Around this time last year, I came at you with the top ten concerts of 2010 – and oh boy, were there some gems on that list.
2011 was also a fine year for concerts here in Sactown (Davis Music Festival, Dawes, Trampled By Turtles, the Silent Comedy, Blind Pilot, etc.), but right about now, I feel like I might go all Ndamokung Suh on the next “2011 Year in Review” list I happen across. Seriously, at this point we could probably put together a Ten Worst Ten Worst Lists List.
So, here’s a better idea: Let’s look ahead to some 2012 concerts on the books that you can’t afford to miss. Because guess what, our calendar is loaded heading into the New Year.
(Yes, a ton of these shows are at Harlow’s, but it’s still the best venue in town)
And yes, the world is supposed to end on December 21, but this list only gets you through about March, so at least you’ll be able to see all of these shows before the music stops permanently (?).
Concrete Blonde – January 20 at Ace of Spades – Yep, still playing! With X touring with their original lineup as well, call it a mid-‘80s punk rock renaissance! If it will keep the Good Charlottes of the world in hibernation, we’re all for it!
The Wood Brothers – January 31 at Harlow’s – Fans of Davis’ The Devil Makes Three would be highly interested, as would fans of Yonder Mountain String Band. And The Band. And the White Stripes.
Wilco – February 1 at Mondavi Center – Finding the common ground between their avant garde freakouts and beautifully alluring alt rock sensibilities is Wilco’s 2011 gem “The Whole Love.” Jeff Tweedy is the kind of guy who can make the gutter and some needle tracks seem oddly appealing. There has always been a deliberate, twisted and enigmatically narcotic haze hanging over this Chicago outfit’s tunes, and indeed over their entire persona. Abrasively raw one minute and autumn-meadow lovely the next, Wilco is perhaps the greatest think-piece of this generation – and a stop in Davis is equally puzzling, but no less welcome.
MuteMath – February 8 at Ace of Spades – They haven’t nailed it as big as the similarly themed Muse yet…we’re just not quite sure why.
Diego’s Umbrella – February 9 at Harlow’s – They have a song to which the only lyric is “moustache.” If you need me to say more, I’m not going to…except that this Bay Area gypsy Pirate polka funk outfit is a crotch punch of a good time.
G. Love & Special Sauce – February 23 at Harlow’s – For those keeping score at home, that’s three shows in three years at Harlow’s for the hip hop bluesman who hails from Philly, and can rock the rhymes as well as he smooches the harmonica. I think we can officially call this a standard stop for G., who recently stretched his wings by penning a front porch piece of country blues treasure in “Fixin’ to Die,” produced by the Avett Brothers.
Blitzen Trapper – March 5 at Harlow’s – When these guys announced a co-headlining tour with 2011 Americana band d’jour Dawes, it looked liked the t-shirts were already printed up with a Harlow’s date on them. Sadly, that date never happened. Most of the attention last year fell to Dawes, but BT’s new album “American Goldwing” is, well, gold! It’s dirt floor bar country meets electro indie lounge rock, served up hot and grungy and just a tiny bit weird.
311 – March 7 at Ace of Spades – Say what you will about 311 (I’d actually like to say a few things about Nick Hexum that are not fit to print), but they have a now almost ridiculous amount of longevity for a rap/rock/reggae/funk combo. Listen to Fishbone and you’ll understand where 311 came from, but that doesn’t explain how they lasted past the Sublime heyday, the rap rock craze and all the other fads past to stick around this long. Come original? I guess so. Either way, catching them at Ace of Spades ought to be a pretty cozy treat.
Playing for Change Band – March 11 at Three Stages in Folsom – It began as a simple concept: Street musicians all over the world were recorded playing and or singing the same song (“Stand by Me,” “One Love,” “Gimme Shelter,” etc.) in their own style, but at different times, with the results mixed together into a global cornucopia of sonic bliss. Next step in the progression: Stage show!
Umphrey’s McGee – March 18 at Harlow’s – They’ve been tagged as “the next Phish” since about 2004, and in that time have zigzagged the country several times over, but this will be their first ever stop in Sacramento. Simply put, it is hard to find six more talented musicians playing together anywhere in the world. Running the gamut from Pearl Jam to King Crimson to Yes, their 15 minute jams are incendiary, but are wrapped in a songwriting sensibility that belies many of their contemporaries. If there is a truly “can’t miss show” on this list, it is this one. Your brain won’t soon recover. Nor will your hips.
The Bad Plus – April 18-21 at Mondavi Center – A power trio playing jazz, or a jazz trio trying to dip into rock and roll. Who knows, who cares…
Sacramento Music Festival – Labor Day Weekend – Much has been made about the rebranding of the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee/Jazz Festival, in the attempt to help it regain its former glory and make it a more generationally accessible event. Will it work? Who knows, but it should be fun to see the “first ever” installment of the “new” event. So far, it looks like the usual suspects, but we’ll see…