I really don't like best album lists, but I don't mind doing the top ten shows reviewed in 2014. I had about 126 to choose from if I counted correctly, which is the lowest in about four years. But it was still a tough choice and I had to leave lots of exciting shows off of the list. What remains is a mix of the old and new, the big and the small, the known and the complete surprises. So without further ado:
10. Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires with Wanted Man at the DC9, July 22nd. I saw the band twice but this one came together more brilliantly than the Black Cat show. Ferocious rock and roll here.
9. Ex Hex, Speedy Ortiz, and Teen Liver at the Black Cat, October 5th. The Merge records representative felt it was the tour of the year, and the show lived up to the hype. This one rocked from start to finish in three distinct styles.
8. Black Angels, Roky Erickson, Golden Animals at the Black Cat, February 14th. Roky is starting to drift a bit more, but his set list was much improved with more Elevators than Aliens, while the Black Angels continue to be brilliant every time through.
7. Ian Anderson at the Lincoln Theatre, November 7th. He was probably better at the DAR show a few years back, but a fine new album and another intriguing set list full of surprises (albeit no Led Zeppelin covers this time) made for an exciting evening.
6. Marissa Nadler, Janel & Anthony at the Rock'n'Roll Hotel, July 8th. Nadler was great again as were local greats Janel & Anthony, but it was Janel's double duty working in both sets that made this a special show.
5. Boris, the Atlas Moth, and Sub Rosa at the 9:30 Club, August 3rd. It is near impossible for me to keep Boris off the list as they always deliver on stage and the Atlas Moth was pretty wonderful, too.
4. Cate le Bon, Kevin Morby, and Pree at DC9, January 15th. Brilliant show from beginning to end with a great local opening band and two excellent touring acts full of creativity and passion. Any one one band this night was worth well beyond the price of admission.
3. Throwing Muses and Tanya Donelly at the 9:30 Club, June 27th. I knew these names quite well, but not their music. Both sets showed me that my ignorance was misspent.
2. Sinkane, Helado Negro, and Kahli Abdu at DC9, October 8th. I think it was the surprise at how all three acts had such creative ways to move me, often using a core style that leaves me so unmoved at many other shows.
1. Second Hand Rose at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, October 10th. Quite simply, I wasn't sure I wanted to go to this but ended up being completely blown away by a unique band that we were very fortunate to have on this continent, even if for just a week. We need more bands with the guts to add glam to their mix.