Dudes, it truly has been a Rocktober this year. There have been many other Rocktobers in the past, but this is the first Rocktober during which I've really taken full advantage of all the amazing music that has come to Madison, or close to Madison. I wish I had the attention span and patience to write up each show I've seen, but I don't think I do. I also never take pictures or video anymore because my camera battery is busted up, and I don't write anything down because I feel real busy while the bands are playing. You know, listening. Rocking. Instead, please enjoy some videos of some amazing bands that I feel incredibly lucky to have seen in the last month (or couple of months - it's been a few months worth of rocking).
August 27, 2010 - Ozomatli at The Barrymore, Madison WI
This video isn't from the show I saw (probably none of these will be), but it's my favorite song by them. Ozomatli is incredibly fun and upbeat, passionate and musical and full of love and life and joy. Getting to stand just ten feet away from them, and then to experience them coming out into the crowd and forming a messy conga line with their instruments, right next to me, was just amazing. This band inspires me like not many others can. And sometimes they have some choreographed dances. Yow!
August 28, 2010 - Rodrigo y Gabriela at Ravinia, Glencoe, IL
This was my first time seeing Rodrigo y Gabriela, and although the venue wasn't ideal for a first-timer (think mid-size outdoor venue catering to families and picnics, along with 32 cousins-and-cousins'-friends being louder than anything you've ever heard), it was amazing to stand by myself under the stars on a warm night and close my eyes and experience this phenomenal guitar playing.
September 28, 2010 - The National at The Orpheum, Madison, WI
I already wrote all about this one here. Lovely show, and topped off by the fact that the band had played at the Obama rally in town that afternoon, so they were super excited and happy. The whole show was in a good mood.
October 1, 2010 - David Rovics at Tex Tubb's Cadillac Ranch, Madison, WI
I've been listening to David Rovics for years. My sister met him a long time ago and showed me so much of his music, and although I don't listen to him too often anymore, his songs still strike a huge chord with me when I see him play live. This song in particular makes me think of the revolutionaries in my very own family, my history, my family's history, and it makes me so sad and so proud and joyful all at once. David is a really important musician. See him at some point. I mean it.
October 1, 2010 - Valient Thorr at The Frequency, Madison, WI
Okay, so the reason I picked this video is mostly because you can get the full effect of the duel guitars at the beginning, as well as the whole energy of the singer when he gets all up in your business. Ugh, they're so hilarious and great! The sound isn't so great on this video, so check out some others if you're interested. I'm sure many of you are. That's why I had to go to this show alone, right? Because all of you love Valient Thorr as much as I do, but you were just "busy" that night, right? Yeah, that's the ticket.
In other news, seeing Valient Thorr on the same night as David Rovics was a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me. I went from teary-eyed and inspired and hopeful at the first show to ridiculously blissful and nearly stunned by hilarity at the second show. I don't know what it is about bands like Valient Thorr, but they make me clap my hands together like a toddler. My cheeks and stomach hurt that night from smiling and laughing so hard. They're just so great and funny and ridiculous. But, still a strange combination on one night.
October 5, 2010 - King Khan & The Shrines at The Annex, Madison, WI
These guys were pretty great. They're a ten (or so) piece soul band fronted by a guy who wears a gold lamé cape onstage and there's a go-go-type dancer in the band as well. I mean, yeah, that's probably going to be great no matter what, you know?
October 6, 2010 - Muse with Passion Pit at The Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI
I love Passion Pit. I put them on before work if I'm having a crabby day and my mood instantly changes. I'm amazed that the singer managed to use his high voice for almost the whole show. He sings 8 zillion times higher than I ever could.
I had to include this video because it's from the show I was at, and also because of the most amazing start to a show I've seen probably ever. There's about three minutes of "intro" stuff which was actually really cool - there were three giant pillars, probably about 30 feet tall, made out of screens that projected images throughout the whole show. But if you start watching right around 2:45, you'll see the amazing moment where the curtains drop and each of the members is standing on his own pillar, totally separate from the other band members, but yet coming together in one of the hugest sounds I've ever heard from a 3(sometimes 4)-piece band. Something really struck me about how far apart they were from each other, yet how together and amazing and big they sounded. Oh lord, I get such chills!
Here is another video of them doing the same song, because that's how much I love this song.
I love Muse. I have since I first heard them on the game Guitar Hero. You heard me. I am constantly amazed at the singer and his gigantic voice, mostly because he's a tiny little man. And they have beautiful piano parts too. Probably one of the best shows I've ever been to ever in life. In LIFE!
October 9, 2010 - The Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Conductor Ascher Fisch
Video of the Beethoven Symphony (performed by The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie)
Well, I obviously went to this one with my parents. The conductor had to step in only a week before this performance (it was supposed to be Riccardo Muti, but he was seriously ill and couldn't do it) and handle two really obscure and non-crowd-pleasing pieces besides the Beethoven. He did it with amazing style and grace, which is no easy feat with a snobbish Chicago Symphony crowd. I'm just sayin'; these people are uptight. But it was a lovely show.
October 11, 2010 - Youngblood Brass Band at The High Noon Saloon, Madison, WI
See this band. Just do it. If the video doesn't explain enough, then come visit me and I'll smack you upside the head, and maybe you'll get it then. Oh, also, the snare player is the guy who runs the drum line that one of my students plays piano in, and he's great.
October 14, 2010 - The Walkmen at The Barrymore, Madison, WI
I'd love to sit here and write about what a great show this was (because it was!), but right now all I can think about is Genia pointing out that the singer was wearing a watch and how weird that was. Anybody? Wearing a watch onstage? Sort of strange, right? He also kept his jacket on and kind of looked like somebody's dad. But yeah, great show. Wonderful.
October 14, 2010 - The New Deal at The Majestic, Madison, WI
Alls I know about this show was that Lynn and I showed up, got out of paying the $22 cover, danced for either 5 or 25 minutes, and left. It was wonderful.
October 16, 2010 - Devotchka at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL
If you've met me, you probably know that Devotchka is my absolute 100% favorite band of all time. I've seen them four times now, and I always have trouble deciding which show was the best one. This last one, for example, was interesting because I felt a disjointedness within the band; they didn't really interact with each other much, and seemed a little separated during some of the music. But during the last song, "Such a Lovely Thing," they came together with more force, energy, and intensity than I've ever seen from them before. It was strange and wonderful.
October 22, 2010 - Hot Chip and LCD Soundsystem at The Eagles Ballroom, Milwauke, WI
My favorite song by them, which they don't play live very often.
You know who you should hang out with at dance-y shows? Crazy People. They are really, really fun. I'm serious. Find yourself a Crazy friend or two, and take them to see this band. You'll have a ridiculously fun night.
October 23, 2010 - Phantogram with Josiah Wolf at The High Noon Saloon
Please recognize that the guy is playing his guitar and his drums at the same time - very little looping used live. And the woman's voice is just lovely. I had to pick this video because, duh, they covered "All of Me," but at the show, it was amazing to watch him play everything at once. Really, go see them if you can.
I think Phantogram might be my favorite show out of all of these, or at least a close tie with Muse. And that feels funny to say, seeing as I have seen two of my all-time favorites in the last couple of months, but really. This band was amazing. They have a screen behind them to project video, which really enhances the already innovative music. On this tour, they were playing with a drummer who I think is from The Mathematicians, and it made the sound full and complete. It was mellow and beautiful while also being exciting and unique. Amazing show.
October 24, 2010 - DJ Rekha at The Majestic, Madison, WI
DJ Rekha does not disappoint. Her music is called Basement Bhangra, which is basically Indian music mixed with other beats and dance music. It's so much fun to dance to, and all these Indian kids come out to the shows; half the fun is watching them dance.
So...maybe this is why I'm so tired lately. Or, it could be because I haven't been eating enough protein. No, it's probably all the rocking I've been doing. Yeah. That sounds way cooler.
I'm feeling very fortunate as of late to be able to live in this life surrounded by and made up of music. Whether it's teaching, working on writing a music theory reference guide (my new project!) with one of my coworkers, playing a bit myself, or seeing all these wonderful artists, I am so grateful to be able to have this be my life. I will not get sick of this. All I want is more. Good job, music.
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