The Heart of Rock and Roll


I’m sure some of my fellow Hippos will be closely following the big debate this evening. I, however, will be reveling in Huey Lewis and the News in honor of both candidates (John McCain b/c they’re old school, Barack Obama because they’re totally hip to be square). Which leads me to the point of this post. What are the best live musical acts you’ve ever seen? Here’s my short list.

1. Marc Broussard – The first time I heard of Marc, he was opening for Maroon 5 and Gavin Degraw and blew them both completely out of the water. It’s all about the voice with this guy. In these days of the ballady singer-songwriter (which I love, don’t get me wrong), it’s nice to see a fellow who can simply wail. And not in the big hair 80’s sense. He’s from New Orleans and definitely has the whole Louisiana vibe going.

2. Lyle Lovett – In terms of sheer quality, Lyle is the best out there. My brother, the illustrious Brandon Goff, Doctor of Music Composition, commented that seeing his show was worth 3 years of music school rolled into one. Had I ever been to music school, I would agree. Apart from the music itself, Lyle has an understated charm and a surprising sense of humor. He’s much more of a showman than you might expect.

3. The Decembrists – When The New Daisy is hushed in silence, you know you’ve got a commanding presence on stage. This is one of those groups that thrives in the live venue. I rarely pop in their CD, but their stage show is complete brilliance. You are not allowed to be a non-participant.

4. The Avett Brothers – These boys are raw energy. I just saw them for the first time about a month ago and STILL can’t get their songs out of my head. They are an impossible blend of bluegrass and punk that, judging by the crowd, appeals to all ages. Bonus: you get to count all your inevitable dancing as exercise for the week. 

5. Guster – Fun, fun, fun. If you want to have fun singing harmony at the top of your lungs, see these guys.

6. John Mayer – Aaah, John. I’ve been a fan of JM since he was playing in clubs for 50 people, so he has a special place in my musical heart. Now he’s on the cover of US Weekly, but he still has mad skills. 

7. Rocket Summer – This might seem like a 15 year old emo choice, but hear me out. The kid writes undeniably catchy (and complicated) songs with lyrics that actually mean something. Plus, he delivers the energy of his albums and then some. Who cares if you’re the only 30-something there? Okay, maybe you. And the frightened 13 year old you’re standing behind. But it’s worth it. Trust me.

I could go on and on, but those are the first people that come to mind, so there’s probably some truth in their impact. Some folks didn’t make the cut simply because I haven’t seen them (U2 comes to mind). Other favorites didn’t make it because their live show doesn’t beat their albums in my opinion (Ryan Adams, Indigo Girls, Foo Fighters, etc.).


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15 Responses to “The Heart of Rock and Roll”

  1. urbino Says:

    Can’t say I’ve been to many live shows. Crowds put me out of sorts.

    However, the aforementioned Huey Lewis & the News were the first band I heard live, back in 19mumblemumble, with Robert Cray as opening act.

    Wilco puts on a good show, IMO, but I really don’t have much to compare it too.

  2. alsturgeon Says:

    Not much to contribute on this front, but interested in everyone else’s stories…

    Saw Bryan Adams once. Celine Dion a coupla times. (On both fronts, gifts for Jody.) I also got her tickets for Prince once, but I got to miss out on that one.

    Seen Jon Conley play with several folks – Wynonna, Lee Greenwood, LeAnn Rimes…

    Took my then teenage daughter to the House of Blues in New Orleans for a boy-band called O’Town. That was fun.

    Met Tommy Lee at Meet the Teacher Night – does that count?

  3. dejon05 Says:

    Cool. I’m in.

    1) Ray Lamontagne… Saw him live with Guster (See OP). The soul and power of Ray’s music is the audible personification of who I want to be. I saw him in Philadelphia with Guster (h/t to Mrs. Peacock), and I relate to the guy deeply.

    2) Bob Schnieder… Completely different show from Ray. This is just a rockin’ good time.

    3) Old 97s… I saw them in Austin and Chicago. And I’m gonna go ahead and admit that I have a bit of a mancrush on Rhett Miller. On top of that, they make Texas seem really cool.

    4) Coldplay… Couple this entry (and the applicable commentary from the 40-year-old virgin) with my professed mancrush, and I’m opening myself to some inaccurate assumptions.

    5) Emmy Lou Harris… Two of my best friends decided on Manhattan as a rendez-vous point when we needed to celebrate my buddy’s forthcoming wedding. They have unadulturated love for alterantive-country music, and they have forgotten more about the genre than I know. But even a tone-deaf person like myself can appreciate Emmy Lou’s silky voice. When she sang Poncho & Lefty, I was set adrift. Add the fact that she was joined on stage by Tift Merritt, and I might have squealed like a school girl in shocked appreciation.

    6) Nazareth… Love hurts, man. Love hurts.

  4. Whitney Says:

    Dej, you’re totally cracking me up today.
    This quote:”…I might have squealed like a school girl…” left me picturing you with your hands over your mouth and a glisten in your eye. 🙂

  5. urbino Says:

    Poncho & Lefty

    Townes van Zandt’s own live version (heard via cd) is my favorite.

  6. Michael Lasley Says:

    1) U2 at Madison Square Garden was the best thing I’ve ever seen live. That was October 2001.

    2) U2 in Atlanta was the second best (March-ish 2001).

    3) Pearl Jam in Memphis in 94 was incredible. They’d just released their second album. Afterwards, as I was buying a t-shirt from a black market vendor, some undercover cops slapped handcuffs on the guys wrists. So I pulled the $20 back from the guys cuffed wrist and walked off with a free shirt. I figured it was ok since the cops didn’t say anything to me.

    4) James Taylor….I’ve seen a couple of times. Both at Mud Island. Great shows.

    I don’t go to tons of shows (see JU’s note on crowds). I’ve been to a few more, but those are the most noteworthy.

    I saw Bob Dylan play at Memphis in May one year, but that was before I liked Bob Dylan, so it was wasted on me. I’m ashamed of myself.

  7. urbino Says:

    You should be. Bang your head on the floor until forgiven.

  8. alsturgeon Says:

    Oh, I did see Jimmy Buffett in N’awlins. How could I forget?

    Maybe cuz there were 2 billion drunk folks enjoying themselves, and the crowd thing. And it was outside in the Louisiana humidity.

  9. mrspeacock Says:

    DeJon, you’re making me jealous! It is a life goal of mine to see Emmy Lou Harris in concert. My banjo player saw her a few years ago, stole the styrofoam cup she was drinking from on stage, then sucked off all the lipstick. I’m not quite that hardcore, but her voice does put me into a trance. “Red Dirt Girl” is one of my favorite heartbreakers.

    I saw Ray LaMontagne and Guster perform together in Nashville! I was completely drawn into Ray’s performance until he apparently went insane, told a fan to f!#* off, said something about raping children, and ended his set early. It was truly bizarre. But his voice is somehow soft and powerful at the same time. I’d love to see him again when he’s a little less crazy.

    I had the grrreat fortune to attend a private concert with Rhett Miller at a little bar here in Memphis a few years back. I definitely share your crush.

    Mikey, how dare you rub U2 in my face!

    JU, I’ve only seen Wilco at Memphis in May, and I don’t think it’s a good venue for them. I’d love to see them in a smaller setting.

    Al, I’m sorely disappointed. The fact that you would even mention Celine Dion troubles me.

  10. urbino Says:

    I’ve seen them twice: once at the Orpheum, and once at the . . . I’ve forgotten the name of it . . . the amphitheater down in Southaven.

  11. alsturgeon Says:

    What can I say, I’m a troubling sort of guy. 🙂

  12. dejon05 Says:

    Mrs. P… I have heard stories that Ray has a tendency to go all “Ryan Adams” on the crowd sometimes.

    The first time I heard such an accusation I was incredulous. The guy barely talked above a whisper when I saw him, and his Austin City Limit’s show was about the same.

    Now you’ve confirmed that there is something up with this guy.

    I have tickets to see him again at the Majestic Theater in Dallas. I’ll let you know if he throws anything.

  13. urbino Says:

    What can I say, I’m a troubling sort of guy.

    Wait wait wait. I’m the one who creeps people out. If you start doing it, I’ll have no identity at all. Knock it off.

  14. alsturgeon Says:

    I think you’re beautiful, JU. You remind me of Celine Dion.

  15. urbino Says:

    I said stop it!

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