Another Top 10 List

The State – Columbia, SC
Why settle for a Top 10? These are my fave 11
Staff Writer

On the Scene has seen a lot of shows this year. Of course, some were better than others. These 11 were the very best of the best:

• George Strait, Feb. 13 at the Colonial Center: The “San Antone, Texas”-style show gave me shivers. I have never been to a country show before or since that stuck with me after I wrote the review.

There was something about Strait’s stage presence that captured my attention. He isn’t much into gyrations, just some foot tapping to the beat. All he needs is his rugged yet passionate voice, which was knocking down every note.

Why can’t all country music be this good?

• Bette Midler, March 4 at the Colonial Center:

Bette rocked this show with her jokes and singing.

Performers who have a hard time singing live — such as Ashlee Simpson, Britney Spears and Cher — should take a page out of Midler’s book: Work hard and you, too, can dance and sing at the same time.

• Pinback and American Analog Set, April 9 at the Echo Lounge, Atlanta: Two of my favorites. Two lush, ambient pop bands with songs to sing along to. I hugged a lot of folks who were singing just as much as I was.

It was one of those shows where I had to be at the front of the stage. I think I should start wearing ear plugs.

• Prince, April 21 at the Colonial Center: It was (almost) enough to make me cry. Prince should play just his older material at all his concerts. That’s what we were really there to hear.

• The Streets and Dizzee Rascal, June 29 at Irving Plaza, New York: Two of the best underground hip-hop MCs, and they’re from England. Labeled as garage or backpack rap, The Streets and Rascal put on an impeccable show.

English hip-hop is on the rise.

• The Lay All Over Its, July 2 at Hunter-Gatherer: The Chicago duo epitomizes avant-garde jazz noise. The tumbling drums, screeching stand-up bass and chanted vocals make for an interesting background to conversation.

This band is freak, emo-jazz at its best.

• Eleni Mandell, July 18 at Art Bar: Yes, the Art Bar really does have a listening room.

Elements of folk, rock, country and jazz accompany Mandell’s shockingly honest lyrics. Her voice is amazing — excellent for a lazy evening.

And she does Tom Waits covers.

• From Safety to Where, Rockefeller Horsecollar and Newgenics, Sept. 25 at The Garage: Three of the best bands in town on one bill. Post-punk, blues-punk and hardcore. Rock music is healthy in Columbia.

• Blonde Redhead, Oct. 4 at Cat’s Cradle, Chapel Hill: Blonde Redhead’s noisy, dissonant guitars and fractured drum patterns are not something you can dance to. And I like to dance. But it’s nice to just soft tap your way through a show. At the end, all I could say was “wow.” The show was smooth, as noise interludes filled the usually quiet transitions between songs.

• Kanye West, Nov. 10 at the Colonial Center: A DJ and a microphone. Peace to the MCs who do it like Kanye. The set was fresh, invigorating and perfectly timed.

Only 3,000 showed up. A month later, West was nominated for 10 Grammy Awards.

• The Movement DVD shoot, Nov. 11 at Rio Nightlife: The set was hype, filled with The Movement’s best and some covers of Sublime and Fugees. But the freestyle session with DJ Riggles cuttin’ and scratchin’ was insane. After Lyrikal Buddah, Dan Johns and Jwadi Jwad blessed the mic, Riggles tore it up.

And yes, I put my cup down so I could do the heel-to-toe

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