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Top NYC Concerts of The Summer of ’09

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I know the summer isn’t technically over until September 22, but I’m going to go ahead and draw a line in the sand here and now.  THE BUCK STOPS HERE, as that racist bastard Harry Truman would say.  In fact, these words were carved on a sign he had in the oval office.  Somewhat bizarrely, the flipside of that very sign also said “I’m from Missouri.”  But we’re not here to talk about possibly mentally handicapped ex-presidents.  We’re here to reminisce about how awesome the summer was and yet what a relief it will be to not feel pressured to keep up this kind of insane energy for the rest of the year.  Let the countdown to hibernation begin!

(And speaking of hibernation….)

1. Grizzly Bear, Music Hall of Williamsburg

Though this was an indoor show, I could think of no better way to kick off the summer than going to a sold-out show at a just-big-enough-to-not-feel-oppressive-yet-small-enough-to-feel-intimate type-venue.  And it was in MY very own Brooklyn neighborhood no less!  My obsessession with G-Bear (as I, come to think of it, don’t like to call them) was just burgeoning, and god knows I couldn’t get enough of “Two Weeks.”  Out of nowhere, my roommate bestowed this veritable golden ticket to me, as he was suddenly called away for work or something, I forget.  Anywho, this truly gives creedence to that old-timey ackneyed expression that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  Except not really, but regardless, it was the first show I’ve ever been to all by myself like a big girl, and one of the very few that I thoroughly and enthusiastically enjoyed from beginning to end, including the delightful opening band, Here We Go Magic.  It’s a day that will live in infamy, just like Pearl Harbor, but with considerably less death, gore, and actually no negative connotation whatsoever…I just really like that phrase.

2. Dirty Projectors, East River State Park

Though I was not one of the lucky 100 to have seen their show with Bjork at Housing Works, I was able to catch their free Sunday Pool show for riff-raffs at the East River State Park in Williamsburg a couple of months ago.  This couldn’t have been a better venue for them.  Everything seemed to fit perfectly, and my admiration for them only solidified.  Lead member Dave Longstreth is truly a talent to behold, and I was thoroughly impressed with all members performances, even though my favorite song of theirs remains “Knotty Pine”, featuring David Byrne (who unfortunately, wasn’t there for the riff-raff show).

3. Animal Collective

This show was a regular Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride of any show I’ve been to, with the exception of The Flaming Lips, and also of what I imagine Gwar is like live.  I may or may not have been under the influence of happytime substances, but honestly, had I been as stone cold sober as a Drill Sargeant at 5am roll call, it still would’ve been the trippiest fucking shit ever.  I remember something about giant puppets (or displays?  It’s all so unclear) with florescent colors and lights, drowning in and out of a trance induced by the freak folk/experimental/noise-pop that is Panda Bear and his collection of animals. I kind of felt like whatever it was that Val Kilmer was trying to convey as Jim Morrison in that shitty Oliver Stone movie, The Doors, while dancing around Native American style…except not poorly conceived/acted.  In other words, I Am the Lizard Queen.

4. Hercules & Love Affair

Definitely one of the most homosexual male-attended shows I’ve ever been to, surprise, surprise.  Though a bit dissappointing, as apparently, HLA has re-formed the group, only retaining founding member and Sarah Lawrence alum Andrew Butler and Kim Ann Foxman.  Though I guess I don’t really “get” how Hercules and Love Affair as a “band” work.  Do they just feature a rotating lazy susan-style buffet of featured vocalists?  I don’t really know.  But, I was a bit sad I didn’t get to see Nomi Ruiz perform.  I’ve definitely seen her in action, dancing around at parties, but never when she was an actual featured performer.  Regardless, the new/current incarnation of HLA was pure A-W-E-S-O-M-E and this plus Animal Collective certainly made my birthday weekend a regular dance-off 2K9.

5. Girl Talk

Girl Talk at East River State Park, August 09, courtesy of

Aside from the fact that for some reason, most everyone at this show and dancing (and making out!  Way to make me feel like a child pornography aficionado, kidz!) on stage was between the ages of 5 and 13, I actually had a ridiculously fantastic time at this show.  Out of every Girl Talk show experience that I’ve had thus far (I think it’s up to 4 now), this was definitely my favorite.  Me and a couple of my friends somehow snagged a choice little spot up on a ledge where we could both see the stage AND move around to dance.  Some girl even declared me to be “gangsta.”  I’m pretty sure that’s the only time in my life that will ever happen, and I will cherish it always.

6. Jenny Lewis

Let me just say that “Fernando” might be my all-time favorite Jenny Lewis song of all time.  For her to come out in denim, boots, and sporting the American flag as a cape on the 4th of July, and THEN bust out “Fernando”, talking about bottles of suds, might have been THE thing to solidify the summer of 2009 as THE best summer in recent history.  In addition, a man-child of about 21 approached me and my friend and thought we were 20 years old.  Oh, kids today.

7. Paul McCartney

I was shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you that this semi-elderly man in his 60’s could perform a several-houred show at Shea Stadium/CitiField and be pretty damn amazing.  Aside from ruining my life by explaining what Blackbird is REALLY about (trust me, it’s better that you don’t know), I was truly satisfied that I had finally fulfilled my lifelong dream of witnessing a living legend of a time long ago.  I think he might be the only rock legend aside form Iggy Pop I’ve seen live, and um, I heard that Wings were a pretty big deal.  Troof.  In all seriousness, I actually have just started to some of the stuff he did with Wings.

8. Grizzly Bear,  East River State Park

And it all comes full circle with none other than our woodland friends, Grizzly Bear.  I don’t think anyone can argue that this was THE Indie Rock show of the summer, if not the year so far.  I met New York Senator Chuck Schumer, and was allowed the opportunity to create an amazing photo of me crushing Beyonce’s head (as you probably have heard ad nauseum, Jay Z and Beyonce were in attendance).  Not only that, but the GB was especially ON POINT that day, not to obscure the lovely Beach House, who opened for them.

What were YOUR best concerts of the summer?  I didn’t go to the David Byrne show, due to overpopulation, so that’s why it’s not on here.

above photos courtesy of Time Out, Sterogum, Three Dollar Drinks, I Feel Infinite, Right Music, Gawker.

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Anna G - Caliburg Contributor

Anna G - Caliburg Contributor

Anna G. is a Southern California native living in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn since 2005. Anna is constantly trying to unite her love of CA sunshine and the excitement of the New York urban jungle, all the while trying to keep her unwieldy credit card debt under control, and look fabulous at brunch, no matter how un-showered and hungover.

1 Comment

  1. September 29, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Thanks for the photo/link! Your blog name is amazing.