2011s Best Shows

With finals week coming up, we’ll keep this blog nice and simple – just long enough to give you a break from studying, but not too long so as to ruin your studying for the rest of the afternoon or night (Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr can be responsible for that!).

Of course, finals week means we’re only days away from Christmas, which means we’re only days away from the New Year – 2012 is knocking. This means that it’s time for all of those “year-end” lists, you know, with the Top 50 Albums and Top 50 Songs and Top 50 Videos and Top 50 Artists and Top 50 This and Top 50 That and Top 50 Everything.

Basically.

But for some reason, no one seems to really talk about his or her top concerts. I love going to concerts, and I would just love to tell you what my top three were this year. Plus, maybe if you pass your finals, you can reward yourself with a nice concert ticket (and, just FYI, Ticketmaster is paying you back for all of those extra fees after a recent class action suit). It’s something to think about.

 

3. Lady Gaga, The MonsterBall Tour
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, April

Lady Gaga performs “Telephone” during her tour stop in Cleveland in April.

Oh yes, I definitely spent a nice chunk of change to see Gaga in April – and it was worth every penny. Love her or hate her, you can’t deny that Stefani Germanotta knows how to put on a show and give her little monsters a good time. Full of set changes, some kind of plot and a giant fame monster, Gaga cranked out the hits and a few rarities for a show that started late, went late and was a great time. Highlight of the night? Watching Gaga pound away on the piano, something we really need to see her do more often.

 

2. Neon Indian, Era Extrana Tour
The Grog Shop, Cleveland Heights, October

Neon Indian in Cleveland Heights, November.

Touring in support of their second album, Era Extrana, Neon Indian came to Cleveland Heights and put on a show that made indie kids throughout the venue dance all night. With solid support from Purity Ring and Com Truise, nothing disappointed about the three-hour show that had the Grog Shop shaking. Alan Palomo was friendly and engaged with the crowd, keeping the banter minimal but heartwarming. And you know what the best part is? They’re coming back! Neon Indian will be making a second stop at the Grog Shop on another leg of support for Era Extrana in April of next year. Get your tickets! It’s worth it.

 

1. The Throne, Watch the Throne Tour
Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA, November

Let me just tell you about seeing the Throne, better known as Kanye West and Jay-Z. They might have two of the biggest egos in rap, but watching them on stage shows you that those egos are more than justified. These two are so full of themselves that they didn’t bring a support act, and I’m glad they didn’t – who do you get to open for that? Nothing would have prepared the crowd as much as the silence did.

Plus, these two played for two and a half – almost three solid – hours, hit after hit after hit. Not only did they play the top cuts off of their album Watch the Throne, including tracks like “Welcome to the Jungle” and “Who Gon Stop Me,” but each one took to the stage on his own multiple times to play a litany of hits. Hov fired off tracks including “99 Problems,” “On to the Next One” and “Jigga What Jigga Who,” while Kanye’s sets included “Flashing Lights,” “Jesus Walks” and “All of the Lights.”

Kanye West and Jay-Z’s light show during their Watch the Throne Tour stop in PA.

A simple stage with two screens was all they needed, complemented nicely by a flashy light show that added to the atmosphere. Of course, considering this is Jay-Z and Kanye West, there were plenty of flames and extra light effects so as not to disappoint, but the focus in Pittsburgh was all on the music.

And the finale? “Niggas in Paris,” the current single tearing up radio, played five times – and let me reassure you, it was never annoying.

 

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Against Me!, White Crosses Tour
House of Blues, Cleveland, June

Against Me! has always been one of my favorites, and their most recent stop in Cleveland saw the band at their most polished and yet their most intense yet, as they blazed through classic tracks right alongside new ones.

 

Twista
The Kent Stage, Kent, March

Veteran rapper Twista visited the Kent Stage in the middle of one of March’s huge snowstorms and put on a show that those in attendance aren’t likely to forget any time soon, focusing on a string of fast-paced raps that rehashed his storied career.

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