NYCTaper (the site) will have our “Top 25 Moments” post later this week, but in the meantime this is the nyctaper (the person) list of my Top 10 concerts of 2014. Since I recorded less than half of the recordings posted on the site this year, its by no means comprehensive but its a personal list I’ve done since the site began in 2007.
1. The War On Drugs: March 19 and 20 2014 Bowery Ballroom
2014 was pretty much the year of the The War On Drugs. Their album has been the consensus number one selection among a vast number of end-of-year lists — appearing at or near the top in every single list we’ve read recently. And we’re proud of the fact that we were there first. In my review of this show, I predicted that Lost In The Dream would be an album of the year candidate and would be in the decade discussion. The band played two flawless shows at Bowery Ballroom, bringing the new album’s material to life with passion and precision.
2. Wussy: October 10, 2014 Knitting Factory / October 11, 2014 Private House Larchmont NY
2014 was also the year of Wussy. As their album Attica continues to show up on virtually every knowledgeable year-end list, it appears that the world at large is finally catching on to a band we’ve been pushing for the last half-decade. In between these two shows — a full band set headlining the CBGB Fest at the Knit, and the following night playing acoustically at a private house show — Wussy filmed a segment with CBS national morning news that recently aired. It was their first national tv appearance, and I’m guessing it won’t be their last. Both of these shows were great for different reasons, but both indicated the strengths of this unconventional but extraordinary band.
3. Wilco: October 29, 2014 Capitol Theatre Port Chester NY
Of the three nights when Wilco celebrated their 20th anniversary and the tour came to the NYC area, this was my favorite night for variety of reasons. The performances on all three nights were top notch, but this night had the extra bonus of some older Wilco material that I had never heard live or hadn’t seen in years.
4. Ty Segall: September 17, 2014 Webster Hall
Ty Segall keeps churning out the records and they keep getting better. The shows are also genuinely the best show in town — crazy talented band, great songs and a crowd that matches the energy from stage top to bottom. This night at Webster was part of two consecutive sold-out shows for Ty and this set was easily one of my best of the year, notable for the force of the crowd causing the photo pit guardrails to be removed because of of the crush.
5. Marah: July 12, 2014 Bowery Electric
The story of Marah is one of redemption and ultimately an extraordinary reinvention. A fairly successful band from the aughts, Marah was dormant for a few years before rising up from the ashes into an eclectic Americana band whose project was to resurrect centuries-old Pennsylvania folk songs into a contemporary format. Add to the band a 10 year old child prodigy on fiddle and a PhD in rural cultures on banjo and you have one of the most unlikely success stories in recent memory. This show at Bowery Electric was a revelation in so many ways, it perhaps best to just listen to the show in its entirety.
6. Woods: November 4, 2014 Death By Audio
This night ended up being my last at Death By Audio. If recording your last show one of your favorite venues ever ends up being one of your favorite bands, then its all good. For this show, Woods reunited with former member Lucas for several songs including the transition jam from his set to the main Woods set that led into “Bend Beyond” — also one of the best single moments of the year.
7. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard: October 13, 2014 Baby’s All Right
Their new album came out too late in the year to end up on too many end-of-year lists, but if it had been released in February or March it would be right there. King Gizzard is a band clearly on the rise and their shows are all out ragers. We saw them four times this year but this was the one that really kicked it in and took this band to an entire other level. The opening segue was the one of the best extended pieces of music we heard all year.
8. PUP: February 21, 2014 Cameo Gallery
This is likely the show that I saw this year where the most unbridled energy emanated from the stage. PUP is part of the burgeoning punk scene in Toronto and they toured North America and Europe persistently throughout the year in support of their self-titled debut on Side One Dummy Records. This night at Cameo pre-dated the release of the album and the crowd was a fraction of the fans they’d see before the end of the year, but PUP was simply one full hour of energy, humor and fun and this was one of my favorite nights of the year.
9. The Kickback: October 23, 2014 NYCTaper Unofficial CMJ Day Party, Cake Shop
I invited The Kickback to play our CMJ show because of one song in particular — a version of “Rob Our House” at Pianos that we had seen in June. But when the band played their afternoon set in the basement of Cake Shop, I soon learned that this was far from a one-song band as every track was more compelling than the next. Of course, “House” was the number that blew mostly everyone away when it closed the set, but in reality this entire performance was killer.