I know I go to more concerts than the average person. But October was nuts even for me. Let me count the ways…
October 1 – The Felice Brothers at the Roxy
The Felices are my wife’s favorite band, and have come to hold a special place in my heart too. Their show was a rollicking good time as always. Plus the opening act was Spirit Family Reunion who may have my favorite song title of the year: “To Fill My Heart With Love Until It Almost Breaks My Heart.” Highlights: “Marie” (my favorite Felice Brothers Song), “Silver in the Shadow,” “White Limo,” “Lincoln Continental.”
October 5 – Conor Oberst & John Prine at the Greek Theatre
More spousal influence: my wife has dug Conor since I dragged her to see Monsters of Folk at this same venue 5 years ago. (And she discovered the Felice Brothers when they opened for Conor at Pappy & Harriets.) His set here was pretty good, but John Prine really stole the show. Somehow I’d never heard of John Prine before, but when I checked out his back catalog in preparation for this show I was blown away. (Incidentally I had heard some of his songs before, most famously Evan Dando’s cover of “Sam Stone” from the Griffith Sunset EP.)
October 7 – Conor Oberst at the Grammy Museum
Seeing the same artist multiple times on the same tour isn’t a common occurrence, but it isn’t unheard of either. Shows at the Grammy Museum have a neat talk show style format with a short interview followed by a short set of music. They also keep video of every on site event in their archives that anyone can view when visiting the museum. Highlight of the live set was closing it out with a cover of John Prine’s “Pretty Good” — my favorite John Prine song that wasn’t played by Prine at the Greek show.
October 9 – Damien Rice at Immanuel Presbyterian Church
Between the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery and this venue, the “concert in a church” thing is starting to really take off in LA. This was the first time I’ve had an opportunity to see Damien Rice since discovering him. Venue suited him perfectly and he nailed it. He didn’t play my two favorite songs (“Rat Within the Grain” and “Coconut Skins”) — but still blew me away. Highlights: “Rootless Tree” (on piano!), “Cheers Darlin” (complete with wine bistro skit lead-in), “Volcano” (with full on audience participation).
October 10 – Bahamas at the Roxy
Bahamas made my favorite albums list in 2011 & 2012 and are likely to do so again this year. I’ve seen him play twice before — both times as an opening act, and both times left me wanting more. This was the first time I got to see a full set. It was good, but the setlist left me wanting more. (No “Little Record Girl” or “You’re Bored, I’m Old.”) Sometimes I feel guilty for criticizing setlist selections since I agree it should be fully in the artist’s control. But I really was expecting more here. (Sorry, Afie!)
October 11 (morning) – The Record Company at the Taste of South Lake Festival
A rare day/night doubleheader featuring the best band you’ve never heard. Scrambled to get here on time after brunch for an 11am start time. Missed a couple of songs, but caught most of the set. These guys continue to blow me away every time I see them. They’re about to go on a national tour opening for Brian Setzer — check ’em out if you can.
October 11 (evening) – Ray LaMontagne at the Greek Theatre
At one point Ray said he felt bad that people think his old songs are better. I love Supernova — so much it might have been my favorite record of the year so far if not for the forthcoming trio of Benji Hughes albums — but the old Ray songs really are better. “Burn” / “Trouble” / “Jolene” / “Shelter” stole the show.
October 16 – Jenny Lewis at the Broad Stage
This was part of Q Live — a Canadian talk show I’d never heard of when we bought the tickets to see Jenny but has become somewhat infamous since then due to the Jian Ghomeshi scandal. Jenny was great; I just wish she played more than 2 songs. I thought Q was a cool show and Jian was a great interviewer at the time, but now I’m second guessing myself and remembering creepiness in hindsight. #IBelieveThem
October 18 – Mike Doughty at the Mint
A Mike & Scrap question jar show is always a must see event. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen every Doughty show in LA since 1999 (at least in part — I got lost and only caught the last 3 songs at McCabes in 1999, and didn’t go to the matinee of his 2 separate admission sets at the Hotel Cafe a few years back). I figured Soul Coughing was going to be reintroduced to the solo repertoire, but was actually a little surprised at how many songs made the cut. “Janine” and “True Dreams of Wichita” would have been fine by me. He didn’t play “True Dreams,” did play “Janine” plus the two hits. “Lazybones” was a nice bonus surprise. When it’s Doughty playing acoustic guitar with Scrap just about everything is a highlight, but if forced to single some out I’d go with “Janine,” “Looks,” “Put It Down / Pleasure on Credit,” “Ossining,” and “Train to Chicago” — plus his stopping to yell at chatty folks in the crowd!
October 24 – John Denver Hollywood Walk of Fame Ceremony
Fun fact: John Denver is the 2,531st star on the Hollywood Walk of fame. He was awarded the star in 1982, but never got around to scheduling the required personal appearance. His family accepted it posthumously in his honor, with the band Trampled by Turtles covering “Annie’s Song” at the afternoon ceremony and an exhibit of John Denver’s photography afterwards.
October 30 – Citizen Cope at House of Blues
I used to hate full-album shows, but now I think they are absolutely brilliant. The underrated yet iconic Clarence Greenwood Recordings record is 10 years old, and it’s still a humdinger live and by far his best work. Only downside were all of the chatty folks in the crowd during “d’Artagnan’s Theme.” (Where was Doughty when I needed him?)
October 31 – Nirvana Live at the Paramount
Ok, this one doesn’t really count. But I figured the 23rd anniversary of this legendary show was as good a reason as any to break out the DVD and send off Rocktober in style. I always forget how much the kinetic energy of this concert just sucks me in. It’s also one of the first bootleg cassettes I ever bought as a kid and wore out in my car. And it’s still powerful after all these years. Wow…