With 2010 coming to a close, it's time to reflect on the cultural year that was. And while most of the MTV News staff is focused on putting the best (and not-as-good) moments, songs, albums and performances of the year in grand perspective, it's also important to take a look back at some personal highlights. That's why the MTV Newsroom Blog posed this question to a handful of staffers: What was your single favorite concert experience of 2010?
We see a lot of shows here, so a few people cheated and named more than one event. But that's OK, because the more the merrier. Check out our picks below and let us know what your favorite concert was in the comments!
It's my job to go to concerts, and this year I had the pleasure of seeing some really big stars in concert, including the Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato, Lady Gaga and even Rihanna. But the one guy I saw the most of in 2010 live was Justin Bieber. I saw him a number of times, but the best spectacle I saw all year was when he was at Madison Square Garden back in September.
The show, which he was taping for his upcoming 3-D movie, included appearances by Usher, Sean Kingston, Boyz II Men, Jaden Smith and even Miley Cyrus. There was confetti and pyro and even an airborne Bieber flying over the audience in a heart-shaped cage. Sure, I'm a bit too old to groove at a Bieber show, but seriously, some of those tunes are quite catchy.
Look, I am 32 years old. I dislike crowded rooms and loud noises and standing in one place for too long, mainly because it gives me lower back pain. (I have considered orthopedics.) Life isn't what it used to be. These days, I won't go see a band if they're on too late, or if it's too cold out, or if the club is in Manhattan and I have to kill a few hours after work. Or if it's at some firetrap in Bushwick. I realize that this has probably robbed me of several "revelatory" moments over the years, but I'm okay with that. Also, AMC just started re-airing "Breaking Bad," so I'm pretty good on revelatory at the minute.
And yet, in spite of that, there are still rare occasions when I actually make it out to a show and then that the show is actually totally amazingly great, to the point where I find myself thinking something like "I should go to shows more often, even if they're in Manhattan." Here are three of them from 2010, one of which actually took place in Manhattan, which basically proves that I'm totally full of sh--.
1) Titus Andronicus at GlassLands Gallery: This was a benefit for something, but I can't remember what. In that respect, I guess it was sort of a failure. But in terms of everything else (sonic wallop, sweaty camaraderie, sheer spectacle), it was probably the show of the year. For proof, here's five minutes of them doing "Four Score and Seven." Hear the people in the crowd singing along? I was one of them. Also, the song went on for another five minutes, and got so surging, so spastic that it heated up the room to the point where condensation was actually beading up on the back wall. I had to wipe the fog off my glasses.
2) Robyn at Music Hall of Williamsburg: I wrote about this one for MTV, but it bears mention that, months later, when I interviewed her, Robyn told me this was the best show she played all tour. Great minds think alike.
3) Pavement at Rumsey Playfield: My favorite band of all time played long and loose in the (Crooked) rain, and, if anything, the impending weather apocalypse only made the night more excellent, mostly because the band had to ditch the between-song banter and just rip through their greatest "hits." And, as a bonus, everything ended promptly at 10 p.m. (because of the curfew in Central Park), which meant I was toweled off and in bed by 11 — arguably the perfect night.
So I'm gonna go ahead and be that person who picks her four favorite concerts of 2010.
1) Hot Chip at Central Park Summerstage: Not to talk about the weather, but this was the hottest show I've ever attended.
2) Tanlines at Monster Island Basement: I danced like I was at a Bar Mitzvah that night.
3) LCD Soundsystem at Webster Hall: Their performance of "Us vs. Them" was really energetic and memorable.
4) Die Antwoord at Vice's Creator's Project: Everyone was really psyched to see what they were all about, and they didn't disappoint.
There was a time when I used to literally go out to shows five or six nights out of the week. Many of those were for bands I never cared about, and even then, I never managed to see a surprise appearance from Jeff Magnum or anything. My greatest success in that respect was catching an early set from Silversun Pickups and thinking, "These guys will probably be big."
So now I'm a lot pickier about who I see (and after years of getting on guest lists willy-nilly, I now only attend shows as a paying customer). So really, just about everything I saw this year was pretty exceptional. There was Greg Dulli's acoustic set at Bowery Ballroom, the Flaming Lips' thrilling slice of summertime psychedelia at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, Lady Gaga's savage takeover of Lollapalooza and the Hold Steady's loud shout-along at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.
But for true greatness, it's a tie between Pavement and Soundgarden. The former — another Central Park show — had the potential to be a true disaster, as a huge thunderstorm swept through Manhattan on the night of the show. But the extra electricity must have sparked something in the reunited band, as they were sharper than they have ever been, tearing through song after song as though the power of their shaggy jams could beat back nature. I got completely soaked, but I walked home extremely happy.
Then there was Soundgarden. Another reunited outfit from the '90s, Soundgarden only played four shows this year, and I managed to see exactly half of those sets, all in the same weekend. They closed out Lollapalooza with a monster set that plowed the exhausted revelers in Chicago's Grant Park into the dirt, but they also unofficially launched the festival with a show at the tiny Vic Theatre in Chicago. Like Pavement, Soundgarden eschewed gimmicks for the sake of the songs. They walked on stage as though it was no big deal, and they were dressed as though they were still in Cornell's garage in 1988. From the first notes of "Searching With My Good Eye Closed" through the powerful hits ("Pretty Noose," "Spoonman," "Black Hole Sun") and the set-closing devastator "Like Suicide," Soundgarden proved that they could still rock, and that outside of the prism of grunge, their sludgy take on classic rock holds up way better than it has any right to. Also, I was still full of tubed meat from Hot Doug's, so I was feeling pretty good.
What was your favorite concert memory of 2010? Let us know in the comments!