In 2016 I made an effort to go out less. Seeing 1-3 concerts a week was starting to take its toll on my wallet and my psyche. That thing about too much of a good thing? It’s true. Coming home to my house, my kids, my books, TV and bed started to feel as nourishing as any drop on the dancefloor. With every joyful musical moment (and there were many) expectations crept up–and so so did disappointments. And then to have to pay a $100+ fee (aka babysitter) for a mediocre night out? Oof, no thank you.
But even with “cutting down” I still saw 32 concerts and many more bands and DJs in 2016. (I guess I can’t help it!) I tried to be more selective about who I saw and stay true to my tastes. This meant being honest with myself about the kind of music that truly brings me joy: it’s gotta have lights, lasers and a BPM that moves my body for me. I need bass that changes the rhythm of my heartbeat, and speakers that draw me like a firefly to light.
With a few exceptions (Brian Wilson, Joanna Newsom, Alabama Shakes), I stuck to this rule, even though it usually placed me squarely outside of my demographic. “I am a mom!” I’d scream on the inside as I grooved like Elaine Seinfeld, wondering how many other punters could say the same. While I’m still able to sorta kinda blend in hopefully maybe with the semi kids these days, my little ‘secret’ always makes me smile. I especially love it when someone mistakes why I’m at the club in the first place (I love music, dummy). DO YOU KNOW I’M A MOM might as well be a can of pepper spray.
So yeah my husband and I got smarter about alternating our nights out this year, which meant some great times with my girlfriends on the dancefloor. (Talk about nourishing!) I am so very grateful to have a partner who gives me the freedom to fly. What I didn’t anticipate was how good it would feel to come home to roost.
With all that said, here are my top 6 live music moments of 2016.
Miike Snow, The Independent: Top show of the year. Let’s start with the fact that I couldn’t get a ticket but reeeaally wanted to go, and at the last minute my friend Cindy, a music girl after my own heart, manifested **2 VIP** tickets, giving us the sweetest perch above an intimate and electrified audience. Cindy’s friends were a delight, and my friend Matt made me laugh all night. The music connected with me so deeply that I had revelations about creativity and creation that I still think about today.
Worthy, Midway: Best night of dancing was a fundraiser for the Burning Man camp Dusty Rhino. I went with my friend Colleen, a beautiful and gracious woman. We are the Laurel and Hardy of dancing moms but imagine that Laurel’s a chainsaw-wielding supermodel (for real). I love going out with Colleen because the flow is easy and she knows everyone. We separate and meet again and it’s always OK. In this case, while she flits around, I stay front center, devoting myself at the DJ altar, in my animal print onesie, sacrificing my sweat. I find my groove, and it seems everyone around me has, too. I never want this night to end.
Underworld, The Fox: Best crowd. This band is IT for me, a classic with milestone memories. It’s what I chose to have in the delivery room to deliver my first child 10 years ago when I had no idea what to expect and wanted something that was energetic but also connected deeply to my past and my soul. Underworld represents my 20s, the Trainspotting era, and two great years living in London in the early 2000s, where we had SO MANY great music moments at shows, festivals and underground parties. Well, we’re all older now and the crowd at the Fox reflected that, but they were the most present lot I’d been a part of. No phones out, just people, innit.
Keys N Krates, Regency Ballroom: Best spontaneous experience. Ever had a Lyft driver park his car and come to the show with you? My friend Devyn and I made a quick friend on the way to the venue, and it was a treat to take Morgan the driver/aspiring rapper to his first electronic show. I tried to imagine what it must be like to experience this thing that I love so much for the first time. This one was the heavy stuff, too—chunky, slightly stoopid and LARGE. Needless to say we knew who was driving us home at the end of the night.
Pan Pot, Symbiosis: Hardest lesson learned. I learned this year what it felt like to take all this too far. I had scheduled a trip to the Symbiosis festival without looking at the calendar and noting that it was my daughter’s birthday that Saturday. (I know, how could I do that? I just didn’t think is the honest answer.) The guilt of my selfish interests pretty much consumed me until I was able to speak to her on the phone and heard that she was happy and doing well. A weight was lifted, and I managed to hack the festival to be the perfect 18 hours. Pan Pot provided the soundtrack for the peak of the night.
Dawn of the Burning Sun: Most emotional. The Mack Daddy of them all happened at Burning Man. Our whole family awoke at 5AM and headed out on our dragon to see an original composition and performance by Charlie Dayburn, set to a group sun salutation out on the plain of the playa. I had met Charlie after I heard his story and wrote a piece about him for the Burning Man blog. The scene was breathtaking and emotional, and we watched the sun come up over the horizon while listening to gongs and holding hands with strangers. Then, Charlie said, “look up,” and we saw dozens of skydivers, one after the other, fall from the sky and land right in front of us, with beautiful streamers trailing behind. The beauty of the scene and the landscape, the feats of humanity (Burning Man, jumping out of a sky, music) and being able to share all that with our children brought on a huge wave of uncontrollable, blubbery tears for both of us. It set the tone for a magical day that I will never forget.
The complete list:
2/5 Derrick Carter @ Audio
2/11 Daybreaker SF @ Westfield Mall
2/18 Keys N Krates @ Regency Ballroom
3/5 Tycho, 1015 @ 1015 Folsom
3/19 The Polish Ambassador @ The Warfield
3/24 Kill Frenzy @ Monarch
3/27 Joanna Newsom @ Fox
4/14 Miike Snow @ Independent
4/16 Underworld @ Fox
4/20 Grimes @ Fox
5/8 Santigold @ Masonic
5/20 Disclosure @ Civic Center
5/20 Bonobo @ Rocapulco
5/25 Bob Moses @ Mezzanine
5/26 The Cure @ Shoreline
6/11 Wild Kingdom (Worthy) @ Midway
6/18 Precompression @ American Steel
8/5-7 Outside Lands @ Golden Gate Park – LCD Soundsystem, Miike Snow, Major Lazer, Air, Sufjan Stevens, Khelani, Diiv, Lana Del Ray, Zedd, Radiohead, Lionel Richie
8/12 Alabama Shakes @ Greek Theater
8/19 Sofi Tukker @ Rickshaw Stop
9/16 Flying Lotus @ Fox
9/17 Wilco & Los Lobos @ Mt Tam
9/23-25 Pan Pot @ Symbiosis Gathering
10/5 Phantogram @ Fox
10/8 Tourist @ Independent
10/13 Brian Wilson performing Pet Sounds @ Masonic
10/15-16 Treasure Island Festival – Mura Masa, Christine and the Queens
10/24 Tricky @ Independent
10/28 Nicolas Jaar @ UC Berkeley Theater
12/3 Beats Antique @ Fox
12/22 Claude VonStroke and Green Velvet @ Midway
12/29 Bob Moses @ 1015 Folsom
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