Top Gigs of 2010: Editor’s Picks

By on Tuesday, 14th December 2010 at 11:00 am

I went to a lot of gigs this year. (If you need the evidence, my gig list is under the cut, click the link further down in this post.) The more amazing gigs you go to, the more difficult it is to choose your top 5 performances for the year. I haven’t taken this task lightly, and without further adieu, here are my top live picks of 2010:

5. Delphic at Washington’s DC9, Liberation Dance Party (Friday 8th October 2010) – Most of my local friends do not share my enthusiasm for gigging – or music, for that matter – so it took a special band to get most everyone I know to DC9 for Liberation Dance Party at the end of the work week.

Washington often gets a bad (and unfair) rap for stoic crowds – I’ve seen far worse in my travels. This night, the DC9 crowd were going mental for the Manchester band’s electropop/guitar rock sound, and I couldn’t have prouder. (Exhibit A: two blokes were stood right in front of James Cook, described by my friend Silvia as “Mister Super Dancer and his 7-foot tall friend” going absolutely crazy, dancing like loons, “it looked like this was the most exciting thing that ever happened to them”. Haha. If you were interested, Mr. SD was later seen picking Rick Boardman’s brain after the show.) I’ll be the first to admit, there is a touch of bitter sentimentality about this gig for me, as for a long while I thought this might be the last dance ever put on at DC9. (DC9 was closed since 15th October after a tragic death [cause of death still unknown] occurred on the street outside the venue. I was really sad about this, because I’ve seen some of the best gigs of my life there. But it looks like the club will reopen on Wednesday [15 December]!)

4. the Futureheads at Washington’s Black Cat (Friday 4th June 2010) – I remembering Tweeting earlier that Friday afternoon about how I was going to see the Sunderland band for the first time that night, and what did I find in my messages but a personal note from Barry Hyde saying, “we’re going to knock your socks off. see you B x”. Being the professional I am, I refused to let that touch of thoughtfulness bias my opinion of the evening, and I really needn’t have worried. They played hit after hit after hit with no signs of the onslaught abating. At one point, Hyde even yelled at an inconsiderate drunk who was causing trouble, and everyone cheered. Well done, Barrington Hydeous! For a while I was almost sure this was going to be my top gig of 2010.

3. the Temper Trap at Boston’s House of Blues (Wednesday 29th September 2010) – You know how sometimes you can just feel greatness? Just two gigs in on a month-long tour of North America, you could just feel that this band from Melbourne, you could feel them at the top of their game. While I wasn’t impressed by the audience reaction and I am sure DC would have given them a better reaction based on their show in April at the 9:30, the sound quality at HOB was amazing. Afterwards, I ran into half of the band, smiles all around. (Who wouldn’t have been happy with a performance like that?) I would love to see them again, but I think their days of playing clubs are over.

2. the Joy Formidable at Washington’s Black Cat Backstage (Thursday 11th November 2010) – Ritzy Bryan knows how to rock it. I mean, I never expected her to go for it as much as she did when the Joy Formidable played DC for the first time last month. WOW. Talk about unleashing pure, unadulterated power. I’d been having such a hohum month that this gig kicked me in the arse and said, you know what? Music – and how you feel it – is what it’s all about. Cannot wait for ‘The Big Roar’ to come out next year, accompanied by full tours in the US and the UK, of course.

1. the Postelles at Washington’s DC9 (18th September 2010) – The Postelles, four incredibly fun guys from New York City who play the most fun guitar pop ever, haven’t even released a full album yet. Like the Joy Formidable, they had nothing to lose and everything to gain by throwing themselves 1,000x into their performance. And judging from the Saturday night crowd assembled to watch them – and go crazy for them – full scale Postellementalism is just around the corner.

After the jump is a full list of all the gigs I’ve been to in 2010 (in reverse chronological order) so you have an idea how difficult my job was to choose favourites. The runner-up gigs (gigs that fell were in my top 10 but did not make my top 5) are also marked.

* Stornoway (Franz Nicolay and Major General supporting) – 05.12.10 – Black Cat Backstage, Washington, DC – runner-up

* the Joy Formidable (the Dig and GROUPLOVE supporting) – 11.11.10 – Black Cat Backstage, Washington, DC
* La Roux (Francis and the Lights supporting) – 10.11.10 (late show) – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC
* Jonsi (Mountain Man supporting) – 9.11.10 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC
* Freelance Whales (Miniature Tigers supporting) – 06.11.10 – Black Cat, Washington, DC
* the Script (Joshua Radin supporting) – 02.11.10 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC

* Liberation Dance Party featuring Delphic – 08.10.10 – DC9, Washington, DC
* Teenage Fanclub and the Vaselines (Radar Brothers supporting) – 02.10.10 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC
* Liberation Dance Party featuring Casiokids – 01.10.10 – DC9, Washington, DC – runner-up

* the Temper Trap (Delphic and the Hundred in Your Hands supporting) – 29.09.10 – House of Blues, Boston, MA
* Best Coast (Male Bonding supporting) – 28.09.10 – the Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge, MA
* the Temper Trap (Delphic and the Hundred in Your Hands supporting) – 26.09.10 – Trocadero, Philadelphia, PA
* the Postelles (Hurricane Bells and Blackbells supporting) – 18.09.10 – DC9, Washington, DC
* Biffy Clyro (the Static Jacks supporting) – 15.09.10 – DC9, Washington, DC
* the Drums and Surfer Blood (the Young Friends supporting) – 12.09.10 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC
* the Airborne Toxic Event (acoustic session with the Calder Quartet) – 07.09.10 – Sixth and I Synagogue, Washington, DC – runner-up
* Marina and the Diamonds (Young the Giant supporting) – 06.09.10 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC

* Keane (Fran Healy [Travis] and Ingrid Michaelson supporting) – 05.08.10 – Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD

* Chromeo (Holy Ghost! and Telephoned supporting) – 26.07.10 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC
* We Are Scientists (Bad Girlfriend and Lightspeed Champion supporting) – 16.07.10 – Black Cat, Washington DC
* Roskilde Festival – 01-04.07.10 – Roskilde (outside Copenhagen), Denmark

* Villagers (Zach Peterson supporting) – 21.06.10 – DC9, Washington, DC – runner-up
* Holy Ghost! – 19.06.10 – U Street Music Hall, Washington, DC
* the Pains of Being Pure at Heart (Hooray for Earth and Surfer Blood supporting) – 16.06.10 – Black Cat, Washington, DC
* Broken Bells (the Morning Benders supporting) – 07.06.10 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC
* the Futureheads (the Static Jacks and the Like supporting) – 04.06.10 – Black Cat, Washington, DC
* April Smith and the Great Picture Show – 01.06.10 – Iota, Arlington, VA

* Mumford and Sons (the Middle East supporting) – 20.05.10 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC
* Laura Marling (Pete Roe and Smoke Fairies supporting) – 16.05.10 – Iota, Arlington, VA
* Two Door Cinema Club (Million Young and Bad Veins supporting) – 13.05.10 – Johnny Brenda’s, Philadelphia, PA

* Phoenix (Two Door Cinema Club supporting) – 26.04.10 – Constitution Hall, Washington, DC
* Hot Chip (the xx supporting) – 24.04.10 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC
* the Temper Trap and Florence and the Machine (the Kissaway Trail supporting) – 06.04.10 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC
* Vampire Weekend (Abe Vigoda supporting) – 03.04.10 – Constitution Hall, Washington, DC

* the xx (Nosaj Thing and jj supporting) – 28.03.10 – Sixth and I Synagogue, Washington, DC – runner-up
* Hockey (the Postelles supporting) – 17.03.10 – Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington, DC
* Cymbals Eat Guitars (Freelance Whales and Bear in Heaven supporting) – 06.03.10 – Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington, DC
* Muse (Silversun Pickups supporting) – 01.03.10 – Patriot Center, Fairfax, VA

* Editors (the Dig and the Antlers supporting) – 21.02.10 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC
* Liberation Dance Party featuring VV Brown – 19.02.10 – DC9, Washington, DC
* We Were Promised Jetpacks (Typefighter and Bad Veins supporting) – 13.02.10 – Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington, DC

* We Are Scientists (Uninhabitable Mansions supporting) – 21.01.10 – Black Cat, Washington, DC
* the Cribs (Adam Green and the Dead Trees supporting) – 19.01.10 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC

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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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