10 Years in Music

Looking back is looking forward.

I’ve been known to indulge in my share of excavating. As I prepare for my next big move, I’ve been looking back, not only on the decade-long 10 Cities/10 Years, but also on my youth and even more recent history. Writing these chapters from my life has been rewarding, allowing me to scrutinize my memories and re-examine pivotal moments in my history, recontextualizing my history as it relates to my present. But there are other ways to explore the past.

One of my favorite tools for documenting my life in real time is Last.fm, a website I’ve mentioned not infrequently in these pages. It’s the simplest of ideas: the website tracks the music you listen to on your various devices and compiles that information into charts and data points. It’s extremely nerdy and entirely unnecessary, and I love it.

I started using Last.fm just a few months before I set out on my decade of travel, so I have a document of all the music I listened to throughout the entire journey from day one: my ups and downs, my relationships come and gone, my periods of depression and moments of hysteria, all of it soundtracked. It’s the kind of thing that I can nerd out over for hours, and often do.

I decided it would be informative to look at my Top Songs charts for the various years of my 10 city project to get a sense of the tenor of each year through my musical obsessions. I’ve taken a snapshot of my Top 5 tracks, so now, if you’ll indulge me, I’m going to take another look back at my project, this time through song.

Call it 10 Cities/10 Years: The Soundtrack.

Or don’t, IDGAF.

1. Charlotte


How predictable. In my first year of traveling, I was still mostly listening to the artists who had gotten me through college, so Radiohead and Rufus Wainwright had been getting heavy rotation for a few years by this point (and still do). “Fake Plastic Trees” was my go-to favorite song for years, though its stature has diminished some over the years.

In terms of evolving musical tastes, The Decemberists were one of the many new artists a friend introduced to me while I was living in Charlotte. Especially in those early days, the Pacific Northwest band was known for their whimsical and eccentric mix of British folk and sea shanties. I was besotted with “The Engine Driver” which has this one verse:

I am a writer, writer of fictions
I am the heart that you call home
And I’ve written pages upon pages
Trying to rid you from my bones

It’s the kind of melodramatic sentiment that I absolutely adored back then. (Eh, still do.)

2. Philadelphia


Not much had changed in terms of favorite artists, though I was definitely listening to a more varied selection. “Come Pick Me Up” is my all-time most listened song and has never lost its “Favorite Song” status, but by this point I was starting to seek out more obscure artists. Mirah was another new discovery from my year in Charlotte, and she rapidly ascended into the realm of favorites. Though I’ve only followed her career intermittently recently, I was fortunate enough to see her play live just a few months ago at an intimate benefit show for LGBT youth. She was lovely.

Ghosty, for those that don’t know, is (was?) a band from my hometown in Kansas. They played a set at the famous World Café in Philadelphia and I saw them perform. Staying after to talk with the guys, I was surprised when the lead singer said that he actually knew me because he had seen me read poetry back in Lawrence. That was wholly unexpected and kind of cool.

3. Costa Mesa

Costa Mesa

For a time, Beirut was the musical artist I felt most spoke to my increasingly disparate tastes in music. I used to say that if I had any musical talent (I do not), I would make music exactly like Beirut. It’s interesting how, as especially so-called “indie” music has expanded in form and genre, the once unique Baltic sounds of Beirut have become just another common trope. I still enjoy Beirut, but my fervor has lessened considerably.

4. San Francisco

San Francisco

Starting to see some more female artists gain prominence in this list, though none of these three particular artists would be in my favorites. Still, Beth Orton’s Central Reservation did receive considerable play for a few years. “Concrete Sky,” which is off of a different album, features one-time Orton beau, Ryan Adams, so that probably helps explain its high chart position here. It’s also just a beautiful song.

“No Children” is, for me, the perfect song about a doomed relationship, that kind of love where the two people are terrible for each other but still work in a twisted sort of way. John Darnielle is a storyteller, and the entire Tallahassee album is arguably the best novel he’s ever written (though his two actual novels are worth a read). 

5. Chicago


My fifth year was, at times, arduous, as you might recall, so it’s not really surprising that the songs that got the most airplay in that year were in large part downcast affairs. I adore Neko Case’s entire oeuvre, and I consider her song, “Star Witness,” to be one of the defining songs of 10 Cities/10 Years (I’m frankly shocked at its absence on these lists). Although “Don’t Forget Me” is a Harry Nilsson cover, she definitively makes it her own.

Yeasayer’s “Tightrope” stands out from the other songs on the chart with its propulsive and infectious rhythms. It appeared on the Dark Was the Night charity compilation (along with Iron & Wine’s “Die”) and was basically the standout track from two discs of excellent but mostly similar sounding indie rock and folk music. Worth tracking down.

6. Nashville


In the wake of a bad break up in Chicago, Nashville’s list consists of a lot of old favorites; comfort food, I suppose. Ironic that the one Adele song that I was really into that year was actually one of her more upbeat tracks. Also, “Dear Chicago”? How on the nose could I be? (Granted, it’s a fantastic song.)

7. Seattle


Ryan reclaims the top track, but this time with a song that was never officially released. Both “Karina” and “Angelina” appear on the famously unreleased 48 Hours (bootlegs are available, obviously), which was scrapped in favor of Demolition, a solid but ultimately less cohesive album. I’ve said this elsewhere but, after Heartbreaker48 Hours is Ryan’s greatest album, and the fact that it has never officially been released is a tragedy (a few songs appear on Demolition). “Karina” is his most sympathetic and piercing character piece and deserves to be loved by millions. 

Otherwise, this list clearly reflects the counter-intuitively sunnier times I was having in Seattle. Also, funny to note just how much Childish Gambino has evolved as a writer and performer since those early days. “Freaks and Geeks” is still a banger.

8. New Orleans

New Orleans

This was another hard personal year, but still a year with a lot of partying, which is nicely exemplified in the dichotomy of Justin Timberlake and a pair of The National’s bleakest songs. The Divine Fits’ “Shivers” splits the difference, an old school proto-punk cover with the lyrics:

I’ve been contemplating suicide
But it really doesn’t suit my style
So I guess I’ll just act bored instead
And contain the blood I would’a shed 

Considering my state of mind that year, the song was clearly speaking to me. (The song also includes one of my all-time favorite lines of shade: “My baby’s so vain / She’s almost a mirror”.)

9. Boston


I’d been a fan of Death Cab for Cutie since college, and yet, somehow, I had never bothered to acquire their most critically acclaimed album, Transatlanticism. I rectified that in Boston and soon after became enthralled with the eight minute centerpiece. I was also still obsessing over Hurray for the Riff Raff, a folk/mixed genre band from New Orleans that you should also be obsessed with. Get on that.

(Also, yes, Justin Timberlake made the list two years in a row; no shame.)

10. Brooklyn 


And then came Brooklyn. Kanye West is an asshole. Kanye West is too full of himself. Kanye West lacks impulse control. All true. Also true: Kanye West can produce some amazing music. When Boston roommate, Emily, helped drive me to my tenth and final city, “Power” literally started playing the moment we passed the city limit sign. There couldn’t have been a more thematically appropriate song for that moment.

I had a brief fling with a French girl when I first moved to Brooklyn; my infatuation with The Stills’ french-language “Retour a Vega” lasted much longer. At the same time, I fell absolutely head-over-heels in love with HAIM’s debut. Their latest release is very good, but I still play the hell out of Days Are Gone.

Goddamn right JT threepeated.

Album Credits

Notably, while many of my favorite artists are represented in these lists, there are plenty of others that don’t appear (no Sufjan Stevens, no Elliott Smith, no Spoon, no Rilo Kiley), while a number of artists who I barely listen to anymore (Night Terrors of 1927, really?) showed up.

I could have done this kind of list with my Top Artists or my Top Albums and gotten some very different results. For instance, these were my top albums from my year in Charlotte:

Charlotte Album

All five albums came out between 2005 and 2006, yet only one, Picaresque, is represented on the most played songs. I suspect that I was still getting to know these albums and thus listening to them straight through instead of just cherry picking my favorite tracks.

I chose to look at my top songs instead of albums or artists because I think they reflect my moods in those years more accurately. The album lists lean heavily towards recent releases, and my top artists stay pretty static from year to year (Radiohead and Ryan Adams are almost always in the top spots). By contrast, my ever-changing top song lists across my ten year journey illustrate not only an evolving musical taste, but they also provide insight into my mental state in those particular years.

Perhaps this sort of thing is only interesting to me (if so, you probably aren’t still reading, so who cares), but if you have a Last.fm account, I recommend taking a gander into your own past. Maybe you’ll learn something about yourself.


For the completists in the continually dwindling crowd, I’m including my second and third year lists from my time in Brooklyn. As I’ve written about previously, the music of Songs: Ohia carried me through a very difficult post-project year, hence The Lioness charting so many tracks. And then, this current year’s list is a result of my concerted effort to seek out more diverse artists and voices, in particular more women. 

Brooklyn (Year 2)

Brooklyn 2

Brooklyn (Year 3)

Brooklyn 3

Ideally, the list will continue to evolve every year because I will continue to evolve. In that way, these charts serve both as a document of the past and a challenge for the future. Who knows what my playlist will look like after a year in Spain? I look forward to making fresh comparisons next August.

5 Songs I’m Loving Now – 08/03/15

For what will be my last 5 Songs of the project, I’m listing a small selection of songs that have been very important to me over the length of the last decade. These are the songs that I discovered in one of the 10 cities and haven’t let go of since.

Neko Case – Star Witness

I feel like I write about this song once every six months, which makes it the perfect choice to kick off this list. I first heard it on a Paste Magazine compilation (back when they had a print edition) while I lived in Charlotte, but it wasn’t ’til I was living in Philadelphia and working for that infamous store that I got my hands on the full album, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. I loved that album as well as each of Case’s subsequent releases, but when it comes down to it, “Star Witness” is still the song that has my heart. Beautiful, sad and stark, it’s Case at her absolute best.

The National – Slow Show

Like Neko Case, I was introduced to the National through the Paste music sampler, and I have similarly been obsessed with all of their music ever since. Although their song “Fake Empire” first grabbed my attention, it was “Slow Show,” the romantic centerpiece of the excellent Boxer, that cemented the band as my go-to band for sad sack moments of quiet desperation, of which I’ve had many over the years. And even though the age 29 has come and gone, and thus I will never be able to post these lyrics on Facebook for a lover, it still remains one of my favorite paeans to longing and desire.

Mirah – Don’t Die In Me

I was introduced to Mirah by my college girlfriend’s roommate, and though I haven’t followed her career all that much lately, there was a brief period in which I was fairly obsessed with her music. Her devotees might tell me she’s released better albums since C’Mon Miracle and I’d be willing to accept that, but nothing is going to change how I feel about “Don’t Die In Me.” For years, this was my poetry-writing-song. There was just something in the abstractness of the lyrics mixed with the directness of the music that inspired me. Even now, when it comes on I’m washed over with memories and a fuzzy feeling of loss, the sense that the past is past and I can only march forward.

The Decemberists – The Engine Driver

The first person I became friends with in Charlotte has remained one of my best friends throughout this whole decade. In that first year of my project, she and I exchanged essentially our entire music collections. I had the entire libraries of Radiohead, Ryan Adams and probably a bunch of Christian artists I rarely listen to anymore. She had a whole slew of indie bands that Pitchfork loved then hated then loved again (and probably now hate), including one of the most divisive artists under the “indie” banner, the Decemberists. Even as the band has lost their ‘hip’ cred, they’ve remained a favorite. And yes, “The Engine Driver” is a cheesy song for a writer (of fictions) to list as one of his essentials, but there it is. No shame: It’s over the top and excessively romantic and that’s all I want from my PNW folk music. Deal with it.

The Mountain Goats – No Children

Bleak as shit? You bet your ass. Kind of heartbreaking? Certainly. Filled with uncensored expressions of humanity? Absolutely. This may be the quintessential Mountain Goats song, so be warned if this is your first experience of them. By no means do I want to suggest that this is their definitive sound as each album has its own vibe and unique sensibilities (and themes, usually), but this exemplifies what John Darnielle does best: Craft unflinching portraits of the darker side of life. In the context of the album, Tallahassee‘s, longer narrative, “No Children” is one of many rough chapters in the lives of a couple whose marriage and lives are falling apart. Out of context, it comes off like the ultimate ode to shitty relationships. However it is experienced, “No Children” reveals a sad truth: Sometimes the person we’re closest with is the one who is doing us the most harm.

Fox Confessor Brings The Flood

5 Songs I’m Loving Now – 11/11/13

Night Terrors of 1927 – Dust and Bones

I would love to say that when they release a full album, Night Terrors of 1927 are going to release the album of the year, but I’ve seen enough bands fail to live up to their early single hype that I really can’t make that promise. That said, man is this song good. So is everything else they’ve released. Their first EP comes out today, and its 5 songs are damn good. Yet there is no question this track is the stand out. I don’t really know how to explain this music other than that it somehow seems to mash 80s pop with early 00s indie in a musical pairing that isn’t at all precocious or annoying. If there’s anything that could be said against NTo27, it’s that they should have released their EP in the summer because they make music for the sun.

Beth Orton – Mystery

Changing it up completely, this haunting, melancholy work by Beth Orton is an excellent showcase for the British songstress’s uncanny voice. Her 2012, Sugaring Season, from which this comes, is so low-key that it kind of faded into the background, even for me whose favorite Orton album is the understated wonder, Central Reservation. Well, I might have let this album slip by me, but this song cannot be ignored. Gorgeous, delicate, brimming with a desperate beauty, Orton is many years into her career but she hasn’t lost her touch.

Neko Case – Nearly Midnight, Honolulu

I’ve already talked about seeing Neko live just last week, so I don’t know what else there’s to be said about it. She’s a force of nature, a tornado, a lion, a flood. This song is the centerpiece of her latest album, not only because it comes smack dab in the middle of the playlist, but because it resonates thematically with so much of her music. It’s a tale of abuse and pitiful human relations, but also a story about finding strength despite everything else, and if that isn’t the quintessential Neko Case song, I don’t know what is. Plus, her voice could resurrect the dead.

Okkervil River – White

To be honest, I wish I could say that the latest Okkervil River grabbed me as much as their earlier stuff, but The Silver Gymnasium, while not bad, isn’t as captivating as their earlier work. When I first listened to OR, I was struck by how immediately the songs hooked into me, and that sadly hasn’t been the case with this latest album. Except for this song. After listening to the album one time, “White” stuck out as the song to beat and after many listens through the rest of the album, it still is. Lyrically and musically, this is what this band does best and I honestly can’t get enough of it. With time, the rest of the album will likely grow on me, but for the foreseeable future this is the standout.

Death Cab For Cutie – Transatlanticism

This year is the 10th anniversary of the album that pretty much marks the high point for Death Cab For Cutie, and this is coming from a guy who unabashedly loves Plans and Keys and Codes. In fact, despite having seen the band on the tour for this album, I didn’t actually get Transatlanticism until less than a year ago, and boy do I feel like an idiot. I routinely heard it said that Transatlanticism was their best album, but I was always a little skeptical. Well, I shouldn’t have been. This album is a focused work of gorgeous contriteness, and I could have honestly put any track in this spot. I picked this one because it’s the title track and because I love long songs that build to a cathartic release. This album represents the definitive experience of being in your 20s, and I hope that restless twentysomethings are still discovering it decades down the road.

Night Terrors of 1927 Guilty Pleas

My Boston Weekend

2013 World Champions

Well, they did it. The Boston Red Sox dominated in the 6th game and won the World Series. Needless to say, the win was met with vigorous celebration here in the home of the Dropkick Murphys. The victory was marked with a parade on Saturday morning that ran through downtown Boston and brought out massive crowds to cheer and snap pictures of the conquering heroes.

But before that, I had my own unhealthy obsession to feed. Neko Case played the Orpheum Theater in support of her latest, superb album, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You. This was my second time seeing her live, my first being on my birthday the year I lived in Nashville. The venues couldn’t have been more different*, but the show both times was excellent. It seems impossible, but her voice loses nothing in person, proving that some singers are the real deal.

Orpheum TheaterThe Worse Things Get

My one minor quibble is that she didn’t play The Worse Things Get… stand out track, “Nearly Midnight, Honolulu,” the mostly a cappella centerpiece and heart of the album. I was excitedly anticipating hearing the track live, but admittedly with the show that her and the band gave, it probably wouldn’t have fit well in the set. My heartbreak was mitigated, though, because as she did the first time I saw her, she ended the show (and second encore!) with my absolute favorite, “Star Witness.” This was the first song of hers I ever heard and I’ve been a devoted fan ever since.

Neko Psychedelia

After the show, I met some friends for drinks at a bar up my direction where, apparently, there was some sort of “holiday” going on that involved people dressing up in costumes. Quite odd.

The next morning, the parade began at 10, which meant my roommate and I had to be down to the line by 9. Now, as I said in my last post, I am by no means claiming to be a Red Sox fan. I’m not jumping on the bandwagon for a year, just to jump off when I move to New York. Whatever city I’m in, I can usually work up some rudimentary enthusiasm for the home team, and this was no different. But I’ve never been in a city for a World Series celebration, so I wasn’t going to skip out on a chance to see the festivities.

It wasn’t exactly Mardi Gras in New Orleans (too many sober people), but the crowd was hearty and excited, and we were gifted a idyllic, warm fall day for our troubles.

Boston in the Fall

What more can be said about a parade? Here are some photos:

   Bearded DuckHallelujah    ShoemobileJohn Lackey's Blue SkiesThe Trophy

With a mix of Halloween Hedonism and World Series Inebriation, I have no doubt my fellow Bostonians are not going to enjoy this Monday very much. And I’m sure they wouldn’t change a single thing.

Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox. The less said about the Celtics, probably the better.




*I’m getting old, because I officially prefer concerts in halls with seats to standing in bars. At least for bands I really care about.

The 6 Best: My Favorite Albums of 10 Cities/10 Years, So Far

As I head into my 7th year of a 10 year project, I’m looking back on the art that I’ve discovered in my first 6 cities.  I’m examining the music, films and literature that have had the greatest impact on my life throughout the previous 6 cities.  In doing so, I’m only discussing the albums, movies and books that were released since June 1st, 2005, the official start of the project.  My intention is not to proclaim these as the greatest works of art in the past 6 years, but rather to spotlight the art that has had the deepest, most consistent effect on my life and the entire 10 Cities Project.

Regular readers will probably recognize a few of these from previous posts.  But maybe a few will surprise you.

Listed in order of release date.


Sufjan Stevens – Illinois (a.k.a. Come On Feel The Illinoise)
Released: July 4, 2005

How I came across it:  I was living in Charlotte, the first city of 10, and a girl I worked with gave me a burnt copy of it.  The rest is history.
Thoughts:  What can I say about this album that hasn’t been said a million times?  It is a masterpiece, best album of the year and in top running for best of this (still young) century.  If you haven’t given it a chance yet or if you have and haven’t fallen in love with it, nothing I say is going to change that.  I just feel sorry for you.

Margot & the Nuclear So And So’s – The Dust of Retreat
Released: March 28, 2006

How I came across it: I was living in Philadelphia, my second city, and a lot of my online writer friends were raving about a few of their songs.  I liked what I heard, so I tracked down the whole album.
  Probably the most obscure album on this list (not counting a couple of the honorable mentions), but among a certain subset of Indie folks, this is a holy work.  But don’t let that turn you off, because this album has an emotional resonance that most of the Too-Cool-For-School type albums couldn’t touch.  Nothing the band has done since has been even a tenth as rewarding, but at least we’ll always have this one album.

Thom Yorke – The Eraser
Released: July 11, 2006

How I came across it: I was working at the infamous used CD store in Philly when this album came out.  Being a huge Radiohead fan, I tried to get the store to bring in a few copies.  After waiting a week, I grew impatient and bought it from another store down the street.
Thoughts: Some might be surprised that Radiohead’s excellent “In Rainbows” isn’t on this list.  Well, I truly love that album and it almost made it to the top 6, but while I was thinking about it, I had to admit, this album has engrained itself into my life and memory so much more.  Perhaps it was getting to see Thom Yorke and his Atoms For Peace band play it live, or maybe it was just listening to the album while I walked the streets of Philly alone, but this album is an indelible part of my past now, a landmark work for me and 10 Cities.

Iron & Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog
Released: September 25, 2007

How I came across it: This album had been out for probably a year before I bought it.  I had an mp3 of standout track, “Boy With A Coin,” on my computer and loved it, but for some reason it took me months and months to pull the trigger.
Thoughts: Idiot!  That’s all I can say, because I should have had this album in my life for a year longer than I have.  Oh, how I have deprived myself!  Iron & Wine has always been a band (or act) that I’ve liked, but this album truly transformed my feelings into love.  Yes, it’s more produced and filled out than earlier albums, but contrary to common opinion, I don’t think intimacy and beauty can only be achieved by lo-fi recordings and poor sound.  This album deserves your time.  Don’t make my mistake.

Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
Released: February 19, 2008

How I came across it: Another album where I had songs off of it for a few months before I bought it (thanks to Paste).  I can’t remember when I bought it exactly, but since it was released in 2008, I must have been living in either Costa Mesa or San Francisco.
Thoughts: Like Sufjan’s album, there is nothing I’m going to say about this album that is going to convince anyone to give it a chance if they haven’t already.  And also like Sufjan’s album, this is one that has become so big it’s broken out of the arena of strictly Indie kids.  And good for it.  I’m not one of those scenesters that needs my music to be obscure.  Great music should belong to the world, and deservedly this album has found a large audience.

Neko Case – Middle Cyclone
Released: March 3, 2009

How I came across it: I’d been loving on Neko since Philly.  When this album came out, I think I probably bought it the first day.
Thoughts: Frankly, even I’m a little surprised that “Fox Confessor Brings The Flood” isn’t in this place, but I have to face reality.  While “Fox Confessor…” is the album that introduced me to Neko, and my favorite Neko song, “Star Witness” is from that album, I have to say that Middle Cyclone from beginning to end is the better album, and many of the songs on it have embedded themselves into my mind so deeply, even a hint of a melody from them can evoke an emotional response.  An album that deserves to be loved as much as “Illinois” or “For Emma, Forever Ago.”

Truly Honorable Mentions:

Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Beirut – Gulag Orkestar
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Florence + The Machine –  Lungs
The Mountain Goats – Get Lonely
The National – Boxer

Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
Paul Duncan – Be Careful What You Call Home

Radiohead – In Rainbows
Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

Next:  My Favorite Films of 10 Cities/10 Years, So Far

The Rules for a Concertgoer

In the nearly eleven months that I’ve lived hear in Nashville, aka Music City, I’ve seen my share of live music, mostly of the local variety, some strangers I’ve seen at a random open mic, some exceptionally talented friends and coworkers playing shows or simply sitting in living rooms (check out The August for some infectious country rock with a powerful female vocal for lead).

I’ve also had the great fortune to see two of my all time favorite artists. 

Of my top 15 most listened to artists (according to my Last.fm profile), I’ve seen all but six live, and three of those are either dead or defunct.  The two acts I was lucky enough to see here in Nashville were Neko Case, the beautiful and mesmerizing chanteuse, and the Old 97’s, one of the truly seminal alt-country rock bands. 

I’ve adored Neko since I came across one of her albums in Philly.  I’ve followed the 97’s since my college days, sitting in my brother’s house with his friends and listening to songs like “Barrier Reef” and “Streets of Where I’m From.”

The Neko show was intimate, the Old 97’s were raucous, but in both cases, the concerts lived up to my expectations and reminded me why I will always love live music, even when sometimes the experience can be exhausting or, at times, frustrating when the crowd sucks.

Going to a concert should be fun and memorable.  Your experience of it should be something you want to relive, and when an artist is especially effective, it’ll make you re-appreciate old favorite songs.  I think the sign of a good concert is if you want to listen to the music the next day.

There are some unwritten rules to concert-going.  Well, I say unwritten, but I’m about to write them out for you.  These are not only rules for how to best enjoy a show while not annoying your fellow concertgoers, they are also rules of behavior that distinguishes a fan from a noob.

The Rules for a Concertgoer

1.  Sing along with the music.  Absolutely.  Half the fun of a concert is the communal thrill of a room full of people singing along to a favorite song.  Nothing sucks the fun out of a room like sitting next to a guy who is too cool to enjoy the music he spent $20 to see live.

2.  Don’t sing loud.  The other, more important half of going to a concert is hearing the band perform.  Nobody paid $20 to hear your shitty karaoke rendition of the song, so sing along, but contain yourself.  If the lead singer is holding out the mic to the audience, then go ahead, belt it out.  Otherwise, keep to your inside voice.

3.  Don’t listen to the music of the band on the way to the show.  That’s no way to appreciate the experience.  It’s like cramming for a test 5 minutes before you take it.  It’s perfectly fine to blast the music when you’re leaving the show, but not on the way.

4.  Don’t wear the shirt of the band at their show.  This one is rookie.  Concertgoers know this rule like it was part of their DNA.  And you can spot a rookie concertgoer because they’ll be the one asking, “Why?”  Just don’t do it.  You look like a chode.  Wear your Beatles t-shirt if you must wear music paraphernalia, or better still, just wear a regular shirt.  You’re going to a concert, not a Star Trek convention.

5.  Buy the CD at the concert.  If you are the type of person who still buys CDs (how quaint), do the artist a favor and buy it straight from them.  Or buy a t-shirt.  Or a poster.  Most artists who aren’t the Black Eyed Peas (ugh) make their living by touring, and if you really want to support an artist, this is where you can do it best.

6.  Don’t be a dick.  Everybody wants the best view, everybody wants to get as close to the stage as possible, and everybody wants a kickass picture of the band to show they were there.  But there are other people around you, and if getting the closer, better view for your picture involves standing directly in someone else’s view, stop it!  I don’t know how many times I’ve been at a concert and seen some inconsiderate ass step right in front of a girl a foot shorter than him and just stand there.  I always make the point of offering my spot when I see this happen, but if you’re a decent human being you should be aware of the other people around you.  Don’t ruin someone else’s concert because you’re a selfish prick.

7.  Don’t talk.  This is really a continuation of the last rule, but it must be stated on its own.  It’s fine to talk during a break in the song, when the band is bantering or drinking their beers.  But when the music starts back up, you need to shut up.  If you insist on talking through the song, then you and your buddy (or the drunk chick you’re trying to bang) need to take it to the back and give up your primo spot.  The rest of us paid to see the band, not to listen to your boring life.


These are some good rules for the discerning concertgoer, and if you follow them you’ll not only enjoy the show, but the people around you will, too.  Let’s keep concerts fun for everyone, because I would hate to live in a future where a lack of interest relegates music to Live Nation events and naked cowboys on the street.

Support live music.