Roman Gokhman’s favorite concerts of 2013: Introduction & special considerations

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Muse

I doubt I’ll ever get to go to as many concerts as I did in 2013. My goal was see 50, and I saw 64. In judging what I enjoyed most, I decided to grade based on my favorites rather than the “best.” “Best” means being objective, which of course is very difficult, and everyone will have their own list. Picking “favorites” takes away the onus that “my list is more accurate than yours.”

Just like last year, I set a few rules for myself. Opening acts don’t count – though as you see below, some opening sets earned “special considerations.” Neither do non-headlining performances at festivals. In order for a concert to count on my favorites list, he, she or they need to perform for at least one hour or be a headliner (I made that distinction because Popscene headliners rarely play past 45 minutes because they don’t have more than one body of work to select from). And finally, if I saw a band more than once, I’m only counting the better of the two performances; no act was listed twice, even though in a couple of instances they could have been.

Over the next four days I’ll share my favorite music experiences from 2013, and share a video from most of those concerts. If the band’s name is linked, it means I interviewed them in 2013 and I linked to my story. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • I saw the most shows in May (9) and the fewest in December (2).
  • The month with the most “rated” shows is April (4), while both January and July had none.
  • I saw a handful of acts twice, but only one (Bastille) three times. It wasn’t planned.

Without further ado, the special considerations (IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER):

Muse at the Grammy Museum, Los Angeles – Feb. 8.
This was a short radio station performance. They’d played at the Oracle Arena a few days earlier and I found the visuals distracting and the performance lacking. At the Grammy Museum, they didn’t have the visuals to hide behind, which is just fine because the trio is very talented.

Phoenix at Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival – Aug. 10.
There is only one reason this is not one of my favorite concerts of the year: I left halfway through to catch the second half of Nine Inch Nails’ set. And I regret it. I also regret not catching them at the Independent or in Davis last spring. I remedied the situation by catching them up close at Not So Silent Night last weekend.

Little Green Cars at Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival. – Aug. 11.
They couldn’t quite replicate this performance when they returned to play the Great American Music Hall this fall, but their blustery outdoor performance in windswept Golden Gate Park flew me back to Ireland on this particular day.

HAIM, Treasure Island Music Festival – Oct. 20.
So, I really wanted to hate these three SoCal sisters. I wanted to hate them because I really liked them and their publicist just pulled a promised interview away from me without warning after months of saying I was locked-in. I’d been pursuing this interview before you knew who HAIM were. And, they still blew me away; and of course you know who they are now, because you’re seeing them twice at the Fillmore in 2014.

Kitten (opening for Charli XCX) at Slim’s – Nov. 10
I had never even heard of Kitten before going to this show; I went for Charli. And she put on a stellar performance. This just goes to show how well Kitten played. Band leader Chloe Chaidez is a fireball of sexual energy, and the rest of the band… well, I hope there’s no turnover. They add to the dynamic and make the band bigger than the sum of its parts. I wasn’t prepared to shoot video; sorry. 

NEXT: RUNNERS-UP.

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