Thursday, January 13, 2011

Top 10 Live Shows of 2010

I've been working on this one for quite awhile, but here it is - at long last. My choices for the official Top 10 Live Shows of 2010 Awards. Winners!!

1. PONG Escobarb fiesta!!
Sat, Mar 6 - Record release show - Continental Club [Austin]
Fri, Apr 2 - In-store event - Cactus Records, 5:30-6:30pm
Fri, Apr 2 - Headline gig - Super Happy Fun Land [Houston]

"Laika" live at Nomad Sound, 2009

Not too surprising. Great live band, releasing a great new album (#3 of 2010). Plus, Pocket Fishrmen opened the record release party. One of Pong's guitarists played bass for them, and I saw them open a Butthole Surfers show - '90 or '91, also with Ed Hall, if I remember correctly. They were great, as was Pong - now with a 2nd new member added. More vocals, and female! Then a month later, they were touring and came through Houston on the way to New Orleans. We scored a bonus in-store at Cactus Records, which sounded excellent and was awesome fun (including new unreleased song "Fish Sauce"). Leading up to the all-out show at SHFL's new weirdhouse locale (including personal fave "Click O.K."). Unfortunately, I missed more Pong shows this year than I saw (no Louisiana, no Zombie Ball, no NYE) - but they were great ones nonetheless!

2. Ween over Texas!
Fri, Aug 27 - House of Blues [Dallas]
Sat, Aug 28 - Stubb's [Austin]

"Let's Dance" from House of Blues, 8/27

With Ween, setlists are a big thing for me, because generally the performance is going to be reliably top-notch. The pro's here: awesome songs. The con's: too much overlap for back-to-back Texas shows. Dallas setlist kicked off with "Pork Roll Egg & Cheese," and included "Did You See Me?" An old-school three-way of "Tick," "Wayne's Pet Youngin'," and "Sketches of Winkle!" And semi-rarities "What Deaner Was Talking About," "Polka Dot Tail," "Touch My Tooter," and "Homo Rainbow" (which I think was my first time seeing). Also, David Bowie's "Let's Dance," which was new for this tour... The Stubb's setlist has "Baby Bitch" and "Piss Up a Rope" - always fun to see. "Stroker Ace" and "Booze Me Up and Get Me High" practically guarantee a party. The "Voodoo Lady" epic broke down into Prince's "Kiss" and went back out. Local soulster Sarah Jones sang "Freedom of '76," which was out of Gener's range from the beginning. "The Golden Eel," "Mutilated Lips" and the title track from the awesome Mollusk are no guarantees. They did Bowie again, and encored triumphantly with "Fiesta," awesome song "Sorry Charlie," CSN&Y's "Ohio," and crowd favorite "Roses Are Free" (for the wooks). Both shows replayed a lot of great songs like "Gabrielle" and "Buckingham Green" - and the Meat Puppets opened both shows! It was awesome.

3. Butthole Surfers play Locust Abortion Technician!!
Fri, Oct 29 - Scoot Inn [Austin]

"Graveyard" at Scoot Inn, 10/29

1987 is the next upcoming 20th century Top 10 list, and Locust Abo. is certain to rank pretty high. The evening gets pretty murky later on, but the performing of the album and the early second set were enough to go on. The last few years have been better for Buttholes shows than several before that. In addition to more regular playing, it comes back to setlists. Most recently, they seem to be playing the quality songs from throughout their history. The few years prior to that focused more on early material (pre-Locust), and before that was focused on more recent stuff (post-pioughd). Anyway, the tunes were there, the band seemed into it and on top. O yeah, and here's "Human Cannonball" too!

4. Project Grimm reunites!
Sun, Dec 26 - Rudyard's [Houston]

"Melville" at Rudyard's, 12/26

This one snuck up on me. I just happened to see Project Grimm listed on Rudyard's ad in the local free weekly. Wow! I really dug them back in the day, naming their debut Lying Down as the #4 Album of 1996. I've never been able to find their 2nd (and last) album, but I was able to get it at the show. They kicked off the show like this: "Delivery Man's Threat / Through the Day." They played "Chrysanthemum Tea" of course. Even for bands that I really like (like Ween or Project Grimm), it's always cool to see a good band play a cool cover. One song was intro'ed with a section of "Cinnamon Girl." For someone's birthday (who apparently wasn't there), they covered The Judys' "Man on a Window Ledge" - quite a shock! And finally, they encored with the cover I remember them playing way back, the Beatles' "I Want You (She's So Heavy)." Great show all around! Here are some tunes from their rehearsals: "Durian" and "Realized." Clouded also reunited to open. There's a family connection between the bands, but I just don't remember ever going to see them.

5. Roky Erickson II
Wed, Feb 24 - Continental Club [Houston]

"Creature With The Atom Brain" at the Continental Club-Houston, 2/24

Not so much supporting the new album (#26 of 2010), Roky made it back to Houston. Last year, I finally got to see him live for the first time ever (#1 Live Show). If anything, the band was looser - and added a 2nd Elevators tune to "You're Gonna Miss Me." So awesome, but probably nothing will top that first show. Chase Hamblin opened this one.

6. Black Mountain "Dropout Boogie" tour
Wed, Nov 17 - Warehouse Live

"Wucan" at the Kessler Theater-Dallas, 11/20

This post is taking me way too long, so abbreviated summaries ahead...

Double bill! With Black Mountain touring their new one, Wilderness Heart (#17 of this year). They were spectacular, and the back room's sound was the best I've heard. Much more than expected from In the Future (#10, 2008), and an awesome "Druganaut!" The Black Angels (from Austin) headlined the shows in Texas, supporting Phosphene Dream (#32 of 2010). I like the band, but they should've gone first... Here's another BM song from Dallas: "Buried by the Blues."

7. Linus Pauling Quartet
Sat, Oct 23 - Record release - Khon's rooftop parking [Houston]
Sat, Dec 19 - Girls Rock Band Camp benefit - Rudyard's [Houston]

"Monster" plus others, live at Terrastock 7 (Louisville, KY), June 2008

I enjoy seeing LP4 rock out, and was bummed to miss the 7" release show with ST-37. Khon's rooftop venue featured as many from next year's record as from Horns of Ammon (#14 album of 2010), but did include an epic "HAWG!!" as an encore. The Mathletes opened this one. Home again at Rudz, the benefit show explicitly previewed the upcoming Bag of Hammers material. Expect some heavy stoner nerdcore with titles like "Crom," "Saving Throw," "Homonculus," "Star Chimp," and (finally) "StoneBringer"... "Bongfire" as encore! Omotai and Anarchitex opened that one, both were extra cool too.

8. Flaming Lips & a few others @ FreePress SummerFest
June 5 & 6 - - Eleanor Tinsley Park

"Do You Realize??" by Flaming Lips, at FreePressSummerFest, 6/6

Unbelieveably, the Flaming Lips had not played Houston since supporting Beck in 2002. Here's how they returned: "Intro/Worm Mountain." Unfortunately, no huge surprises from the Lips. Mostly ongoing live standards and songs from the most recent Embryonic (#13 Non-Metal of 2009). At least most of the newer tunes were ones I liked the most, except for "I Can Be A Frog." They also played an especially rocked-out version of "Powerless." I still have yet to see most of the older stuff that's been revitalized ("Love Yer Brain", "Mountain Side")... and not even any DSOTM covers! But it was great to see them here, especially when they cancelled a few festival shows immediately prior. Due to the ridiculous weather, I didn't see too many other acts. Golden Axe and The Entrance Band were the best of what I caught.

9. Amandla
Sun, Sep 5 - Rudyard's

"Jesus & Tequila" at Lakeside Lounge (NYC), July 2010

Like I mentioned about covers... That one's the Minutemen, and here's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (maybe at Maxwell's on Main, Doylestown, PA - May 2010?). Neither song played at the Houston show. The cover they did at Rudyard's was EODM's "I Got a Feelin (Just Nineteen)" - which was very cool. At any rate, this was a tasty show - with Claude Coleman, Jr. (drums, Ween) much better on the guitar and vox and songwriting than I'd expected. The whole trio was really on, and they seemed like very good dudes.

10. Mono
Thu, Jun 10 - Rudyard's

"The Kidnapper Bell" at Rudyard's, 6/10 (???)

Looks kinda like Rudyard's, or maybe it's just the YouTube comment: "wow what a horribly rude crowd." Still not as bad as last year at Walter's (#7 Live Show, 2009). Openers The Twilight Sad was so offputting that I came home and considered not returning. But fortunately did, and walked in to the opening strains of first song "Ashes in the Snow." Lucky! The show ended up being really excellent, and though late and tired and alone, I actually made it all the way through the end. Score.

Butthole Surfers
This was a good chunk of the shows I saw this year - hope to see more in 2011. Also worth noting were... Finally seeing Exterminating Angels live (on Halloween in Austin)! Joe 'King' Carrasco at Discovery Green! A couple of Wild Moccasins gigs - record release with Giant Princess and Roky Moon + Bolt! NYE with Golden Axe and Hamamatsu Tom! Post-Ween freshmillions surprise at The Mohawk! And High on Fire was good live, but I regret missing Bison B.C...

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