2011 Musical Wrap Up


The Magic That is Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

As with every January (darn birthday on the 11th), this year is off to a busy start. I realized I never posted my year-end lists to a blog (just to a listserv), so here they are in all their glory. I am working on getting a goals list together for 32, as I just wrapped up a crazy Year 31.

Top 10 2011 Albums

For the first time ever this is completely female-artist or female-fronted heavy, which is kinda awesome for the state of women in rock. And I had a girl power year. Oh, and Lydia Loveless moved up the list when I got dumped on New Year’s Eve Eve, because I was feeling a little jaded when I made the list (although it’s really all good now).

10. Eleanor Friedberger – Last Summer – Witty storytelling and catchy hooks

9. Zola Jesus – Conatus – Appealed to my inner goth.

8. Cults – Cults – Something that sounds Phil Spectory without that whole murder thing hanging over it.

7. The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar – Great guitars and really impressed me live.

6. Wye Oak – Civilian – It’s just really beautiful to me.

5. Lydia Loveless – Indestructible Machine – See above. Plus this album is just fun. Thanks Craig for forcing me to become a fan.

4. WILD FLAG – Wild Flag – Because if Sleater-Kinney released an album it would’ve been on my list too.

3. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake – Never really “got” Paula Jean before, but this album really hit home for me.

2. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy – Gorgeous album and her guitar skillz rule.

1. Tune-Yards – WHO KILL – Because it doesn’t sound like anything else out there. And they blew me away live.

Check these out on Spotify, if you’re curious.

Top 10 2011 Concerts

It was a huge shift for me as I moved from Milwaukee, where it was fairly easy to go to every show – or at least one a week, to San Francisco, where the number of shows sent my head spinning and curbed my concert addiction (probably a good thing for my pocketbook). I live dangerously close to The Independent and though no 1%ers got me the $5,000 year pass for Christmas, I plan to try and hit up a show a month there in 2012 (yes, I will be at Alabama Shakes). For me, many of the shows weren’t just about the performance, but the overall experience, so here’s the list:

10. Jens Lekman, Cal Academy of Sciences, September 29 – I’m a sucker for Jens and I couldn’t think of anything nerdier than seeing him at a science museum.

9.  Robyn, The Rave, Milwaukee, February 12 – Not just celebrating it as the last show I saw at this awful venue, but Robyn is a great performer. I’d just gotten my job offer in SF and this was a fantastic way to dance out my giddiness. Plus, I made the embarrassing montage video (cuz it’s the kind of awful venue that does those).

8. Bright Eyes, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, San Francisco, September 30 – Caught the end of M. Ward and transitioned into Bright Eyes for my first time seeing Conor Oberst & my first HSBG. Had a great spot by a tree, was wonderful.

7. The Decemberists, Outside Lands, San Francisco, August 13 – Foolishly almost skipped this set because I’d seen them so many times. They never ever  disappoint.

6. The Joy Formidable, Outside Lands, San Francisco, August 12 – Didn’t really know what to expect and was really impressed, this show definitely informed them cracking my top 10.

5. Mucca Pazza, Turner Hall, San Francisco, March 8 – My last show before I moved from Milwaukee. You can’t not smile at crazy marching bands, no matter how hipster it may be. Great way to say goodbye to a lot of my music nerd friends there.

4. Sharon Van Etten, Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, March 27 – FINALLY got to see her. Was not disappointed. Strange show for me as I was still new to the city and ran the Oakland Half that morning, crying was inevitable.

3. Tune-Yards, Outside Lands, San Francisco, August 14 – Got there early, scored an awesome spot up front, proceeded to be blown away.

2. Wallpaper., Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, July 23 – Straight up FUN show with great people. Album was totally my guilty pleasure jam of summer.

1. Active Child, Old St. Pancras Church, London, UK, October 19 – It was in a medieval church, lit by candles, there was a harp, and only about 100 person capacity. I was pretty much was in a music video.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Beck, Tipping Point Gala, San Francisco, May 19 – I volunteered at this swanky thing and got to see part of the private concert (and my long overdue first Beck show).
  • Micah Schnabel, Grant & Green, San Francisco, November 3 – Hadn’t seen any of the TCG guys for YEARS (used to be part of Craig’s Upper Midwest crew), so I made the trek to North Beach to catch Micah. It’s so great to see somebody you know have progressed so far musically.
  • San Francisco Music Festivals – Bummed I only got to catch Sharon Jones at Stern Grove, definitely need to make it more next summer. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass – hard to believe it exists. Magical. Outside Lands – Heard horror stories about past years, but thought it was one of the best run giant $$$ events I’d been too (though beer selection needs vast improvement).
  • Live Music Everywhere in SF – I love just walking down the street and being lulled into a bar by great music. The Saloon is ridiculous. Club Deluxe is a gem. When I first moved here and was apartment hunting I stumbled into Cafe International on a random rainy Sunday afternoon and was impressed by the band. Sigh, as you can tell, I’m kind of in love with San Francisco.

Spotify playlist of memorable tracks from my Top 10 Shows.


About Meghan A.

creative & professional creative professional | communications, content & community | nasty woman | adventurer & inspiration seeker | bicyclist & feminist | walk san francisco board | current: Adobe Typekit Product Marketing Manager, former: TYPO SF magic maker
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