Top Five Live Acts of 2010

Note: This originally started out as just my list of top bands I had seen this year. Little did I know that Ryan was holding out on his top picks. When I heard them, I had to throw them on here too. That and he saw Neil Young when I was too poor to and I couldn’t let Neil or Arcade Fire go unrecognized. So it’s a combined list now. We’re just that awesome.

Jordan Canio

Most of my budget this year went towards concerts. There were a ton of great ones this year. From stadium sized shows in Chicago to the house shows in Nashville, I blew a lot of money on beer and music. But it was fun shit, and totally worth it. So here are the top five live acts I’ve seen this year. And since I’m too lazy to rank them, I’m putting them in no particular.


Shows seen: Lollapalooza (August 6th, 2010) & Next Big Nashville (October 1st, 2010)

It’s no mystery I’m a big fan of Wavves. I’ve seen the band twice in two different set ups. The first was at Lollapalooza at noon and at the Exit In at midnight. Each time, Nathan Williams and co have put on a great show and do a great extended version of “No Hope Kids” to close the show. Plus, their stage banter is fucking hilarious. No freakouts on this tour either as it seems Williams has learned how to take drugs better. Check em out next year when they go on tour with Best Coast. Gonna try to hit up the Athens show.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Shows seen: The Pageant, STL ( March 23, 2010) & The Exit-In (October 3rd, 2010)

It’s been the best of times and the worst of times for this band this year. They’ve been hitting the road, putting on some of the best shows I’ve seen night after night, and soldiering on despite the tragic death of Michael Been (bassist Robert Been’s father) and Robert Been’s recent assault charge in Germany. On the plus side, the band recently played their 1000th show in London earlier this month and just released a new Live DVD (that is fucking cool too). This band never quits. And thank God for that.

The Black Keys

Shows seen: Lollapalooza (August 6, 2010)

Another bluesy band that has gotten a lot more attention this year. Shit, there’s been like 10 commercials with their songs in them this year. That’s cool, cause a band like the Black Keys deserves all the attention they’re getting. I saw them live at Lollapalooza this year. It was different from ’08 because they actually had a full band this time as opposed to being Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney. And it sounds pretty fucking good. Check out their latest iTunes session. They kill it on Sinister Kid (wish they played that at Lolla). Oh wells. Anyways, check em out if you get the chance.

Fuck Jay Leno, but this is cool

Turbo Fruits

photo by Bekah Cope

Shows seen: Mercy Lounge (August 19th, 2010), Glen Danzig’s House (Sept ?) & Third Man Records (October 2nd)

I hadn’t really gotten into Turbo Fruits until this year. I’ve seen them live a couple of times this year, the best time being at Third Man Records during Next Big Nashville. They really interact with the audience, whether it’s by recanting hangover stories on stage, or Jonas taking the mike and playing in the middle of the crowd. Their fast but simple style translates even better live. The shows are fun and I don’t think I’ve ever been bored for a second during one. If you’re in Nashville, check out on of their shows. They don’t disappoint.


Shows seen: The Cannery Ballroom (November 19th, 2010)

Nick Cave is probably one of the most entertaining people in music right now. Besides becoming recently prolific in the movie industry (he wrote a badass screenplay for the sequel to Gladiator), he is touring behind his gothic-punk rock band Grinderman as they release their sophomore record, Grinderman 2. I saw Cave and co at the Cannery Ballroom and I can honestly say it may have been the show of the year for me. Never a dull moment in their hour and a half show and Cave is intimidating as fuck at the age of 53. This is how Iggy Pop should have aged.

Ryan Smith

From late-greats to established rockers, these performances in Nashville stood out from the rest.

5. Neil Young

Show Seen: Ryman Auditorium (June 1st, 2010)

Who could afford to miss this one? Neil Young at the Ryman…no comments necessary. Even for those who might not have known Neil’s work well, the level of his musical talent and the strength of his compositions weren’t hard to miss.

4. Wolf Parade

Show Seen: Exit/In (November 22, 2010)

This concert reached the tops of my favorite local performances mainly due to the shock value it presented. Sure I knew who the band was and had played some of their songs on my show on WRVU (somewhat thanks to the bands placement on the station requirements rack), but I wasn’t expecting a whole lot going into this show. So yeah, I might have come in to this one a little under-prepared but I was amazed when I heard the first song. Wolf Parade attested to the value of a live act as they demonstrated the ability to harness the live performance and appropriately lift their tracks to the next level, making the songs themselves come alive in an exciting atmosphere. Also, this concert was warranted an even greater significance when, just days later, than band announced they were going on an “indefinite hiatus”, one band member even telling the audience the night they announced the news that this was the last song they would play together. Not that this made the concert any better, just a little more special.

3. Deerhunter

Shows seen: Exit In (November 10th, 2010)

Setting the tempo high from song one, I don’t think it would have been possible to leave this night disappointed. Reaching back to previous releases for songs such as “Calvary Scars” and “Agoraphobia” along with newer arrangements of hits off the 2010 Halcyon Digest, Bradford Cox and band stunned me with the amount of attention put into each song, tuning in every guitar effect and vocal distortion just right to produce the perfect concert.

2. Beach House w/ Washed Out

Show Seen: Mercy Lounge (April 28th, 2010)

Beach House caught the indie-pop wave early this year, releasing their Teen Dream back in January. Despite a solid release in Devotion less than a year earlier, their new 11 track release created a buzz that extended the reaches of the band’s popularity. Now heading many year end lists, it isn’t hard to understand why this was a good concert. Follow this with the fact that the night was opened with another one of my favorite bands of the year, ‘chill-wave’ champion Ernest Greene who plays under the name of Washed Out, and you have one unforgettable concert of the Mercy Lounge.

1. Arcade Fire

Shows Seen: Lollapalooza (August 8th, 2010) & Ryman Auditorium (August 9th, 2010)

It’s not very often that you get the opportunity to see a band headline Lollapalooza one night, in front of hundred of thousands of crammed fans, and then follow them the next night where they play at the Ryman Auditorium, a venue not known to attract such headliners with a maximum occupancy of 2,300. This alone would be enough to cement this concert in the top 5. However, Arcade Fire showed their true music talent as they passed between new and old hits. Despite just coming off a list of festival headliners and even broadcasting their set from Madison Square Garden across the world on YouTube, Arcade Fire dissolved any preceding doubts that they wouldn’t be able to accommodate their live set to a significantly more intimate setting. Before the first song, Win Butler made sure to start things off accordingly, addressing half the crowd who still found comfort in the wooden pews: “No offense but where I come from we stand up at rock concerts.” Thank God.

Best vid of the night, courtesy of Mr. Bate Sielback

One Response to “Top Five Live Acts of 2010”
  1. Ryan says:

    Top Nashville Performances

    1. Arcade Fire (Ryman)
    2. Beach House w/ Washed Out (Cannery)
    3. Deerhunter (Exit-In)
    4. Wolf Parade (Exit-In)
    5. Neil Young (Ryman)

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