Sorry if you missed these, they were cool as hell. Shouts out to Setlist.fm.
Honorable Mention: King Khan and the Shrines, Underground Arts, Philadelphia, June 10
Included here not because anything specifically great happened, but because there has never been a bad King Khan and the Shrines show as far as I know. I have seen this band three times, each time has been a unique party experience. It is imperative that you see King Khan and the Shrines next time they come to your town.
5) DIIV, Underground Arts, Philadelphia, November 19
The highlight of the show: The argument that took place between DIIV frontman Zachary Cole and the A/V booth at Underground Arts during the first two songs of the set.
Cole chastised the booth for not playing the projections that the band had intended to be a part of the experience. It got heated, words were exchanged, and it ended with Cole having his mic cut off for a stretch. The cherry on top is that the projections, when finally displayed, were nothing special; out-of-focus home movies, mostly. They clearly meant something to Cole, but it was hard to determine what, exactly. Never has a gulf between how I feel about a band’s music (love it!) and a band’s personality (get fucked!) been greater than it is with DIIV.
4) The Snails, Kung Fu Necktie, Philadelphia, March 4
The highlight of the show: Midway through the Snails’ performance, the band, done up in full snail costumes, removed the garbage bags on their backs that had served as “shells.” They were full of balloons. Very on-brand for the Snails
The second highlight of the show: The band playing “Sweet Tea” twice during the set. It shouldn’t have worked, but it did.
3) War on Women, Underground Arts, Philadelphia, June 29
The highlight of the show: How much smiling, laughing and dancing the members of War on Women were doing while singing some of the most confrontational feminist music of the last 10 years. Listening to War on Women, one does not expect there to be many good times. Live, the band gives the medicine with a little sugar. Against the odds it enhances, not dulls, the album’s dire effects.
2) Beyonce, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, September 29
The highlight of the show: The teen girl behind me who screamed “iconic!” throughout the entire show. It’s really nice to be around people who are unabashedly excited about something
The second highlight of the show: The girl who, while fighting traffic into the show, jumped out of her car, in the rain, and pulled down her pants to pee next to the highway, in full sight of about 200 cars. People were partyin’.
The third highlight of the show: Beyonce, whose show was refined to the point of reflection. If she ever got tired, it did not show. Spend the money and see her.
1) Bear vs Shark, First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia, October 1
The highlight of the show: The fact that it happened at all.
I’ve told this story before, but: In 2005, as a sophomore in college, I had tickets to see Bear vs Share play a house show at Drexel. I ended up skipping the show because it was a weeknight, it was raining and the only person I knew who would go to shows with me back then was busy. I skipped, under the assumption that the band would be back. It took them a decade, but they came back and I got to be there. Very meaningful show for me.