Don’t be surprised if I amend this top 10 list after Tacoma’s garage-rock heroes, the Sonics, rock Oly’s Capitol Theater on New Year’s Eve. But here are my favorite concerts of 2010 so far.
10. Nate Jackson’s Super Funny Thanksgiving Comedy Show (Nov. 27, Pantages Theatre): Lacey comedian Nate Jackson has built a great Thursday night over at Tacoma’s Varsity Grill. And this urban comedy showcase- featuring the up-and-coming talent of Vincent Oshana, Cocoa Brown and Tony Roberts – was a nice coup for Tacoma. Not that I can quote any of the material. But look for Roberts to make waves in 2011.
9. Spoon (April 9, Paramount Theatre): From the catchy dynamics of “The Underdog” to grittier material from this year’s “Transference,” Spoon delivered the goods. Opening acts Micachau & the Shapes and Deerhunter were delightfully bizarre. Based on the latter’s goofy, stoner antics I had no idea they’d later deliver “Halcyon Digest,” one of the year’s dreamiest rock albums.
8. Alice in Chains (Feb. 5, Parmount Theatre): Seeing Alice headline KeyArena in October was the culmination of a great comeback story. But this set seemed more polished, intimate and satisfying.
7. Sasquatch Festival, Day Two (May 30, Gorge Amphitheatre): My top memories, in no particular order, are of Canadians in fuzzy hats (seriously, a bizarre number of them); the flash mob that broke out during LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” and Massive Attack blowing their last local appearance out of the water.
6. Lady Gaga (Aug. 21, Tacoma Dome): She’s the queen of Twitter, the most omnipresent face in pop and a surprisingly substantial talent. Her Little Monsters dug all the hits and, of course, all the freaky costume changes. I’ll go with the ridiculous Cousin It meets “Where the Wild Things Are” hair suit as my favorite.
5. Charlotte Gainsbourg (April 14, Crocodile Café): The eccentric, French auteur teamed up with Beck for the year’s sexiest album, “IRM,” before embarking on her first U.S. tour. She seemed surprisingly shy, in contrast to the sadistic freak she plays in “Antichrist.” And performances of daddy’s “L’hotel Particulier” and “Couler Café” sparked my as yet unquenched infatuation with Serge Gainsbourg.
4. Arcade Fire (Sept. 29, KeyArena): Don’t let the “indie” tag fool you. Quebec’s Arcade Fire specializes in songs that build and swell to powerful crescendos, music that’s meant for working entire arenas into teary, fist-pumping catharsis. This year’s “The Suburbs” is the band’s most stunning album yet, and “Neighborhoods #1 (Tunnels)” tugs at the ol’ heartstrings every time.
3. Gorillaz (Nov. 2, KeyArena): My first time seeing Damon Albarn’s virtual band in 2001 was total buzz kill with the touring band visible only in silhouette as pictures fomr the debut album’s liner notes flashed across a big screen. Lame, lame, lame!
But this year’s return was decidedly not lame. Albarn and a supporting cast of dozens – Bobby Womack, Little Dragon, De la Soul, the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble and more – stood front and center, delivering some of the most inventive pop of the decade.
2. Muse (April 2, KeyArena): Matthew Bellamy, Chris Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard made their entrance perched in the middle of giant skyscrapers. This bears repeating: They brought skyscrapers! And from the psychotropic light show to blood-pumping deliveries of “Uprising” and “United States of Eurasia” that had us ready to overthrown the man, this show never let up.
1. Roger Waters (Dec. 10, Tacoma Dome): Waters’ homage to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” was all good and well. “The Wall” is really his magnum opus. And his attempt to update one of the most mythic tours in rock history – a 1979 production that visited just two American cities – was serious cause for celebration.
With giant marionettes, striking visuals from Alan Parker’s cult film and a 30-foot, white wall – assembled and eventually demolished onstage – this show lived up to its legendary source material.