By some happy (or unhappy, depending on your perspective) miracle, tonight I’ll attend a concert for the first time in 2008.
I say happy because I spent way, way too much on concert tickets in 2007. (Despite my list-making tendencies, and my memory for ridiculous details, I have refused to add up just how much I spent. Which probably tells me everything I need to know.) I can’t say I plan to spend any less in 2008; I certainly won’t if there’s as many great shows coming through town as there were last year. But last year, I also had to cut myself off in early November. Enough is enough, even when your favorite band is playing their final two shows, ever, only three hours away from you.
(Leave me alone. I wanted to go. They were both on weeknights, and I saw them here just two weeks earlier.)
So tonight begins the year in music, a new list I would be quickly adding to Wednesday had I bought Band of Horses tickets in time. (I’m still mad at myself for that one.) Next week, the Indigo Girls. Next month? Well, let’s just say that 2008 could quickly rival my spending total for 2007.
Top five concerts I’ve ever attended (in no particular order):
Nickel Creek, Auburn University, April 2003
This was my first Nickel Creek show (I think I wrapped up with show nine or 10 last year), and the magic was almost unparalleled by each subsequent show. (You’ll see why I say almost.) Outdoor concerts are my very favorite, even if they’re held on Auburn’s campus. The weather was perfect and I was within five or ten feet of the stage. Never mind that I drove from Auburn straight to Tallahassee. Never mind that I didn’t leave Auburn (and the bus-side after show) until well after midnight. Never mind that I found myself wrapped in the arms of Aubie the Tiger. It was worth every second.
Counting Crows, Oak Mountain Ampitheatre, September 2006
Some bands are so amazing live that I’m compelled to see them again and again. (See previous concert.) Others are so amazing that I can never see them again. Everything was right when the Counting Crows came to town. It was early September, but the temperature dropped into the high 60s that night. I met up with a dear friend at our coffee shop beforehand, and we kept up the banter all night. Adam Duritz was in a strangely good mood, and so I was I. It’s hard to listen to the band now without remembering how perfect the evening was–not that I’m complaining.
Chris Thile and the How to Grow a Band, WorkPlay Theatre, May 2007
I was devestated when I heard that Nickel Creek was breaking up–until I saw Chris play with his new band. The group, now calling themselves the Punch Brothers, played on Chris’s last album. As they played those tunes at WorkPlay, they brought back the magic I worried Nickel Creek had lost. As talented as Sean and Sara Watkins are, Chris has always been the stand-out of the group. Not so anymore. Look for the Punch Brothers’ debut CD, Punch, on Feb. 26. (It is amazing, but I’ll warn you now–it’s also insanely depressing and emotionally exhausting.)
Josh Ritter and Jamie Cullum, Alabama Theatre, October 2006
This show came in the middle of a week of concerts; it kicked off with John Mayer on Monday, then these guys on Wednesday and Chris Thile on Sunday. All three shows were amazing, but somehow Josh and Jamie stood above the other acts. (That’s saying a lot! Johnny and Chris are two of my favorites.) These guys are fantastic performers, and everything’s better inside the Alabama Theatre.
Nickel Creek and Fiona Apple, Central Park, August 2007
I was nervous about this show; I’d heard negative reports from Nickel Creek concerts all year. Something was lacking, and friends reported that the band’s upcoming hiatus was well-needed. But combining their talents with Fiona Apple brought the Creek back to life. The show was a blend of their songs and Fiona’s; when she was on stage, they served as her backing band. The crowd wasn’t great (more Fiona fans than Nickel Creek, and they let that be known), but the music and enthusiasm catapulted this concert into the top five, instantly.
Right now, there’s only one show on my calendar that I expect to challenge these for the top spots. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss come to town on April 26.