Best Gigs of 2009

By on Thursday, 17th December 2009 at 2:00 pm

Now halfway through December and getting ever closer to the end of the year, it’s high time to write those “best of” end of year posts. As much as a nail-biter it was to choose my five favourite gigs of 2009, it allowed me to reflect on all the great gigs I’ve had the opportunity to go to in the Washington D.C. area and elsewhere. And it was a wonderful reminder on what great music is out there if you just open your mind and let yourself feast on what the current music scene has on offer. I encourage everyone one of you to go out to more gigs in 2010 and support the music community!

As USA editor of TGTF, I’d like to note that the majority of the gigs I’ve been to this year have been on my side of the pond and usually in my hometown of Washington D.C. But I think you’ll recognise most of the bands I’ve had the pleasure of seeing live this year. Here’s my top five of 2009:

5. Pains of Being Pure at Heart at D.C.’s Black Cat (Wednesday 30th September) – This didn’t feel like just any show. It felt a reunion and you were surrounded by friends, because the Pains have many friends in the Washington area. The guitars, the synths, and vocals from Kip Berman and Peggy Wang – they all combined to create something heavenly.


4. Camera Obscura at D.C.’s 9:30 Club (Sunday 21st June) – This gig featuring songs from their album released this year, ‘My Maudlin Career’, like ‘Honey in the Sun’ and the gorgeous ‘Swans’. Other previous gems like ‘Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken’ brought the house down as Traceyanne Campbell’s beautiful voice rang throughout the club. One incredible show. So disappointed they skipped over D.C. on their autumn tour.


3. Dot to Dot Festival in Nottingham (Sunday 24th May) – My first music festival, ever. This was my second time seeing Friendly Fires and their first time headlining a festival to boot. It was amazing to be among lots and lots of their devoted English fans who turned Rock City in a sea of bodies dancing to their beats. It was also great to see Patrick Wolf again and Ladyhawke for the first time (the two acts directly preceding Friendly Fires at Rock City). Earlier in the day I was able to take in Matt Abbott and Skint and Demoralised at Nottingham-Trent Uni’s Glo Bar, followed by part of the Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s set in the uni’s student union main room.

Skint and Demoralised

Patrick Wolf


Friendly Fires

2. Friendly Fires at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg (Thursday 13th August) – Not a fan of getting bruised up by the drunks who stormed the stage like maniacs during the ‘Ex Lover’ encore, but this one gets high marks for the incredible crowd energy – so much energy that I worried that the floor would break out from under us from all the jumping around and dancing going on during their set. Further, Ed Macfarlane jumped down into the crowd during ‘Paris’, causing additional mayhem. This is probably one of the last times he’ll ever launch himself into the audience because I doubt his personal safety from this point forth can be guaranteed (!)


1. Elbow at D.C.’s 9:30 Club (Tuesday 4th August) – Somehow Washington managed to score one of only three American headlining dates in all of 2009 from the Manchester quintet. They didn’t disappoint, the whole crowd singing along to every word of Guy Garvey’s. The man has one amazing voice and kept everyone in the club spellbound. The show was simply brilliant. It didn’t hurt that Guy came out an hour before the show and kindly agreed to take photos with us fans who queued up early outside the club before doors opened.


After the jump is a full list of all the gigs I’ve been to in 2009 (in reverse chronological order) so you have an idea of the banquet I had to choose from.

* Phenomenal Handclap Band (Javelin and Bop Beetle supporting) – 12.12.09 – Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington, DC
* Fanfarlo (Freelance Whales supporting) – 11.12.09 – Iota, Arlington, VA
* the Big Pink (Crystal Antlers supporting) – 05.12.09 – Black Cat, Washington, DC
* the xx in-store – 04.12.09 – Newbury Comics, Boston, MA
* Winter NYLON tour featuring Friendly Fires (the xx and others supporting) – 04.12.09 – Paradise, Boston, MA

* the Pimps of Joytime – 21.11.09 – Liv at Bohemian Caverns, Washington, DC
* the xx (Jon Hopkins supporting) – 15.11.09 – DC9, Washington, DC
* Peter Bjorn and John (El Perro del Mar supporting) – 07.11.09 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC
* the Very Best (Javelin supporting) – 02.11.09 – DC9, Washington, DC

* Razzmatazz (alt / Britpop dance night) – 31.10.09 – Black Cat, Washington, DC
* Art Brut (Princeton supporting) – 18.10.09 – Black Cat, Washington, DC
* the Airborne Toxic Event (Red Cortez and the Henry Clay People supporting) – 12.10.09 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC
* Fat Cat Records Tour featuring We Were Promised Jetpacks, Brakes, and the Twilight Sad – 05.10.09 – Black Cat, Washington, DC
* Bajofondo (Phenomenal Handclap Band supporting) – 04.10.09 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC

* the Pains of Being Pure at Heart (Cymbals Eat Guitars and the Depreciation Guild supporting) – 30.09.09 – Black Cat, Washington, DC
* the School of Seven Bells (Dub Pixel and Phantogram supporting) – 27.09.09 – Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington, DC
* the Horrors (Casper Bangs and Crocodiles supporting) – 19.09.09 – Black Cat, Washington, DC
* Jack Penate and Miike Snow – 18.09.09 – Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington, DC
* Appomattox (with Low Red Land) – 16.09.09 – Red and Black Bar, Washington, DC
* Perez Hilton Tour featuring Ladyhawke and Ida Maria (Frankmusik and Semiprecious Weapons supporting) – 12.09.09 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC 

* The Hold Steady (Iran supporting) – 29.08.09 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC
* Phenomenal Handclap Band – 21.08.09 – Liberation Dance Party, DC9, Washington, DC
* Bat for Lashes (Other Lives supporting) – 15.08.09 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC
* Friendly Fires (the xx supporting) – 13.08.09 – Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York City
* Friendly Fires (Phenomenal Handclap Band supporting) – 12.08.09 – le poisson rouge – New York City
* Elbow (Jesca Hoop supporting) – 04.08.09 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC

* Paolo Nutini (Matt Hires and Erin McCarley supporting) – 23.07.09 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC

* the Lemonheads (Title Tracks and Appomattox supporting) – 27.06.09 – Black Cat, Washington, DC
* Summer NYLON Tour featuring Patrick Wolf (Jaguar Love, Plastiscines, and Living Things supporting) – 24.06.09 – Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington, DC
* Camera Obscura (Anni Rossi supporting) – 21.06.09 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC
* Doves (Wild Light supporting) – 06.06.09 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC

* Dot to Dot Festival – Nottingham, England – 24.05.09
* Keane (the Helio Sequence and Mat Kearney supporting) – 19.05.09 – DAR Constitution Hall, Washington, DC
* Noah and the Whale (Ferraby Lionheart and Anni Rossi supporting) – 02.05.09 – Black Cat, Washington, DC

* White Lies and Friendly Fires (the Soft Pack supporting) – 24.03.09 – Black Cat, Washington, DC
* Morrissey (Red Cortez supporting) – 14.03.09 – Warner Theatre, Washington, DC
* the Airborne Toxic Event (Alberta Cross and the Henry Clay People supporting) – 12.03.09 – Black Cat, Washington, DC

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[…] wise, I’ve popped my top 10 of 2009 below. Mary reviewed her best gigs of the year here. It’s been a mixed year, with plenty of quality live music (below), as well as a few that I […]

[…] and am only now finding time to write about. (Trust me, you’d be similarly delayed with as busy a gig list such as mine.) Their MySpace lists Arctic Monkeys, Bloc Party, Kings of Leon, and the Clash as influences, so […]

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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