My 10 Favorite Concerts Of 2010, Starring Jay-Z, Pavement, And Michael Bolton
The 100-plus shows I saw this year spanned from the Cake Shop to Radio City Music Hall, from Williamsburg block parties to Michael Bolton's house in Connecticut, the events that occurred therein all furtively documented on an iPhone notepad and sometimes captured via relentlessly amateurish photography. The best were a mix of usual suspects and total surprises, current hitmakers and reconstructed old-timers, all hitting whatever stage with some combination of joy, ferocity, indifference, disdain, and messianic grandeur. Here are the 10 that made my imminent hearing loss seem nonetheless somehow totally worth it.
Stephen Malkmus, at the first of Pavement's 50 shows here. Pics by Rob unless noted otherwise.
Given that nearly everything was sung in, you know, Spanish, I perhaps missed some of the nuance here, at the Bronx bachata group's first of four packed MSG shows, but the main idea still got through: These guys are huge, and hugely entertaining, 10,000 or so screaming ladies thrilling to the grinning, lascivious exploits of one of the few men on earth called Romeo who deserve the name. Bonus points for an almost unbearably intense Marc Anthony cameo.
Monday, September 13
Speaking of intense cameos -- Kanye! Nicki! Drake! Dr. Dre! Beyoncé! Chris Martin! (!!!?) This was as ludicrous and overblown and fantastic as you might've imagined, Eminem's near-violent aggression contrasting nicely with Jay's unflappable nonchalance -- he pretty much started his set by bringing out Kanye ("Monster"! "Power"!), but refused to be upstaged. Such a poignant moment, too, to have the guy from Coldplay sing the hook to "Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)" in the birthplace of hip-hop.
Too much got written about them, they took forever to get here, they played too many shows elsewhere beforehand (which helped make tickets essentially useless for scalping purposes), and later in the week, when they moved over to Central Park, the weather did not always cooperate. And yet the joy was palpable all through Pavement Week, from the first strains of "Cut Your Hair" onward: The ultimate indie-goes-mainstream We Did It moment in a year full of 'em. Oh, and all hail Bob Nastanovich.
Public Image Ltd.
Music Hall of Williamsburg
Wednesday, May 19
"If you spit at me again, I will macerate your fucking face," noted Johnny Rotten to an overzealous fan. "You are at the wrong gig at the wrong time, asshole!" Thus began a gold-medal stage-banter affair, Johnny weighing in on everything from the Pope ("To the question, 'Is the Pope a Nazi?' Answer: yes! The Pope was a Nazi!") to the lighting situation ("Turn those fucking lights down, you idiot!") to current events ("Do not be media manipulated, you daft donkey. Save it for Sarah Palinnnnnnn and the Tea Party chimpanzees.") In between rants, PiL deigned to play some songs, featuring bass frequencies seemingly designed explicitly to kill you.
Michael Gira, by contrast, hardly said anything in his time onstage and was roughly 10,000 times more menacing: "Is this fun? I'm having fun" from his lips is like a death sentence. The best of a string of pulverizingly loud 2010 shows here in the Loudest Venue in NYC (no disrespect to Sleep or Boris, of course), Swans' live resurrection was cathartic and brutal and bizarrely purifying, climaxing with the psychotic tumult of "Beautiful Child" -- "THIS IS MY ONLY REGRET/THAT I EVER WAS BORN/THIS IS MMMYYYYYY SACRIFICE," etc. I dare you to spit on that guy.