As I think back on the concerts I went to this year, a few moments stick out to me more than others. I think of the moments when my friends and I were completely captured by bands, carelessly dancing and singing along, moments when the musicians cast a spell on the whole audience and left everyone in awe, moments when no one in the audience said a word but attentively watched, moments when I was moved to tears. I think of the moments when the music united everyone, and everything else in life melted away.
Here are a few samples of those moments. In no particular order, I present my favorite performances of 2012.
(Note: These are all videos I found on youtube. I didn’t create any of them. I couldn’t include everything I wanted because I couldn’t find some performances online.)
1. Stevie Wonder at Outside Lands Music Festival in San Francisco
I hate to sound cliche, but seeing Stevie Wonder perform live was literally a dream come true. I didn’t get to see his whole performance because I was working, but I was able to catch his last song. Because we couldn’t manage our way through the crowd to clean-up, all my friends and I were able to take a quick break to share the joy of the show. I’ll remember this moment for a long time.
2. The last song at the Love for Levon concert
Speaking of dreams coming true, this one tops all others. The Love for Levon concert was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. It was a tribute concert for the late, great drummer Levon Helm who died earlier this year. I’ve never seen so many living legends at the same place before. Gregg Allman, Roger Waters, Bruce Hornsby, Mavis Staples, John Prine, Joan Osborne, John Hiatt, Jorma Kaukonen, Garth Hudson and on and on and on. For the last song, the entire cast gathered on stage to sing, “The Weight.”
3. Mumford & Sons and friends at the Gentlemen of the Road Portland Stopover Tour
This whole concert was absolutely incredible. Mumford & Sons always leave me in awe when I see them live. Here’s another encore that paid tribute to Levon Helm. There’s just something so pure and magnetic about the energy that’s created when tons of musicians perform on stage at once.
4.Roger Waters and My Morning Jacket at the Love for Levon show
So on point.
5. Grace Potter covering Bob Dylan at the Love for Levon show
Too much talent there that night. I love Grace Potter and this is one of my all-time favorite songs.
6. He’s My Brother She’s My Sister at the 9:30 Club in D.C.
I wasn’t at this performance (the one in the video), but I couldn’t find any live videos from the performance I was at. HMBSMS performed at one of the first shows I saw in 2012, and I’ve been addicted to them since. This video gives you a glimpse of their foot-stomping, hand-clapping energy.
7. Radiohead at Bonnaroo Music Festival
My favorite performance of Bonnaroo. They had such a cool stage setup.
8. Mergence at Apache Lake Music Festival
I wasn’t at the concert in the video, but I couldn’t find any videos of Mergence from Apache Lake Music Festival and I had to include them. They closed the main stage of the festival, and their whole performance was one of my favorites of this year. When I mentioned performances that completely captured the crowd, I was thinking of Mergence’s performance at Apache Lake. The whole crowd cheered them back on stage for an encore. It’s fair to say that almost everyone was singing along and going crazy when they played “Dynamite & Kerosene.”
9. Delta Spirit at Webster Hall
This whole performance was very solid. Lots of high energy and the crowd was into it the whole time.
10. Ludacris at Bonnaroo Music Festival
I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a huge Luda fan. When rap was my genre of choice in middle school, Luda was one of the kings. At Bonnaroo all my friends and I watched Luda from the grass, outside of the tent. This performance is partly included because of the fun we had. It was the first show of Bonnaroo where we were all together, just being silly and singing along. I left the show to watch Dawes, but I heard Luda singing this, I started cracking up, and I had to run back.
11. Taking Back Sunday at Terminal 5
One of my favorite concerts of the year. You can find out why by reading my blog post about it here.
Favorite performances that I couldn’t find videos of:
-All of GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance in Trumansburg (Highlights: Thomas Mapfumo & the Blacks Unlimited, Preston Frank & his Zydeco Family Band, Donna the Buffalo, Sim Redmond Band, The Campbell Brothers, The Makepeace Brothers, Driftwood.)
-Soul Train Revival at the Boom Boom Room in San Francisco
-Son Boom at Evolve Music Festival in NJ
-Phish in Atlantic City
-And I can’t forget the way I rang in 2012: Dark Star Orchestra at Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, NJ.