2016 is now closing. What a year. Anyways, here are some of my favorite shows of the year, because you care deeply about my opinions.
Suede, Primavera, June
Anytime you can see your favorite band in one of your favorite cities in the world in the summer time, you just gotta do it. This Suede show was a hit fest from beginning to end and set the bar high for the rest of the bands playing Primavera.
Daughter, Primavera, June
The girl from Daughter breaking into a smile halfway through a serious song because the entire crowd was singing along warmed my heart so much I might have died.
Hall & Oates, June or July, Toronto
Hard to find a better band to enjoy live on the lawns of the Molson Amphitheatre on a crisp summer night. It’s been too long since they last came around.
Vince Staples, SXSW, SPIN party
This guy was hilarious and the Spin party was it’s usual awesomeness with free booze, good sun and a stellar lineup. I definitely remember him being funny and it made his set pretty good.
El Conjunta Nueva, SXSW
Anytime you have a chance to see a Mexican band singing hard rock mariachi covers of modern pop songs while dressed up in Luchador costumes, you gotta do it. Also, they were playing in between wrestling matches featuring actual luchadores, so yeah it was pretty memorable. Only in Austin.
Estelle, SXSW, McDonalds Loft
Estelle played the McDonald’s party. Free fries, free booze and Estelle singing “American Boy.” What more can you ask for? Also, the discovery that Estelle actually has more good tracks was pretty inspiring.
LCD Soundsystem, Primavera
LCD Soundsystem came back fast and furious this year and their show at Primavera was just an amazing show and a great party. A very swift reminder of just what a really great band sounds like live. Perfect festival show for a perfect festival band.
Primavera Sound is pretty much the gold standard for music festivals. Why? Let’s see
Located in a gorgeous city, easily accessible by public transit
On concrete, so no messy mud pits
Too many food options to count
Always amazing lineup
You can see the sea from the grounds, its actually right beside the water
Never have to lineup for bathrooms, because they are quite organized
Starts at night, so you can do touristy stuff during the day
And it goes on and on. You really need to go. Unfortunately, I was only able to get tickets for one day and was too cheap to get tickets for other nights. So here is a brief recap of one of the nights. Knowing how I write, lets use the world “brief” loosely.
Suede – Night Thoughts
My favourite band performed their new album in it’s entirety as one of the first must see sets of the night. While not my favorite Suede album, Night Thoughts is still an extremely solid album and watching it live in a theatre while a music film plays in the foreground was very unique. The lead actor in the movie reminded me of Alex Ovechin which made me laugh because man, they always get eliminated by my Penguins. “Outsiders“ and “I Don’t Know How to Reach You“ are very good tracks, but I don’t know how I feel about them playing behind a screen while a film plays in the foreground. Still, I appreciated the experience. It’s like, I really like Caesar salad, and this one time in Morocco, I had a deconstructed Caesar salad. It was still Caesar Salad, but not exactly the same, I still enjoyed it but part of me just wanted a god damn Caesar Salad.
It’s hard to believe it’s only been three or four years since I saw Daughter in a tiny venue at SXSW, and now they are playing a massive stage at Primavera. Their new album is excellent. Halfway through one of the new songs, the crowd started singing along and Elena Tonra broke into the biggest smile mid track and my heart just melted. It’s always nice to see good artists make it big without compromising their work.
Food break – I had a pork sandwich from a food truck. It was only okay, the meat to bun ratio was not to my standard, but I had to remind myself – Ricky, you are in Europe, bread is the star here. Bread is the star.
Air – It’s been six years since I last saw Air, and actually, six years before that so I guess I see Air once every six years. That’s information you don’t need to know, but now you do. They played a low key set that was peppered with hits and the end of the set featured the 1-2 punch of “Sexy Boy“ and “Kelly Watch The Stars,“ which served a notice as to how ahead of the time Air really was back in the day. They closed it off with “La Femme D’argent.” I can’t think of a better band to play to the setting sun. Sleek, polished and timeless, Air is always a must attend show.
Food Break 2 – Because I am a pig, I had another meal here. Ramen. I saw a ramen food truck and thought, why, I must try this!. Never try ramen from a food truck, it was subpar and just a grade better then cup noodles. They claimed to have cha siu but when I got to the meat, it was just meat cubes. That is not cha siu. Sad.
Dead Buttons – Stumbled on this Korean bluesy rock act at one of the tinier stages. It’s odd to see a Korean act where it wasn’t five hot girls in mini skirts prancing about but these guys were actually quite good. Clearly inspired the Black Keys, they are worth a look.
Floating Point – Not entirely sure who they are, but they were a tight instrumental band that played a pretty hypnotizing electronic set. One of the keys for this band was that they were playing Rayban stage, which had a bunch of places for people to sit down, which was an offer I simply could not refuse.
Tame Impala – Drawing one of the biggest crowds, it’s hard to believe I saw Tame Impala at the Horseshoe just a few years ago. Their brand of psych rock has really taken over, although I still feel like they lack that anthem that would make them truly worthy headliners.
John Carpenter – Yes, THE John Carpenter, of horror movie fame. He played his famous soundtracks with a live band and man, does this dude have swagger. Wearing sunglasses, chewing gum and dropping some classics on synth – I want to be this cool when I’m in my sixties. I heard the Halloween theme live, so that’s pretty fucking awesome.
LCD Soundsystem – WHERE ARE MY FRIENDS TONNNNIIIGHT. Man, LCD Soundsystem is a band that is 1000x better live then on album. When it’s live, those eight minute tracks that always seemed a bit too long on cd JUMP to life and you really do understand what they are trying to achieve. Their percussion section is so strong you have no choice but to move. They haven’t missed a beat since I last saw them and their set was filled with anthems and hits. I don’t even know if half the songs they had were actual hits, but live, with that band and James Murphy growling into the mic, they were hits to me. It was just one gigantic dance party cumulating with their epic song All Yr Friends. Part of LCD Soundsystem’s charm is that their lyrics hit you in places you don’t expect when you least expect it. There’s a certain element of now to it that I can’t really explain, but at the end of the set, when James asks you where are your friends tonight? I was very glad to have at least two of them there with me, even if they were lost in the crowd. Now if only I could have found that crying kid at the end of their documentary.
I can’t think of a better way to watch my favourite band than in a gorgeous outdoor setting in Barcelona on a warm summer night. Suede was to play not one, but two shows at Primavera Sound and the fans were extremely lucky that the first, free show was the greatest hits version of their show. This was the main reason behind my trip to Primavera and yes, it was totally awesome. What can you say? I feel blessed I’ve been able to see my favourite band three times now in my lifetime. Ask me this in 2005 and I would have laughed a very sad laughter.
It’s hard to believe over twenty years after they first arrived on the scene, the band is still at the top of their game. My guess is that they are less chemically dependent now and thus, a lot sharper then they used to be. Brett is still the Brett Anderson, swiveling his hips, dancing up a storm and driving the crowd wild while still sounding quite good on the mic. No one will ever forget Bernard, but Fat Richard is and has been Suede’s guitarist now for twenty years so he’s got the chops and fury down on the ax.
Here is a quick song by song breakdown of their show
Introducing the Band
A good track to start off your set, especially since this was a free show and I doubt many people really knew them.
A strong song from their new album, but knowing that they were playing Night Thoughts in it’s entirety the next day, I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed this took the place of another song that I’ve never heard before live, like “Europe is Our Playground“ or “Dark Star“ or something
Killing of a Flashboy
Everyone’s favourite b-side, the distinctive drums that starts this song got people dancing and that dancing pretty much never stopped after that. This is such a sleazy, awesome rock song. How was this not a single, I’ll never know. A classic song with a lot of “Oh oh oh oh oh” moments you can sing along too and boy, did we sing.
Trash is awesome. It’s a dance party, everyone in the crowd is losing it cause we’re traaaaaaaash you and me.
Another singalong. I’m not the biggest fan of this track but it’s hard not to sing along to it.
The first entry from their debut album, if Trash was a 9/10 on the fan going crazy scale, this was probably a 11. Note: As you can tell by the picture, I was close, for all I know they could have been twiddling their thumbs from the back of the park, but I don’t care those people don’t count. There’s nothing like shouting “In your broken home / he broke all your bones / now you’re taking it time after time” at the top of your lungs. Poor Justine, Justine Frischmann, of Elastica.
You know, if Suede was super popular today and they released their self titled album now, the fans would go crazy studying those lyrics. Was it about Blur? Was it about Elastica? Those lyrics make “Becky with the good hair” sound like child’s play.
We Are the Pigs
One of my top ten songs. This song was probably a 13/10 for me on the excitement scale. I really wish they had a child choir come out and do the ending part, but we can all dream.
Sometimes I Feel I’ll Float Away
The lone track from Bloodsports, which was a good album but not one I would put on a ninety minute set. Brett did sound quite good here.
Everything Will Flow
Everytime a Head Music track gets played live, I am pleasantly surprised. This album was pretty good, but came out at a bad time. I do wish they’d play “He’s Gone“ once in a while, that’s a fantastic song.
Damn right, the opening drums, the guitars. Slow down, slow down..you’re taking me ovvvvvvah. A 12.33 (repeating 3) out of 10 my excitement scale
I cried a little bit inside when I realized this was going to get played. A gorgeous song that I missed hearing in England when I went there to see them in 2010. This was a lighter in the air moment, but I didn’t have a lighter. There was no orchestra sadly, but if that had happened I would have just boarded a plane and flown home because nothing else would have topped that on this vacation. This was probably a 14.5 out of 10 on my excitement scale.
For the Strangers
I wonder if there’s a bunch of 20 something year old fans who just discovered Suede at Bloodsports. This might have been their favourite Suede song. Kids these days.
So Young, Metal Mickey
These are classics.
Suede’s anthem. The singalong is so easy and hard at the same time, we all did the lalalala part and it was fantastic. A perfect 10/10 on my excitement scale.
Encore: She’s in Fashion
An acoustic version of “She’s in Fashion,” one of their most summery songs. At this point I realized I might not hear “The Wild Ones“ or “Europe is Our Playground.” Will I ever hear “Europe is Our Playground“ live? Cue existential crisis.
A fitting end to the show. “New Generation“ is an absolutely amazing song. It has four choruses. Most bands struggle to find one hook in a song, this track if you pay attention has FOUR massive hooks.
That was that, a totally unbiased review. This was my favorite part of Primavera. Come to North America please, I can’t afford all these European trips.
Glastonbury is undoubtedly the mothership of music festivals. Every year the headliners are discussed time and time again, and being presented the pyramid stage on Glasto weekend is as big an indicator that you have arrived as any. On a warm, humid Saturday night, the Pyramid stage was graced by the larger then life Kanye West, but I don’t give two shits about him. What got me excited about Glastonbury was who was on the John Peel stage counteracting Kanye West.
That band, was Suede. They are either 1a or 1b on my list of favorite bands so the opportunity to see them live was a big deal for me. Suede’s Peel Stage headlining slot was a welcome return to Glasto for the band, who reunited a few years ago. It’s the main reason why I attended Glastonbury and I was excited as the clock ticked to 5:30 in anticipation of their set.
Now you might be wondering, 5:30? Well, as luck would have it, I wasn’t actually at Glastonbury, but rather, I was at home, in Toronto. Now before you question the authenticity of my review, I have assured you I have taken the appropriate measures to simulate Glastonbury as best as I can at home, including:
- Rain, it was pouring rain outside. I opened the windows so the sound of water coming down on the earth would resonate in the background as I watched the show. A sound many Glastonbury fans would be familiar with.
- I watched it on my 40 inch TV in high def, which frankly, makes me feel a lot closer to the stage then 95% of the people at the Peel stage
- I have really high quality speakers, thereby surpassing the quality of your typical festival audio experience.
Suede took the stage at 5:35 to the track Pantomime Horse, which I believe was about Justine Frischmann of Elastica. You could probably argue every song off Suede’s debut album was about Justine Frischmann, I wonder how she feels about that. Having access to cameras on stage, I could tell Bret and co were ecstatic about being at Glastonbury even Richard Oakes tried to muster a smile, maybe he saw a hot dog in the crowd or something. As I’m watching the sweat glean off Brett Anderson’s face, I realize the advantage I have reviewing this show at home over reviewing this in person – I have a much closer view and I could actually see first hand what was going on stage. Had I been there in person, I would probably be drunk and too far away to truly understand band interaction.
I mean look how far away this person was.
Sticking with hard hitting rock songs, the band kept the pace up with a blistering version of Moving and Trash, which elicited the first singalong of the night. I couldn’t quite tell how loud the crowd was singing, because I wasn’t surrounded by them. Singalongs are a blessing and a curse, on one hand, nothing really beats an amazing crowd sing along. On the other hand, nothing ruins a song quicker then singalongs with shitty singers. Since I was here exclusively for Suede, it was nice to hear just his voice.
Animal Nitrate, We are the Pigs and Killing of a Flashboy followed. It was a relentless wave of hits that surely would have exhausted me if I was dancing in the crowd. Fortunately I was at home, so I was able to relax on my couch and drink a cup of tea during the performance. It was still invigorating to think how fun it would have been there though.
The next bit of the set started with It Starts and Ends With You , a track from their surprisingly good album Bloodsports from a few years ago. We also saw the introduction of two new songs – Pale Snow and I Don’t Know How to Reach You. I knew what these songs were called because BBC put up an overlay of the song, and I quickly realized it was new. This would have been very confusing had I actually been there because then I would be like “I don’t know this song! Why wouldn’t I know this?” and then spiral into a abyss of self doubt over how much I actually knew Suede. With this prompter I was quickly able to google it and therefore save myself from an existential crisis.
The rest of the set read like a greatest hit’s list, including everyone’s favorite b-side about a heroin addict, The Living Dead. The crowd absolutely lost it when the group ended with Beautiful Ones, which had the crowd LALALALALAing so hard I could hear it through my speakers.
It was at this point I wished I was there and not my living room. Sometimes you just can’t replicate a live experience, no matter how you set it up. An encore set of She’s in Fashion and New Generation sent the crowd back to their mud filled, dirty tents happy. I would have cried if they brought an orchestra or something for Still Life, luckily that was not the case.
Overall, a fun filled experience from the comforts of my own home. It’s not often you get to watch your favorite band live, but being able to watch them live from your home might just be the next best thing.
I can’t believe some fucker put up the set list already
We Are the Pigs
Killing of a Flashboy
It Starts and Ends With You
Pale Snow (new song debut)
I Don’t Know How to Reach You
The Living Dead
She’s in Fashion (acoustic)