The Best Concerts I Saw in Arizona in 2013
Melissa Fossum Jimmy Eat World: intimate show of the year
I'm sure you're burnt out on reading best of 2013 lists by now, but taking an extra two weeks to wrap up the best shows of the year list was productive. For one, it's tough to compare a small, intimate show like Jimmy Eat World's mini-Arizona tour against massive productions employed by the likes of Kanye West and Nine Inch Nails.
It's even more difficult because even though I probably went to more shows than you last year (81 total!), I still didn't get to see everything. I caught only glimpses of Fleetwood Mac, Kendrick Lamar, and The Who thanks to photo restrictions. There were plenty of scheduling conflicts where I may or may not have made the right call, and there is the fact that I missed most of September thanks to traveling -- but in the mean time, I was able to see the likes of My Bloody Valentine, The Breeders, The Replacements, Brand New, and more out of state, so I'd say it was productive.
Disclaimer- this is not an all-encompassing best shows of the year list. These are the 10 Arizona shows I enjoyed most in 2013 that are loosely in order.
Melissa Fossum Fall Out Boy
10. Fall Out Boy at Marquee Theatre, 6/11/13
I can already hear some of you groaning about me kicking off this list with Fall Out Boy- and yes, I agree that Save Rock and Roll is an atrocious record--but there's more to Fall Out Boy than that. Have you heard Take This To Your Grave? It's a really solid pop-punk record that kind of sounds like Saves the Day.
I was assigned to shoot this show and was planning on leaving after the first three songs I was given to photograph from the pit. Fall Out Boy is a really fun band to photograph; the lighting is great and the band is animated, you really can't ask for more. But as I put my gear away, I found myself nodding along to the music. I kept saying I was going to leave after "one more song," but before I knew it, ended up singing along to the old songs I know and love, including "Saturday" and "Chicago is Two Years Ago."
Hearing the new songs live made me hate them even more, but it's pretty damn fun to hear the band's hits live.
Melissa Fossum Billy Bragg
9. Billy Bragg at Crescent Ballroom, 3/26/13
I still can't believe this show happened. Billy Bragg has not performed in Arizona since the mid-eighties at a show at Hotel Congress -- which some audience members eagerly recalled by helping Bragg remember the venue name. This show was a treat for my peers, who also most likely heard of Bragg thanks to the Mermaid Avenue collaboration with Wilco, though I suppose I was alone in receiving my introduction through Lifetime's cover of "A New England."
Bragg sang songs and talked politics, explaining the rampant corruption in England's political parties. He was also nice enough to stick around after the show, and I'm glad to say that such a prolific songwriter is very nice in person.
Melissa Fossum Vampire Weekend
8. Vampire Weekend at Comerica Theatre, 9/27/13
Admittedly, if you saw Vampire Weekend perform at Marquee Theatre a couple years ago on the Contra tour, this show wasn't too different. It was another sold-out show full of young hipster kids dancing their asses off to "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa." But absence makes the heart grow fonder. Vampire Weekend was due for a Phoenix show, and ended up putting on one of the best mid-sized shows I have seen this year.
The music was completely on point and the setlist was varied -- you really couldn't have asked for more, unless you were trying to score a date with Ezra Koenig.