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01.07.13 DaveyBoy's Top 40 Albums Of 2012 12.29.12 DaveyBoy's Top 10 Live Gigs Of 2012
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01.19.12 DaveyBoy's Top 40 Songs Of 2011 01.06.12 DaveyBoy's Top 40 Albums Of 2011
12.26.11 DaveyBoy's Top 10 Live Gigs Of 2011 10.03.11 DaveyBoy's Counter Revolution 2011
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12.28.10 DaveyBoy's Top 40 Albums Of 2010 12.21.10 DaveyBoy's Top 10 Live Gigs Of 2010
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DaveyBoy's Top 10 Live Gigs Of 2011

Here are my top 10 gigs of 2011. I'm slowly whittling down the festival sets, with 5 included this time around.

I had already seen Anberlin twice earlier in 2011, so was initially leaning towards giving their "An Evening With..." show a miss when they journeyed back down under in August. Thank God that I did not, since the show may well have been the best concert I have experienced to date! Thinking outside of the square and, more importantly, big, the Floridian quintet carried this performance off with a confidence and charisma that may well be the final piece of the puzzle which has been required to send Anberlin to even more dizzying heights. A few lesser-known songs were played, a sensational version of Crowded House's 'Don't Dream It's Over' made an appearance, as did We The Kings' Travis Clark, Tonight Alive's Jenna MacDougall & Horsell Common's Mark Stewart. There was an acoustically played section, a little Q&A with the band and the 26 song setlist was aptly capped off by the phenomenal & awe-inspiring '*Fin'. On previous occasions, I had been a little critical of the band for attempting to rock themselves up too much, ultimately drowning out their major strengths: intricate musical hooks and Stephen Christian's superb vocals. On this night, however, everything sounded so crisp... So (dare I say it) perfect!
2Foo Fighters

In a strange contradiction, the last decade or so has seen every man & their dog laud the Foo Fighters live show, while maintaining their recorded output has been on a steady decline. However, I am pleased to report that the arrival of their excellent seventh LP 'Wasting Light' did not see a reversal in fortune, with the Fooeys doing what they always do best: Rocking the f**k out. Headlining the first ever show at Melbourne's AAMI Park (a 35,000 odd capacity soccer & rugby venue), Dave Grohl & Co. highlighted just how deep their back-catalog is, with hit after hit after hit leaving the audience in raptures. Whenever a break was needed (excluding the multiple stage invasions), extended instrumental jams were added on to the likes of 'Breakout' & 'Stacked Actors'. The melodically catchy 'Arlandria' was the pleasant surprise of the new tunes, while the raucous 'White Limo' pleased those more metally inclined. The band were on point throughout, while Grohl was his usual captivating & charismatic self that makes him the kind of guy you just want to sink a pint with down at the local pub.
3Dead Letter Circus

To put it simply, Dead Letter Circus blew away my expectations with an outstanding performance of atmospheric alternative rock. The Brisbane quintet were on song from the get-go, with all 5 members undeniably pulling their weight. Out front, the range & strength of Kim Benzie's vocals pleasantly surprised me, as he put absolutely everything into his performance. Drummer Luke Williams bashed the absolute crap out of his instruments to the point that I was astonished that he could occasionally provide backing vocals. The energetic Stewart Hill's bass-lines were mixed to perfection, Mr. Do-It-All Tom Skerlj moved from guitar to keys to percussion as the track required, while Rob Maric was a picture of concentration laying out his delay drenched guitar work. When these 4 got in the groove, they drew the entire audience in with them, and quite possibly the highlight of the evening was at the beginning of EP track 'Tremors' when practically everyone in the building were convoluting their bodies in similar fashion to the compelling rhythms of the song.
4The Gaslight Anthem

It must be noted that this performance was at a festival & I could easily see The Gaslight Anthem ranking higher had this been their own headline set (which they did not play in Melbourne). Strangely, I was a little skeptical about their live show since I have heard mixed feedback... But they impressed the hell out of me. And I'm not even certain I can properly explain why. Despite the rather large audience, it just felt really personal & intimate. Before a guitar had even been strummed, Brian sincerely dedicated the set to a local venue they had previously played at and was soon closing down. From there, the band was all business, yet also looked to be having fun with smiles planted on their faces between songs. Everything was spot on musically, but most impressive were the tones of the guitars, lending some of the slower tracks extra character. Brian also sounded great, although for the more casual listener it would have been nice if he was mixed a little higher for those all important lyrics. It is only personal preference which makes me choose 'Great Expectations' as the set's highlight. Simply awesome & I can't wait to see them perform a longer set.

I've never really considered going to too many indie gigs (how UnSputnik of me), despite liking my fair share of bands that could loosely be categorized as such. Foals seemed the perfect (pardon the pun) antidote for my situation; a group whose debut LP was filled with catchy & energetic math-rock, and whose follow-up was simply too f*cken fantastic to ignore. The near sold-out audience sang along to every word from opener 'Blue Blood' to closer 'Two Steps, Twice'. Everything sounded exceptionally clear... Not in a sterile fashion, but in how crisp and sharp both the dual guitar-work & synths pierced the room as layer upon layer - instrument upon instrument - were added to songs as they progressed. The most impressive factor of the night turned out to be the way in which Foals cohesively integrated the new & old into their set... No easy feat when you consider the stylistic difference between their 2 LPs. Of course, the undoubted jewel in the crown was the song of 2010 'Spanish Sahara'... The closest thing to a religious experience I've witnessed at a live show!
6Story of the Year

I'm a fan of these guys & saw them live in 2008... Yet, even I was surprised with the set they performed in the early evening of the Counter Revolution mini-festival. I reckon they've located the fountain of youth, since everyone but drummer Josh Willis was bouncing off the walls. The energy was just contagious throughout the arena, while the band themselves didn't miss a beat in playing a great cross-section of tunes from throughout their 4 album career. I've heard it said from even the band's detractors that Story of the Year are a great live band, and this set proved why, since they were practically faultless. I just have to learn to look up quicker when bassist Adam Russell decides to hurl himself into the crowd.

I had been waiting a while to see Yellowcard & they did not disappoint as they had me as soon as the familiar violin melody of 'For You & Your Denial' kicked things off. Their break may have given them a sense of perspective of sorts, since they delivered a set that effectively combined fun & maturity. There was a nice up-down-up feel about the setlist (EG: Way Away, Light Up The Sky, Five Becomes Four, Hang You Up...) & they had the confidence to play a genuine ballad in a festival setting. The band were spot on musically, Ryan hit all the right notes, while Sean provided the energy. And then there was 'Ocean Avenue'; the perfect set closer if ever I've heard one.

To be honest, I saw Bayside perform twice in the space of 3 days, so this ranking may in fact be an amalgam of both sets. Having previously seen them live a couple of times, I already knew that they were a fantastic band up on stage. It only hit me on their Anberlin supporting slot however, that they are also one of the few bands who sound great right from the get-go. They either sound-check all day or are just that damn good. Playing songs from most of their releases, new tracks such as 'Already Gone' & 'Sick, Sick, Sick' felt like they had been on their live set for the past decade, with the way in which the audience were singing along. Lead guitarist Jack O'Shea arguably took MVP honors with his impressive axe-wielding.
9The Blackout

Back to back appearances on this list for The Blackout, as the Welsh sextet just keep getting better & better, both from a musical & entertainment perspective. Playing their melodic & accessible brand of post-hardcore, it took all of 2 minutes for Sean Smith to head into the crowd & drag his mic cord as far as it could go, while later in the set he had a hilarious one-sided conversation with fans waiting for Mayday Parade on the opposite stage of the Soundwave festival. Smith has also continued to improve his singing, as he & Gavin Butler duelled away, allowing the others to concentrate on the music. 'Save Our Selves' & 'I'm A Riot...' were highlights, while a couple of the newer more alt-rock oriented tunes more than held their own.
10Panic! At the Disco

Despite hearing numerous reports to the contrary, I had always thought that Panic would not be suited to a live setting. That feeling carried over into the first 2 songs of this festival headlining set, as I tried to get my head around whether they favored the rock, pop or theatrical side of their sound. As it turned out, placing 'The Ballad of Mona Lisa' so early on the setlist (3rd) was a master-stroke as it proved they could meld all 3 rather comfortably. Brendon Urie played the front-man well, having fun with the audience yet always stopping short of crossing the line into being juvenile. His voice was also top-notch, while hired hands Ian Crawford & Dallon Weekes played their roles as if they are already part of the band. 'Lets Kill Tonight' & 'Nine in the Afternoon' were mid-set highlights, but a cover of The Darkness' 'I Believe In a Thing Called Love' may just have stolen the show.
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