Live in 2010

20 Oct

It is not quite the end of 2010 yet, however, I know my chances of catching any more live shows is low. Basketball, you see, interferes with the concept of free time and recreational hours. In fact, just last evening I had free tickets to a show I had acquired through a local radio station. The show itself was nothing of consequence to me, Anberlin and Civil Twilight, but I figured, hey they’re free. Unfortunately fate tossed me a cruel card and my school work did not allow me to have a night out. If it were a more desirable show however, I am sure I would not have found some way to make it. But I digress. This year has been a coming out party of sorts for me. Prior to it, I had very little experience within the realm of live music. Beyond Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys, the only credible concerts I had attended were that of Coldplay and Bloc Party. Those were a great starting point, however, I craved more. Live music is unparalleled and once you get a taste you want more and more. Fortunately this year I found many opportunities to get out there and see my favorite bands perform. The experience of live music compared to a record is so pure. The emotion is raw, you actually get to see the effect the music has on its creators. Nothing makes a great show like an overenthusiastic front man, or even keyboardist doing a questionable jig in the back. No matter how shitty that bands brand of music may be for a live setting, as long as they have charisma and energy, it is a great show.

My first show of the year was unquestionably the best. Perhaps it is my own bias saying this, but regardless, it was incredible. I saw Muse for the first time on March 29 at Rexall Place, Edmonton. Now, I had bought the tickets back in December, and the three month wait was excruciating. This is a band that I am in almost sick admiration of, a band I listen to without fail at least once a day, a band who I have spent copious amounts of money on music and merchandise from. By the time the day actually I arrived I just remember sitting at my desk, a nervous knot in my stomach, staring at the clock. I had general admission tickets, therefore I wanted to show up early to get right to the barrier, and right in front of dear old Matt Bellamy. I left the house at 1. Doors opened at 6. Not a moment I’m proud of. In fact, I didn’t even get to the barrier. Due to unforeseen circumstances and ass holes making their way to the doors after showing up minutes before, I ended up about three rows back after waiting 5 hours. Well, this was still not enough to put a damper on my mood. Once in, I waited patiently for the opening act, Silversun Pickups, who may I add were exceptional. Once they were finished however, I was chomping at the bit for the boys to get out on stage. I had been peeking at past setlists and youtube videos, so I had an idea of what was coming, but still, experiencing it in person was incredible. Three enormous towers filled the stage area, and once the curtains dropped and Muse was revealed, they immediately fell into their smash single Uprising. I screamed with the power of an 11 year old girl who sees Justin Bieber on her front porch. I don’t think my voice really last beyond the first song, but it didn’t matter, I kept singing in my head the whole night. I was jumping up and down, waving my hands, hugging strangers and grinning from ear to ear. When they strayed from the usual and played Bliss, I once more produced a shriek of epic proportions. When they played another rarity Ruled By Secrecy, I seriously began to question the ability of my heart to carry me through the remainder of the show. The show was so over the top, so loud, so filled with cliche images of stadium rock, and so incredibly life changing. Seeing a band you love live can be a gamble at times. Some just do not perform in a live setting. There was no fear of this happening with Muse, after all, they have had numerous awards for their live act. I was not disappointed. Even better was the fact that I had tickets for the next night in Calgary. So the next morning I hopped on a plane and jetted off to see my favorite rock stars again. This time, due to unbelievable fatigue (after the show the night before I wrote an assignment until 4am), I decided to show up only 15 minutes before doors opened. I had seen them the night before and was unconcerned with where I stood, I knew the show was great from any vantage point. However, due to some divine interference, and my quick legs, my brother and I made it to the barrier. Front and center. I could hardly believe my luck. This time when Muse came out I was right in the action. When Bellamy knee slid in the heat of New Born, I was right there staring straight into his eyes *sigh*. There were no special rarities on this night, I did however get to hear a favorite, MK Ultra. The best part of the night, aside from getting a brilliant view of all things Matthew Bellamy, was receiving a set list at the end of the show. My little treasured souvenir.

So Muse started off my musical year with a definite bang. And after their show I knew I needed more. As I discovered through research and a keen following of the musical universe, there are a great deal of music festivals during the summer. Many were slightly far or lacking in great artists, but I came across Sasquatch. It was located in Washington and starred the likes of Mumford & Sons, The National and Vampire Weekend to name a few. My sister and I made and plans, and before I knew it, we were making a 12 hour drive to Quincy Washington!
Any plan I had of getting drunk and fulfilling the the intoxicated ideal of the festival experience was lost soon after the first night. I was tired, cold, and hated the idea of any form of hangover affecting my musical experience. The first day of the festival was the best. It had about 80% of the shows I wanted to see. When we entered the venue, I was struck by the beauty of the setting. It is located right in a majestic river valley. The sun was shining and reflecting off the surface of the valley walls and rushing water. I don’t think any setting could every compliment a live music experience as this had. More than almost an other band, I was hoping to see Mumford and Sons, and fortunately for me, they had a 1:00 set time. Before they came on however, I was surprisingly treated to Laura Marling. Incredible voice, and seriously trendy.
As good as Laura was, I came there for Mumford. I described the setting earlier, and if you are familiar with their music at all, you can imagine how perfectly it complemented the show. The band came out, dressed in 30s type clothing, equipped with acoustic guitars and a banjo. The played a set list full of uplifting, toe stomping tracks, which in many cases had tears in my eyes. I am not ashamed to admit I was tearing up for most of the set, they are just too beautiful. So need I say, Mumford and Sons was an absolutely unforgettable musical experience, and I can check off seeing one of my favorite bands live.

The rest of the day was filled with great bands and exploring new music. Local Natives and Tallest Man on Earth left me extremely satisfied. Throughout the rest of the two days I saw a memorable array of bands.
Ok Go, Broken Social Scene (delightfully surprising), Vampire Weekend (Just as good as I always imagined, and very cute in their oxford shirts), Kid Cudi, The XX, LCD Soundsystem, Massive Attack and finally the National. The National was the second band that made me endure the long winded drive to Washington. I was unsure how their live show would stand up, especially in that type of venue. They are generally very melodic and emotional. I imagined them playing in a small venue while pretentious listeners with cocktails in hand bob their heads ever so slightly. I was proved wrong. Even though Matt Berninger walked on stage in a three piece suit, he rocked harder than any other lead man I’ve witnessed. He looked so emotional up there, so affected by his music. He screamed into the microphone, lept into the crowd, and chugged from a bottle of wine with every free opportunity. He had everyone singing along and dancing to music that had no right causing that type of reaction. Once more, an incredibly memorable experience of seeing a favorite band for the first time.

After Sasquatch, I saw One Republic and also attended Sonic Boom where I watched Wintersleep, Mother Mother, Tokyo Police Club and Weezer to name a few. All those shows were well done, but definitely could not compete with those earlier in the year. The last concert I went to (and as far as I’m concerned if its the last of the year I will have no regrets) was Arcade Fire. Once more, the show was made by the charisma of all the components on stage. They danced in questionable manners and continuously explored the stage for different instruments to play. They also had myself, and the remainder of the crowd dancing and singing non stop, especially when they played songs like “Rebellion”.
My year was made by live music, and hopefully it continues into the next. I’m hoping to see some of the bands again, and possibly explore new ones. So many artists, so little time (and money). I also hope to return to Sasquatch again this summer and possibly make Coachella if it can fit in my exam schedule. Regardless, Muse, Mumford and National, I am coming for you again.


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