The Best Shows I Saw in 2012!

Happy 2013, All! I’ve been working on this project for just shy of a full year, and it’s been quite a ride. I diligently tried to see fewer concerts this year so that I’d appreciate the ones I did see more. I ended up seeing 45 shows. When I think back over the year, the best shows readily jumped out at me. Sometimes the best show has to do with more than just the quality of the musical performance, though. I really respond to storytelling and audience interaction. The people I’m surrounded by at a show make a huge difference, too—whether they are enthusiastic and attentive or drunk and annoying can make or break a show regardless of the talent of the people on stage. So, here are my top five concert experiences of 2012. Below that list there’s a list of some great artists I saw in 2012 also deserving of your attention.

Let’s end with the top show of the year.

#5. Newport Folk Festival. I had the chance to see some amazing performances from the first and second row back in July. Highlights were City and Colour (!), Blind Pilot, First Aid Kit, Of Monsters and Men, Gary Clark Jr., and Tallest Man on Earth. I think it might be cheating to call a two-day music festival my #5 favorite “show” of the year, but I’m my own boss!

Blind Pilot with guest cellist Sergey Antonov at The Newport Folk Festival

Blind Pilot with guest cellist Sergey Antonov at The Newport Folk Festival

One of my favorite jams of 2012 is Blind Pilot’s “We Are The Tide.” It’s super upbeat. I heard it on the radio this morning on my way to work and was totally seen car dancing.

#4. Sarah Jarosz with Lera Lynn. Erin and I drove to the fabulous Tupelo Music Hall in New Hampshire back in March to see bluegrass virtuoso Sarah Jarosz from the second row. She is an impressive talent and obviously a humble person, too. I fell in love with Lera Lynn, Sarah’s show opener, too. Both women are on the rise and will be household names at some point. The post I wrote about their show was my most searched and most read of 2012.

Nathaniel Smith, Sarah Jarosz, and Alex Hargreaves

Nathaniel Smith, Sarah Jarosz, and Alex Hargreaves

#3. Darlingside and Tricky Britches. Darlingside invited me to their show (I’m always happy to get those invitations) at my beloved One Longfellow Square (I’m a member!) back in September and I was blown away! I’d never seen either band before, although I’d heard great things about both. I was so impressed by the energy of Tricky Britches and the insane musicianship of Darlingside.



#2. Glen Hansard. I saw Glen and The Frames open for Damien Rice back in 2004 and fell in love. It’s still the best show I have ever seen. This show in September at Berklee School of Music in Boston (a great place to see a show) was overwhelming good. I decided to go at the last minute (thanks to my concert buddy, Bob), and was able to snag third row seats just the night before. Being that close to someone whose music I love was incredible. He plays with such passion and power. When he asked a woman from the front row to sing “Falling Slowly” with him, I lost it. I totally cried.

Glen Hansard

Glen Hansard

Drumroll, please!

The number one show I saw in 2012 was:

Brandi Carlile.

Oh my goodness. I love Brandi Carlile and the twins. I’ve seen her seven times, but this was Brandi at her very best. I was front row center. The proximity to the stage did it for me. She and Phil and Tim were in my personal space for parts of the show—I was completely overwhelmed. They sounded incredible and the energy in the room was electric. I ended up positioned in the middle of a delightful and considerate bunch of show goers, too. This was one of those shows where the stars just aligned beautifully.

THE Brandi Carlile!

THE Brandi Carlile!

I want to mention some other bands that were totally worth seeing in 2012, though. In no particular order:

  • I want to give an honorable mention for “super entertaining show” to Eric Hutchinson. He really put on a great show—part music and part stand up comedy. I really enjoyed myself.
  • One of my favorite bands is Milo Greene. I saw them again in late October from the front row with Brooklyn’s super talented Lucius. Please, please check out both bands. [Maddie! We met at this show!]
  • I was really impressed with Lost In The Trees and Poor Moon. Sophie and I went at the last minute back in April and had a great night at SPACE in Portland.
  • Company of Thieves puts on a great live show full of passion and humility. I also had the great fortune of meeting Zac Clark of Zac Clark and The Young Volcanoes at this show at Café 939 at Berklee in Boston back in February.
  • I am a huge fan of my dear friend and talented singer songwriter Max Garcia Conover. I saw him back in April at Frontier in Brunswick (a venue I really like) with Morris and the East Coast, who I really, really liked a lot.
  • Audra Mae rocks. I saw her open for Matt Nathanson in January. She is a total rock star and a great gal, too!
  • I’m a big fan of Maine’s own anna & the diggs. Lead singer Anna is a friend of this blog and I appreciate their talent and support.
  • Finally, Shovels & Rope are making an incredibly well deserved name for themselves. The power duo opened for Jack White and The Lumineers this year (among many, many others). They put on an incredibly fun show! I saw them back in March and would see them again in a heartbeat.

Thank you all so much for joining me on the first year of this journey. I had no idea what this would turn into, but it’s become a big part of my life. I’ve met a ton of awesome people along the way, and there’s been so much good music. Looking forward to some great shows and finding some new great bands in 2013! Let’s see a show together!




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