Top Gigs of 2013: Editor’s Picks

By on Tuesday, 17th December 2013 at 11:00 am

2013 did not disappoint to deliver another year of brilliant live performances for me here in America and in Britain. Which shows will I remember the most from 20-13? (I wrote it out that way, because I was told this last time in England that me pronouncing it that way makes it obvious I am an American. Do you reckon that’s true? I’m trying, folks, I’m trying, but as the majority of you know, I am American, born and bred!) Read on about the most exciting shows I’ve been to this year…

5. the 1975 at U Street Music Hall (20th June 2013) – I’ve been lucky enough to have seen the 1975 5 times this year, with 3 of those times in DC, and unusually, the one show that sticks out in my mind among all others is not their largest show in DC, nor their smallest, but the one in between.

The energy at U Street Music Hall, coupled with the screaming fans down the front, made it clear I was witnessing history. So what if “she’s got a boyfriend anyway”? We’ll be singing and bopping to the music like we don’t care, that’s what.

The 1975 Washington June 2013 1

4. Savoir Adore at DC9 (25th September 2013) – DC9 doesn’t have a great reputation for sound quality, but on this Wednesday night, all the stars aligned for a near perfect sounding show, highlighting the shiny, glittery ambiance that Savoir Adore brings to their shows.

Deidre Muro and Paul Hammer now have an impressive back catalogue to draw from, and this was just a wonderful gig to showcase their music, with punters having such a good time dancing to their tunes.

Savoir Adore Washington 2013 live 2

3. the Crookes at Sheffield Shakespeare (19th May 2013) – as the American editor of a UK-centric music site, all too often I’m left banging my head against a table or a wall when I come to the disappointing conclusion that I can’t attend a show I really want to be at. (Maybe one day when I have my own private plane…)

While the travel to Sheff was a pain in the arse – I must have taken the slowest Sunday train known to man from St. Pancras to the North East – and I’d not slept the night before, as John and I had been in Brighton all weekend to cover the Great Escape, it was all worth it for this chance to see one of my favourite bands in a teeny tiny gig in their hometown. As soon as I’d arrived at the place, I knew I’d made the right decision, having been greeted with the singing talents of a good friend wafting ‘Dance in Colour’ out of the top windows of the pub. You can’t make this stuff up, folks. Read my review for further musings.

2. OMD at Gateshead Sage (13th May 2013) – where do you go to see a favourite Northern band when possible? The North, of course. Martin had alerted me ahead of time that the Sage was quite a posh place and to expect people to be dressed fancier than I was used to seeing in clubs.

Hate people talking on their phones at gigs? The Sage has high-tech mobile phone blocking technology. The beautifully lit, swiveling panels suspended in the air above us and the band were awe-inspiring, as were Andy McCluskey’s seemingly inexhaustible singing and dad-dancing talents. ‘Electricity’? Why, yes.

OMD Gateshead live 1

1. Little Comets at the Hamilton (13th August 2013) – for the longest time, it seemed all my music friends had seen this Geordie band live and I hadn’t; further, so many of the bands I was personally friends with either had toured with them or had become friends with them after being impressed by their live show at a festival.

Well, it took 4 long years but I finally got to see Little Comets live, and I’m pleased to report they were well worth the wait. The dinner theatre-style setup of the Hamilton means at most shows, punters will remain sat at their tables, chewing on their tapas. Not this night: with fans shrieking and letting out catcalls of delight, stomping to their favourite songs and singing along word for word to tracks like ‘Isles’, it was definitely a moment in time I will never forget. More of this, please!

Little Comets Washington 2

Honourable mentions:

Franz Ferdinand at Strathmore Hall (17th October 2013) – I was under the distinct impression I would never see Franz Ferdinand live, unless maybe I was lucky enough to catch them at a festival. It had been 7 years since they’d played in DC. Great show punctuated with Alex Kapranos’ Olympic-effort leaps and bounds, and I have to say, you haven’t lived until you’ve been sat next to Nick McCarthy’s extended family at a show. Just saying.

Kodaline at Jammin’ Java (13th October 2013) – it must be nice to be on your first headline tour of North America and arrive in a city to find out you’ve sold out your gig there. I’ve seen quite a few post-gig fan queues in my day, but this one for Kodaline stretched to about forever. We hung around for over an hour and a half, watching the band say hello, sign autographs and take photos with each and every fan that wanted to meet them. If only all bands were as considerate.

the Static Jacks at DC9 (2nd October 2013) – this guys just get better and better every time I see them. They managed to turn a humdrum Wednesday night in Washington into a disco, with appreciative fans cutting a rug to their music. Doesn’t really get any better than that.

Villagers at Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel (13th June 2013) – this was the first time I’d see the Villagers full band setup, having only seen Conor J. O’Brien solo in 2010. If you had reservations that ‘Becoming a Jackal’ was a whimper-y kind of record and you weren’t sold on their new direction in ‘{Awayland}’, go see them live now and watch them rock out.

the Joy Formidable at 9:30 Club (21st April 2013) – I prefer to see this Welsh band in smaller, dingier confines because I think their music suits that kind of environment better, but still, this was an amazing show. Hard to believe the first time I saw them was in November 2010, barely filling half of Black Cat Backstage’s capacity of 200.

After the cut: the full list of all the gigs, in reverse chronological order, that I’ve been to in 2013. The runner-up gigs are also marked.

* Franz Ferdinand (Frankie Rose supporting) – 17.10.13 – Strathmore Hall, Bethesda, MD – honourable mention
* Kodaline (Diane Young supporting) – 13.10.13 – Jammin’ Java, Vienna, VA – honourable mention
* the 1975 (Linus Young supporting) – 11.10.13 – Black Cat, Washington, DC
* Two Door Cinema Club (Smallpools and St. Lucia supporting) – 04.10.13 – DAR Constitution Hall, Washington, DC
* the Static Jacks (Cherry Tree supporting) – 02.10.13 – DC9, Washington, DC – honourable mention

* Savoir Adore (Miracles of Modern Science and French Horn Rebellion supporting) – 25.09.13 – DC9, Washington, DC
* Los Encantados (the Crookes and Young Rising Sons supporting) – 19.09.13 – Union Hall, Brooklyn, NY
* the Crookes (Love Jupiter and Andrew James supporting) – 17.09.13 – Bowery Electric, New York, NY

* Little Comets (the Dig supporting) – 13.08.13 – Hamilton, Washington, DC

* OMD (Diamond Rings supporting) – 13.07.13 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC

* the 1975 (Alpine supporting) – 20.06.13 – U Street Music Hall, Washington, DC
* Villagers (Alessi’s Ark and San Fermin supporting) – 13.06.13 – Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington, DC – honourable mention

* Fierce Panda 19th birthday party headlined by the Crookes (the Heartbreaks and Hey Sholay supporting) – 21.05.13 – Scala, London, England
* the Crookes – 19.05.13 – Shakespeare, Sheffield, England
* the Great Escape – 16-18.05.13 – Brighton, England
* OMD – 13.05.13 – Sage, Gateshead, England
* Public Service Broadcasting – 10.05.13 – Cluny, Newcastle, England
* Treetop Flyers (The Boy Who Trapped the Sun supporting) – 08.05.13 – Electric Circus, Edinburgh, Scotland
* Sweet Baboo (Callum McConville and Turtle supporting) – 07.05.13 – King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow, Scotland
* Liverpool Sound City – 2-4.05.13 – Liverpool, England

* the Joy Formidable (Blood Red Shoes and You Won’t supporting) – 21.04.13 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC – honourable mention

* the 1975 (Ploy supporting) – 30.03.13 – DC9, Washington, DC
* Little Green Cars (Olivia Mancini and East Ghost supporting) – 20.03.13 – DC9, Washington, DC
* South by Southwest – 12-16.03.13 – Austin, TX

* the Vaccines (San Cisco supporting) – 01.02.13 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC

* Morrissey (Kristeen Young supporting) – 16.01.13 – Strathmore Hall, Bethesda, MD

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7 Responses

11:02 am
17th December 2013

Mary’s @tgtf Top Gigs of 2013: Editor’s Picks, starring @littlecomets @OfficialOMD @TheCrookes @SavoirAdore @the1975:

11:45 am
17th December 2013

RT @tgtf: Mary’s @tgtf Top Gigs of 2013: Editor’s Picks, starring @littlecomets @OfficialOMD @TheCrookes @SavoirAdore @the1975:…

3:49 pm
17th December 2013

RT @tgtf: Mary’s @tgtf Top Gigs of 2013: Editor’s Picks, starring @littlecomets @OfficialOMD @TheCrookes @SavoirAdore @the1975:…

3:54 pm
17th December 2013

RT @tgtf: Mary’s @tgtf Top Gigs of 2013: Editor’s Picks, starring @littlecomets @OfficialOMD @TheCrookes @SavoirAdore @the1975:…

2:28 am
18th December 2013

RT @tgtf: Mary’s @tgtf Top Gigs of 2013: Editor’s Picks, starring @littlecomets @OfficialOMD @TheCrookes @SavoirAdore @the1975:…

[…] down? Chin up, because you’re in luck, folks. Little Comets, the band that landed at #1 on my Top Gigs of 2013 list, gave away two lovely acoustic tracks on Christmas Day to their fans. Visit their official Web site […]

12:45 am
4th June 2014

[…] Little Comets, who I haven’t seen since last summer when they came to Washington. (It was my best gig of 2013 too!) I’m looking forward to that show but it’s not the same as seeing them in England, […]

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