This Week’s Top 5: Best Concerts Ever


1. Radiohead, Liberty State Park, 2001.  An other-worldy experience. I had stayed out very late the night before, had a rough day at work and was beyond tired.  But the band, the crowd, the energy and the camaraderie shot me straight to the moon. Thom Yorke was manic, silly and intense.  The ride back to manhattan on the ferries was completely silent and magical.  Back then, the ferries took off from the World Trade Centers.  Three weeks later, the Twin Towers were no more.

2. U2, Madison Square Garden, 2001.  Tickets were hard to come by and I ended up going by myself, which didn’t matter one bit.  U2 can rock an arena like no other band I’ve ever seen in one.  Even Radiohead at MSG didn’t compare.

3. Flaming Lips, Irving Plaza, 2003.  The first time seeing the Lips is a special occasion for many people, I’m sure.  It’s like being a kid at your fifth birthday party — tremendously joyous.  I’m pretty sure Mariola and I even hugged random people.

4. Built to Spill, Irving Plaza, 2003.  I’ve loved every BTS show I’ve ever been to (and there have been many) but these two dates in a row were particularly awesome for a few reasons including:  somebody yelled “Freebird” and the band actually played it; and  The Strokes and a few other “it” bands were in the audience paying serious tribute to Doug Martsch and crew, who paved the way for many others but will never be as big or as “cool.”

5. Violent Femmes, Tipitina’s, 1995.  Here, I realized I was in love for the first time.  It happened during the song “Good Feeling” and was beautiful.


1. smashing pumpkins, the ritz in ybor city, 1992. just before ‘siamese dream’ came out and they were still playing small ‘gish’-like clubs. i met billy corgan before the show on the street and i had him sign my copy of kerouac’s ‘on the road.’ [note to reader: i was 16, give me a break.] the venue was small and i was up front and screamed every word of every song right back up into his face. ethereal.

2. radiohead, all points west festival at liberty state park, 2008. besides the fact that all points west was the worst organized festival i have ever been to (too much wasted time locked in the refugee beer camp for the blind), radiohead saved the day as usual and powerhoused their LED-led show. gorgeous. 

3. avail, multiple venues around florida, 1995. i got to know these guys pretty well. a group of friends, an ex-boyfriend and i traveled around and saw them multiple times in 1995, but specifically spent a week going to all their florida shows. ‘dixie’ is a great anthemic album. these guys were INSANE live and their energy is contagious and sweet. fist pumping mandatory. 

4. jawbreaker, covered dish, 1996. i finally got to see blake schwarzenbach shake his sweet thang and sing me lover’s lullabies. at this point i think we all knew the band was breaking up. bittersweet.

5. radon, several ‘last show ever’ shows at the hardback cafe, gainesville, 1990s. radon brought people out of the gainesville woodwork and you were guaranteed to see 300 of your closest friends squished into the smelly, cramped quarters of the infamous hardback cafe. brilliant fun with the band barely playing because the swaying crowd constantly overtook them in one big sweaty floridian embrace. legendary.


1. primal scream, hammerstein ballroom.  violent white light. the intense vocals of bobby gillespie. the soaring guitar of kevin shields. a roaring crowd made one with the help of some friends. 

 2. radiohead, an outside stadium in ft. lauderdale.  just brilliant. 

3. the flaming lips, irving plaza.  a jolly re-union with human-size fluffy animals running around in the crowd. it was a glee-full experience. more good-hearted fun than i have ever had at a concert. the band is so sincere and desiring of putting on a good show. i really appreciated it.

 4. palatka, downstairs at full circle.  ode to the good ole’ days of being a drummer’s girlfriend. to hardcore. to two-minute sets. to sweaty boys.  check out the video of one of their shows

 5. the strokes, mercury lounge.  i felt part of the zeitgeist. like the ramones before them at cbgb’s the strokes played every monday (or was it sundays? mariela help me out here) for a month at the mercury lounge, which was just down the street from my apartment. before they got bigger and moved their venue to the bowery ballroom and eventually hammerstein. i still like the strokes.  


1. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blaisdell Arena (Honolulu, HI), 2003.  Small venue and I was right up front–it was so surreal and full of energy. (Didn’t hurt that I was crazy in love with the guy I went with.)

2. Garth Brooks, San Jose Arena, 1997.  No one puts on a show like Garth. No one even comes close. I went three nights in a row. The final night we had floor seats and spent the whole show standing on our chairs singing like crazy.

3. Coldplay, Sacramento Valley Amphitheater, 2004.  I didn’t really know Coldplay that well before this concert. It was a warm night, sitting on the grass and being utterly amazed. 

4. Bridge School Benefit (James Taylor, Ryan Adams, Jack Johnson…), Shoreline Amphitheater (Mountain View, CA), 2002.  I used to go to Bridge School every year with a big group of friends. In 2002, a new love of Jack Johnson and a longstanding love of James Taylor made it one of the best.

5. Stevie Wonder, Jazz Fest, 2008.  The Jazz Fest experience as a sum of its parts is more important to me than one particular show and Stevie Wonder’s performance made me sit back and realize that. I was in New Orleans with two friends and also part of my brother’s 10-man bachelor party. It had rained all day and we were muddy and drunk and worn out from a big night out the night before, but it couldn’t have been more perfect. He literally sang ‘You Are the Sunshine of My Life’ as the rain stopped and clouds parted.


2 responses to “This Week’s Top 5: Best Concerts Ever

  1. ola, it was every wednesday at mercury lounge. i was going to include this but it didn’t make the cut, so i’m happy it’s represented! others that didn’t make the cut: bad religion at tipitina’s and t in the park in kinross, scotland in 2003.

  2. that video is priceless Mariola. HAHAH…I love bleach blonde straight edge Mark.

    Good times, good times.

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