2012 has been a top-notch year for live music, and the Showbams team has witnessed some great acts that have come through California in the last 11 months. Take a look at our contributor’s favorite shows of 2012.
What was your favorite concert in 2012? Let us know in the comments below.
Mike Frash – San Francisco
1. Sigur Ros @ Outside Lands Music Festival 8.11.12
Leaving Metallica for Sigur Ros to end the second day at Outside Lands was a torturous decision. Metallica was a warzone spectacle, but i stuck to my guns and headed to the Twin Peaks stage. I’m glad I did. Jonsi now conducts a mini orchestra, and the eerie SF fog lowered on command to the slow builds & crescendos. It was a spiritual show that effected me more than any other concert in 2012.
2. Japandroids @ The Independent 6.14.12
Brian King and David Prowse brought ecstatic energy to the sold out Independent in June the week after Celebration Rock was released. Brian King understands how to control the pace of his set, offering fun pre-song statements that prepare you for what’s next. Their songs are vibrant live – it doesn’t sound like only two people are playing instruments. They truly seem to live the life they glorify on their 2012 album – still drinking, still smokin, and full of hyperactive desperation.
3. Phish Night 3 @ Bill Grahm Civic Auditorium 8.19.12
The highly anticipated phish three-show SF run in August started off a bit slowly. Saturday’s show left me a little bummed about Phish due to some sloppy play (“Split open and melt”) and what felt like a lack of enthusiasm. I was questioning why I still see Phish live heading into the last show of the weekend. My lowered expectations combined with a killer show quashed those thoughts. Crosseyed > Light > Sneakin’ Sally > Crosseyed was some of the best Phish I’ve ever heard, “Boogie on” redeemed Stevie Wonder’s omission of the song at Outside Lands the week before, “Meatstick” made me really happy, and the San Francisco-mentioning “Ride Captain Ride” made a surprise encore appearance. The show was pure bliss.
4. The Rapture @ Coachella 4.13.12
5. The xx @ Treasure Island Music Festival 10.14.12
6. The Presets @ The Independent 10.12.12
7. STS9 @ High Sierra Music Festival 7.5.12 & 7.6.12
8. Head and the Heart @ Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 10.6.12
9. Tame Impala @ The Fillmore 11.15.12
10. My Morning Jacket @ The Greek 9.15.12
Father John Misty at Jansport Bonfire 9.30.12
Of Monsters & Men at The Independent 3.22.12
Pete Mauch – Los Angeles
1. My Morning Jacket @ The Wiltern 9.13.12
MMJ capped off the best 3-night run I saw this year with this stellar closing show complete with a Horn section. This is a big statement for a band I knew I loved but wasn’t fully convinced about until this night. Highlight: “All Night Long” & “Movin On Up” with Horns
2. Phish @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium 8.19.12
Phish played a terrific 3-night run, and topped off by an amazing Sunday night show that proves that Phish is still top of the Jam Scene. Highlight: Light > Sneakin Sally Through the Alley
3. Ryan Adams @ Walt Disney Concert Hall 2.17.12
Ryan Adams, an acoustic Guitar, and a Piano is all this show contained, and it was truly special. Adams’ classic songs stripped down with his raspy croons is all I needed to make this a top show of the year. Highlight: “Rescue Blues” on Piano “Holy Diver” on Guitar
4. Trey Anastasio and LA Philharmonic @ Walt Disney Concert Hall 3.10.12
5. Neil Young and Crazy Horse @ the Hollywood Bowl 10.17.12
6. Charles Bradley and The Menahan Street Band @ UCLA Royce Hall 11.29.12
7. Radiohead @ Coachella Music Festival 4.21.12
8.Trombone Shorty @ the Key Club 2.11.12
9. Wilco @ the Palladium 1.24.12
10. New Multitudes (Tribute to Woody Guthrie) @ the Mayan Theatre 3.7.12
Phish at Long Beach Arena 8.15.12
String Cheese Incident at Greek Theatre Berkeley 7.14.12
Roger Waters The Wall at the LA Coliseum 5.21.12
Umphreys Mcgee (True Hollywood Stories Acoustic Show) at the House of Blues 3.16.12
1. Radiohead @ HP Pavilion 4.12.12
After merely catching glimpses of them while shoved against thousands of festivalgoers at Outside Lands 2008, I was determined to catch Radiohead the next time they came through the Bay Area. The sound, visuals, performance and energy of the evening were electrifying. Although I was extremely lucky to have been viewing the concert from the sixth row, the entire crowd looked as though they were just as lost in the moment as I was. The band’s enigmatic stage presence, fully developed set composition and career spanning choice of material made for one of the most collectively impressive concert experiences that I have ever had the opportunity to be a part of.
2. Kishi Bashi/Of Montreal @ Slim’s 3.22.12
As a long time Of Montreal fan, I was ecstatic to get the opportunity to interview their opening act and latest addition to the line up (Kishi Bashi) the night of their performance at Slim’s. It wasn’t only for the sake of getting a personal perspective on the band, but also due to the fact that this would actually be my first time catching them performing live. The entire show and evening that followed was everything I could’ve wanted for my first experience seeing Of Montreal. Accompanied by three screens of psychedelic visuals, various costumed extras, balloon drops, props and whole score of vaudevillian rivalry, the band took the crowd and venue by storm. During the encore to top it off, I was able to reconnect with Kishi Bashi and ended up initiating an after-party with the entire band, crew and record label affiliates at an industrial themed “dark carnival,” taking place across the street at local dive bar Butter. Several jello shots, deep fried twinkies and contortionist carnie-prompted dance battles later, I looked around and felt assured that I had enough material to develop my own personal “Of Montreal” concert story contender.
3. The Presets @ Treasure Island Music Festival 10.13.12
Completely blown away by their performance the night before, I was overwhelmed with excitement and intrigue to see how the Presets could accomplish translating such energy to a festival setting. Anyone who had caught their Treasure Island Music Festival opener at the Independent instantly was taken over by sensory recall as they broke into song almost right where they left us hanging less than 24 hours earlier. Almost in homage to those who witnessed them destroy their previous set, they picked the dance party up right where they left off, only this time kicking it up about ten notches with the accompanied stage show, visual intensity and professional grade sound of seasoned professionals. Completely upstaging their more commercially recognized headliner and showing the younger generation how it should be done, they stole the show and were easily the stand out act of the 2012 TIMF. To this day I still find myself saying that I wish I could continually be going to a Presets show, based off of the concert experience I had at these two performances.
4. Dan Deacon @ The Great American Music Hall 10.23.12
5. Against Me! @ The Catalyst 9.10.12
6. The Faint @ The Regency Ballroom 11.18.12
7. Justice @ The Fox 11.4.2
8. Metallica @ Outside Lands 8.10.12
9. Animal Collective @ The Fox 9.21.12
10.The Shins @ The Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium 4.22.12
1. David Byrne & St. Vincent @ the Orpheum Theater 10.15.12
This is my number one show of 2012 for a couple of reasons. First off, Love this Giant, the recently released collaborative album between Byrne and St. Vincent, was a major disappointment. One of my most anticipated albums of the year ended up being one of the most disappointing. All was redeemed, however, when I saw these songs performed live. The accompanying brass band and the chemistry on stage breathed new life into was I felt was a stale album. Playfully executed and precisely choreographed, these songs shined live.
Secondly, I am a huge David Byrne fan and was able to check a big one off my bucket list of musical artists. Byrne’s career needs no introduction and this evening we were treated to a few Talking Head’s classics such as “Burning Down the House,” “This Must Be the Place,” and “Like Humans Do.”
This show was simply a once in a lifetime experience.
2. Phish @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium 8.19.12
A three night run at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium was capped off with a masterful performance by jamband kings, Phish. The final night of the run was easily the best night as the band flexed their improvisational muscles in a blistering 2-set performance, highlighted by covers of the Talking Heads’ “Crosseyed and Painless” and Robert Palmer’s “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley.”
3. Sigur Ros @ Outside Lands 8.11.12
Sigur Ros on my birthday to cap off an unbelievable festival day? How could it possibly get any better? It can’t really.
4. Les Claypool’s Duo De Twang @ Terrapin Crossroads – San Rafael 10.4.12
5. Keller Williams, Steve Kimock & Kyle Hollingsworth ft. Bernie Worrell, Wally Ingram & Andy Hess @ Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Music Festival 10.7.12
6. Miike Snow / Penguin Prison @ Fox Theater Oakland 4.12.12
7. Washed Out @ Mezzanine 5.4.12
8. Electric Guest @ The Independent 11.2.12
9. The Album Leaf / Blackbird Blackbird @ Bottom of the Hill 9.30.12
10. Citizens! Lescop, Housse de Racket, Tomorrow’s World @ The Rickshaw Stop 10.12.12
Zee Avi @ New Parish 9.28.12
M83 @ The Fillmore 4.22.12
1. D’Angelo @ HOB – Los Angeles 7.4.12
2. Passion Pit @ Rock en Seine – Paris 8.26.12
3. Starfucker @ the Independent 1.7.12
4. Stevie Wonder @ Outside Lands 8.12.12
5. Miike Snow + Penguin Prison @ The Fox Oakland 4.12.12
6. A.Skillz + Krafty Kuts Presents Tricka Technology @ Mighty 6.1.12
7. Aaron Freeman (Gene Ween) @ the Independent 10.19.12
8. Japandroids @ the Independent 6.14.12
9. Guns n’ Roses @ Bridge School Benefit 10.21.12
10. Kid Koala Vinyl Vaudeville Tour @ Independent 11.4.12
1. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros @ Slim’s 3.25.12
It’s not often I gush like a school girl (only about once or twice a week), but seeing ESatMZ at Slim’s was panty dropping. Can I say that? Well, I just did. It was a secret/private show so Slim’s was overcrowded. I stood center stage close enough to see the dirt on Alexander’s suit. The sound was great and the band always puts on a damn fine show.
2. The Lumineers @ The Chapel 10.11.12
LIVE 105 brought the Lumineers to newly opened Chapel in SF and the band didn’t disappoint. The venue was the perfect size for the band and like most of the other bands on this list, the Lumineers had fun playing and it made for a great show.
3. Kronos Quartet @ Greek Theater 10.5.12
Okay, it was really Amon Tobin’s deal, but Kronos opened and performed beautifully. Being a long time fan, it’s not a surprise these openers made my list. Great music from great performers. And The Greek Theater in Berkeley was the best venue to see them. (And most other shows.)
4. Willie Nelson and Family @ The Fox Oakland 3.15.12
5. Of Monsters and Men @ Independent 5.22.12
6. Fun. @ The Independent 5.28.12
7. Sage Francis @ Independent 3.17.12
8. Steve Aoki @ Bill Graham 1.21.12
9. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros @ The Fox Oakland 5.12.12
10. AVICII @ Bill Graham Civic 6.28.12
1. The Walkmen @ The Independent January 20th & 21st
These 10th Anniversary shows were a Walkmen fan’s wet dream as they played their first album in full among multiple sets and configurations including a horn section. Over 30 songs of Hamilton Leithauser and company churning out their own brand of rock and roll to devote fans from across the States.
2. Refused with the Hives & the Bronx @ The Warfield 4.18.12
Having seen their Coachella show a week prior, the anticipation was less palpable, yet the reigning post-punk champs delighted a more rowdy and dedicated crowd with a spirited set for the masses who patiently waited a decade to witness.
3. Trey Anastasio and The Los Angeles Philharmonic @ Walt Disney Concert Hall 3.10.12
Dressing up for a show is fun, especially when Trey is at the helm of philharmonic symphony in one of the best rooms to hear, and see, music in. From the playful rendition of “Guyute” to the half hour “Time Turns Elasctic,” this night had the packed concert hall re-charmed by Ernest and his recharged song book.
4. Tame Impala @ The Fillmore 11.15.12
5. Phish @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium 8.19.12
6. Woods and White Fence @ The Chapel at Preservation Hall West 10.17.12
7. Howlin Rain @ The Independent 2.18.12
8. Radiohead @ The Santa Barbara Bowl 4.12.12
9. Father John Misty & Har Mar Superstar @ Bottom of the hill 5.5.12
10.Mala @ Yoshi’s San Francisco 6.23.12
Sigur Ros @ Outside Lands 8.11.12
Future Islands @ FYF 9.1.12
Flying Lotus @ Coachella 4.14.12
1. Justice @ The Warfield 11.4.12
What else is there to say about Justice that hasn’t already been said. They came, they saw, and they melted faces with an amazing set the blew fans away and converted first timers alike. At least half my friends decided to go last minute (tickets were still available because it was a Sunday) and all of them became huge fans. Some of these friends are not into electronic music of any kind either, so that really says something. It was one of those rare shows where you leave euphoric and can’t stop saying “wow” to the people you went with.
2. Florence & the Machine @ Coachella 4.15.12
The only other performer I’ve ever seen that commanded an audience like Florence did was Snoop Dogg back in 02 at the Smoke Out (stop-you’re not better than me so put that eyebrow back down). It was one of the rare festival sets where everyone felt really in tune with the performer and each other, singing along and knowing when to interact with each other and the songs. She was absolutely amazing, and the set was a dark horse highlight to my festival as I didn’t expect her to command the audience like she did. She’s truly a presence.
2ManyDJ’s @ Regency Ballroom
I saw them about this time last year but fuck it, it still counts. If you have never seen them live then go. Even if you don’t like electronic, go. Even if you hate music go. If you want to be schooled in what real DJs as performers can do, you have to go. They blend the most amazing remixes, edits, mashups and drops all together with a mindblowing set of animated artwork, based on the song that is being played behind them. I won’t even try to explain because it won’t work.