Best Concert Moments of 2010: How Live Music Changed Our Lives

B.O.B. at Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago

Before we dive into a new year of concert adventures, let’s see what live music moments mattered the most. Let’s discover how the live concert experience changed our lives in 2010.

As I look back at 2010, I’m amazed at all the things I experienced at  Every Drop Counts Haiti Benefit, St. Vincent, Tim Fite, Phish 3D, Grinderman, Jakob Dylan, Ra Ra Riot, Chicago Blues Festival, Gayngs, LCD Sound System and angry Pavement fans at Pitchfork, Arcade Fire at Lollapalooza and Rock N Roll Fantasy Camp.

And as I think about all those concert adventures, I’m reminded how much they impacted, influenced and helped me cope with life over the last 365 days.

That said, this 2010 Best Concert Moments list is a very personal account of the concerts that mattered the most to me.

Honest Lists Only Please.

The reason I love year-end lists (the honest ones at least), is because when the list is true and genuine, it can tell a profound personal story that chronicles that fan’s emotional journey as they traveled through their life experiences.

All this said, I’ll be completely honest with you and tell you that my 2010 Best Concert Moments revealed a lot to me.

I learned that I not only had lots of fun at shows in 2010, but that live music played a profound role in my life at the show and beyond.

A Theme Emerged, An Emotional Story Was Told

As I put this post together I expected to discover a theme, but as I compiled my list I was amazed at the depth of which all my concert  experience were influenced by the year-long struggle to cope with the death of my dad.

As I shared with you earlier in my Neil Diamond tribute to him, my dad was diagnosed with dementia and his health began to rapidly decline and take a downward spiral in January.

And throughout the rest of year, whether it was big or small, the emotional experience I went through was exhausting until his death in August. And since then my grief process, as expected, has presented new challenges and discoveries.

LCD Sound System @ Pitchfork Music Festival 2010
LCD Sound System @ Pitchfork Music Festival

So when I think about my favorite 2010 concert experiences is the context of my year-long grief and mourning experience, I’m amazed at the impact that my grief and mourning had on my concert experiences, both as a fan and in the way I wrote my reviews.

And the part that amazes me the most is how emotionally dynamic each concert adventures was. Sometimes the concert forced me to face things I didn’t want to and other times the concert gave me a cathartic release I didn’t expect to receive or experience.

The Truth About Live Music

Like our exploration in to grief, joy and community live music, throughout 2010 I continued to discover the truth that live music is more than just an escape.

The live music experience is also a place where you can cope, heal, find refuge and receive encouragement. You can go looking for all those things or you can be completely surprised by them.

It’s also amazing to think how you can go to a show with a master plan to escape your life’s struggles for a couple hours, and as concert unfolds, the musical and sociological experience can transform your concert moment in to a dynamic and profound emotional environment that changes your life forever.

And that’s the reason why as concert fans and concert reviewers, we often use words and phrases like “amazing” ,”that show rocked”, “changed my life” to describe how we felt during the show.

Are all concert fans consciously aware of this process? Probably not. Do you have to aware of it to benefit from it? No.

But from personal experience (as you’ll see below) and from talking with other concert fans, I will tell you that those concert fans who are aware of there emotions during the show do tend to get more out of the show, and as a result, the concert tends to be more memorable and “life-changing” for them than it is for those concert fans who just go to escape and never choose to engage with or explore what they felt during the show.

Will You Engage Or Just Escape?

That’s a question I’ll be asking myself with each concert I go to in 2011. And I hope you will too.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

But before we head into 2011, let’s take a look at that list I promised you.

The Best Concerts of 2010

I thank you for following along thus far and without further ado, I share with you my list of best concerts of 2010. This list is not in any order and I hope you enjoy it. And be sure to check out the questions at the end.

Ra Ra Riot Rushes The Heart At Metro

Knowing the inspiration for much of Ra Ra Riot‘s music, which beautifully and poetically explores loss, death and grief, this show nearly brought me to tears as I was moved emotionally right from the start as the band traversed through a gorgeously lush and rhythmically stirring set of  indie-rock, afro-pop and orch-pop.

LCD Sound System Busts Out the Massive Dance Party at Pitchfork

Like I said, live music is complex and dynamic. And it only takes a second to put the  smile back on my face as I think back to transcendent release of joy and the massive twenty-thousand person dance party that broke out during LCD Sound System set at Pitchfork.

It felt real good to let loose and get goofy at that show. God knows I sure needed it at that moment. And if you were at Pitchfork, it was a blast to share the moment with you.

Arcade Fire  Unleashes Joy, Pain and Sorrow at Lolla

I will always remember The Arcade Fire’s set at Lollapalooza as Win Butler led the band through tracks from their excellent new album The Suburbs and their debut album Funeral.

For me, the Arcade Fire is on a very short list of bands today that can create an live show atmosphere where fans can collectively experience the cathartic release of joy, pain and sorrow in a way that’s genuine, true, universal but still completely personal.

Ganygs Slow-Burns Metro To The Ground While Lifting Us Up

Looking back at 2010, I will always remember the sublime brotherly moment of solidarity I had at the Metro with my brother Ken as we enjoyed a slow-burning and sanctifying set courtesy of the indie- and auto-tune-rocking soul-funk collective Gaygns. Their Relayted album was one of my favorites all year and sharing the live show

It was Ken’s first time seeing a show at the legendary Chicago venue, and it was special because we both experienced the show together as we journeyed through the emotional loss in the wake of our dad’s passing, just a few weeks earlier.

Grinderman Rocks Primal at the Riviera

On the more aggressive and primal side of the emotional spectrum, parts of me are still trembling from the Dexter-like moment that I shared with my fellow Grinderman fans.  This show had it all and blew my mind.  And we certainly explore the connection guys have with experiencing Nick Cave  and the Bad Seeds live in a

Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros Soar Euphoric at Congress Theater

I wrapped up the year with an unexpected euphoric emotional epiphany, an awkward female-fan-grabbing moment and strange stages during Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at the Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival.  A righteous final chapter to another fun year of shows!

Wrecking Ball Punk Fest

To wrap up this post, here’s a complete list of all our concert stories that made 2010 another excellent year.

Best Concert Moments of 2010: The Complete Story

What Shows Made Your Best of 2010 Lists ?

What emotional discoveries did you have during your 2010 concert adventures? What live music moments mattered the most to you?

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