This year was good to me musically. My favorite band, Counting Crows, put our their first album with original songs since 2008. A good friend of mine, Kirk Windus, and I traveled to Manchester, TN for Bonnaroo. Eighty percent of my top-10 concerts I witnessed this year took place in Tennessee. It was one of the best weekends of my life, and I hope I’m able to go again this summer. I’ll have a post soon detailing my 10 favorite albums from 2014, so instead of talking more about albums from this year I’ll share my favorite concerts.
10. Kevin Devine – I knew Kevin Devine because of Kirk. Kirk had a pretty great interview with him earlier this year, and I had played a couple of Devine’s tracks on the radio. He played in a smaller venue with about 250 people on Saturday, June 14th in the afternoon in Tennessee. He was just brilliant. He played with so much energy and passion. It was brutally hot that afternoon, and you could see the sweat dripping down his face, and his shirt was drenched. I thought it was cool that he met with fans after the show behind the tent. He signed stuff and took pictures with fans. I was able to meet him, too.
9. Jamestown Revival – A relatively unknown yet magnificent band. Jamestown Revival’s debut album came with much success, and they played two shows at Bonnaroo. We saw them on Saturday night in a big white tent directly across from Bonnaroo’s main stage. They’re a fun indie-rock band with a little Southern in them, and they had a strong following that night. I was amazed at how many people knew every word to every song they performed. I knew who they were before Bonnaroo. I heard them through Daytrotter, and I even attempted to book them at Bonaventure for a concert, but they were way out of our price range. They’re good. They’re back-porch-folk rock, and it was a pleasure to see them up close.
8. The Head and the Heart – I saw The Head and the Heart alone at Bonnaroo since Kirk was taking pictures. I waited in line so I could be in the pit. It was the closest I was to a band all weekend. Both of their albums are two of my favorites, and they did not disappoint in person. They played all of my favorites, and Charity Rose Thielen is a stunningly beautiful violinist and vocalist. In any other year, The Head and the Heart would be my favorite show of the year. It’s my type of concert, but this year was just so empowering that I saw seven shows better than this one.
7. CHVRCHES – Lauren Mayberry is my girl. She was hilarious in commentary as CHVRCHES played their first American festival. They played their entire debut album. I chose to see CHVRCHES over Vampire Weekend, but I don’t regret it one bit. I even purchased a CHVRCHES t-shirt at a merchandise tent over the weekend.
6. Grouplove – So much energy. So much passion. Grouplove was an absolutely unreal experience. You couldn’t move since there were so many people on top of each other. I fell in love with Hannah Hooper during her show. She was dynamic.
5. Counting Crows – This show did not take place in Tennessee. I saw Counting Crows in Virginia with my sister and cousin. Adam played four songs off his new album, and also played Round Here. I never heard Round Here live even though I’d been to four Counting Crows shows. It was everything I hoped it would be.
4. Elton John – Bonnaroo ended with Elton John, who played in his first American festival. I saw Elton John with Billy Joel in high school, but seeing him play a show by himself was an entirely different experience. He played lots of stuff from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and even had Ben Folds join him on stage for a song.
3. Haim – Haim, like Counting Crows, was not at Bonnaroo. I saw Haim with my good friend Dan Adrat. They played in Philadelphia the week after the spring semester ended. It’s no secret that I have an obsession with Haim, and seeing them in person was something I wanted to do since hearing their debut album. I’ll remember my first Haim concert forever.
2. Kanye West – I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew I would love it, and I knew it would be controversial, especially considering what happened the last time Ye was at Bonnaroo. His antics were questionable, but he was phenomenal. He might have stopped in the middle of songs to rant about whatever, but he played all of his top tracks and the production of his show was simply the best.
1. Jack White – White played for two hours and 20 minutes. It was the greatest show I’ve ever seen. White said during his show, “Who makes music happen? Does a tabloid like Rolling Stone make music happen?” then he said, “You and I make it exist.” It was the perfect moment.