The Top 10 Concerts I Saw in 2022
I am super lucky to have seen a ton of amazing live shows this year. All of the elements that influence the overall impression of a concert - the music itself, the venue, the crowd, the people I'm attending with - came together to create some truly amazing experiences.
Even though ranking things is really difficult for me, I'm going for it - here's a countdown of my top 10 live shows in 2022.
10 - Stereolab, Sep. 13 - Ogden Theatre
One record that's been played countless times at my house with my roommates/bandmates Bridget and Anna is Stereolab's Dots and Loops. We were all incredibly excited to see that Stereolab was coming to Denver and got our tickets months in advance. This was a big week for us, with our Barbara album release show at Twist & Shout coming up just a few days later, and this concert was a perfect way to stay energized and excited leading up to the big day.
Stereolab's live show was sneaky. The entire performance had a dynamic arch that I didn't really notice until it was over. The set started out quieter, never lacking in energy or musicality, but literally at a lower volume. I remember at first wishing for a bit more. However, by the end of the performance, I realized that the entire show had been this steady increase in energy and volume, which at the end of the night turned out to be really effective. My friends and I spent the night dancing away, and this ended up being one of my favorite concerts of the year.
Check out their 2022 album Pulse of the Early Brain [Switched On Volume 5] and support by purchasing here: https://duophonic.ochre.store/
9 - Faye Webster, July 31 - Underground Music Showcase Main Stage
I was thrilled to play the Underground Music Showcase this year with my band Specific Ocean. The festival always brings tons of amazing local and national acts, all coming together to create one of my favorite musical weekends of each year.
When I see live music, I usually prefer seeing artists whose catalogues I already have a pretty good knowledge of, but coming into Faye Webster, I don't think I'd ever actually heard an entire song of her's beforehand. From the moment the band started playing, I was totally drawn in. What struck me from the get-go with the opening song "Better Distractions" was the deep pocket and ability for the band to just groove on the same idea for a really long time. I found it meditative, and appreciated that there was no need to rush through it - the vamp was satisfying and I didn't want it to end. The entire set had this immersive, warm vibe and a sense of intimacy despite there being such a large crowd in an outdoor setting. I now regularly listen to Faye Webster, and I'm grateful that this performance served as a great introduction to her music.
Check out her 2022 EP Car Therapy Sessions and support by purchasing here: https://fayewebster.ffm.to/car-therapy-sessions
8 - Soccer Mommy & TOPS, Dec. 3 - Ogden Theatre
Soccer Mommy is another band that I had neglected to delve into until very recently, but I've been a big fan of TOPS for a few years now. I was really excited to see that they were touring together, and was super satisfied by amazing performances from both.
When we arrived at the Ogden, TOPS was already playing, so we made our way straight to the front of the crowd. The Canada-based band delivered a groovy, dreamy set that ended up being a perfect opener for the heavier, denser Soccer Mommy set. I was super excited to hear my favorite Tops song "Way to be Loved" live and felt drawn to their warm, positive stage presence.
Soccer Mommy came out with high energy from the start and the set ended up being a lot heavier than I was expecting. The band was super tight and performed with precision and accuracy. I loved hearing my favorite song from this year's album "With U" played live. There's something for me about hearing things live that makes me love the recorded version even more when I listen again. Soccer Mommy played a super long set, broken up with some intimate, solo songs from front-woman Sophia Allison. I was very impressed by the musicianship and energy, and overall really enjoyed myself at this concert.
Check out the 2022 album Sometimes, Forever and support by purchasing here: https://lnk.soccermommyband.com/SometimesForever
Check out TOPS' 2022 EP Empty SeatsI and support by purchasing here: https://tops.lnk.to/EmptySeatsID
7 - Antibroth, Sep. 23 - Skylark Lounge
This year, I can't get enough of Denver's Antibroth. Their self-titled 2022 release is one of my favorite albums of the year, and their album release show at the Skylark a few months ago was also one of the best shows I saw.
What first strikes me about Antibroth is the extremely high level of musicianship that the musicians make look so effortless. When I saw them live, I was totally captured by each song, amazed by the intricate parts on each instrument that weave together so well, and fueled up by the high level of energy. It's no surprise that the band plays so accurately live - their album was tracked in one day, with no cuts or edits. If you haven't had a chance to hear the album yet, please make sure to do so, and if you're around Denver, check out one of their upcoming live performances as well.
Check out their 2022 self-titled LP Antibroth and support by purchasing here: https://antibroth.bandcamp.com/album/antibroth
6 - Crumb, May 1 - Summit Music Hall
Crumb is one of my all-time favorite bands, and I make sure to see them live every chance I get. This particular performance at Summit Music Hall was my third time seeing them.
I love every Crumb song - the songwriting, harmony, and general vibe. What really struck me most about this particular live show was how much more room there was during the set for longer jams. I always enjoy when a set diverges slightly from the recorded version, in this case allowing for more opportunities for some sax solos and letting the groove open up and breathe for longer spans of time. I have deep, emotional connections to many Crumb songs, so just being immersed in the live experience is always a treat, and I will continue to see them perform anytime they're in town.
Here's a clip from "Ice Melt":
Check out their 2021 album Ice Melt and support by purchasing here: https://crumb.ffm.to/icemelt
5 - Palm, Dec. 6 - Larimer Lounge
I already wrote quite a bit about Palm's live performance in an earlier post about their most recent release, Nicks and Grazes. Here's my reflection on the show the morning after the concert:
"When Palm began their set, it was immediate energy, accuracy, and intrigue from the get-go. I was in awe observing the way the four musicians managed their complex individual roles while simultaneously maintaining the most solid full-band connection I've witnessed in a long time. Their collective sense of time and understanding of intricate rhythmic material is obvious within seconds of listening to any of their recordings, but to see it done live was truly a wonder. The set was captivating - I couldn't help but dance and move along despite never quite understanding exactly what was happening musically. I felt fully present and engaged the entire time and delighted by the surprises and deep pocket throughout. I strongly urge anyone who has the opportunity to see Palm perform live to do so."
Here's a clip from "Pearly":
Check out their 2022 album Nicks and Grazes and support by purchasing here: https://palm.scfm.me/nicksandgrazes
4 - Oruã, Nov. 22 - Hi-Dive
The band I'm most excited about discovering this year is Rio De Janeiro's Oruã. I am really into Brazilian music of all kinds, and found out about this band earlier in the year. When I saw that they were coming to the Hi-Dive, I was so thrilled that I'd be able to see them at one of my favorite venues.
Oruã has a deep band sensibility and collective understanding of time and feel. I love the way the guitar and bass lines interact with intriguing color provided by the synth and the consistent, infectious grooves from the drums. On top of this, Lê Almeida's voice has the coolest timbre and provides such a great additional texture. This band has the ability to stay on a musical idea for a long time and keep me completely engulfed in what they're doing. This set was so inspiring to me for a variety of reasons as a guitarist and songwriter, and I haven't been able to stop listening since seeing them. The only thing I wish that was different about this concert was that they would've played for longer - I never wanted it to end.
Listen to their 2021 album Íngreme and new 2022 demos and support by purchasing here: https://orua.bandcamp.com/
3 - Beach House, March 30 - Mission Ballroom
The night of the Beach House concert was one of my favorite nights of the year. I attended this concert with two of my favorite people, Anna and Ben, and being there with them was a huge reason this was such a great experience in addition to the amazing set from Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally.
Beach House created a dreamy, mesmerizing environment from the moment they started playing. It was nice to hear some range from their discography, with newer songs from their most recent release, Once Twice Melody, and some of my favorites from Bloom and Depression Cherry. My favorite moment of the entire concert was their performance of "PPP" - the harmonic progression on the outro is my favorite Beach House musical moment in general, and they let this vamp carry for a really long time, allowing me to be totally captured by it. I remember feeling such a sense of positive emotion during this whole set, and I'm so glad I was able to see them live.
Listen to their most recent release Once Twice Melody and support by purchasing here: https://shop.beachhousebaltimore.com/
2 - Spirit of the Beehive & Deeper, March 29 - Hi-Dive
My most listened-to artist of this year was Spirit of the Beehive. I still spend a lot of time listening to their entire discography, and am constantly inspired by their innovative songwriting and use of sounds and textures. I hear a lot of their influence coming through in much of my recent writing as well.
My concert experience at the Hi-Dive this night was an absolute treat. The night started off first with an amazing set from Chicago-based Deeper. I hadn't really heard much of Deeper before seeing them live, but was totally impressed, and their 2020 album Auto-Pain became one of my most listened-to albums of the year. I love the interplay of their intricate guitar lines and the moments of musical surprise, like the break in "Helena's Flowers" (my favorite moment of their set).
Following Deeper's energizing opening set, Spirit of the Beehive came out and delivered a performance that I'll always remember. They played all of my favorites from their 2021 album ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH and many from my personal favorite, Hypnic Jerks (my favorite song of the set was the title track). There was a perfect balance for me between capturing the essence of each song from the recorded version, and leaving room for things to differ (which always makes a live performance more engaging for me). I'm so glad I was able to see this band at a venue of this size, because I don't think that will ever happen again. Spirit of the Beehive is one of the best bands out there, and I strongly encourage anyone who has the opportunity to see them perform to do so.
Here's a clip from "Give Up Your Life":
Check out their 2021 album ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH and support by purchasing here: https://sotb.ffm.to/death
1 - Kikagaku Moyo, Sep. 14 - Fox Theatre
Hands down, my number one concert this year was seeing Kikagaku Moyo at the Fox Theatre as part of their farewell tour. The band released their final album together, Kumoyo Island, in May of this year. I'm so grateful I got to see them perform before they call it quits as a band.
It's hard to describe exactly why this show was the best of the year for me, and I think it was a combination of many elements. First of all, I love the Fox Theatre as a venue, the crowd was totally engaged and fun, and I was in a really wonderful mood going in. But I think even if these things weren't all true, I still would have been totally blown away by Kikagaku Moyo's live set. The biggest thing musically that struck me was their patience. I loved watching the band take their time through long introductions, sometimes just pedaling on one note and gradually increasing in tempo, or letting sections of songs vamp for really long periods of time. I remember being in awe of the clear, strong rhythmic connection between the bassist (Kotsu Guy) and drummer (Go Kurosawa) who held down each groove with such seamlessness and ease.
My favorite song of the night was "Monaka." On the album version, I'm still always pleasantly surprised by the swinging push and pull of the vocal/sitar line of the verses against the groove coming from the rhythm section. When they performed this live, there was even more of this perfect tension, with the melodic line pulling extremely far back on the beat (sometimes so much that I was sure it would fall behind) while the basic groove persists. The entire show was full of intriguing auxiliary percussive sounds, the unique texture of sitar woven through each composition, and outstanding musicianship.
Check out Kumoyo Island and support by purchasing here: https://kikagakumoyo.com/works/
Well, there it is. Reflecting on these experiences has made me feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for music, friends who go to concerts with me, and the musicians that put so much hard work into creating these spectacular, memorable shows.
What were your favorite shows this year? Let me know in the comments!