Last Wednesday I saw Natalie Prass at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, and she was very good, with the song My Baby Don’t Understand Me a true high point. After the show I realized I’ve seen more great live music in 2015 than I have in a while, and I had the idea to write a blog post about it. Celebrating live music didn’t feel like a political idea at the time, but now it does, after the murder of 89 people at a concert in Paris on Friday
Here’s the best I’ve seen this year, with links to either specific songs or entire shows. If these artists come your way, go see them and enjoy their gifts.
David Garza, Disco Ball World. I saw Garza at the Trans-Pecos Festival of Music and Love in Marfa, Texas. Such a great event. This song got me out of my seat.
Hop Along, Texas Funeral. A Philly band (pictured right) that I had to go to Marfa to discover. My favorite song of theirs is Texas Funeral, and of course they performed it at the Marfa show.
Mexican Institute of Sound: Another Trans-Pecos act. No specific music of theirs to link to, because you really had to be there. I am 47 years old and at midnight I am usually asleep in bed, not pogo-ing under the stars. Great respect for their entertaining frontman/DJ Camilo Lara.
Further Trans-Pecos love for Jenny Lewis, Ben Kweller, Bee Caves, and Langhorne Slim.
Audra McDonald, Stars and the Moon. She’s a wonder of the world. I’m not a huge Broadway guy, but I’ve seen her twice, and in those concerts she repeated only two songs. Stars and the Moon was one of them. It comes from an Off-Broadway show I’ve never heard of, and it perfectly suits her gifts of musical storytelling.
Built to Spill, How Soon is Now. I’ve seen Built to Spill five times now, going back to the late 1990s. This Smiths cover was the perfect vehicle for the sincere intensity Doug Martsch brings to his shows.
New Pornographers. I saw this band for the first time in 2014, and caught them again this year. Despite their awful name, it is my intention to see the New Pornographers every chance I get for the rest of my life. The band is, as Dan Rather might say, tighter than the rusted lug nuts on a ’57 Chevy. For these guys I am providing a link to an entire show.
Thao and The Get Down, Stay Down: I like to get to concerts early enough to see the opening band, because you never know when you’re going to discover someone great. Years ago I saw the Black Keys and came away in love with the opening act, the Heartless Bastards. It happened again before the New Pornographers show, with Thao & The Get Down Stay Down. They gave a headline-quality performance, in large measure because of the stage presence of their lead singer Thao, which only grew stronger as the show went on. Another full performance link, but please, if you can, do yourself a favor and see Thao and all of these great artists live.