I have been to so many musical events this year, that it is obviously hard to remember all of them, but I keep notes and write reviews, and there are a few concerts that I remember more than others, either because they involved my favorite artists, or because something special happened. Here is my top ten of 2018 memorable events:
10. Vampire Weekend at Libbey Bowl in Ojai: It was my first time seeing the famous New York band, and despite the absence of Rostam who is going solo these days, it was a fun morning concert, scheduled at a weird time, but performed in a very laid back atmosphere, during a rainy day of June. They certainly played their hits, and despite the rumor of an upcoming new album, we didn’t get much of it. Still, I drove to beautiful countryside Ojai, got front row with plenty of die-hard fans and was impressed by Ezra Koening’s complete lack of star-ego. They could have played in their backyard and wouldn’t have been more relaxed.
9. The three days of Girlschool at the Bootleg in February were a blast with crazy good surprises: If Shirley Manson was announced, she was joined on stage by Fiona Apple for an exceptionally rare appearance. During another unexpected moment, Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O joined Dum Dum Girls’ Kristin Kontrol who was already surrounded by cute kids on stage. It was an unpretentious all-female festival packed with stars, and with a lineup which kept on giving.
8. Music Tastes Good in Long Beach in September: an excellent human-size festival, combining music and tasty food, which gave me the opportunity to discover many young artists (Big Thief, Shame, Ezra Furman) and to photograph real stars. Among them, the timeless and legendary New Order, and the new generation represented by Santigold, Janelle Monáe, and James Blake. It is a festival that I definitively would recommend for its diversity and originality.
7. Paul Simon’s Homeward Bound – The Farewell Tour at the Hollywood Bowl: I hate farewell tours, but this one didn’t sound like one, it wasn’t sad although the idea was in my mind during the entire time. it was really the last tour of an icon of the American songbook, and I still don’t know how I feel about this, especially when 2019 will bring the Rolling Stones and yes, another Paul McCartney tour!
6. Johnny Ramone Tribute at Hollywood Forever Cemetery: The annual August event is not really a concert, although there was a real performance. However, this one was very special because Morrissey attended the event and I had the chance to meet him and watch him watch Duff McKagan, Billie Joe Armstrong, Fred Armisen, and Steve Jones cover a few Ramones songs. The look on his face was priceless, and Linda Ramone couldn’t have been more proud.
5. LCD Soundsystem and Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the Hollywood Bowl: It was almost an all-day event for me because I had a pit ticket and wanted to be front row,… In the end, it was so magic that I have a hard time to go back to the bowl with a nosebleed bench ticket. The two bands unleashed very different energies, Karen O was her usual physical beast whipping the stage with the cord of the mic, while James Murphy was dancing himself clean under the giant disco ball. A classic combination for a long night, which started perfectly with openers Young Fathers.
4. Arroyo Seco Weekend in June: Now that the FYF Fest has disappeared, I declared Arroyo Seco the best weekend of the summer, …for older people, but there’s nothing wrong with that! There were a plethora of rock stars, from Neil Young to Robert Plant, from Jake White to the Pretenders, from Kamasi Washington to Alanis Morisette, I could not keep up and I am still in awe with this giant weekend.
3. Thom Yorke at the Orpheum: It just happened a few days ago, and Thom reunited the Atoms For Peace band with Nigel Godrich, Flea, Joey Waronker for the greatest joy of all fans. I personally think the center of attraction was the stunning visuals by Tarik Barri, propelling the music to a vortex of sensations. Sure it wasn’t a Radiohead show, but it was something else, a personal and ethereal vision of sounds and colors.
2. David Byrne at the Shrine Auditorium in August: It was the most flawless and immaculate show of the year, with a clean, wireless stage, and a constant movement of the musicians with floating instruments. It was another very Byrne vision, futuristic and poetic, bold and close to perfection, despite the apparent chaos of the choreography.
1. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at the Forum in October: I had to put this one number one, because it was an exceptional, restless, badass performance of a man at the top of his form, but it was also a very spiritual experience for all these devoted fans trying to reach the man’s hand, arm, leg. I remember him landing flat on his knees several times during a stage tempest, Warren’s violin was flying in the air, and Nick was jumping the pit with a grace out of this world. I plainly understood the cut of Nick Cave this year.
“All Night Parking” is so great it causes us to overestimate the album
This ain’t rap music, this straight literature
“an anthem for all the ones that have experienced getting manipulated,”
An abysmal top ten as we reach for the end of the year
a smooth and cagey sound
Azealia Banks has two nights at The Novo
lost all working class crdentials
a unique setting for both icons and new discoveries
SZA’s best since 2017