Thursday, December 27, 2018

Best of 2018: Live

Frank Mullen of Suffocation performs at Gramercy, November 2018.
Suffocation's Frank Mullen. Photo: Ignacio Orellana Alarcon

Some great shows I saw this year:

Dan Weiss / Starebaby
Jan 5, 6 @ the Stone; Jan 13 @ Winter Jazzfest; April 1 at Nublu 151

Demilich + Blood Incantation 
May 4 @ Saint Vitus
At long last. Worth the wait in every way. The openers, a band who hadn't quite clicked with me on record, were pulverizing and awe-inspiring.

Defeated Sanity + Behold... the Arctopus
May 23 @ Saint Vitus
This show was utter mayhem. Defeated Sanity are at the forefront of contemporary prog-meets-caveman death-metal insanity and I have a feeling whatever they release next is going to be a new benchmark in the genre. Behold played their most avant-garde music to date.

The Bad Plus
May 31 @ Blue Note; November 8 @ Village Vanguard
The highest compliment I can pay the new lineup is that these shows were as exuberant and dialed-in as any other TBP gigs I've caught over the years.

40 Watt Sun
June 16 @ Saint Vitus
DFSBP thoughts.

This Is Not This Heat
July 23 @ Pioneer Works
A band I never thought I'd get to see, in any incarnation. They managed to retain both the mystery and the brutality that made the original lineup so great.

Alan Braufman, Cooper-Moore, Ken Filiano, Andrew Drury
BarrSheaDahl 10th anniversary

August 1 @ Greene Space, Market Hotel, respectively
Dual DFSBP write-up.

Newport Jazz Fest
August 3–5

King's X
August 22 @Sony Hall
Such a warm, communal vibe. Humble masters with an enormous catalog that I really got lost in this year. King's X are one of a kind and should not be taken for granted.

Killing Joke 
September 12 @ Irving Plaza

September 14 @ Brooklyn Bazaar

Robert Glasper, Derrick Hodge, Chris Dave
October 7 @ Blue Note
The most state-of-the-art grooves imaginable. Chris Dave, dear God...

Bonnie "Prince" Billy
October 11 at Murmrr Theater
The most "scripted" show I've seen him do to date, and one of the most joyous too. Speaking to Will at length was a highlight of my year.

October 26 @ Irving Plaza

Suffocation + Krisiun
November 16 @ Gramercy Theatre

Makaya McCraven
December 2 @ LPR

Flying Luttenbachers + Reg Bloor / Marc Edwards + Opening Bell w/ Tamio Shiraishi and Rob Mayson
December 7 @ Ceremony
New Luttenbachers were everything a fan might hope for. Rest of the night (that I caught) was a deafening brain-scramble. Loved catching Tamio twice in close proximity.

Esperanza Spalding
December 12 @ Town Hall
A multimedia, genre-transcending tour de force.

Stinking Lizaveta + Azonic
December 17 @ Saint Vitus
I only recently fully grasped how outstanding this veteran band really is. In terms of a grit vs. precision rock-music Venn diagram, they're among the most skilled practitioners on Earth. Buy all their albums. Nice spirit-massage from the openers too.

Clutch + The Messthetics
December 28 @ The Starland Ballroom
Back for more Clutch! There's been a good amount of Fugazi satellite activity going down in recent months, most notably the emergence of the Messthetics. A very cool band on record — call it the post-hardcore version of fusion — that delivered scrappy, undiluted intensity live. I'm really excited to hear where they go next.

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