I have long been anti-Best Of lists. I guess I'm of the belief that if I'm going to tell you the Best Mexican Restaurant in San Diego is X, then I have to have tried ALL of them. Same goes for Best Albums, Best Bands, Best anything for that matter. That said, I did attend a lot of shows in 2008, so instead of telling you which were The Best, I can only humbly speak for myself and tell you my ten favorites of 2008.
Read about them if you 'click on reading'.
I should start with a disclaimer that I only included touring bands in this list. I know it seems contrary to what this site is all about, but I literally saw hundreds of local performances this year and there would be no way for me to narrow that list down to just 10. The only local show included, in fact, is Lucy's Fur Coat and that was because I'd been waiting for a reunion for a very long time. On with my list.
10. Snow Patrol @ House of Blues, 12/13/08
This show was just a few short weeks ago but really blew me away. Tickets for the show were free to a couple hundred lucky people who got them online. I was fortunate enough to get VIP tickets, which not only meant reserved seating on the balcony, but I was the only person with a photo pass and there was an open bar provided for the duration of the show. Considering there was a line around the block when we arrived, the treatment was exceptional, and Snow Patrol gave an amazing performance of new music and older hits.
9. Lucy's Furcoat @ Casbah, 5/16/08
I know Lucy's Furcoat has had a few reunion shows in the past, but since this was my first time seeing them in about 10 years, I was thrilled to see Charlie and the gang bring it on. My old friend Idey even made the trek from New York for this show. I'm looking forward to their shows at the Casbah in January, supposedly their last reunion ever.
8. Okkervil River, Sea Wolf, Zykos @ Belly Up, 9/24/08
Okkervil River is one of those bands that are beloved by many and I've loved seeing them in the past, but add to this show two great opening bands and I was giddy throughout the show.
7. MgmT, Yeasayer, Calico Horse @ Casbah, 1/25/08
This was the first of many times in 2008 that I got to see MgmT, and it was when the band was still small enough to hang out on the patio after their set. Another show where the whole lineup was impressive. A group of us invited the band over for an after party and they called me to say they were heading out, but we took a raincheck that resulted in a party at their hotel the next time they were in town, and I can brag that I actually tucked Andrew VanWyngarden in bed with a kiss on his forehead. I'm a geek and still laugh that I have MgmT in my cell phone.
6. Longwave @ Casbah, 12/9/08
This was another show that was just a few short weeks ago and despite it being tragically underattended, they put out Secrets are Sinister which has become one of my favorite albums of the year. I hope they get the following they deserve and grace San Diego with another brilliant performance in 2009.
5. Radiohead @ Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre, 8/27/08
I hadn't planned on going to Radiohead, but when Greg had to move back east for a few months, he sent me his pit ticket. I was never a Radiohead superfan like many, but this show, despite a million obstacles in getting there, turned out to be amazing and a kind of "a-ha moment" from the first note to the last. Suddenly I got why they are one of the biggest cult bands in the world.
4. Joshua James @ Casbah 8/8/08
This show was a complete accident. I was going to sell merch for Transfer that night, and caught the end of the early show that was scheduled the same night at the Casbah. Jeff told me I wouldn't be disappointed and that was easily an understatement. The music was beautiful and perfect, Joshua was a total sweetheart to talk to after his show, and judging by my iTunes, his was my most listened to album of 2008.
3. Nada Surf @ House of Blues, 3/18/08
It is really staggering for me to see that my top three shows were all at House of Blues because of all the problems I've repeatedly had with the venue over time, but looking back, I can't deny these amazing performances. Nada Surf, who have become one of my favorite bands in the last few years, gave a stunning performance that covered the breadth of their catalog. I guess what put the night over the top was that I had a photo pass, I have an undying crush on Matthew Caws, and when he called the audience on stage, I couldn't resist and got my fat ass onstage to join the fun. Even better, there was an after party at the Beauty Bar after the show and I actually hit the dancefloor with Mr. Caws. *swoon*
2. The National @ House of Blues, 5/28/08
It's really hard to take pictures of a band when every song makes you wanna close your eyes and sway while singing along to every song, but I managed to snap some pics while enjoying the show. At the time I couldn't really talk about it, but a friend who was working security (and no longer works there) turned a blind eye when I snuck backstage and watched the encore from the side of the stage. Another highlight came a few months later when Natalie and I met Matt before his Street Scene performance. Once again, *swoon*.
1. James @ House of Blues, 10/3/08
Seeing James was my favorite show for a number of reasons. First, I wasn't going to go because I have long been against HoB and their ridiculous service charges on tickets. My birthday was just before the show, and Jeff surprised me by buying me a ticket for my birthday which was incredibly generous. Another thing that was amazing was that despite not having a photopass, for this particular night for whatever reason, people were allowed to bring cameras and use them during the show, so I still managed some photos. The last time I'd seen the band, I was 17, so seeing the band and knowing just about every song was total bliss, especially being among a non-pushy and enthusiastic crowd that all seemed to have the same appreciation for the band. There is no way to hear Tim Booth's voice and to see how he gets completely lost with his own spastic tantric dancing without getting the same excitement from head to toe. If ever there was a music orgasm, his voice is what can induce it.
I would be remiss if I didn't say that there weren't dozens more shows I could've included here and I'm sure there are some that I just completely missed. In light of that, there were some honorable mentions:
3/30/08- Jose Gonzalez @ Women's Club of San Diego
8/23/08- Southern Comfort Music Festival @ Petco Park Tailgate Park
9/19-20- Street Scene @ Gaslamp East Village
4/2/08- Beto Cuevas @ 4th & B
5/3/08- Britt Daniels @ Belly Up
6/8/08- FM 94/9 Independence Jam @ DeVore Stadium
3/19/08- Vampire Weekend @ Casbah
9/22/08- Cold War Kids @ Casbah
Here's to 2009 and a ton of great more shows to see and memories to be made. January especially looks to be brilliant, as I will be selling Casbah 20th Anniversary merchandise at every show in January, starting tonight so bring your dinero, and say hi to me as I freeze my butt off on the smoking patio.
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