We rocked a hell of a lot of shows in 2010, and while we didn’t hit all of them (who could?) what we did catch was more than enough to determine that the year has been amazing for live music. A Perfect Circle reunited, Queens of the Stone Age returned to the stage on U.S. shores, Pearl Jam played a beautiful 20th anniversary show and Zach De La Rocha finally brought One Day As A Lion out to play, to name just a few. Here’s our list of the ten (actually eleven) best shows of 2010, in no particular order, as determined strictly by the experience that was had. Many photo galleries accompany each review, so enjoy a little rabbit-hole concert journey, on us.
After following their initial liftoff closely, it was thrilling to watch the band push themselves to deeper, more dynamic heights than ever before. A truly more evolved band was in full command of the material after having road tested it for half a year, and the band displayed a confidence and affinity for razor-sharp, off-the-cuff jamming that borders on telepathy. Clearly, their time on the road together as a band over the prior several months has tightened all the screws in the Vultures machine and added a triple-distilled dose of astroglide to the gears. We can’t wait to see where these birds fly next.
One Day As A Lion played their first-ever show on blistering Saturday afternoon in the tiny side room of a sandwich shop called Aladdin Jr.’s in Pomona, CA, debuting a full album’s worth of new material for a wildly enthusiastic crowd of roughly 200 sweat-drenched patrons. When De La Rocha picked up the mic with a mischievous grin, the crowd roared with anticipatory excitement. Drummer Jon Theodore was a giddy metronomic madman, peeling off polyrhythms and trapdoor backbeats that made us thankful for the pillbox stage setup, simply so we wouldn’t have to decide where to devote our attention. As the trio rolled through several promising new numbers with surgical point-precision, it became abundantly clear that there’s plenty more to One Day As A Lion than what we’ve seen released thus far.
Pearl Jam’s performance at the annual Bridge School Benefit in Mountain View, CA was also a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the band’s first-ever show. After spending the day in an endless downpour, sipping hot cocoa while soaked to the bone on a steeply-angled lawn while the likes of Billy Idol, Elvis Costello, Kris Kristofferson, Elton John & Leon Russell and more rocked us with old-timer greatness, Pearl Jam’s appearance outshone much of the lineup in yet another memorable set from one of the few true classic rock heroes of our time.
The Grouch brought along friends & family from the Rhymesayers crew and beyond for a night of Hip-Hop for the holidays with the kickoff of this year’s How The Grouch Stole Christmas tour at the El Rey in Los Angeles. While the Grouch is without question a cornerstone staple in the Living Legends crew and a significant force in the world of underground Hip-Hop, his headlining performance after Brother Ali led to an inescapable feeling of moving from fifth gear to third, despite being heavily animated and upbeat. It was through no fault of his own, but rather the fact that Ali’s intensity and pure-soul connectivity would be hard for anyone but Chuck D or Stevie Wonder to upstage. A gripping gut-punch love-fest of a show.
In a night of tribute to benefit Eagles of Death Metal bassist Brian O’Connor, Queens Of The Stone Age made their first appearance onstage in the U.S. in over two years, with help from EODM, Alain Johannes, roughly half the Arctic Monkeys and special guest Mark Lanegan. The result was a soaring family affair and immensely triumphant return for the Queens, who let it be known immediately with opener Misfit Love that we were in for one hell of an incredible night.
After three studio albums and over 10 years together, the Gorillaz finally embarked on their first full-blown world tour with the Escape To Plastic Beach Tour. Damon Albarn & Co. took to the stage in Dallas for an overload of fun & visual and sonic imagery. For nearly two hours the group (and numerous guests) powered through a set composed of older hits and a ton of new material, and did so with more style and flair than most bands could ever dream of.
A Perfect Circle took the stage at the sold-out Avalon in Los Angeles for the first of a three-night run on their West coast mini-tour. Coming off a six-year hiatus, the band is revisited all their recorded material in three-show jaunts across various cities. This isn’t just another band for Antiquiet’s coverage archives, you see. A Perfect Circle is what kicked off our (Skwerl’s & mine) partnership back in 1999, when I was a kid stumbling into the band’s second-ever show – before fully formed lyrics, before the Y2K bug – and Skwerl was a Tool fan in Philly starting a fan site for a side-project of Maynard James Keenan that nobody knew about… yet. My reviews of their early shows were trial-by-fire lessons in Rock journalism, and the band was my very first interview, as well as the initial medium over which a brotherhood would form. So by several different perspectives, APC’s return to the stage is a powerfully symbolic one to us here at Antiquiet. We weren’t going to miss it, and overall, the band didn’t disappoint.
When we last saw Far, it was their second show after a hiatus of nearly ten years. They rattled the rafters with a palpable excitement over getting that old engine roaring again, and we wouldn’t trade being there for much. Yet during Far’s May show at the Troubador in Los Angeles, the nuts and bolts were a little tighter, the pistons well-oiled. It’s great to see this band back in action, with a great new album that didn’t even seem like a possibility when we talked to Jonah and Shaun a while back. We’re spreading the word: Far has given us a second chance to experience something special. Don’t miss out.
The Eagles of Death Metal rocked the red-eyed VIP attendees at this year’s Epic Daze concert, the musical afterparty to the area’s inaugural High Times Cannabis Cup. Hughes and Co’s signature strut-and-smirk style effortlessly satiated the stoned saccharine cravings of the audience, who were lighting the good shit at every turn throughout the set. Guitarist “Darlin” Dave Catching gave in to temptation, cueing Jesse to request a taste from the audience – to which we responded with a blizzard of joints. Catching lit the fattest one to hit the stage, passing it around after a few massive tokes and lifting those in the front rows ever higher. The show itself was an incredible blast of “fuck it” fun, a mood the pictures capture quite well.
The night before The Bronx left for Europe for a 35-date trek, these hardcore Rock prophets delivered an exhilarating end to the U.S. leg of their tour at the House of Blues in the police state known as Anaheim, CA by wearing two hats – they played a set as Mariachi El Bronx in full traditional mariachi regalia before headlining under their standard name.
Never satisfied despite a raucous crowd response, Caughthran rolled up his mic cord and jumped into the pit, roaring the opening to Shitty Future while actually on top of our beloved Skwerl, the pit around them exploding into a cauldron of slamming bodies, sweating and screaming with shit-eating grins on our faces. The iron-throated frontman sang the song while throwing himself around the entire floor area, never missing a single note. It was ferocious, it was victorious, and it was everything a truly great rock show is supposed to be.
Massive Attack returned to Los Angeles for two nights at the Wiltern, reminding the Western shores that after two decades, five brilliant albums and countless star-studded collaborations, they’re still pound for pound the finest trip-hop act in existence. Through their two-hour set the band pulled heavily from their excellent fifth album Heligoland, bringing opener Martina Topley-Bird back out for live staple Angel and new crowd-favorite Babel.