year in review 2006
Critic: John Brodeur
1. The Flaming Lips, Ween, Sonic Youth
York State Fairgrounds, Sept. 1
up your Polyphonic Spree real tight and cram it. The Flaming
Lips transcended the concert experience by providing an honest-to-God
spiritual event, with “support” from two more of the most
inventive acts of the last 20 years. Who would have guessed
the best show of the year would pop up at the freaking state
The Roots, Brazilian Girls
Mountain, Aug. 25-26
two-day Camp Bisco music festival held many of the expected
trappings: drugs, music to take drugs to (there’s no other
logical explanation for the Disco Biscuits), and hordes of
the great unwashed dancing through the downpour (who needs
soap when there’s rain?). But the Roots’ maniacally tight
R&B machine made up for the Friday-night blahs with songs
from their excellent 2006 release Game Theory, while
New York’s brizzilliant Brazilian Girls stole the whole damn
show with the best nightclub set of the year—at 4 in the afternoon.
Performing Arts Center, Aug. 17
not about the songs—which are good. It’s all about LaMontagne’s
heaven-sent voice, and on this night, he held aloft 5,000
or so Guster fans with each and every soulful syllable.
Performing Arts Studio, Jan. 21
this was about the songs, from “Wichita Lineman” to
“MacArthur Park” to “Up, Up and Away.” And Webb, the architect
of those and so many other timeless tunes, was one mighty
charming name- dropper. (Hey, if you’ve got a Sinatra story,
you tell it!)
Duran at the Palace Theater
Theater, Nov. 6
what: “The Reflex” still kicks ass.
Nine Inch Nails, Bauhaus, Peaches
Performing Arts Center, June 18
strangest big-stage concert of the summer was also the best.
River Street Festival, June 17
had almost forgotten how many wonderful songs Karl Wallinger
had composed. This was a pleasant reminder.
Arena, May 12
they’re playing songs as good as the ones on this year’s self-titled
disc, Pearl Jam are one of the very best concert acts going.
Performing Arts Studio, April 2
just an acoustic guitar, the former Squeeze singer is a one-man
wrecking machine. He even rocks those classic guitar solos.
Avenue Armory, Oct. 6
what you want about First Impressions of Earth, but
live, those songs killed.
Critic: Shawn Stone
Nine Inch Nails, Bauhaus
Performing Arts Center, June 28
in the way only money can buy, Trent Reznor and company matched
great musicianship with very pricey, state-of-the-art sound
and vision. Bauhaus were dark and dazzling.
Theatre Nov. 6
great pop-rock song after another from four of the original
five Durans. For 75 minutes, the 1980s lived again.
Egg, March 30
man, his guitar and his amazing songbook delighted a sold-out
crowd of faithful fans. He’s still the silver-tongued devil.
Theatre, June 5
has taken good care of her voice, and her voice took care
of her in this engaging performance at Proctor’s.
Dresden Dolls, Golem
Egg, April 9
Dresden Dolls’ Kurt Weill-meets-Violent Femmes sound met Golem’s
klezmer-punk for a vaguely Europe-tainted evening of angry,
sexy-time sounds. And face painting.
The Aimee Mann Christmas Show
Egg, Dec. 16
fun than a fistful of Xanax, Mann and guests—including Grant-Lee
Phillips—brought a little holiday fun to town, just when we
The Musical Box
Theatre, Oct. 29
they’re a tribute band who play, note-for-note, ’70s prog
rock by a bunch of nerd-school English gits. Want to make
something of it?
people took this ill-fated show as a train wreck, but the
skittish Foster still impressed with her haunted take on,
among other things, German art song.
Pearl Jam, My Morning Jacket
Arena, May 12
usually not that crazy about Pearl Jam, but Eddie and company
were on fire. And My Morning Jacket weren’t, which was sort
of the point.
Arena, Sept. 1
old-school diva returns with a crateload of costumes and more
No. 1 hits than the Beatles.
Critic: Bill Ketzer
1. Pat Travers
Hall, June 23
is still the man, delivering a greatest-hits package on a
sweltering eve by the river that left them whiskey-soaked
and muttering filthy non sequiturs to police, volunteer fireman,
wives, roommates, etc. upon exodus from the club. Older, sure,
but still tighter than a prairie dog’s arse in a dust bowl.
Unholy Alliance Tour 2006 featuring Slayer, Lamb of God, Mastodon,
Children of Bodom, Thine Eyes Bleed
Avenue Armory, June 29
better way to celebrate the end of a state legislative session
than with a split lip and cigarette burns on your eyelids?
The proverbial planets aligned this summer to offer up this
near-faultless package for Hessians young and old.
The Sword, Stinking Lizaveta, Greatdayforup
excellent, heavy-handed visions for you. If one pressed the
chest to the woofers at any point during the evening, the
effect was similar to a hot dose of DMT in a sauna on an empty
stomach . . . or . . . so . . . I’m . . . told. Great time,
and good also to hear some new material from locals GDFU.
Stanton Moore Trio
Square, May 18
ridiculously hot time. Moore brought along two New Orleans
veterans, wrote up the charts stone cold in the dressing room
and laid waste for three-plus hours. Let’s see Boys Night
Out try that.
John Fogerty, Willie Nelson
Performing Arts Center, Aug. 6
legends. One stage. No depression. I got the gooseflesh when
Fogerty pounced out to “Travelin’ Band,” and wept like a televangelist
when Willie did “Always on My Mind.” It was like reading The
Sun Also Rises for the first time.
Critic: Paul Rapp
Helsinki, Feb. 3, Oct. 14; MASS MoCA, June 24
shows, three different configurations of musicians, three
spectacular musical experiences of psychedelic Persian magic.
Haale’s at least three steps to the left of almost everything
else you’ve ever heard, but she’s so dead on it you probably
won’t notice. I suspect 2007 will be Haale’s year.
been waiting 15 years to see this early-music a cappella group,
and every second of the wait was worth it. Mesmerizing, majestic,
ethereal, and utterly moving. The 10 voices filled every inch
of the Ozawa Hall with joy and wonder.
Helsinki, July 2
and insidiously funny, Fulks and his killer band played country
music the way it oughta be played, the way it used to be played
before the country scene got Wal-Marted into mediocrity. And
the guy flat-picks like a demon. The only problem was that
it was damn hard to dance while laughing my ass off.
Helsinki, March 4
Kihlstedt and company performed an evening of intergalactic
chamber music that was beyond bold, beyond creative, beyond
tasteful. Horns, reeds, strings, a tiny pump organ. Crumpling
paper as a percussion instrument. Watching these guys was
like taking a three-week vacation to a different and delightfully
DuWayne Burnside and the Mississippi Mafia
Helsinki, Sept. 16
over, Rover, and let DuWayne take over. You want the funk?
You’ll have to ask DuWayne, ’cause he’s got it. All of it.
Cold. Deep, too! Stanky, stanky, stanky-ass stanky . . .
Avenue Armory, Oct. 17
favorite Hasidic reggae singer showed why he’s da bomb, thoroughly
debunking the racist bullshit thrown at him this year by the
solipsistic twits at The New York Times. (I got yer
authenticity right here, jack-offs.) His arena show
was every bit as intimate, powerful, and inspiring as the
staggering set he did two years ago on the tiny stage at Savannah’s.
Matisyahu’s got his mazel tov mojo workin’ overtime.
Field, Aug. 17
been trying to figure out whether I like Dylan for, oh, 44
years or so; this show locked it in. He’s really got me now.
The lingering remains of Hurricane Ernesto kept a lot of people
away, and what a show they missed. What a band! George Racile
is some kind of drum god. Dylan was actually smiling
through the mist.
Critic: David Greenberger
1. The Terry Adams & Steve Ferguson Quartet
Performing Arts Center, July 14
emotionally rich and musically rewarding night, as NRBQ’s
Terry Adams returned to the area after a performing hiatus,
this time with his old friend and Q cofounder, guitarist Steve
The Figgs, the Rudds
annual holiday stand was given a sadly potent twist when Mike
Gent couldn’t attend due to the declining health of his mother.
So the two Petes went on as a duo, and the crowd was completely
theirs. They were also joined by Brett Rosenberg from the
Rudds, whose opening set of power pop turned the unadorned
hall into a sleek ’70s stereo system.
Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins
Academy of Music, Northampton, Mass., Oct. 14
of Rilo Kiley, here stepping out on her own for one of the
most assured and confident performances of the year, along
with one of the best releases. She’s the real deal.
The Ivey Divey Trio
Egg, March 24
they were led by Don Byron, the night belonged equally to
drummer Jack DeJohnette and pianist Jason Moran.
They Might Be Giants, OK Go
Park Tulip Festival, May 13
rain stayed away, it was a sunny day, and I got to take in
two bands with my just-home-from-college daughter. What could
Critic: Mike Hotter
1. Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band
Performing Arts Center, June 21
and his select group of trad-music MVPs made us forget all
about the E Street Band, at least for the duration of this
inspiring Americana revival.
The Flaming Lips, Ween, Sonic Youth, the Magic Numbers
York State Fairgrounds, Sept. 1
dream billing of alt-rock heavyweights (plus English up-and-comers
the Magic Numbers, who impressed with a combo of hooks, chops
and charm) more than lived up to expectations. Owsley’s acid
has officially been replaced by roasted corn on the cob.
Gary Higgins & Red Hash
Performing Arts Center, Sept. 15
group of wizened folk-rockers brought their eponymous cult
classic to life with an idiosyncratic blend of spectral folk,
pensive lyrics and sudden bursts of steely synthesizers. Hopefully
Higgins follows other freak-folk forerunners like Bert Jansch
and Vashti Bunyan with new material this year.
Billy Bang Quartet
for Independent Media, Oct. 13
free-jazz violinist Bang took the audience on a harrowing
but ultimately joyful journey through his Vietnam War experience.
Michael Hurley, Tara Jane O’Neil
for Independent Media, May 20
evening with Doc Snock is always enjoyable, like a night around
the campfire with some long-lost hobo uncle. Tara Jane O’Neil
mesmerized with her inimitable, slow-burning slowcore.
Egg, April 13
kept us off our asses with a groove that was equal parts James
Brown and Fela Kuti. He also captured our hearts with his
anthems, championing the worldwide oppressed and voiceless.
Vetiver, Gun Christmas and Gay Tastee
made a fine country-rock sound, while frontman Andy Cabic’s
songwriting may have already outstripped that of old bandmate
Devendra Banhart. Gun Christmas and Steve Gaylord represented
the home team at our quirkiest and most passionate, respectively.
Richard Buckner, Luxury Flats
poet laureate of heartbroken drifters atoned for any past
live transgressions with a strong set of squalling looped
guitar underpinning head-spinning lyrics. Hudson’s Luxury
Flats played a rare “acoustic” version of their intriguing
blend of gritty rock and loping country-soul.
Kaki King, Yora Boon
Square, Dec. 12
jaw-dropping, highbrow guitar skills of King and the brave
experiments of Yoon made downtown Albany sound more like a
New York City avant-garde club like Tonic or the Knitting
Factory for a night.
Great Day for Up
headliners Pearls and Brass couldn’t make it because of a
van malfunction, so GDFU compensated by playing louder than
two DC-10s crashing into your backyard. For 20-odd years of
concertgoing, I prided myself on never wearing earplugs. This
night of chest-grinding metal made my old ears scream for
mercy (and, yes, reach for the plugs kindly provided by the
Valentine’s staff)—and made for an unforgettable concert experience.