Best of 2011-Show of the Year # 1 – Good Night, States

December 30, 2011

It’s very difficult to explain to someone the power that music can have over you. Some will look at this ‘pick’ and wonder how in the world it could be my favorite show of the several dozens I have seen this year. Simply put, they opened the set with a request of mine that literally had me on the verge of tears. It was such a moving moment for me that I will never forget it. Sounds all mushy and maybe dumb but to be honest, it will stand as my favorite concert moment that I ever had. Just exactly perfect! I am truly grateful that the band took the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

  • The first album you ever bought?
  • Steve Gretz: I’m not sure. I know Better Than Ezra’s ‘Deluxe’ was early on, but I think it was a gift. Probably ‘The Blue Album’ (by which I mean Weezer’s eponymous debut)?
  • Megan Lindsey: Absolutely cannot remember but it was probably something loud and raucous by Amy Grant. Or even Michael W. Smith. Mercy!
  • Trevor Baker: I think the first album that I remember getting, but not purchasing, was Bon Jovi’s ‘Slippery When Wet’. I had just gotten a radio cassette player and didn’t have any cassettes. A neighbor of my family bought the Bon Jovi tape and was really disgusted by it, so he gave it to an 8 year old. But I swear I wore that thing out.
  • Dan Harding: First CD I was given was Newsboys ‘Going Public’. Joined BMG shortly afterward (12 CDs for $.01!) and got Nirvana Nevermind’ and REM ‘Monster’.
  • Your last album bought?
  • Steve: Dawes ‘Nothing Is Wrong’.
  • Megan: I just bought Trevor a copy of ‘Kitty Wells Sings Songs Made Famous by Jim Reeves’ on vinyl at Goodwill. He might be disappointed because he asked for a lot of indie rock releases, but I heard an NPR piece about her and thought we should increase our ‘real country’ collection. In memory of Joe Tanner. She’s the queen, apparently, and still kicking at 92 years of age.
  • Trevor: I recently bought a copy of Matt Pond PA’s ‘Emblems’ on vinyl. I’ve had a copy of the record on CD for a long time from a CD swap when we played a show with him. I figured since it was a limited pressing and I’ve never actually bought the album, it was a good time for an impulse purchase.
  • Dan: Dawes ‘Nothing Is Wrong’.
  • Favorite album of all time?
  • Steve: There are a lot of different kinds of favorites, but for pure love-every-single-song-and-know-every-lyric favoritism, still ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot’.
  • Megan: “All time” is way too hard, but I have a few that get stuck in rotation as go-to albums when I need to remember what it’s like to feel emotions. Currently that album is Sufjan Stevens’ ‘Age of Adz’. ‘Not Animal’ by Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s and Wilco’s ‘Summerteeth’ follow closely.
  • Trevor: Oh man, this is a hard one. I’d have to say Rubber Soul. The fuzz bass part on “Think For Yourself” is undeniably good.
  • Dan: Always changing, but latest in rotation is The Weakerthans ‘Reunion Tour’. Overall, probably Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers ‘Sonoran Hope and Madness’.
  • Least favorite/most disappointing album?
  • Steve: Ryan Adams’ ‘Demolition’, even though I prefer not to be a Ryan Adams hater. There are albums I like less than this one, but buying Demolition reminded me that for Ryan Adams, making great music is a part-time job.
  • Megan: ‘The Wilco Album’ with the camel on it. I absolutely could not find any points of attachment. And I love camels!
  • Trevor: Hulk Hogan’s ‘Hulk Rules’. I had high hopes for this one. I actually own a copy.
  • Dan: Lykke Li’s ‘Wounded Rhymes’ falls into the category of most-recent-album-I-purchased-that-I-want-to-fall-in-love-with-but-somehow-cannot. I will keep trying.
  • First concert attended?
  • Steve: Also so hard to say… the first one I have a memory of attending was a Phil Keaggy show my dad took me to.
  • Megan: I think I saw The Beach Boys in a mall in Athens, Georgia when I was in first grade. I could be making it up, though…they are one of the most formative bands in my musical universe. I’ll check with my dad and get back to you. Someone recently mentioned Brian Wilson’s affinity for both Bach and Gershwin and it blew me away, brought my entire musical upbringing into focus. Why didn’t I make that connection years ago?
  • Trevor: My first concert was Collective Soul at a small theater in the Southern Tier of New York. My mom took a couple of friends and me. I think she actually enjoyed the show.
  • Dan: Newsboys ‘Not Ashamed’ Tour.
  • Last concert?
  • Steve: Saw Dawes with Robert Ellis at Maxwell’s last week–also with my dad!
  • Megan: I got my brains blown out by St. Vincent’s electric guitar voodoo in DC recently. Even if she hadn’t been playing two of Trevor’s Amps and wearing high-waisted leather shorts and velvet heels, it would still have been incredible.
  • Trevor: Last show was seeing Andrew Bird in Braddock. It’s not too often that I’m blown away by someone playing solo, but holy cow!
  • Dan: Advance Base.
  • Favorite concert ever?
  • Steve: Probably Wilco in ’09. The venue wasn’t great (Keyspan Park in Brooklyn) and they were supporting THEIR eponymous record (there are some definite themes here) which is actually my least favorite of theirs to date, but hearing “California Stars” and “Hoodoo Voodoo” like a mile from Woody’s old address on Mermaid Avenue was unforgettable.
  • Megan: My first big show was U2’s Vertigo tour at Mellon Arena with Trevor, and my ticket scanned us into the “inner circle”. We stood two people away from Bono. Of course, now I am askance that The Edge doesn’t even make his own effects changes, but it was still a great show. I watched workers pulling down the Arena’s tiles today to prepare for demolition, so I’m glad I got to attend at least one show there.
  • Trevor: Megan & I were front row for the U2’s Vertigo tour (we waited in line for like 12 hours). That was great! Another fantastic show that I saw recently was St. Vincent at the 9:30 Club in DC. She’s always a great performer, but the show production (lights & sound) really put the show at a whole other level. The amps she was playing certainly helped, too.
  • Dan: Too many to list. Most recently it was Dawes at Stage AE.
  • Least favorite concert?
  • Steve: I’m gonna go with the time Grove City made me play the cymbals in marching band. Although, I suppose that’s not just one concert…
  • Megan: Oh, there have been plenty of zingers at Garfield Artworks. We’ll leave it at that.
  • Trevor: I love the Flaming Lips, but I caught them in Pittsburgh at Station Square and was completely annoyed by Wayne Coyne trying to get the crowd into the show by yelling “C’mon Motherf***ers!” for most of the night.
  • Dan: Too many to list. I’ll go with U2 Vertigo Tour. Terrible seats! Who knew?!
  • Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
  • Steve: Eating Tram’s, almost certainly. (And having such great pictures taken of me by Hugh whenever I’m there, of course!)
  • Megan: Dear, dear Pittsburgh. A great place to be a small band, have a large family of both relatives and friends, and learn lots of DIY skills. This city is ripe for exploration, slightly disheveled…a great place to be inspired without being overwhelmed.
  • Trevor: Probably one of my favorite things to do in Pittsburgh is to ride down Smallman Street on my bicycle late at night when there’s no traffic. Makes me feel like I’m the only one awake in the city. It’s kind of a surreal, even religious experience for me.
  • Dan: As someone who has been in Pittsburgh my entire life, it’s really cool to see the city’s transformation, and I think this mostly has to do with people having a positive attitude about what they want their city to be, and having no limits on that. Of course, the Pittsburgh music scene has been very hospitable to GN,S, and we’re very grateful to know and be known by so many great bands and musicians. WYEP’s Local Artist of The Year was certainly a high point.

Thanks so much Steve, Megan, Trevor and Dan. Cannot wait for the new music this year!