My Life In Concerts
Ivan from Noteworthy here once again (Mondays, 6PM-8PM). In my first post, I gave a rundown as to why I do my show and how big of a music fan I am. This time around, I thought I’d share with you what the shoebox of a frequent concertgoer looks like (or at least a hoarder in the making). The live experience of music has brought me many great memories and it’s something that I try to encourage everyone to do. My main motivation for going to a show is knowing that there are moments that will never be recreated again and if I love an artist enough, I owe it to myself to see them apply their craft and talent in person. As you can see, it’s something that I’ve done time and time again. These are just a few I’ll talk about today.
LCD Soundsystem & M.I.A./May 19, 2005/Metro
I remember being more excited to see M.I.A. because Arular was such a terrific album and “Galang” and “Sun Showers” were in heavy rotation for me the year before. I didn’t become much of a LCD Soundsystem fan until their second album, even though I did appreciate the singles from their debut. They actually ended up being the highlight of the night, with renditions of “Yeah” and “Movement” that were mechanically locked in groove and nearly melted everyone’s faces with how blazing they were. Secondary highlight: that moment I swear where me and M.I.A. made deep eye contact as she popped her hips hard during “Hombre.”
A Tribe Called Quest/September 15, 2006/Congress Theater
Another one of my motivations for getting off my butt to go see live music is that I may never see certain acts perform again. Even back in 2006, there was really no sign of A Tribe Called Quest getting together to make new music again and given their sporadic reunions and that it had been so long since The Love Movement was released, I knew this would be one of my only chances. As it turned out, their last live show in the Chicago area was in 2008 during the Rock The Bells tour, so I consider myself lucky and privileged to have seen one of the greatest hip hop acts ever perform. It was pretty much a dream setlist composed mostly of some of the best tracks from The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders.
Pitchfork Music Festival/July 19, 2008/Union Park
Lollapalooza has always been a higher priority for me when it comes to summer festivals, but as far as ticket value and the ratio of quality bands, Pitchfork really is tops in Chicago. I have to question my sanity sometimes because I always make sure I get a 3-day pass for Lolla (it’s the epic nature of it, I suppose) and if I can, maybe go a day or two to Pitchfork (sometimes all three depending on the headliners. I went with Saturday in 2008 because it allowed me the opportunity to see Dizzee Rascal, Jay Reatard and most importantly, Jarvis Cocker. I love Pulp and back in 2008, it didn’t seem if Jarvis Cocker and the band were getting back anytime soon, so once again, I felt that this might have been one of the few chances I had to see him. He didn’t perform any Pulp songs, which was fine since his solo album had enough good songs on it and you still got that classic Jarvis wit. Pitchfork that year also marked the best Animal Collective show I’d been to (the two or three other times I’ve seen them have left me wanting more). Bonus points: I saw Jay Reatard again later that night at an after-party show at Bottom Lounge. He opened up for King Khan & His Shrines, who would perform that Sunday. It’s still one of the greatest concerts I’ve ever been to in my life.
Frankie Knuckles/November 27, 2013/Smartbar
One of the greatest house DJs of all-time spinning on one of the best sound systems in Chicago? Yes, please. I got quite the workout that night since his set was as great as you’d expect, but I cherish this concert more so than I do a lot of others since it was only four months later that Frankie Knuckles passed away. Knuckles helped spread the gospel of house music, a Chicago institution, across the globe and even when I saw him, he was still a master at keeping the crowd engaged. This was another one of those shows where I just felt lucky to be in the room.
Janelle Monáe/May 20, 2013/Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Want to know how important this show was to me? I didn’t do Noteworthy that week because they both fell on the same night. So far, her and Kelis are the only women I’ve chosen over my baby. If it had just been Monáe with her usual accompaniment, then I might have been able to live with not seeing her (sidenote: I’d seen her perform twice before this). But her with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra? Performing songs from The ArchAndroid and Metropolis that already had string arrangements to begin with? In the absolute best sounding music venue in the city? That’s something that would have plagued my mind till my dying days. I’ve been a fan of hers pretty much from the ground-up, so I’ll admit to getting a bit misty-eyed while I watched her perform with an orchestra, knowing that it’s been such a huge part of her vision from the very beginning. What was great was that she didn’t let the posh setting affect her energy. For example, this happened during “Q.U.E.E.N.”:
Todd Rosenberg Photography / Chicago Symphony Orchestra
If you have any memorable concert experiences, feel free to share in the comments and don’t forget to listen to Noteworthy every Monday night from 6:00-8:00.