Sounding the Gasholder Building
Building, May 22
The coolest unheated former industrial performance space in
the area hosted this evening of avant-ambient sounds with
Pauline Oliveros (accordion), Sarah Warren and Stephan Moore
(steel cello) and Scott Smallwood (steel pan). The echoes
. . . the echoes.
Horse Music Hall, Northampton, Mass., July 11
Touring in support of her underappreciated album In Exile
Deo, Hatfield (backed by the old Gravel Pit rhythm section)
was as loud and snarky as she wanted to be. And, even fighting
a cold, that was quite a lot of snark.
The Musical Box
Theatre, Dec. 9
The Québéçois quintet re-created Genesis’ The Lamb Lies
Down on Broadway, creating a vision of prog-rock heaven
here on earth.
Egg, Feb. 8
A rollicking three-hour-long spoken word extravaganza. Rollins
proved, again, that he’s the coolest dork in punk.
DJ Toast’s 15th Anniversary Celebration
Duster, March 20
C-Rayz Walz and Craig-G were the excellent out-of-town stars
celebrating the longtime RPI DJ’s show, but Sev Statik and
some fine Pitch Control artists represented for the 518.
Gay Tastee, Brent Gorton
Larkin Lounge, Jan. 3
Accompanied by the boys from Lincoln Money Shot, Gay Tastee
conjured up our collective demons. Accompanied by Troy Pohl
and Gaven Richard, Brent Gorton exorcised his own.
York State Museum, June 25
The original hippie chick proved she still packs plenty of
Theatre, Nov. 12
Pure pop nostalgia from the original Shania Twain. The fact
that I knew so many of her songs took the piss out of any
residual rockist (popist?) snobbery from when I thought her
Arena, Nov. 17
She’s still got ’em. Her voice and her talent, that is.
Ale House, Jan. 25
Pleasing rockabilly and honky tonk from a modern master, in
a very, very crowded room.
Winners, June 4
Hank III is a ghost of his legendary grandfather Hank Williams,
resembling the country music icon so much in looks and voice
that it’s eerie. His name alone may have drawn the folding-chair
legions of older folks, but I can’t imagine what they thought
about the tattooed, foul-mouthed grandson as he unleashed
a whirlwind of drug-and-drink-loving “hellbilly” country.
I could have lived without the set by Hank III’s metal band
Assjack at the very end of the night, but the outlaw-country
portion of his show was one of the most jaw-dropping performances
I’ve ever seen.
Joe Pernice writes some of the prettiest, lushest pop songs
around, without a trace of the twee preciousness that infects
many an indie-pop band. The Pernice Brothers were in fine
form on this night, and nearly every one of their songs sounded
like a hit.
Guided By Voices
Street, Northampton, Mass., April 23
On the verge of breaking up, GBV drowned their sorrows in
tequila and Miller Lite. By the end of the flawed but brilliant
set, broken glass littered the stage and guitarist Nate Farley
could barely stand. Unmoved, Pearl Street staff put an end
to the band’s emotional farewell by cutting their electricity
Duster, March 20
At a festive anniversary party for DJ Toast of WRPI, skilled
underground rapper C-Rayz Walz performed quick-witted tracks
from his superb album Ravipops, while bopping across
the stage in a limber-limbed manner that lightened the occasional
grittiness of his lyrics.
Minnesota garage-punk band the Midnight Evils, on revered
independent label Estrus Records, made a last-minute and little-known
stop at Valentine’s, wherein they blew the roof off the place
with thrash-metal intensity and howling vocals, equal parts
punk rock and dirty-white-trash boogie.
Winners, Oct. 23
and Weird” may be one of the best sing-along punk tunes ever.
Live, the Briefs’ crazed energy, cheeky new-wave style and
snotty refrains did not disappoint any fans of their immensely
The Figgs, the Rudds
On the second date of a two-night stand, the Figgs pulled
out all the stops during a show that ranks up there among
their local best, while John Powhida, in his stellar Beantown
band, the Rudds, paid homage in song to the “depressing magic”
of his former home city of Albany.
Beenie Man, T.O.K., Super Cat
Lights, Aug. 7
Dancehall reggae is a participatory sport, and this virtually
nonstop succession of Jamaican acts—sponsored by local reggae
DJ Sir Walford—had the crowd jumping, waving their arms and
singing along to the rapid toasting of dancehall superstars
like Beenie Man and Super Cat.
Winners, Feb. 11
Under a fog-machine-induced haze, the heavy power trio riffed
out their California desert version of 1970s space rock. The
crowd was mainly there to see Clutch and Mastodon, but the
nuanced psychedelics of Nebula were more my thing.
Street, Northampton, Mass., April 14
The French duo, along with a drummer and a black-beret-wearing
organist, transfixed Pearl Street with monochromatic stage
lights, delicate vocals and moog-enhanced instrumentals from
their cinematic Talkie Walkie album.
Slipknot, Slayer, Hatebreed, God Forbid (Aggressive Music
Falls Civic Center, July 17
Call it what you want. I called it The Four Bands You Meet
Shadows Fall, Candiria, All That Remains
Winners, Oct. 2
Pounding the world. Like battering ram.
Deep Purple, Joe Satriani, Thin Lizzy
Performing Arts Center, Aug. 18
Two classic acts. The bread for a guitar weenie.
Last Call, Brick by Brick
Lights, Sept. 28
Still the tightest metal band in the world, hands down.
The Victor Wooten Band
Egg, Jan. 11
Like an absurdly talented Jackson 5. On Ketamine.
Lights, May 7
Always a religious experience, like finding a 20-spot in the
Hank Williams III, Porter Hall
Winners, June 4
The loudest hillbilly playing for the weirdest people.
Amherst, Mass., Nov. 30
So what if they’re in it for the money—they put bands half
their age to shame, piledriving through about 30 of their
classic songs in the time it takes most bands to set up their
gear. A welcome return and a fond farewell.
Pernice Brothers, the Long Winters
An evening of perfect pop. Bonus points: the Pernice Brothers
brought along Ric Menck on drums; the Long Winters played
impromptu Neil Diamond covers.
now: the Decemberists at Pearl Street.
Photo: Joe Putrock
Street, Northampton, Mass., Sept. 28
Smart, theatrical, and intoxicating. Keep an eye on this band
Horse Music Hall, Northampton, Mass., Oct. 23
As warm and inviting as a winter blanket, and the best “on
cold medicine” performance of the year.
College, Oct. 8
Jeff Tweedy looked like he was actually having fun by the
last few tunes, and that has to be worth something.
and bear it: Life of Agony rocks Northern Lights.
Photo: Chris Shields
Life of Agony
Lights, Jan. 20
Practically the same set they played at the QE2 a decade prior;
just as much of a kick in the ass.
The Figgs, Candy Butchers
There were many Figgs shows ’round the area this year, but
only this one induced mild amnesia, and carried a hefty towing
Horse Music Hall, Northampton, Mass., Feb. 7
After trying to duplicate Gram Parsons’ chemical intake for
the better part of a decade, the ex-Lemonhead settled on playing
some of Parsons’ tunes—and a haul of his own—on this wonderfully
Two Cow Garage
Three hard-working boys from Ohio put on a hard-rocking show
in front of three hard-drinking patrons. Glad I could be one
of the three.
Arena, Sept. 5
Kid Rock kicked ass for the working class. Seriously. This
show was 100-percent entertainment.
Los Straitjackets, Eddy “the Chief” Clearwater
State Plaza, Aug. 11
The masked instrumentalists delivered a burning set of rock
& roll rumble and tailspinning surf, hooking up with legendary
rock & roll-blues animal Clearwater, with whom they had
recently collaborated on a Grammy-nominated album.
Ale House, July 18
Blasters aside, the Paladins have long delivered some of the
best West Coast roots & roll. And they love coming to
Troy. The Ale House rolled out a remarkable lineup of music
Pernice Brothers, the Long Winters
A Monday-night show featuring some of the most melodically
striking left-of-the-dial rock of the year. Ric Menck (Velvet
Crush, Matthew Sweet) guested on drums for the Pernices.
The Tragically Hip
Lights, Oct. 21
They’re heroes in Canada and an underground phenomenon stateside—but
still, nearly 20 years in, they roll out a powerful show.
Eddie Angel’s Guitar Party
Ale House, Nov. 13
The Los Straitjackets guitar hero, unmasked, cut loose for
the hometown crowd with a bunch of old friends pitching, delivering
a guitarfest of garage-punk, rockabilly and surf.
The whole local rock & roll team got together with the
Lustre Kings for this one. Johnny Rabb is still, decades in,
the most commanding, exciting frontman in our region.
The Kamikaze Hearts
Performing Arts Studio, Sept. 25
This radio show was a great milestone for the longtime local
greats—a strong, warm performance with guest spots by other
Ale House, May 2
Dickerson is a charismatic, golden-throated, double-neck-guitar-playing
wizard. The Californian delivered a fun, dizzying night of
pre-Beatles rock & roll.
Graham Tichy’s Hillbilly Fun Park
This was an all-star local Americana lineup (including Kevin
Maul, Dale Haskell, John Tichy and Mark Gamsjager) that burrowed
into some deep, soulful, hardcore honky-tonk.
Chris Hillman & Herb Pedersen
Egg, June 13
Hillman, formerly of the Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers,
has a secure place in rock & roll history. Alongside longtime
collaborator Pedersen, he particularly shone on striking versions
of “Wheels” (Flying Burritos) and “Eight Miles High” (the
NRBQ 35th Anniversary Reunion Concert
Theatre, Northampton, Mass., May 1
The second night of two, the sold-out show seemed like the
world as I always imagined it could be. And seeing the original
lineup of the band from the late ’60s had me amazed by the
idiosyncratic power of Frankie Gadler.
Hadn’t had my head this spun around by a live show since Sweetnighter-era
Weather Report or King Crimson touring Starless and Bible
Black. Explaining it any further can’t do it justice.
Park, Aug. 2
Most likely the finest outdoor show I’ve ever been to.
Nick Lowe & Geraint Watkins
Horse, Northampton, Mass., Sept. 24
The very definition of a gentleman troubadour, playing a set
of songs that are destined to be standards in this century
Dave Alvin & the Guilty Men
Hall, July 14
Alvin’s Ashgrove album came to life with chest-thumping
vigor and a poetic heart.
Flying high on the wings of their double album Palais,
the Figgs go expectations one better by embracing surprise
at every turn.
Helsinki, Great Barrington, Mass., May 30
With just a drummer in tow for the past half-year, she’s found
a new edge for herself, moving away from singer-songwriter
settings into the language of purely musical circumstances.
Egg, March 22
One man, one guitar, 35 years of great songs, and a secret
weapon in form of his longtime soundman, Simon.
Albany, Jan. 2
The couple dozen in attendance were treated to one of those
remarkable nights when magic happens, from the very first