Top ten concerts of 2004

As work slows down after the end of two crunch cycles, I’ve got some time to do something I’ve been putting off: my top ten concerts of 2004. Without further ado:

10. The Getaway Car at Jammin’ Java on December 23rd
Sometimes something happens to let you know why a band is so entertaining. In this case it was a power loss, where the kept the show going and kept us laughing while they did it. They made it look easy, too. Catchy songs, great stories as usual, but the flawless handling of exceptional circumstances made it memorable.

9. emmet swimming at the 9:30 Club on January 9th.
My Concert rule #2: great seats make any show great (#1 is knowing the songs makes the show go by faster). This was driven home by seeing them at the same place a year later, but last January we had premium seats (thanks to the band) in the reserved area above the balcony but below the bar. The 9:30’s an ok place – I’m getting old and not as fond of standing while getting jostled all night and coming out smelling of smoke. Having a reserved seat in dead center makes me able to concentrate on nothing but the show, which was great. Legendary Don Dixon opened the show with his band and joined the guys on “Birdman” (for what I believe is the second time ever).

8. Pat McGee Band at the Z104 Lounge on April 6th.
What I was saying about great seats also applies for small, intimate shows. And being one of 25 people the Pat McGee Band is playing to is pretty sweet. They only played a handful of songs (hey it was free), but it was nice to be there thanks to my friend Linda.

7. The Darkness at the 9:30 Club on April 6th.
Yep, two great shows in one day. Yes, the show was sold out and everyone was crammed in together, but for once I didn’t care – it was a great show. Sure, they were the flavor of the week, but they backed up their jumpsuit wearing with the right chops. And even if they stole their best moves from Queen, who better to steal from? You’ve never heard “I Believe In A Thing Call Love” until you’ve heard a thousand people try to hit that falsetto note.

6. Velvet Revolver at the 9:30 Club on May 27th.
Possibly the second most highly anticipated show of the year (see choice #1 for more info on the most). Would the unholy spawn of Guns N’ Roses and Stone Temple Pilots even make it to DC before it flamed out? They came, they saw, they rocked. Scott Weiland was mesmerizing, twirling and slithering around stage. Duff and Matt are now more tightly locked into the groove than ever, and Slash hasn’t lost a step over the years. It’s hard to say if they were better on the old band’s tunes or their own, because it was before the CD was released, but on “Slither”, the crowd made the floors jump.

5. 4 Way Street at Jammin’ Java on June 18th.
Unfortunately, their last area show. The harmonies these four guys had was amazing, and they just swept through a headlining set that felt like it was over in 20 minutes. It’s a shame they never caught on. Thank goodness for the magic of video.

4. eddie from ohio at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival on July 25th.
It’s always hard to single out one performance from these guys, especially at this festival where they pop up several times. However the Sunday morning “Gospel Wake Up Call”is always a favorite, and no slouch again this year, especially with Girlyman joining them for the first time. I’d get up early every Sunday morning if I had this to look forward to.

3. Steven Page (from Barenaked Ladies) at the Clarendon Grill on November 10th.
Again, a nice intimate show: Steve Page at a local haunt. A pricey ticket (for a charity) ensured not too much of a crowd, but it was worth it to see him so close and by himself. Too bad there was no recording, as it was a classic.

2. Rush at Nissan Pavilion on August 3rd.
I saw them twice last year, but missed part of the first show, so this had to be the pick. Their “30 year anniversary”tour, was actually the anniversary of their current lineup ( the band’s really 35 years old. And it didn’t matter – this was no “greedy bastard” tour tossing off greatest hits, but a rock band in top form, intent on demonstrating they can still do any piece of music they’ve recorded, from the beginning to today. They even tossed off an EP of ’60s covers songs and treated us to a couple during the show. I’ll never get tired of going to Rush shows.

1. R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, and Bruce Springsteen at MCI Center on October 11th.
By far the most anticipated show of the year, it more than lived up to the hype. I’ve already raved about it at length here, so let me just say this: I’ve seen over a thousand shows at this point, and this puppy’s damn near the top (definitely that top ten, but that’s a list for another day).