some of these, while forgetting how wonderful some of the ones I left off were, and some I have forgotten altogether. Anyway, this is what I remember right now (after the jump).

What were some of your most memorable live shows this year?

January 17, Aladdin Theater: Blind Pilot played their biggest show to date to a rapturous audience. It was remarkable to see that kind of appreciation for a band so early in their trajectory, but they deserved it.

January 27, Oaks Park Roller Rink: I admit not remembering too much about Ethan Rose's music from this evening, but this was more an event than a show, with hundreds of young Portlanders roving around the rink with Rose's twinkly ambience emitting from the antiquie Wurlitzer pipes overhead. Uniquely unforgettable.

March 16, Doug Fir: When Church opened for Plants and Animals, it was the first time I'd seen them with new drummer Lane Barrington. The four-piece effortlessly proved they're the most dynamic band in Portland. That night, I saw the blueprint for the rest of Church's year, which forecasted a terrific album, many more sublime live shows, and some very well-deserved attention from hometown fans.

March 29, Rontoms: I'd seen LAKE a week or so earlier at SXSW and loved it; this was even better, in the relaxing living room of Rontoms. The whiskey helped.

April 8, Doug Fir: I used to get the Love Language confused with Love as Laughter. After the Love Language's amazing show at the Doug Fir, that will never happen again. Nor will I ever miss a Love Language show as long as they are performing in the same town as me.

May 23, Gorge Amphitheater: Okay, this isn't technically a Portland show, but Bon Iver's sundown set at Sasquatch! gave me more tingles than any other moment this year. I may have even cried, maybe, just a little.

June 23, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall: David Byrne's Portland show was the most enjoyable, best paced, most pleasantly energized, all around best concert I saw this year.

July 16, Portland City Hall: PDX Pop Now!'s free show at City Hall was highlighted by YACHT's generous, energetic, heartwarming set. If only all of their shows could take place in the bustling center of downtown as the sun sinks.

July 26, SE 3rd (outside Rotture): For my money, Au's penultimate set of this year's PDX Pop Now! festival was the weekend's best. Warm, exhilarating, passionate, and fucking fun as hell to watch.

August 1, Pendarvis Farm: Inside a shady barn during 2009's Pickathon festival, Joe Pug played for a small, sweaty group of folks who sprawled out on the wooden floor. He was transfixing, proving that he's perhaps the best solo singer-songwriter act currently performing, a notion that he reenforced at his spellbinding October 28 gig at the Doug Fir.

August 20, Edgefield: I'd never seen the Flaming Lips before, but everything I'd heard was true. They were incredible, and the show's best moments surprisingly came from At War with the Mystics, an album I'd never felt much affection for until this show.

September 2, Aladdin Theater: If you had told me I would get the chance to see an Os Mutantes show in my lifetime, I probably wouldn't have believed you. A hefty clutch of new songs aside, they put on one of the most gratifying, smile-inducing shows I've ever seen.

September 16, Kennedy School: After an aimless and somewhat awkward interview with the band beforehand, I got drunk quicker than expected during Deer Tick's three-hour revue. Perhaps that's what I should have done at the outset. Only bits and pieces remain in my memory, but they are very fond ones.

September 17, Dante's: Their 2009 MusicfestNW set wasn't the best Frightened Rabbit show I have ever seen. Maybe it was even average. But this band's average is miles above most other band's, and it still remains one of this year's highlights.

November 3, Aladdin Theater: After a year's worth of hype, I finally got around to seeing Dirty Projectors. Every word of hype was proved true. "The Bride" and "Knotty Pine" were highlights, and they even threw in a couple totally shitty duds for good measure, just to make you realize how good the good songs were.

November 22, Doug Fir: The Dutchess and the Duke played a cozy, chatty set filled with good vibes. Sometimes good songs and red wine is all you need.

November 28, Mississippi Studios: I was blown away by Vic Chesnutt's final Portland performance, which was haggardly resplendent, full of agony and delight. I am very grateful to have seen him before he passed; we probably won't see the likes of him again.

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