Best Live Shows of 2012 According to Cole
Our good friend and frequent TWJ contributor Cole has the good fortune to live in New York City, and the even greater fortune to attend a remarkable amount of concerts throughout the five boroughs every year. Since this year was filled with enjoyable shows, he decided to run down a list of his favorites from 2012. In most cases, the videos here are taken from the show Cole’s entry is talking about. But where that wasn’t possible, we substituted in the best available video. We hope you enjoy Cole’s thoughts on all the awesome live acts he saw, and stay tuned for a new list every day this week, courtesy of The Wounded Jukebox!
10. Diiv – June 23, 2012 at Glasslands, August 9, 2012 at Pier 84, and December 5, 2012 at Webster Hall
Diiv is a touring machine. I am proof of this — I saw them perform three different times in just a few months. Watching them play is an absolute joy, not only for the energy and deep sound they produce, but for the fact you can see how much fun they are having on stage. Zachary Cole Smith hops around and sways back and forth on almost each note he hits, and it is hard not to bob your head along.
9. The Walkmen – October 18, 2012 at Terminal 5
The Walkmen are masters of their craft, and watching them live verifies this. It has been a while since I have seen them, but they have grown stronger and more comfortable with each album they release. They managed to put an intense build in new quiet songs like “Line by Line”, but also churn out the intensity of “The Rat” just a few songs later. The Walkmen are arguably the most consistent band of the last ten years, and seeing them live once again proves this to be true.
8. …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead – November 16, 2012 at Iriving Plaza
Trail of Dead is my favorite live band and probably the band I have seen live the most. They don’t destroy everything on stage like they did in the past, but they still bring the same amount of intensity that they have always been known for. Jason Reece is playing more of his songs than ever before, and it makes for one of the best shows I have ever seen them play.
7. Lotus Plaza – April 19, 2012 at Glasslands
I wrote an a post on this show earlier in the year, and think this explains the show perfectly: Lockett Pundt and his backing band sounded great live, and they captured the way the songs seem so effortlessly or simply written, but are still remarkably catchy. There wasn’t a lot of energy or much emotion involved, but the band let the songs speak for themselves, and played the hell out of each one. Pundt doesn’t have the showmanship or swagger of his Deerhunter bandmate, Bradford Cox, but he knows where his strengths lie. And he plays up to that with each layered wall of guitar-fuzz.
6. M83 – May 10, 2012 at Terminal 5 and October 2, 2012 at Hammerstein Ballroom
M83 sounds just what you think they would sound like live. Sometimes this could be seen as an insult, but given the epic and layered sound that they have been known for, it is a major compliment. Thankfully they perform songs from all over their catalogue, making a mix of dance, post rock, shoegaze, and new wave. Seeing Outro being performed with a backing orchestra and child choir might be the most amazing live moment I saw all year.
5. Japandroids – December 5, 2012 at Webster hall
Fun. That’s the best way to describe a Japandroids show. From the moment they started to the last note, the entire crowd was yelling along, fists in the air. Japandroids energy is incredible, and they don’t let up at any point in the show. Near the end, they were drenched in sweat, and so was the crowd.
4. The Antlers – July 30, 2012 at Glasslands and December 14, 2012 at Terminal 5
I was fortunate enough to see the Antlers twice this year, in two very different venues. One held a few hundred people, and the other held about three thousand. They are one of the few bands I have ever seen that are amazing in an intimate setting, and equally amazing in a large venue. Peter Silberman’s voice is really strong live, and their new EP (which they mostly played) washes over you live. I would recommend seeing them any chance you get.
3. Explosions in the Sky – June 24, 2012 at Randalls Island
I’ve heard how amazing Explosions in the Sky were live, and they did not disappoint. It’s hard to command an outdoor festival stage, but they did it with ease. The hour they played flew by and they played each song with a passion that I rarely see in any live band. If I was given a chance to see one band again from this year, they would be it.
2. Blanck Mass – September 24, 2012 at Public Assembly
Easily the biggest live surprise of the year, Blanck Mass was the least energetic and probably the most engaging performance of the year. Benjamin Powers, one half of Fuck Buttons, came out to silence and proceeded to shake the entire venue with his loud drone, ambient and dance music. At times he hid the most beautiful melodies in a wall of fuzz and feedback, but when you heard it, you felt like you were in Powers’ world for about an hour, and were better for it.
1. Sigur Ros – July 31, 2012 at Prospect Park
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Sigur Ros, and I was more than excited to see them again. My friend came all the way from Ohio to see them, and we got to go in the V.I.P. section thanks to my lovely girlfriend, about 50 feet from the band. Watching them this close and being able to see the crowd in awe as Sigur Ros powered through some of their best songs was easily the highlight of my year. After each song my friend would yell “Thank You!” at the band, and I think he was echoing what each person in the park was thinking.
Other shows I saw this year (In no particular order):
Wu Lyf, Dan Deacon, Wild Nothing, Beck, Hot Chip, Fiona Apple, Frankie Rose, Grimes, Built to Spill, Cage the Elephant, Modest Mouse, Tanlines, Grizzly Bear, Sleigh Bells, Modest Mouse, Cults, Sun Airway, Alberta Cross