Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Top Live Shows of 2004

Originally authoured December 12th 2004

OK Friends, as you all know from my previous e-mail 2k4 has been a good year for music. I've made it a point to check out a lot of concerts this year because to me, the mark of a good musician is the ability to play their material live for a crowd and have that crowd go nuts. I also have made it a point to not waste time with music that I don't like, so everybody who I saw this year are artist that I love and respect. As many of you on this list know from last nights Nas show, I wasn't impressed in the least. I will go as far as saying this is the worst live show that I have ever seen (I will explain further below). He're how it stacks up to the rest of the live shows that I saw this year.

But first let me just say that a concert is a very personal experience, it is between you and the artist on stage so everybody's experience is different. To me a good concert must entail the following criteria:

* a good setlist (the right mix of old and new songs)
* The ability to move the crowd
* The ability to perfrom the songs at a level that is better or equal to the quality on the record (why should I pay money to hear a show that is below the quality of the album? If thats the case I'd just rent a karaoke machine)
* the cost ratio (I'm not tight when it comes to money, but it is important when you sacrifice a week's worth of grocery money and pay $50 for a show that you get your moneys worth)
* ability to work with the venue (this is kinda outside of the artist's control but you have to be able to work with the space=> a good artist can rock a dank alleyway if that's what's given to them)
* crowd ( I'm probably contradicting myself because earlier I said that its between you and the band, but admit it, it makes a difference when everyone around you is singing the songs word for word and going nuts)
* To a lesser extent: the quality of the opener. ITs a full package. (ex: the best show that i've ever seen was Rage Against the Machine- my favourite rock group and who opened for them? Gangstarr, my favourite rap group..... and Queens of The Stone Age, who I hadn't heard of at the time, but are sick: don't sleep on their 3 albums)
* Ability to meet or exceed expectations (if you are like me: all week before the show you are anticipating what to expect. You have a vision in your head of what the show should look/ sound/ smell like)

#1) The Streets (June 25/ Mod Club/-$20/ opener: DJ sassale)=> I really expected the show to be him up there 'rapping' with a little mpc box providing the beats. But he came with a tight 4 peice band and the beats sounded so much bigger and more epic. He performed mostly stuff from the OPM album (which is miles better then the new record). But played the best half of the new record. And then finished with a cover of RATM-Freedom. Mod club was a sick venue to see a show, and I was able to score tix for the afterparty and chill with the band. He performed at a level that was way above the record, and before ' Too much brandy' he took out a bottle of brandy and poured 6 ounces down my throat. Awesome. Moreover, the show was only 20 bucks. Top this: you can't.

#2) Face to Face (Aug 24/ Kool Haus/ $27/ opener: my chemichal romance) Fare well tour. LAst time to see Face perform and they stepped up to the plate. They played all the best songs from S/T and HTRE. The crowd was on point, singing every song word for word. The pit was rough but, controlled: if anybody fell down someone picked them up. The band was up on stage joking and smiling the entire show. Honestly, not as good as the first Face show (legendary, Jordan you know the stories), but good enough to be the 2nd best show that I've seen this year.

#3) Dizzee Rascal (March 5/Mod Club/ $15/ opener: DJ Sasalee) Apparently this was Dizzee's first show in North America. He was on point. His lyrical flow is dangerous and he doesn't just stand there and yell into the mic like most rappers. He only had his debut record out at this point so the set was a bit short (45-1 hour) but he had some nice 'freestyles' over shitty L'il Jon beats.

#4) Franz Ferdinand (June 14/ Kool Haus/ $25/ opener: sons and daughters, we missed controller.controller) They only had material from the debut album and a few B sides. SO the show was short (45 mins) but it was sick. THey sound so much better live then they do on record.

#5) Beastie Boys ( November 8/ ACC/ $55/ opener Talib Kweli) 'In keeping with the 'George W. Bush is a dick theme', this next song is called SABOTAGE!' That line summed it up and helped me get over my post election blues. I'd been waiting 5 years for this show after the Rhyme and Reason tour got canned; and they came correct. They played alot of material off of the old records, even some choice stuff off of Paul's Boutique (their best album,also their most slept on album). The best part about this show was that they did 2 instrumental sets to calm the crowd down and set the vibe. The only cons about this show were the venue and the price. But it was still worth it.

#6) THe Roots (May 13/Kool Haus/ opener: Jean Grae) The Best Live Hip hop group of all time. Not beacuse of the 10 minute guitar solo. Not beacuse of the 12 minute percussion solo. Not because Black THought is probably the most underated MC. But simply because everytime they perform live its something fresh and new. And the covers that they do are sick.

#7) Mos Def (Oct 27/Docks/$45/ opener MOP) Mos was on stage for close to 2 hours and gave it his all. By the end he was visibly spent. He played material from the Black Star Album, Black on Both SIdes and a couple of tracks from the new record. THe only low points were: that stupid second vocal mic and when he brought Esthero on for that one song. Other than that it was flawless, but where was Q-Tip at? And he really needed a live band instead of a DJ to perform some of the Black Jack Johnson stuff.

#8) DJ Premier (Feb 21/ SOund Emporium/ $15) The Greatest Producer in the history of rap. Any DJ that can play Biggie/Mobb Deep/MOP/ Steve Miller Band/Nirvana/Eurythmics/Prince/Rick James/ and James Brown in the same set and not have people all confused? Deserves all the praise in the world.

#9) Gift of gab (Sept 25/ Kathedral/$15 opener: DJ Mike Relm) A tight hip hop show in a hole in the wall club. THis what i'm talking about ability to work the venue. THis guy pretty much performed while standing on top of a milk crate. And Gift of Gab is a big dude, he's gotta be about 240 lbs. ANd the opener Mike Relm, had a disgusting set. Started off with Jimi Henderix-Fire and then Mixed in Simon and Garfunkel-Sound of Silence with Neptunes-Light Ya Ass on FIre. All without headphones!!! Stop and think about what that means for a second.

#10) Jeru the Damaja w/ Special Ed (Some time in the Summer/ Some park in Toronto/ Free!) Free hip hop shows are usually a bad idea. But this one was on point. Jeru and SPecial Ed showed all of these whack New School cats how to rap correctly. None of this screaming into the mic shit (all you gotta do is speak into it, there is a reason why it is amplified). I could actually make out what each lyric meant and I didn't even know all of the songs.

#11) AB/CD (SOme time in the Summer/ Wing Shack/ $5) ACDC cover band were awesome! The venue was weak and the crowd (aside from the 10 of us going nuts) was weak. But the band ruled. If you closed you eyes you would've thought that it was ACDC. They prettty much played a 3rd set just for us.

#Dead Last) Nas (Yesterday/Kool Haus/ and arm and a leg/opener: Royce da 5 '9- oh wait where was Royce at????) The Nas show can be discribed in 3 words: Dissapointing. Extremely Dissapointing. I think it takes a lot of guts to step out and say 'yeah I payed $50 for a concert and it sucked' BUt this is the truth. I could just lie and be like ' yea the concert was great!' But Nas isn't going to get off that easy. The first show sold out in like a day, so then they added a second show at 5:30. First off, this was quite possibly the worst idea i've ever heard. A double header? This is a bad idea in baseball but possibly a worse idea in rap. HIs new album is absolutely bananas! (that's for you Aku) SO my question is: why didn't he play anything from it ( he played 4 songs from a double album that had 25 tracks on it) I could rant on this for days so I'm gonna just go through the criteria and show how Nas failed to meet them

* The setlist sucked. How are you gonna perform snippets of Oochie Wally and Nastradamus? Theses are widely known to be some of your worst songs. The good thing is that he played a lot of shit off of Illmatic, but where was the New Material at? When you just released your best album in 10 years, you have a duty to play some of it.
* The quality of his performance was weak as hell. He yelled into the mic. He used a backing track. And he didn't even rap properly=> he would just rap some of the words and let the crowd do the rest of the work-laziness.
* Where the fuck was Royce at? I though he was supposed to be opening?
* The bouncers took my ticket stub. I asked for it back and they told me to fuck off. I argued with the guy for a bit and he was on the verge of thorwing me out, so i just let it go. I like to keep my ticket stubs as a memento. Not that this night was that memorable, but still, i paid $50 bucks for this, can I have something to show for it?
* Final question: how necessary was it for Nas to take his shirt off? Don't take yourself too seriously, buddy.
* For $50 this wasn't at all worth it, If i could demand my money back I would.

Maybe I'm really bitter because I've been waiting 3 years for this show. I'm not even going to get into what happened 3 years ago, since that was one of the worst nights of my life. But last night was a collossal dissapointment. I wish I had gone to see the $10 Clash Tribute Band instead.

Obviously I'm not 'Rich Uncle Skeleton', so I can't go to every show and there are a few that I missed and regretted missing because I heard good things afterwards:

* Kanye West (His album had just some out and I didn't think he would be good, but I heard he killed it)
* Yeah yeah yeahs (They were still on the verge of blowing up and I didn't think the show would sell out so quick- the lesson is: don't hesitate)
* Metric/Billy Talent (Another example of hesitation leading to masturbation, the show sold out quickly)
* Ratatat/ Mouse on Mars (Same day as the Mos Def, I think I made the right decision but I still wanted to se Ratatat)
* Green Day presents: American Idiot (Matt: this is entirely your girlfriend's fault: she is a fucking loser. Seriously, she sucks.)
* The Killers (First time i've ever won anything free in my life, and I couldn't go. This is a real shitty story)
* Peaches (I heard that this show was spectacle- strap-on and all)

OK I'm sorry that this e-mail was so long, but I had a lot to get off my chest and I didn't want to have the same conversation 20 times trynta explain to each of you why the Nas show sucked so badly. Its a tough position to take but someones gotta say it. Take it at face value, at the end of the day, its just my opinion. Let me know what you think, and if you actually enjoyed the show tell me how this was possible.

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