Aftermath: Our Favorite Shows of 2011
This week we asked our pool of Rocks Off writers what their favorite shows of 2011 were, the ones that brought joy to their hearts to attend and helped them make magic with a keyboard hours later. Hopefully delivered to us editors on time. Ahem.
Photo By Craig Hlavaty Rex's War Face: The crowd's at June's Free Press Summer Fest were feral and friendly.
Our team was busy this year, friends, and in 2011 you got to know plenty of new names and bylines, each with unique voices that Rocks Off had been lacking in the past, with double-threats coming to the forefront again, doing double-duty, shooting and writing about shows.
2012 promises even more awesomeness, with the return of music editor Chris Gray, and the ensuing battle between he and I to figure out which one of us will cover the rumored Beach Boys and Rolling Stones dates coming through town.
The orchestra was at turns this big glowing thing onstage, whipping out insane textures onto the audience, and Peter Gabriel gave it room, sometimes dropping from view to showcase them. We know that orchestras are made multiple parts that work like a machine in ways we can't fathom. Needless to say we're not good at describing them, we just know that when we hear them live, great ones, that they can have a psychical effect on your body, which we very much felt.
Photo by Jay Lee Peter Gabriel
If the idea of a Gabriel show with no guitars or drums bothers you, then you haven't been paying attention to his career from Genesis on. He's never done anything per the unwritten rules of rock, and he's not going to at age 61. He doesn't owe that to you. Yeah, he's paying for an '80s pop period that lame folks don't want to shake, but Gabriel has a lot more to offer than 40 nights of "Ya remember this ditty from 1986?"
Dwight Yoakam and his band gave no quarter, revving up the cougars and MILFs in the crowd, who are still brought to their Pilates-toned knees but the man's trademark painted-on jeans and customary cowboy head-cover. The only thing their men in the crowd could do was hold their purses and hope for a physical release of their pent-up, base frustration later in the evening as their dates/significant others went into hysterics every time Dwight swiveled his hips.
"Fast As You" and set closer "Long White Cadillac" rumbled and throttled the crowd like any - dear God, are we about to say this? - Motorhead show we have seen. We saw Houston Police officers inch up closer to the revolving stage to get in between Yoakam and his adoring females. Or maybe they too just wanted to get a better look at what a 54-year-old having the time of his life looks like. -- Craig Hlavaty
The seemingly simple task of rounding up our two favorite shows from the past year proved to be a daunting feat, as, refreshingly, 2011 was a solid year in music releases and touring. The Meat Puppets' October show at Ftizgerald's surely makes the cut -- it was two hours' worth of poignant, raw rock 'n roll.
On the farthest end of the spectrum from the Meat Puppets, I sifted through my remaining, predictable yet deserving list of my other favorite shows -- a list including Beirut, St. Vincent, Andy Bell, and Robyn -- and decided on June's New Kids on the Block show. I waited 20+ years to hear Joey McIntyre sing "Please Don't Go Girl;" I, unapologetically, had a blast at that show -- and have the fan-girl cell phone videos to prove it. -- Neph Basedow
A perfect blend of rock jams, love songs, and revolution, this Mexican rock en Español band Maná hosted two awesome sold out shows at Toyota Center. The group released their eighth studio album Drama y Luz earlier in the year. The name translates into "Drama and Light," a near perfect description of their catalog. The show offered new hits "Lluvia Al Corazon" and "Amor Clandestino," as well as their classics "Oye Mi Amor," "Vivir Sin Aire" and "En El Muelle de San Blas." The lead singer Fher Olvera recently turned 52 years old, which is hard to believe considering all the "moves like Jagger" he displayed for his loyal, adoring fans.
Photo by Marco Torres Jay-Z at the Toyota Center
Jay-Z is the greatest rapper alive, maybe of all time, and Kanye West is equally iconic as a producer/rapper/personality. Even knowing beforehand that "Niggas In Paris" was going to be the closing track, and that it would be repeated multiple times, it still managed to "get the people going." The big brother/little brother dynamic felt genuine, with each performer playing the part of cheerleader when the other ventured into his solo set. The energy of the sold out crowd, which included the Houston Texans defensive line and their star running back Arian Foster near the front row, was the most electric and loudest bunch of music fans we have ever experienced at a concert, rap show or otherwise. -- Marco Torres