The 5 best concerts in and around DC for 2007

Two weeks into the New Year and I have received enough emails asking ‘where the heck is your year-end best-concerts list?’ that I feel compelled to respond.

Last year was so damn busy that I only got to attend a fraction of my usual ridiculous concert quota. Added to that I saw more bands outside of the area than ever before (as my love affairs with the Chicago music scene and the Coachella festival continues). That said I did see some damn fine shows in DC last year. Plus it is nice to know at least a few people missed my list.

So back by popular demand here is an abbreviated list of the best live sets that I had the pleasure of enjoying in and around DC in 2007.

5. Stiff Little Fingers @ The Black Cat : Celebrating the band’s 30th anniversary the Irish punk godfathers treated DC to a reunion of the surviving original members and a blistering beginning-to-end run through of their classic debut, Inflammable Material. For the rest of the set they ripped through most of their second album, played a tribute to Joe Strummer, and introduced us to a politically-charged new song ‘The Liars Club’. The performance proved the timelessness of SLF’s music, energy, and heart (a fact reflected by the huge age range in the passionate, sing-along crowd).

4. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club @ The 930 Club : These guys have made my year-end lists twice before (once at the top). While I think their 2004 Recher Theater set is the gold standard – they never cease to amaze me each time they come to town. Every one of their shows gives us seemingly vital rearrangments of their material and the Spring ’07 show was the most endurance-testing, rock-n-roll display I’ve seen them put on yet. Riding in high off their latest album, Baby 81, the band tore through an amazingly powerful set, and then returned for an encore that was as long as the concert-proper. It was a die-hard BRMC fan’s dream come true as the two-and-a-half hour set included what seemed like their entire catalog. Playing way past the 930 Club’s usual closedown, BRMC treated DC to a late-night marathon that reminded us all of rock-n-roll’s rule-breaking, ass-kicking origins.

3. The Stooges @ 930 Club : Speaking of ass-kicking origins. Iggy and the Stooges graced DC with their troglodyte presence last year with a performance that not only showed what an A-list front-man Iggy Pop is and always will be, but also erased the footnote unimportance of their new album by focusing on brain-melting renditions of their classic catalog. Running through most of Funhouse in its entirety with more passion, energy, and insanity than most younger bands ever bother to muster, the Stooges cut through decades of punk cynicism like an adrenalin shot directly into the genre’s beating heart. The show got the crowd going crazy like I haven’t seen in DC since the Super-Bowl of Hardcore days. It was a madhouse crowd responding to the madman on stage performing an anything-goes set of music. Demonstrated best by the final song of the night, an amped-up repeat performance of ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ that made the night’s earlier rendition seem ancient by comparision. The Stooges live show builds like a storm-surge, performing 35-year old music that never sounds the same twice and always – always – feels so impressive in the moment that you can’t imagine there ever being anything that can top it.

2. The Good, The Bad, and The Queen @ The 930 Club : This performance by Damon Albarn’s unlikely super-group was the epitome of cool, grace, and wonderful musicianship. They decorated the 930 Club in such a way as to teleport the crowd to an alternate-universe London; the setting for Albarn’s sometimes gloomy, sometimes glib homeland narrative. Seeing former-Clash bassist Paul Simonon alone would probably have made my top 10 list for the sheer fan-boy aspect. But it is the combination of all of GBQ’s disparate elements working together so beautifully that places the show so highly. This show left me in jaw-dropped awe that what I had just witnessed really had taken place live right before my eyes. The Good, The Bad, and The Queen concert was a very rare treat that I am very happy to have attended. (Read my original review here).

1. Isis @ The 930 Club : Here I am almost nine months after this concert and I am still at a loss for words to describe how amazing it was. To put its greatness in context I could maybe approach it like this. I saw more post-rock/post-metal acts in 2007 than in any other year. I caught all the genre heavies as they came through, many of whom have made my list in year’s past. And every one of them put on an incredible show (Jesu, Mono, Red Sparrowes, EITS, etc) but none of them come close to touching this level of perfection and enjoyment. Isis have always been a great live band but the combination of their new material and the forensic precision of the 930 Club sound-system made for a fantastic musical journey that had to be experienced to come close to understanding. It was the stuff of legends and I’ll be babbling about it like some mad acolyte for years to come.

Here are the 2006, 2005, and 2004 lists.

3 Comments so far

  1. Brittany (unregistered) on January 7th, 2008 @ 3:30 pm

    My personal pick would be the reunited Dismemberment Plan shows in April. I know it sounds trite and showed up on everybody’s lists, but it was a really great experience!

  2. darpino (unregistered) on January 7th, 2008 @ 3:36 pm

    I was in California tracking down the reunited Jesus and Mary Chain during those two shows. Glad to hear DP was so good – and for a good cause too!

  3. chris (unregistered) on January 7th, 2008 @ 4:14 pm

    i couldn’t agree more with the isis show, they brought perfection.

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