Today's post is from Matt Martz, Wolf Trap's Communications and Marketing Assistant
It was surprisingly difficult to write this blog post and choose my favorite moments, given that my 2 main New Year’s resolutions for 2011 were to 1) see more live shows, and 2) expand my music collection at a faster rate (I’m pretty terrible at actually getting music, as much as I love listening). Despite the dozens of concerts and even more albums I added to my iTunes, I’ve managed to narrow them down.
Favorite Concert at Wolf Trap:
This was a close win, but I have to give it to The Goo Goo Dolls. They played a perfect mix of some newer, albeit lesser known, material along with all their hits. They knew what the sold-out crowd came to hear, and they delivered it 10-fold. Parachute and Michelle Branch were fantastic special guests, with the entire night running without a single low point, just high energy from beginning to end. (Their excellent lighting sure didn’t hurt the mood either.)
Had to be Dolly Parton. Not only did she play her extensive list of hits, but her personality won over every person in the crowd. She told great stories of growing up and all the crazy things that she’s done throughout her life, laced between her biggest hits. It was impressive to see that after over 50 years in the business, her voice hasn’t faltered one bit.
Favorite Concert not at Wolf Trap:
This was an unfair advantage, but it had to be the 2011 CMA Music Festival in Nashville, TN. The 4-day long festival featured condensed set lists from some of this biggest names in country, including Sugarland, Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert, Zac Brown Band, and Lady Antebellum, to name a few. Knowing I was in the heart of the country music capital with tens of thousands of fans as die-hard as I am just elevated the entire experience that much more. We weren’t exactly front-row (see photo), but worth it nonetheless.
Noah and the Whale at 9:30 Club. I was lucky enough to have just found out who they were a few months before the show, and it fell right on my birthday weekend! The stars clearly aligned, and they played almost every track on their newest album, Last Night on Earth (an amazing album that I’ll get to in a moment). Their live music was even better than on the album (a rare feat in our current lip-syncing era). Side note: I was going to pick Adele’s 9:30 Club appearance for this, but come on, let’s give some others a chance ;).
Favorite Album of the Year:
Florence + The Machine: Ceremonials. Florence + The Machine’s first album is still one of my all-time favorites, and she somehow managed to top herself with this one. Her songwriting has actually gotten a little more…relatable (for lack of a better word) to the masses, but not lost any of its clever approach and fantastic metaphors/analogies. Between her writing, singing, and all those instruments, I don’t know how she does it, but she needs to never stop.
Honestly? It’s a tie even for this. While Florence + The Machine hit it out of the park and across the river, LeAnn Rimes and Noah and The Whale got a few solid hits in too with Lady and Gentleman and Last Night on Earth, respectively. Great songwriting by NATW and incredible covers by Ms. Rimes, both of whom have some pretty stellar vocals.
What I’m looking forward to in 2012:
As trite as this may sound—doing it all again. While “forcing” myself to go see more concerts and add more music to my collection was a particularly heavy cross to bear (ha.), I can’t say I won’t do it again. Before 2011 I was not big on spending money on impermanent things (i.e. vacations and concerts), but after traveling to Thailand and Nashville in the span of 3 weeks, seeing 63 (yes, I counted) acts between May and October, and adding 75 (added that too) albums to my collection, I can’t imagine a better way to spend my cash. Here’s to round 2!