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[Lists] Best Gigs of 2008

Quite frankly, this was one hell of a year. More about that a bit later, but let’s go ahead and kick off the end-of-year-listage with the best gigs of 2008!
1) Underworld @ Virgin Mobile Festival – Baltimore, MD
What I said at the time: Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy Crazy
Not only was this the best show I saw all year, it was one of the best shows I have ever seen. Period. It was thoroughly mind blowing. My expectations for this could not have been higher but Underworld still blew me away. All concerts should be like this.
[MP3] Underworld | Beautiful Burnout
BUY: Underworld: Everything, Everything on CD
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2) Oasis @ Virgin Festival – Toronto, ONT
What I said at the time: Craziness erupted at the Oasis gig in Toronto tonight when during “Morning Glory” some punter somehow got onstage, and gave Noel a mighty shove into the monitors directly in front of him before turning and going after Liam. Luckily security corralled the guy before he could do any more damage to the band and the gig.
Photo superstardom for yours truly! I was totally crushed that I didn’t get to shoot Oasis from the pit, but because I didn’t, I happened to have my camera out when Noel was attacked on stage. The resulting shots were published all over the world.
[MP3] Oasis | To Be Where There’s Life (live Wembley Arena 10/16/08)
BUY: Dig Out Your Soul on CD
3) Radiohead @ Nissan Pavilion – Fairfax, VA
What I said at the time: It rained. Alot. A hell of a lot. More than you’ve ever seen. Ever. Almost four inches. Seriously, it was one of the biggest storms in D.C. history. And we stood outside during it and watched Radiohead. The “rain down” part of the “Paranoid Android” suddenly has new meaning to me.
Fuck. I don’t think I’ll ever forget this gig. It led to my first-ever photos in the Post and a whole bunch of other work. Oh yeah, and it rained. A hell of a lot. More than you’ve ever seen. Ever. I cannot stress this enough.
[MP3] Radiohead | Reckoner (live @ Nissan Pavilion)
BUY: In Rainbows on CD

4) James @ 930 Club – Washington DC
What I said at the time: Late in the set, near the end of “Sometimes (Lester Piggot)” Tim let the crowd take over on the chorus while the band finished playing the song. Only the crowd didn’t want the song to end. We kept singing the chorus for another three or four minutes. Everyone was doing it! The band weren’t sure what to do, as they were ready to play the next song. Tim had taken out his in ear monitors and the guitarist had traded out guitars with the roadie. But the crowd would not stop singing. We kept going and going. Then everyone in the band started smiling and one by one they all started playing the song again. Eventually Tim joined back in and the kept the song going for another minute or two before bringing it to a proper end. It was mind-blowing.
Ever wait something like 12 years to see one of your favorite bands and then during the show something happens that you’ve never seen at a concert before? That was this show.
[MP3] James | Say Something (Live)
BUY: Hey Ma on CD
5) Elbow @ 6th and I Synagogue, Washington DC
What I said at the time: Elbow saved the best for the last song of the night, as they played a truly memorable version of “Scattered Black & Whites”, one of my favorite Elbow songs and one of the songs I requested from Guy when I did my DCist interview earlier in the week. That’s what I call BEST.
I put in a request and I actually got to hear it! That never happens (unless it’s the Super Furries). 6th and I was practically made for this band. It was a really special gig that I will not soon forget.
[MP3] Elbow | Scattered Black and Whites (live San Francisco 05/08/08)
BUY: The Seldom Seen Kid on CD
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6) Paul Weller @ 930 Club – Washington D.C.
What I said at the time: Paul Weller ended his gig at the 9:30 Club tonight with a lively cover of “All You Need Is Love”. It was the perfect ending to a damn-near perfect gig, so good it gave me goosebumps.
This was a culmination of a truly awesome week for me. Lots of great things happened for me professionally and to cap it off with two crackin’ gigs by The Modfather is just an embarrassment of riches. Plus, he played a Beatles cover!
[MP3] Paul Weller | Shout It To The Top (Live)
BUY: Catch-Flame! Paul Weller Live on CD
7) Super Furry Animals @ 9:30 Club – Washington D.C.
What I said at the time: Then, about 30 minutes into last night’s set, Gruff started talking about voting irregularities for their online widget and the possibility that the band was going to switch to the caucus system instead. He followed that up by saying “This next song is a request from our good friend Kyle.” Best.
I got one of my favorite Super Furry songs dedicated to me in my hometown! What’s not to love?
[MP3] Super Furry Animals | The Gift That Keeps On Giving
BUY: Hey Venus! on CD
Robert Smith of The Cure
8) The Cure @ Patriot Center – Fairfax, VA
What I said at the time: The deliberately paced concert started slow, picked up a bit after “Lovesong”, and really gained steam with a lively, funky version of “Lullaby”. The band was visibly having fun performing it. After that they segued into poppy hits like “Hot Hot Hot!!!”, “Friday I’m in Love” and “Just Like Heaven” before closing the main set with some of their more drawn-out, jammy material.
My first byline on Pitchfork! Also, 38 songs. If anything, it was overkill. But seeing as this was my first time seeing Bob Smith & Co., it worked.
[MP3] The Cure | One Hundred Years (Live)
BUY: 4:13 Dream on CD
9) Ra Ra Riot @ Black Cat – Washington D.C.
What I said at the time: They were on stage when I got to the venue and I really liked the first song I heard. By the fourth or fifth I was dancing along so much I was having a hard time taking photos. Good stuff!
I love going to shows and being blown away by the opening band. When I walked in to the venue that night I had no idea who Ra Ra Riot were. I left a huge fan.
[MP3] Ra Ra Riot | Too Too Too Fast (WOXY Lounge Act)
BUY: The Rhumb Line on CD
9) Pearl Jam w/ Ted Leo @ Verizon Center – Washington D.C.
What I said at the time: At this point, Pearl Jam are pros at giving their adoring fans what they want while also keeping things interesting for the band themselves. The band’s monster 31 song set mixed up seldom heard nuggets like “I’m Open” (played for just the fifth time ever last night) along with old favorites like “Rearviewmirror”, “I Got ID”, and “Given To Fly”.
Ted Leo! Verizon Center! I like PJ much more than you would think. They know how to bring the ruckus live. Never seen them do a bad show.
[MP3] Pearl Jam | State of Love and Trust (live Philadelphia, PA 09/02/08)
BUY: rearviewmirror (Greatest Hits 1991-2003) on CD
10) REM @ Merriweather

What I said at the time: The R.E.M. show last night at Merriweather was great bordering on pretty fucking awesome. Band was spot-on in every way, except for the setlist, which had 63% less early stuff than the Raleigh show the night before.
I finally got to hear “Orange Crush.” Totally worth the wait, although I am still a bit bitter about no “Harborcoat” and “Life and How to Live It.” Boo.
[MP3] R.E.M. | Let Me In (live 10/21/01)
BUY: Accelerate on CD
11) Spiritualized @ 930 Club – Washington DC
What I said at the time: After the chaotic drone of “You Lie You Cheat” abruptly segued into “Shine A Light” (my second favorite Spiritualized song – behind everyone’s favorite) I lost myself for a moment as the two back-up singers gave their all to the song’s gospel tinged background vocals. It was a moment, one you don’t normally get 10 minutes into a gig.
Anytime you reach concert nirvana during the second song of the set, that’s a top gig of the year.
[MP3] Spiritualized | Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space (Elvis Version)
BUY: Songs in A & E on CD
12) Buffalo Tom @ Black Cat – Washington D.C.
What I said at the time: On a scale of 1 to 10 I would give the show a 15. Seriously. They destroyed my low expectations and put on what will definitely end up being one of the best shows I will see in 2008.
I miss these guys. They were the soundtrack to college for me. Their new materials is no slouch either. Glad to see them back on the grind, even if it is only occasionally.
[MP3] Buffalo Tom | Three Easy Pieces
BUY: Three Easy Pieces on CD

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