TOP 10 CONCERTS OF 2012 —

31 12 2012

365 days ago, I swore that the year (in this case 2011) in music simply could not be topped. Impossible. Ever. Musically speaking, it was about as fulfilling a year as any music fan could ask for, should ask for, did ask for.
But I tell you, it’s a beautiful thing when I’m wrong.
Not only did the last 365 days of live music top the previous, but I’m sure there is no way 2012 could ever be topped. From beginning to end, there was a little bit of everything for me — nostalgic moments, jaw-dropping moments, surprising moments … the whole bit.
Admittedly, I value my concert experiences much differently than other critics. I’m mostly about the experience, something outside the music. And there was plenty to celebrate and love about 2012 and the 47 different shows I was able to catch. So while I didn’t come up with a list at the end of 2011 (No. 1, hmm, Watch the Throne at HP Pavilion), there is no way I pass on that in 2012.
I didn’t write reviews for all of these, so let’s not go the critic’s route on this one. Just help me relive this insanely awesome vibe. Here’s my Top 10.

10. BROWNOUT — ELBO ROOM, SAN FRANCISCO
BrownOut

My boy, Marcelo, introduced me to Brownout a while ago. And due to circumstances outside of my control, I missed a lot of their set the first time around. Once they announced a 2012 show, there was no way I would miss them. The band from the Austin Texas area is a clean and precise blend of James Brown funk and Tejano flair. It’s a beautiful sound to treat your ears to — there are a ton of layers to their music and I don’t think I know of a better brass section. I was beyond impressed with the soul of their live set.

9. CAIFANES — FOX THEATER, OAKLAND
Caifanes

OK, so, I almost broke my ankle during this show. At the very start of Perdi Mi Ojo de Venado, an off-timed jump in the air lead to a push from another fan and a severely sprained ankle — one that hasn’t quite healed properly. My fault on that. Had I not had to limped my way out of the venue and treat my foot, this show would have been Top 3 status. As it stands, I missed maybe 30 percent of it. But, man, up until that moment, it had been an insane insane insane time. Osea, mucho amor a la banda de Oakland que me partieron la puta madre.

8. MANA — THE O ARENA, OAKLAND
Mana

Part of loving, I mean, truly loving a band, is this idea that they can do no wrong. Even if your logical, musically critical sense tells you otherwise.
I will always feel that way about Mana.
In 2011, I made a trip to Los Angeles to catch two Mana shows at the Staples Center that kicked off the Drama Y Luz tour. Seven months later, they were in the Bay Area for the first of two concerts. And sure, I’ve seen them Mana now nine times, sure it’s pretty much the same fucking show every single time, sure I’m a softy … but I love this band. Love them. The show in September was my favorite because the fans around me and I were able to recreate a bit of Mana old school — complete with a mosh pit for Me Vale (which led to a man vomiting, LOL). Mana will always crack my Top 10. I don’t care how many times I see them.

7. BIG BOI — OUTSIDE LANDS MUSIC FESTIVAL, SAN FRANCISCO
Big Boi 8

First thing’s first, Outside Lands version 5.0 was insane all the way around. I still get chills thinking about the music I got to experience. So much, too much, fun. So, for the sakes of this countdown, we’re splitting all the individual sets up.
My favorite unbiased set was Big Boi of Outkast fame. After the debacle of 2011, the rapper from the ATL returned to the scene of crime and absolutely tore up the Twins Peak stage. Usually, hip hop shows don’t appeal to me — there isn’t enough musical substance. But Big Boi is definitely the exception to that rule. The man commanded the stage and made waiting another year completely worth it.

6. RODRIGO Y GABRIELA — FOX THEATER, OAKLAND
RG5

It was really hard to leave Rodrigo Y Gabriela out of the Top 5 — musically, I don’t think I’ve ever left a concert more in awe. And I felt really lucky to have caught RYG alongside C.U.B.A. They added an unreal amount of debt to RYGs’ guitars. I wrote a pretty extensive review about this show, but I think the thing that stood out to me was that I enjoyed it so much without it being the kind of show that I usually like — I’m all about the ambiance, the dancing, the crowd. But, it definitely makes the Top 10 because it was a complete guitargasm. So sick, so sick.

5. CAFE TACVBA — FOX THEATER, OAKLAND
Cafe Tac Juan Ramirez

This was one of those shows that symbolized a kind of redemption for me. Cafeta was in San Francisco a handful of years ago and I didn’t go. Because I’m an idiot. And I regretted the move for the longest time — so much that I made monthly checks to their website anticipating a return.
The Rock en Español gods are kind though, and the quartet from Mexico returned to the Bay Area and put on a vintage show. I’m still in the clouds after getting to experience Cafeta’s live touch. And once again, mucho amor a la banda porque tuvimos un fiestazo tremendo. What a great, great great experience. Truly fortunate for this one.

4. PANTEON ROCOCO — HOUSE OF BLUES, LOS ANGELES
Panteon

Four friends, 15 or so hours of driving, and one insane night of Mexican ska.
I think I said a long time ago that there were only two bands I would travel long distances for, and sure enough, it came true in 2012. With no Bay Area show in their 2012 tour, I convinced four great friends of mine to hop into a car and ride over to Los Angeles to catch Panteon at the historic House of Blues.
Nursing a bum ankle (thank you, Caifanes), I didn’t get the exact experience I wanted (that’s probably a good thing), but just being at that venue with one of the rowdiest bands that I know, was well worth the trip and the experience. Awesome, awesome time.

3. FOO FIGHTERS — OUTSIDE LANDS MUSIC FESTIVAL, SAN FRANCISCO
Foo Fighters

You know, No. 4 and No. 3 on this countdown were relatively short sets (so was No. 7), but there was so much insanity packed into them that they easily crack the Top 4.
Foo Fighters at Outside Lands was a wet dream. I’ve prayed long and hard for that exact moment since I started covering the music festival and could hardly contain myself when Dave and company got on stage. And the fact that they played Aurora, one of my all-time favorite songs that they almost never play, makes this a Top 3 show/set. Insane, insane time. Thank you, baby Jesus.

2. KINKY — THE INDEPENDENT, SAN FRANCISCO
Kinky2

My second choice of 2012 comes as a surprise even to me — if this was a countdown of my favorite Rock en Español bands, Kinky is lucky to crack my Top 15.
BUT, I absolutely loved this show. As live performers, I put Kinky up there with Panteon Rococo as one of my favorites ever. Why? Well, I wrote on Facebook as soon as I walked out of The Independent that Kinky had restored an almost-dead faith in the live R.E.E. concert. For a long stretch, I felt that the passion and sheer craziness of a Rock show had died thanks to cell phones and over-protective boyfriends and their uptight, too good for moshing girlfriends.
But lo and behold, Kinky’s show at the Independent proved to me that the R.E.E is alive and well. And that makes me super, super happy.

1. RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS — THE O ARENA, OAKLAND
RHCP Apes On Tape

I’m not the biggest RHCP fan — although, no ones loves their Californication album more than me — but that said, the guys are southern California was rock gods. And they played a heavenly show at the O, one that I will never forget for just, how blown away I was. The two hours of RHCP hits past and present was mind-fuckingly insane. It was seriously a dream and one of the experiences of my life. Period.

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