This post was inspired by a fellow Ottawa-based blogger’s recent post on his top 10 shows of the year.  I started following Wuabgeshig Rice when a friend from grad school linked to his page off of her blog, which is also worth a visit if you’re looking for new interweb reading.

So, even though we’re both Ottawa-based, my list varies hugely from the one that inspired it.  Primarily ‘cus as a result of my summer as a temporary nomad I missed most of the festival season.  So, am only going to list five shows given I saw fewer gigs than usual this year.  Also, ‘cus my list is very personal.  To me, a good gig is a mix of what the artist brings, as well as factors such as venue, who I’m with and how it fits within the fabric of my life.  Yeh, I can find narrative anywhere 🙂

With that introduction, and listed most to least recent, my top five live shows of 2011 were:

5) First, gotta agree with Waub.  Feist owned the National Arts Centre in Ottawa last Monday (December 5).  I often complain about Ottawa concert goers being overly sedate.  She had the crowd standing up . . . wait for it . . . before the encore!  And while I normally sigh a sad sigh of reluctant acceptance when Canadian artists get big enough to go on what I call their Massey Hall tour (playing nicer venues in bigger cities with elevated ticket prices) I have to say that she made it work.  Didn’t change her sound to suit the venue one bit.  Here’s a link to the first single off her new album, Metals, for those new to her awesomeness.  If you decide to buy check out a track called Cicadas and Gulls.  Have had it on repeat for days now.  Adore.

4) I have had a couple near misses in my attempts to see Dan Mangan in concert since I fell in love with his 2009 disc Nice, Nice, Very Nice.  Stars finally aligned for me and him at his October 14 gig at the Bronson Centre in Ottawa.  Venue’s not the best, and the opener was merely so-so, but man can that guy sing.  Fav track off his latest disc is called How Darwinian. It’s got this great line: “people don’t know what they want, they just know they really want it.”  Total soundtrack for my life a couple months ago when I had just moved into my new place and was trying to figure out my new normal.

3) Tom Morello as The Nightwatchman.  August 27.  Ottawa Folk Fest.  This was a bucket list live music experience I will not soon forget.  Venue (outdoors) was perfect.  Set was outstanding.  And while it kinda sucked I was on my own (friends at the festival chose to check out another stage during that time slot) the crowd was just so with the artist that I felt part of a collective nonetheless.

2) Wake the President.  July 8.  L’International.  Paris.  The music didn’t blow me away.  The venue was awesome.  Hot, sweaty, basement + good beer + no cover charge . . . plus, you know . . . Paris!  This show stands out both cause it was a highlight of my last weekend at the end of the month I spent in Europe, and cause it’s a great example of me not letting the fact that I was travelling solo stop me from doing things I love like going to rock shows in sketchy neighbourhoods.  Fighting for my right to party.  Heck yeh 🙂

1) From the minute the first note left her mouth, I was hooked.  Opening for Julie Doiron at Mavericks in Ottawa last February 4, Little Scream took an early lead as my favourite new-to-me artist of 2011.  No one’s come close to catching up since.  Fact that I was able to purchase her stellar 2011 album The Golden Record before it was released at the show was just icing on the cake (like most music fans, I delight in knowing I have a disc before everyone else does).  Check out the track that inspired the title for this blog.

Before ending this post I should note that there are a couple of upcoming shows that might require me to make some post-publication additions to this list.  First, my friend M’s partner’s band is playing the Elmdale Tavern this Tuesday.   I’ve been trying to get out to one of his shows for a while now so am reallly looking forward to it.

Second, what is usually a guaranteed favourite show of the year for me, Jim Bryson’s annual December gig at the Blacksheep in Wakefield, Quebec is coming up on Saturday December 17.  Last year’s show was extra special cause it brought two good friends of mine one step closer to falling in lurve.  This year am going with two friends who are married (different friends, if you’re wondering) so no matchmaking planned, but suspect it’ll be a superb night nonetheless.  If you’re in the area the area and thinking to go, heads up that it sells out every year so get your tics sooner than later.  That said, if you’re stuck, let me know.  I have an extra I’m looking to sell 🙂

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