For now, I hope you'll settle for my countdown of the top 10 performances of last year. Note: I am not counting down the best lineups of the year, just specific performances. Sometimes the artist mentioned will not even be the headliner of the bill. No matter what, these are the performances that I shall remember the most from the past year. Here we go.
- The O's (October 25, Allgood Cafe)
If I had to choose my favorite new band of 2008, the title goes hands down to The O's. I had my suspicions of the potential talent that The O's would possess. Their performance at Allgood simply cashed in on their potential. Both John Pedigo and Taylor Young are first rate singers, songwriters, and musicians. Yes, the band consists of only the two members. No, there is not a need for extra members. The sound is complete and needs nothing more. Their debut album will be released on Idol Records early next year. Keep an eye on these guys, because 2009 is gonna be their year.
- Record Hop (April 24, Palladium Ballroom)
I had always thought of Record Hop as a talented band, but it wasn't until their performance at the Quick Big Thing Awards Show that I actually GOT Record Hop. Sure, my ears were bleeding after their performance, but more significantly, I was in awe of the raw, fierce talent possessed by the band. Major props go to Scott Porter, whose guitar work had me captivated. The set was not a long set, but it left me craving more.
- Little Black Dress (May 3, Granada Theater)
Radiant was the headliner, and the biggest draws on the lineup were The Crash That Took Me and the newly reunited Chomsky. It was Little Black Dress, however, that captivated me that evening. I've become a fan of the shoegaze sound in the past few years, and I have never seen a Dallas band that captured the sound so well. Can't wait for their debut album, also coming out on Idol Records.
- Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights (March 15, The Idle Rich)
Sure, Mr. Tyler was at least half blitzed by the end of his set. The amazing thing is that whether sober or not, all the members put on a killer performance, blending the best aspects of 60's soul, classic rock, and southern rock, and presented it as the perfect soundtrack to an early St. Patrick's Day party. I left the show thinking that JT&NL just might be the best live band in Dallas.
- THe BAcksliders (August 2, Club Dada)
OK, so perhaps I'm a little biased here. First of all, you may recall that the date in question was my anniversary show at Dada. Yes, I know, I did put on a fabulous show that night, didn't I? But seriously, it was a great set, and the peak of the evening came with the highly energized performance from THe BAcksliders. The band's set balances the perfect blend of rock n' roll energy with a genuine passion and professionalism with their musicianship. I could have chosen so many performances of theirs to put on the list, but ultimately I think they took the cake that night. After this performance, I started to believe that it's THe BAcksliders, and not JT&NL, who deserve the title of "best live band in Dallas".
- Dove Hunter (February 2, Lola's)
It was my first (and so far only time yet) at Lola's, and I had already seen an amazing set featuring The Cush, Telegraph Canyon, and one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Doug Burr. I had seen Dove Hunter before, and thought they were a likeable band, but a band I didn't fully "get". About halfway though their performance of "What Turns Inside", I had the a-ha moment. It wasn't like a light bulb going off over my head, but more like lightning striking my body. It was an awe inspriing performance, and I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again: Quincy Holloway is the best drummer in Dallas, hands down. I spent half the set in awe just watching him on drums, wondering how he manages to be so precise with his rhythm, yet so fierce in pounding his kit. I still haven't figured that one out yet.
- Sarah Jaffe (January 19, Allgood Cafe)
One could say that Ms. Jaffe's performance was a perfect storm of sorts. I have never seen Allgood Cafe as packed as it was for her performance. I have also never heard the audience as quiet as it was for Sarah. I guess when you have the beautiful and haunting voice that she has, it shuts people up and makes them listen. I've heard the phrase "you command respect, not demand it", and I've never seen this statement proven so true as it was during her performance.
- The Chemistry Set (January 11, Club Dada)
I saw this band for the first time in 2002, and it didn't take long for me to become a faithful follower of this band. And by "faithful follower", I mean a obsessed fan. I'm glad Steve Duncan never issued that restraining order he was talking about. Seriously though, the reason I became a fan of the band is that they were the perfect blend of ambitious indie rock sounds, without any of the typical indie-hipster pretentiousness that surrounds most of those type of bands. It was with great sorrow that I said farewell to this band early last year. Fortunately, the band went out with a bang, digging up old favorites ("Abagail", "Tyranny of the Urgent") and typical favorites ("Lee Minor 7", "Why Don't You?"). Steve even got his former Grand Street Cryer bandmate (and Calhoun lead singer) Tim Locke to bust out an old GSC song. Damn, I still miss those guys.
- Rahim Quazi (May 2, Club Dada)
Ever since I heard Rahim perform the song "Supernatural" for the first time, I had extremely high hopes for the CD. I even wondered if I had set my expectations so high that there was no way Mr. Quazi could live up to the hype. Something unexpected then happened: Rahim didn't live up to my high expectations, he surpassed and annihilated those expectations. He kicked off his set with "Supernatural", and continued the set with killer track after killer track. The performance ran the gamut of sounds and emotions, ranging from slow, poignant, and insightful ("So Much Better") to rocking and energetic ("You Fool"). I could go on and on, but the truth is that words would not do justice to his performance. Trust me, you had to be there.
- Sorta (October 23, House of Blues Pontiac Garage)
I'm not even sure where to begin to describe this show. Yes, it was obviously a highly emotional show. You could see many an audience member fighting back the tears, and some of them unable to fight the tears back. It was a beautiful night filled with Sorta favorites, as well as tracks from their final self-titled CD. The band closed with "Afraid of the Dark", one of Sorta's most beautiful and haunting songs ever. When the band sang the final refrain, "Oh, it's over now", well, I'm sure I wasn't the only audience member with a lump in their throat the size of a softball. In spite of the highly emotional nature of the evening, the band held it together and sounded as tight as ever, in spite of the lack of Carter Albrecht's musical presence onstage. It may be over now, but the memory of both Sorta and of Carter remains with all of us.