Wednesday, December 27, 2023

best of 2023, pt. 4: 15 best live shows

[This is part 4 of 5 of the DFSBP 2023 rundown; find the other parts here.]

15 great live shows:

For these, where applicable, I'm linking night-of/morning-after commentary/documentation in lieu of fresh commentary, as my memory is not what it used to be! (Note: I've omitted any gigs mentioned in passing in the companion album survey.)

David Murray Quartet with Marta Sanchez, Luke Stewart and Kassa Overall @ Village Vanguard (Jan. 19)

Ron Carter Foursight Quartet with Jimmy Greene, Renee Rosnes and Payton Crossley @ Blue Note (Jan. 24)

Everyone Asked About You @ Numero Twenty fest; Palace Theatre, L.A. (Feb. 20)

Loved catching all the heavy hitters and old faves at this fest, including the outstanding Rex and Karate, who I'd seen in more intimate confines the prior year, the explosive Unwound and the splendidly grooving Ui, but honestly EAAY, a recently reunited quartet from Little Rock, Arkansas, came along and stole the show with their ragged, bittersweet, heart-rendingly emotive sound. This was really magical to witness and I became an instant convert. See them live if at all possible and check out the Numero discography release. (This Washed Up Emo podcast episode is a great companion listen.)

Afterbirth + Thaetas @ Amityville Music Hall (March 3)

A knockout bill of futuristic death metal. Two tremendous live bands that you should catch any chance you get. See also Afterbirth's bizarre, diverse and gloriously unfettered new opus In But Not Of.

Brandee Younger Trio @ Public Records (April 7)

Pure aural luxury.

Sprain @ RecordBar; Kansas City, MO (June 14)

Punishing avant-garde extremity. Major bummer that this band decided to call it quits in 2023, shortly after unveiling their latest severe, unsparing art-rock dispatch The Lamb as Effigy

Misfits @ Prudential Center (July 8)
One of the great rock songbooks, blown up to arena size. Glenn's pipes are once again in top form after a few iffy years. 

Bill Frisell with Greg Tardy, Gerald Clayton and Johnathan Blake @ Vanguard  (Aug. 11)

Shakti @ Capitol Theater; Port Chester, NY (Aug. 19) 

Joe Lovano's Trio Tapestry with Marilyn Crispell, Carmen Castaldi @ Village Vanguard (Aug 24)

Ex Hex @ Colony; Woodstock, NY (Sept. 5)

Fired-up rock & roll excellence from the legendary Mary Timony & Co.

Bonnie "Prince" Billy @ Tubby's; Kingston, NY (Sept. 29)

A roller-coaster opening to the fifth-anniversary festivities at Tubby's, in which Bonnie's Friday headlining appearance was initially canceled due to inclement weather. Miraculously, he pushed through, landing in NYC and making the journey up north to Kingston, arriving sometime around midnight to offer up a masterful solo acoustic set to an intimate crowd.

On the Might of Princes @ Amityville Music Hall (Sept. 30)

Messa + Maggot Heart @ Le Poisson Rouge (Oct. 17)

Trevor Watts with Jamie Harris @ Tubby's (Oct. 29)

Since moving upstate, I've been reaping the benefits of my friend Clifford Allen's excellent Hudson Valley show curation / scene cultivation via his So, What Do You Think? series. This edition with former Spontaneous Music Ensemble saxist Trevor Watts was especially cool, but I also loved the Gold Sparkle Band / Cisco Bradley edition from September. (And big congrats to Clifford as well on the 2023 publication of his excellent Matthew Shipp study, The Singularity Codex!)

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