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A Year in Concerts

Between the opening of the brand new Austin City Limits Live and Emo’s East, SXSW, Austin City Limits and Fun Fun Fun Festivals and the regular minstrels performing about town, the year in live music is one to be remembered.

But it’s time for the concert season to come to a close, as I take a look back at the plethora of live music consumed this year. I was lucky enough to attend over 30 shows and 4 festivals in 2011, but the ones listed below stood out as “Holy $h!t, this will never happen again” kind of stuff.

5. Lyle Lovett @ GSD&M, 40th Anniversary, October 13, 2011.

Throughout the year, we’ve hosted some truly great up-and-coming bands at GSD&M, but sometimes it takes the original gangster to remind everyone who’s the boss. Many years ago, we worked with Lyle on a spot for Texas Tourism featuring his song “That’s Right (You’re Not From Texas” and he came back to help us celebrate our 40th anniversary. It humbled us to hear him say, “The way people think of Texas wouldn’t be the same without GSD&M.”

Lyle and his friends playing “If I Had a Boat”:

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4. Lord Huron @ Lamberts, November 2, 2011.

Great bands tour through all big cities during the year, but what makes Austin the “Live Music Capital of the World” are the smaller venues in town that give new bands a chance to prove themselves. Lamberts Barbecue is a restaurant that allots their upstairs for some late night rock and roll. When I happened upon the band Lord Huron on a random Thursday, I was pleasantly surprised. These young guys put on an intimate show, proving to me that the best music comes when you least expect it. BBQ and great music, that’s Austin for you.

No luck finding anything from the show I was at, but here’s them performing “The Stranger” live:

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3. M83 @ Auditorium Shores, Fun Fun Fun Fest, November 5, 2011.

I’m always skeptical when it comes to seeing electronic bands perform live. There’s something to be said for the precision it’s produced with for the album and the challenge of delivering that live. Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming was one of my favorite albums of 2011 and this performance was up to par with the album. Despite some technical troubles at the beginning, M83 did the album justice live. Looking forward to seeing them do it again next year at Stubb’s.

Here’s their Victoria Secret famous hit, “Midnight City”:

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2. The Head and The Heart @ Antone’s, SXSW, March 18, 2011.

The advice I was given for my first SXSW was “Don’t chase the unicorn.” The key is to enjoy the great shows you come across and don’t waste time trying to hunt down the big can’t-miss events. So rather than trying to chase down the Kanye West show at the Seaholm Power Plant, I spent the festival enjoying whatever crossed my path. The Head and The Heart was a band receiving a lot of buzz at the festival and they proved to be more than just buzz. The audience at Antone’s couldn’t help but become consumed with emotion from their performance.

This is another performance of the band playing at Mellow Johnny’s during SXSW:

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1. Railroad Revival Tour: Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Old Crow Medicine Show @ 4th and Waller Street, April 26, 2011.

When I heard 3 of my favorite bands were going to be touring together, I was excited. When I heard they’d be traveling by way of train, I was so excited it hurt. They stopped in 6 cities including Marfa and Austin, Texas playing in pop-up venues along the tracks. They rolled into Austin, invited the Austin High Marching Band to the stage and blew the crowd away with each set, including all 3 bands playing Woody Guthrie’s “This Train is Bound For Glory.” The happiness was intoxicating. And now, riding a train is cool again.

Here’s Mumford & Sons and the Austin High School Marching Band performing “The Cave”:

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Other notable mentions were Bon Iver at The Long Center, Foster the People at Austin City Limits Festival and the Lykke Li Austin City Limits TV taping. This is my incredibly bias opinion, what other Austin shows am I forgetting?

Here’s to more great music in 2012…

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