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Top Ten Concerts of 2011!

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Hit up my FB page for a version of this that includes pictures, etc, www.facebook.com/DJWilWander

I certainly can't go to every show that I want to, but I do what I can to get to various concerts and gigs around town fairly regularly.  It would be nice to pick a top 10 list of Elevated Rhymestate artists' shows, but we just don't get that much traffic from the "underground,"  so here are my top 10 concerts of all genres that I attended this year, arranged by date with the exception of the final entry for Concert of the Year.  Did you make any of these? 

  • Stanley Clarke and Hiromi at Jazz at the Bistro.  February 4 (Appeared 2nd-5th).  I was incredibly excited about this show, and made sure to be front and center to see two of my favorite musicians of all-time!  The "listening room" style atmosphere brought out Stanley's personality and provided an intimate opportunity to experience Hiromi's interaction with the music. 
  • Winter Warpdrive VI at The Roberts Orpheum. February 12.  My fifth year going to Warpdrive, and this year was going to surely be great, as it was headlined by my favorite electronic act, Infected Mushroom, who had not made much of a habit of coming to town.  They were joined with other strong acts like Donald Glaude and Krafty Kuts and included amazing visual displays and three rooms stocked with local and regionally acclaimed DJs.  An event by Panoptic Productions.  
  • CunninLynguists at The Gramophone. May 26.  I'll declare this one the Elevated Rhymestate Concert of the Year.  The trio finally comes to St. Louis, and the turn out was sure to bring them back.  Was definitely up front and bumping shoulders with some of my favorite MCs on this one.  They masterfully improvised entrances and jumped down into a packed crowd.  The show highlighted their entire discography, and included a memorable tech problem (with their computer), which was handled with a strong demonstration of acapella verse.  Their most recent album, 'Oneirology,' made my Top 10 Albums list as well. 
  • Atmosphere at The Pageant. August 17. I almost didn't go to this show, but made the right decision and got there early.  'The Family Sign,' Atmosphere's most recent album was a strong contender for my pick for Album of the Year, and really moved in a direction that I loved, and the show went the same path, drawing on many of my favorite tracks from his previous albums as well.  The show brought a strong array of other Rhymesayers acts, including Prof, Blueprint, and Evidence (formerly of Dilated Peoples).  
  • Stanley Jordan at Jazz at the Bistro.  October 5 (appeared 5th-8th).  Stanley came to the Bistro two years ago, but I didn't make going a priority, and regretted it ever since.  I was very happy to see him come back this year, and I was front and center again.  There are a few videos circulating, and I'm familiar with much of his recorded work, but his tap style guitar is truly fantastic experience.  He played originals and some of his now classic covers, and had the entire crowd in tears laughing as he demonstrated some other creative techniques, including scraping the guitar strings along the edge of a cymbal and strumming strings with his chin.  
  • Widespread Panic at The Peabody. October 12. This was my third Panic show, almost exactly 10 years after my first (Halloween '01, UIC-Pavillion), and it seems each one is better than the last.  As WSP is an incredibly prolific band that's been performing for 25 years, I'm not very familiar with the majority of their discography, but was pleased to still have a few of my favorite songs delivered.  It was my first trip to the Peabody, and it seems like a fantastic venue, even up in the balcony.  I'll be sure to try to go more often than once every 5 years, as you can usually count on at least one appearence in town each year. 
  • The Foreign Exchange at 2720 Cherokee. November 14.  I was eager to go to this show, and really did not know what to expect.  I've been a fan of Nicolay for a few years, and am well familiar with Phonte from Little Brother, but I hadn't become too knowledgeable of their work together, and really had no idea what a live show would bring. The full band added supporting vocals from Sy Smith and Jeanne Jolly, and Zo on a second set of keys (Nicolay on the first), with guitar, bass, and drums from some up and coming musicians.  The crowd was packed tight, but were swaying, bouncing, and even doing the electric slide together in a show that was an easy contender for best concert of the year.  
  • Infected Mushroom at 2720 Cherokee. November 25.  Infected Mushroom back to town for the second time this year? Yes please.  Add a few solid local DJs including a personal friend to open, and I wonder why I ever questioned going to this one.  This time, the venue and stage were both considerably smaller, but with intelligent lighting and a single inflatable prop, the show wowed a sizeable, all-ages crowd.  The high energy performance shook the floors (as clearly visible in video segments I filmed), and brought many of us together for the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • Phillip-A-Looza, Featuring: Elemental Shakedown, Stickley and Canan, The Dogtown Allstars, Lightnin' Bottle Band, The Funky Butt Brass Band, and Madahoochi at The Old Rock House. December 3.  This annual benefit concert has never been anything but a great time.  The proceeds benefit the St. Louis Chapter of the ALS Association, and includes a raffle and silent auction with amazing prizes and items.  Each act performed their own set, but often invited members of the other acts to join them for a couple of songs, and was as much fun for the people on the stage as it was the audience on the floor.  

 AND MY PICK FOR THE NUMBER ONE CONCERT OF 2011:

  •  George Duke, Marcus Miller, and David Sanborn at The Touhill Performing Arts Center. August 7. In a year that crossed many names off my "bucket list" of acts to see, there was none bigger than Marcus Miller, and George and David certainly didn't detract from the appeal.  The trio had amazing chemistry together, evidenced by both their music and stage banter.  You could pick out many of Marcus' signature licks and original works, mixed with Sanborn's swagger on the sax, and Duke played constantly off the two others and offered a fair share of his originals as well.  The three had worked with each other a number of times in the past, but had never combined all three artists on a single page, and they all had funny stories to recant about working with Miles Davis.  It was a show that felt like the entire audience was granted backstage passes, and got to share in the experience of making jazz with three of the biggest names in the scene today.  A program of Jazz St. Louis.

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