Ear Candy’s top 10 shows of 2009

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I spent a lot of my time this year in Seattle’s various clubs, bars and concert venues where I enjoyed an amazing amount of live music. Here are 10 of my favorite shows from 2009 in no particular order.

TADgarden :: by Travis Hay

TADgarden at the Crocodile

It was a Tom Morello musical variety show that featured Steve Earle, Blue Scholars, Mark Arm, Boots Riley, Kim Thayil, Ben Shepard and a few others. The addition of Thayil and Shepard made me think Matt Cameron might be in the building and he was, along with one of the biggest grunge badasses around, Tad Doyle. When Doyle joined the three-fourths of Soundgarden for a three-song set it made for quite a memorable post-grunge moment in Seattle’s music history. Also, I think the show was held during either the third or fourth night of the new Crocodile’s existence. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate rock ‘n’ roll way to christen the new(ish) club.

Pearl Jam at KeyArena

Pearl Jam made its comeback to modern rock relevancy in 2009 and its brief fall tour kicked off at home with two shows at the Key. The first night was good, combining classics with Backspacer tunes, but it was the second night complete with its customized “Supersonic” lyrics which took on the loss of the Supersonics that provided a truly transcendent concert experience.

Ra Scion :: by Travis Hay

Common Market at Bumbershoot

Part performance art, part hip hop show, this set could have gone off very cheesily and been extremely laughable. Instead it was an artistic statement that commented on the working man’s blues filled with facepaint, props and dancers while Ra Scion spit rhymes over the soundscapes provided by a band (that included a horn section!) and his DJ. An extra touching ballet performance over the instrumental “The Picture of My DeLorean Gray” by Ra Scion’s daughter closed one of the most memorable hip hop sets I saw this year.

Them Crooked Vultures at the Paramount

Simply put, if you get a chance to see Dave Grohl play drums, do it. Seeing him join up with John Paul Jones to form a mammoth rhythm section in concert is a no-brainer. Josh Homme as wacko stoner-fuzz frontman is an added bonus. In the year of the rock supergroup (Dead Weather, TCV, Monsters of Folk), Them Crooked Vultures trumped them all with the pure power of, um, rock (what else?).

Sunny Day Real Estate :: by Travis Hay

Sunny Day Real Estate at the Paramount

The rumors of a SDRE reunion finally came true when the band got back together for a brief fall tour. It felt so great to hear the songs I grew up listening to live in concert. The beautiful theatrical setting of the Paramount only added to the bliss and magic of the moment. It was a no-frills set with very little stage banter, but the banter wasn’t needed because the smiles on the faces in the crowd, as well as those coming from the stage, did all the talking that was needed.

The whiskey baptism begins :: by Travis Hay

Ear Candy’s Birthday Bash Deux and Funofficial Bumbershoot Kickoff shows at the High Dive

Sure it is self-serving to include shows that I booked on this list, but this is a list of my favorite shows from 2009  so … Conflict of interests aside, I put a lot of work into booking these shows and it all paid off with some awesome sets by the some of my favorite local groups including Born Anchors, The Redwood Plan, Grynch, Team Gina and Brent Amaker and the Rodeo to name a few. Plus, the Bumbershoot set saw the debut of Ra Scion’s new project Victor Shade and They Live! played one of their first sets at EC’s Birthday Bash. Oh, and if you haven’t been to a whiskey baptism held at the Church of Brent Amaker and the Rodeo, then you haven’t lived.

Macklemore :: by Rabid Child Images

Go! Machine at the Crocodile

You’ve probably read on countless blogs how 2009 was a big year for local hip hop and you wouldn’t be reading it if it wasn’t true. This big year was capped with one big Seattle hip-hop party that lasted two nights at the Crocodile. Highlights included They Live! playing material off They La Soul, Macklemore’s dance party, Spaceman jumping into the upper bar from the stage and Mad Rad making the crowd go bonkers.

Monotonix Sasquatch!

My favorite band of hair, sweaty and ugly Israeli rockers got their moment in the spotlight at this year’s Sasquatch! and it was one of the most memorable festival performances I’ve witnessed. From singling out (and heckling) a drunken fan to leaping onto the crowd from a height of more than 50 feet, Monotonix did what they do best: take the crowd on one wild rock ‘n’ roll ride.

Jay-Z at KeyArena

I’ve seen lots of big arena hip hop shows and I think I’ve seen every major rapper of the current wave of hip hop stars on stage (Kanye, Lil Wayne, Snoop, Eminem, Dr Dre, 50 Cent …) and Jay-Z schooled them all on how an arena rap show should go down when he made his first trip to Seattle in 10 years

Dead Weather at the Paramount

Simply put, if you have a chance to see Jack White play drums, do it.

Honorable mentions: No Depression Festival at Marymoor Park, Macklemore at Bumbershoot, Akron/Family at Bumbershoot, Robin Pecknold at Neumos, Schoolyard Heroes final show at El Corazon

Travis Hay

About Travis Hay

Travis Hay is a professional music journalist who has spent the past 14 years documenting and enjoying Seattle's diverse music scene. In 2009 he established Guerrilla Candy and is currently the site's editor and publisher. He has written for various media outlets including MSN Music, the Seattle-Post Intelligencer, Seattle Weekly, Crosscut.com and others and was the founder and editor of defunct music site Ear Candy.