Lucid Culture


The Top 20 NYC Concerts of 2008

The first of our end-of-the-year lists is by far the most subjective one, and also the most fun to put together. If you really have to read the disclaimers and know all the whys and wherefores about this list, we’ve set up a page for them here. While we’re calling it quits early, what a great year it’s been for music in this town! Among us, we couldn’t decide on what was the best one of them all: the Dixie Bee-Liners at le Poisson Rouge are a strong contender, but then again so was the last-ever Tashi show at Town Hall. And back in August, the Brooklyn What played what was probably the funnest of them all. Whatever the case, rather than trying to rank these shows in any kind of order, here’s a chronological look at some of the most amazing concert moments of the year:


Jennifer Niceley at Rockwood Music Hall, 2/7/08

 A dark, sultry performance by the noir Americana chanteuse and her killer backing band.


The Greenwich Village Orchestra Play Brahms and Shostakovich at Washington Irving HS Auditorium, 2/10/08

This world-class orchestra tackled Brahms’ First Piano Concerto with a playful aplomb and then brought out every ounce of anguish and triumph in Shostakovich’s transcendent, redemptive post-Stalin masterpiece.


Sarah Mucho in Subterranean Circus at Don’t Tell Mama, 2/14/08

The System Noise frontwoman’s cabaret extravaganza was a riveting display of eerie surrealism, making for a perfectly counterintuitive Valentine’s Day.


LJ Murphy at the Knitting Factory, 4/2/08

The master of New York noir at the peak of his slashingly lyrical powers, with a careening, blues-fueled band behind him


Tashi’s Final Concert at the Town Hall, 5/4/08 playing Wuorinen, Takemitsu, and Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time

The legendary quartet went out on a high note – in what was probably their last-ever show, they delivered what was arguably the high point of the Messiaen centenary.


Ljova & the Kontraband at Trinity Church, 5/8/08

The multistylistic Russian/Balkan string band sizzled their way through a wild set, probably the most boisterous thing the church had seen in decades


Gail Archer plays Messiaen at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, 5/29/08

The Barnard College Music Dept. chair mesmerized the crowd with a marathon performance of the Book of the Holy Sacrament – another highlight of the Messiaen centenary.


Barbara Dennerlein at the organ at Trinity Church, 7/10/08

It was a good year for organ shows, and the German jazz genius effortlessly blended groove, soul and epic classical grandeur.


Katie Elevitch at Rehab, 8/13/08

An astonishingly intense, powerful performance by the noir NYC siren and her fiery, improvisationally-inclined band.


The Brooklyn What at the Brooklyn Lyceum, 8/22/08

Definitely the funnest show of the year, these fearless old-school Brooklyn punk rockers put on a powerful, wickedly funny show.


The Disclaimers at Spikehill, 8/29/08

With the two women up front singing, their slashingly lyrical, soul-stoked guitar/keyboard attack has never sounded better.


The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Vivian Girls and Devin at South St. Seaport, 9/7/08

The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble played ridiculously catchy jazz instrumentals over a hip-hop beat. The Vivian Girls we like not only for their beautiful harmonies and catchy, fun tunes but also because stereogum hates them. Devin and his endless supply of hilariously filthy hip-hop rhymes were the perfect soundtrack to an afternoon without tourists, the “hurricane” having apparently scared them off.


The Inbreeds at Freddy’s, 10/24/08

The country satirists made savage fun of everything redneck and right-wing, definitely the most amusing show of the year. 


Carol Lipnik at the Spiegeltent, 10/30/08

Lipnik walked into a sonic quicksand pit and with her sensational four-octave voice and amazing noir New York songs, sang her way out.


Little Annie and Paul Wallfisch at Santos Party House, 11/6/08

The noir cabaret chanteuse and the equally noir Botanica frontman/bandleader at the peak of their smoky, haunting powers together.


Escarioka at the Fortune Cookie Lounge, 11/13/08

Nonstop danceable intensity from this deliriously fun rock/ska en Espanol band.


The Brixton Riot and the French Exit at Mercury Lounge, 11/16/08

Smart, lyrically-fueled, post-Wilco indie rock and then a smoldering, evilly beautiful show by the Brooklyn noir trio.


Thy Burden, Across The Aisle and System Noise at the Delancey, 11/19/08

Exhilarating, virtuosic, improvisational bluegrass, a wickedly fun set of ska and then NYC’s darkest, most slashing and intense rock band at the top of their game.


Brooklyn Rider play Kayhan Kalhor, Bartok and Armenian folk songs at Barbes, 12/10/08

Originals, original arrangements and also a brilliantly macabre take of the first Bartok string quartet.


The Dixie Bee-Liners at le Poisson Rouge, 12/14/08

Careening intensity balanced with lush, sultry lyricism and vocals from Brandi Hart and her genre-blending band of bluegrass hellraisers



December 20, 2008 - Posted by | Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, New York City | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] About the Best NYC Live Shows List: […]

    Pingback by About Our Best of 2008 Lists « Lucid Culture | February 7, 2019 | Reply

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