The 10 Biggest Music Stories of 2010

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Ah M.I.A., it just wasn't your year, was it? Photo by Rebecca Smeyne.
In 2010, Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire both had #1 records. LCD Soundsystem, Spoon, MGMT, the National, M.I.A, and Sufjan Stevens all had albums debut in the top ten. Kanye West joined Twitter. Drake started a riot in New York. Converse opened a recording studio in Brooklyn. M.I.A. went to war with the New York Times. Pavement reunited. Juggalos went mainstream. From our vantage point, this year in music was one of the most lawlessly entertaining--purely ridiculous, even--in a long, long while. So in the spirit of the deluge of year-end lists even now beginning to rain down upon us (don't forget to vote in Pazz & Jop!), we figured we'd look back on our ten favorite storylines of 2010. They weren't necessary the biggest, but they were the ones that SOTC had the most fun with, and the ones we cared most about.

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Photos: Maluca and Mad Decent Host a Block Party at the South Street Seaport

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Maluca cools things down. All photos by Rebecca Smeyne.
Diplo's Mad Decent label has been taking its act on the road lately, throwing block parties in Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. For Saturday's Seaport stop, the label teamed with local Pool Party auteurs Jelly NYC, bringing a slew of Mad Decent artists and horde of crowdsurfing, barrier-jumping fans to Pier 17 in lower Manhattan. Security was on edge--and, after Drake, can you blame them?--but the show ultimately went off without any major problems, unless you count Bronx-born firebrand Maluca spraying the crowd with any and all liquids within reach. Photos of that, along with shots of Das Racist's Himanshu Suri looking real GQ, a dancing, randy Mad Decent mascot, and some very sweaty people, are below, courtesy of photographer Rebecca Smeyne.

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Live: Best Coast And Free Energy Sweat It Out At South Street Seaport

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Bethany Cosentino (above) and Paul Sprangers, attracting yet more adoration. Pics by Liz, more below.
Free Energy/Best Coast/Loose Limbs
South Street Seaport
Friday, July 23

At tonight's free River to River fete, as with pretty much every outdoor show these days, you had a choice: melt in the sun or drown in the rain. But as you know by now, New York has a talent for concocting a disgusting combination of the two, resulting in yet another balmy, purple-clouded limbo. Brooklyn-via-Minneapolis trio Loose Limbs' dark strain of punk-infused rock ramped up the momentum for Best Coast; the sun was still blazing for the L.A. trio's set, Bethany Cosentino hiding behind flesh-toned Ray-Bans, which she also likes to do indoors. "Never use a towel onstage," she advised us, removing a slather of sweat from her face with one. "Sexy!" someone shouted. "Do you want it?" she asked. But she kept it, probably because she'd need it.

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Police Commissioner Ray Kelly on the Drake Riot: "We Want to Learn From This"

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Don't do this again. Photo by Rebecca Smeyne
By now we know that things got so out of hand at the South Street Seaport during Tuesday's free Drake show that the police commissioner himself, Ray Kelly, was called to the scene. Given the fact that by that point, hordes of people were chucking flowerpots, plastic bottles, and metal chairs at one another, it only made sense. Ultimately, Kelly's cops were forced to quell the crowd with mace and, in a few isolated spots, their police batons. Not all of the ambulances that arrived on the scene went back to the hospital empty--seven people and one officer were injured in the melee, the police later said--and the final numbers are pretty scary: as many as 25,000 people converged on a space designed to comfortably accommodate 10,000.

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Riot at South Street Seaport: The Drake Show That Never Was

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By 7:30pm, Drake already knew this thing wasn't happening, though he came through anyway. That was right around the time the cops began to show up en masse at the South Street Seaport, wading into the throngs of people who had come to see Paper Magazine's potentially ill-advised free summer show featuring Ninjasonik, Hanson, and, of course, the most popular rapper in the country, Drake. On the day of his record release date. It was a recipe for a riot, and the Seaport got one--or something that pretty closely resembled one, anyway. By the time we rolled up, a bit past 7pm, cops already had the outdoor venue surrounded; fights were breaking out all over the tightly packed crowd, and as we made our way toward the stage, a guy came past us running the other way, shouting "I don't want to hurt nobody, so I'm out!" Good advice.

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File Under Things That Make No Sense: Drake Playing a Free Outdoor Show Tomorrow With Hanson and Ninjasonik

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This seems like a great recipe for a riot: New York Times Arts & Leisure cover boy Drake playing a free show in the rap capital of the world on the day his sure-to-be-#1 Thank Me Later hits stores. With teen-pop survivors Hanson. And local art-rap pranksters Ninjasonik. So if the sheer popularity of the headliner doesn't do the South Street Seaport in, leave it to the three separate fanbases who will surely show out in force to level the docks in an ineffectual, Canadians rap fans vs. aging teeny-boppers vs. Bushwick 40 oz.-drinkers all out brawl. Still, since Drake is about to be one of the more famous rappers on the planet, we're going to go ahead and guarantee this is the last time you'll be able to just go wander down to the south end of Manhattan and see him for free, like it's nothing. Summer concert season, you make zero sense, but we kind of love you anyway. [Paper]

2010 River to River Festival, Featuring Free Energy, Best Coast, Antibalas, YACHT, Bear in Heaven, and More, Announced

River to River is the sort of secret weapon free summer arts series in NYC, with more appealing surroundings than the Williamsburg Waterfront and less pomp and circumstance than the line- and child-ridden Celebrate Brooklyn stuff at Prospect Park. Just roll up wherever, and watch for a while, basically. The festival will also put a smaller caliber of indie band on a big outdoor stage--everyone from Ted Leo to the Vivian Girls to Devin the Dude have played their South Street Seaport venue--and this year, the booking is typically on target: Bear in Heaven (July 9), Thee Oh Sees (July 16), Free Energy and Best Coast (July 23), Avi Buffalo (July 30), and YACHT (August 6), plus more to be announced soon. Bang on a Can, the 12-hour annual new music extravaganza, will return to the World Financial Center Winter Garden on June 27, and Antibalas will grace Castle Clinton on July 22. Look for a full 2010 schedule to be posted at rivertorivernyc.com come April 19. It's almost summer already, huh.

Live: Black Moth Super Rainbow at South Street Seaport

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South Street Seaport
Friday, July 24

If your frontman insists on sitting cross-legged on the floor onstage, singing into a vocoder and essentially hidden from view behind the monitors, it only makes sense to hire a dude to wear a Sasquatch suit (complete with disquieting Thom Yorke/Ed Grimley/Jesus mask) and dance around in the photo pit, triumphantly brandish an Axis and Allies box, swipe a broom from a custodian to sweep up a bit, pretend to sing into an unplugged mic, and generally distract the photographers specifically and the South Street Seaport denizens generally from, you know, the band. Black Moth Super Rainbow are awfully shy, it seems, which explains why the drummer is wearing a ski mask. It's Friday night, it's free, what the hell.

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