With the end of 2009 approaching, it seems that every music writer on the planet is obligated to share their subjective expertise on what the best moments in music were this year. At SW, we obviously concentrate on the local scene. But truth be told, my most diehard love goes to a genre that needs no additional attention from us whatsoever - mainstream pop.
I adore overhyped celebrities, infectious but mind numbingly simple songs, and cavernous arenas with overpriced tickets. So here it is, the top five concerts of the year to come to Seattle... in all their commercial glory. Read it and weep, hipsters!
5. Lil Wayne at Key Arena (January 21)
Does Lil Wayne possess any real talent? The rapper is arguably more notorious for his cough syrup guzzling, weed smoking, and run-ins with the law than his music. He's a fucking clown. But that's exactly why he's such a great entertainer, as evidenced by his concert at the start of this year. He sat down with a guitar (twice) without ever playing it. He allowed T-Pain to wheel across the stage on a segway for no apparent reason. For his encore, he lip-synced to Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You." Did any of it make sense? No. But Lil Wayne's ridiculous antics and refusal to take himself too seriously made fans go apeshit.4. Flight of the Concords at the Paramount (May 11-13)
To be fair, Flight of the Concords (New Zealand's McKenzie and Jermaine Clement) have one of the easiest fan bases in the world to please, thanks to their eponymous hit HBO series. But they proved to be worthy of the adoration at the first of three consecutive sold-out shows this spring. They danced in robot suits, did a cover of "Free Bird" per request, and performed a hilarious rendition of "Jenny," an awkward song about mistaken identity that had the audience in peals of laughter. Best of all, it turned out that FOTC had far more impressive musical abilities than that of most novelty acts. They hit their falsetto notes and played their instruments in a mock display of melodrama, but the fact is that they could indeed do these things very, very well.
3. No Doubt at White River Amphitheatre (July 19)
All teenagers worshipped No Doubt and its too-cool frontwoman Gwen Stefani in the late '90s. But with her unavoidable rise to solo pop superstar/ fashion icon/ celebrity mom also came, unfortunately, the band's hiatus. Fans were overjoyed when No Doubt announced a reunion tour and were even moreso when it turned out that tour did indeed meet - and exceed - their expectations. The band delivered an awesome blast from the past, fueled by nostalgia, horns, and Tragic Kingdom era jams at White River this summer. Even better was that Stefani and the boys - drummer Adrian Young, guitarist Tom Dumont, and bassist/ex-lover Tony Kanal -looked like they were having as good of a time as the crowd as they rocked to anthems like "Spiderwebs" and "Don't Speak."
2. Lady GaGa at the Showbox (March 16)
Whether you find her ingenious or insufferable, you've got to applaud Lady GaGa for attaining international superstardom this year with her danceable pop music, bizarre fashion sense, and theatrical performances. She delivered one of the Showbox's most extravagant performances earlier this year on her first nationwide headlining tour, during which she channeled her inner Andy Warhol with a wacky video installation, played the piano wearing only clear-colored balloons, and serenaded a male mannequin with the sweet pick-up line, "I wanna fuck you as hard as I can." GaGa has since become known for her wild performances, (e.g.: the blood-soaked death she acted out at MTV's Video Music Awards) but this was one of Seattle's - not to mention the nation's - first glimpses at what she was capable of.
1. Beyoncé at Key Arena (April 1)
There are a lot of pop stars that in person have a far tinier physique and presence than they do on television. Beyoncé is not one of those pop stars. She's got a killer voice and the most muscular thighs and ass ever known to humankind. She gives her fans exactly what they want, and blew me away this spring with the most impressive performance by a pop star I've ever witnessed - and believe me, I've witnessed plenty. During her two-hour concert, the sexy siren performed a medley of Destiny's Child hits, somersaulted through the air on a wire to "Baby Boy," and had the entire venue shaking as fans tried to emulate her now notorious dance routine for "Single Ladies." But just when the evening began to feel too perfect, Beyoncé's weave suffered a malfunction from all the movement. As she tried in vain to fix her lopsided locks, she good-naturedly confessed to the crowd, "My Sasha Fierce is deflating." Classic.