Danny’s Top 10: D.C.’s Best 2010 Concerts

by Borderstan.com January 13, 2011 at 5:30 am 3,348 10 Comments

Live music in Borderstan Luis Gomez Photos

Danny reviews the most awesome concerts of 2010. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Danny Shapiro is an avid music lover who has the good fortune to live very close the music scene on the 14th and U Street corridor. A list of his previous reviews is at the bottom of this column. Comments or questions? Send Danny an email.

Hello again music lovers!  Before we turn the page and embark on a new year of amazing shows in the District, it would behoove us to reflect on the year of great live music that was 2010.

After scouring all of my ticket stubs, Facebook updates, and calendar notes to recall my 2010 shows attended, the following is my top 10 list of the best concerts of 2010 as attended by me, Danny. (I apologize for being a bit tardy in getting this up, as everyone else in the world was doing ‘best of’ retrospective lists last month, but better late than never!)

The Top 10 in 2010 was compiled using the latest in polling and scoring technology (i.e., my brain’s inclination), and were determined on a sliding scale according to the following factors:

  • Crowd reaction/support for artist
  • Artist interaction with and appreciation of the audience
  • Intimate feeling of venue: artist’s ability to make you feel like he/she is playing only for you
  • Quality of songlist selection
  • Length of concert (too short, too long?)
  • Something incredible to remember the show by
  • Afterwards, only able to say to myself: ‘WOW

Of course, I didn’t get to every single show last year, so let me know what you think about this list in the ‘comments’ section below.


Top 10 in 2010: The Best Concerts in DC

(10) Jenny and Johnny @ Black Cat, September 16, 2010 – Who says you can’t mix business with pleasure?  Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice proved the naysayers wrong with their undeniable on-stage chemistry at the Cat, and gifting us with one of the year’s most surprising and darling indie pop albums.

(9) Juliette Lewis @ Rock & Roll Hotel, August 22, 2010 – A lucky few were wise enough to catch this amazing singer (/actor); the novelty factor wore off for me two seconds after the show began, instantly catapulting Juliette into the rock goddess stratosphere.

(8) Rufus Wainwright & Martha Wainwright @ Strathmore Music Hall, August 7, 2010 – Any chance to see this legendary family perform is a highlight for me; however, Martha’s tribute performance to Edith Piaf and Rufus’ rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” (as interpreted by Jeff Buckley) brought out the waterworks. The first act ‘song cycle’ (aka – no talking or applauding until Rufus finishes the entire new album ‘Songs for Lulu’) mixed with the ‘blinking eye’ video backdrop was stunningly unforgettable.

(7) Ernie Halter & Tony Lucca @ Jammin Java (Vienna, VA), August 19, 2010 – Sometimes, less is more. At this stripped-down, acoustic intimate concert, a pair of exquisitely gifted vocalists/singer-songwriters armed only with their guitars and piano traded back-and-forth performances of each soloist’s songs, for an “in the round”-style setlist. I didn’t want this concert to end, and was even able to express my gratitude to both performers at the after-show meet & greet.  A beautiful experience.

(6) Jónsi @ 9:30 Club, November 8, 2010 – Jónsi (of Sigur Rós fame) takes us to new places with his music, but the jaw-dropping video backdrop, showcasing gorgeous scenes of nature, animals, and other-worldly imagery brought this show to a whole new level.

(5) Marc Broussard @ Rams Head On Stage (Annapolis, MD), December 1, 2010 – I know this is way outside of the Borderstan neighborhood, but this show was too good to miss. Marc’s Louisiana charm is infectious, and his vocal abilities are easily reminiscent of the impeccable/incomparable Otis, Sam, and Donny. The show was perfect, and with a front row seat at this small venue, it was as if I were the only boy in the room. Marc is back in town at the Birchmere (Alexandria, VA) on March 2 – go!

(4) Phoenix @ D.A.R. Constitution Hall, April 26, 2010 – D.A.R. isn’t my favorite venue in the District, but Phoenix made it feel like the best dance party in the universe. Moreover, lead singer Thomas Mars’ end-of-gig running through the orchestra seats/balcony ascension capped off with the mad rush of fans onto the stage was epic.

(3) Robyn & Kelis @ 9:30 Club, August 2, 2010 – Never has a lineup so ably paired two 21st century dance pop icons as this show, and the crowd went absolutely insane from start to finish. Plus, each of their 2010 albums were among the year’s best!

(2) TIE!! Florence and the Machine @ 9:30 Club, April 6, 2010 and Janelle Monae @ 9:30 Club September 14, 2010 – Last year, the world was introduced to two ladies (each under 25 years of age) who exploded onto the scene with such originality, boundary-pushing music, and stage presence that each has forever redefined the female rock star. Janelle Monae’s futuristic motif and soaring vocal abilities brought us to outer space and back, while Florence’s sweet and tender humility for the crowd (“I can’t believe you know the lyrics to my songs!”) gracefully complimented the powerhouse command of her anthemic tracks made each of these ladies’ performances the best in 2010.

(1) Muse @ George Mason University, March 1, 2010 – Without too much hyperbole, Muse are time and again named the best live act for good reason. Simply put, they give the best concert experience money can buy.

Honorable Mentions: The Rest of the Best

  • Chrisette Michelle @ 9:30 Club, February 23, 2010
  • Jamie Cullum @ 9:30 Club, March 7, 2010
  • OK GO @ 9:30 Club, May 5, 2010
  • Corinne Bailey Rae with Daniel Merriweather @ 9:30 Club, May 13, 2010
  • Kings of Convenience @ 9:30 Club, June 6, 2010
  • Patti Griffin @ 9:30 Club, June 12, 2010
  • Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed @ Rock and Roll Hotel, June 18,2010
  • She & Him @ 9:30 Club, July 7, 2010
  • Ray LaMontagne/David Gray @ Merriweather Post Pavilion, August 5, 2010
  • Arcade Fire/Spoon @ Merriweather Post Pavilion, August 6, 2010
  • Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue @ 9:30 Club, August 13, 2010
  • Dirty Projectors @ 9:30 Club, September 7, 2010
  • Jamie Lidell @ 9:30 Club, September 20, 2010
  • Foals @ Black Cat, October 3, 2010
  • Pete Yorn @ Black Cat, October 6, 2010
  • XX @ 9:30 Club, October 5, 2010
  • Fun. @ 9:30 Club, December 2, 2010

Music Reviews from Danny


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