Best Concerts of 2011

Fellowship of the Ring live 10-12-2011 - favorite scene from the movie and favorite piece of the score, Khazad-Dum

Hello everybody,

Another great year of shows my friends! This was a tougher Top Ten to come up with than last year, especially my Top Five. Five of the bands that made the Top Ten are bands I grew up listening to, including one band I never had a chance to see during its original heyday in the mid-eighties. Punk rock was a heavy component of this year’s list. The unique characteristic of this list is this is the first time a classical concert was my top pick for the year.

If the show has been hyperlinked I did a review for the concert earlier in the year for The Musings. I really sucked in regards to posting in 2011, only four postings. 😦 Also, I only listed the primary band of the evening that solidified the pick for me, but either the hyperlinked review or the brief review on this post will list the support.

Thanks to for all you have done for me in the past two years with shows, luck forward to another great year! Please visit this website folks, best site on the web for venue and show information here in the Valley of the Sun.

Here we go, starting with #10!

The Father Figures at Rips 1-29-201110. January 29 – The Father Figures at Rips. Before you get your panties in a bunch that I listed this band in a Top Ten once again let me explain a few things. First, yes The Father Figures are one of my favorite bands. Second, this show was the CD release party for their first release Lesson Number One. Third, if you were at Rips that night you will understand just how high the energy was, how jam-packed this venue was and how many members of the Sunnyslope Crew were in attendance. I may be subjective in making this comment but trust me, the appearance of the Sunnyslope Crew in high numbers is a good indicator the band is top-notch.

9. October 15 – Anarchy Taco at Hollywood Alley. For the uninitiated Jan Nils Ackermann was the original guitarist for The Vandals, the band that created two of my all-time favorite punk rock records, Peace thru’ Vandalism and When in Rome do as the Vandals. Ackermann left The Vandals back in 1989 and to be honest, my interest in the band had already diminished by the time original vocalist Stevo left the fold. Anarchy Taco plays Vandals songs the way they are supposed to be played, melodic punk rock full of intense energy. The band played all six songs from Peace thru’ Vandalism, plus “Ladykiller” and “Hocus Pocus” from When in Rome …” and one other song I did not recognize. My friend Dave Marsh was laughing because I was singing along to classics such as “Urban Struggle”, “The Legend of Pat Brown” and “Anarchy Burger” just like when I was back in high school. They smoked on this evening, the highlight of a great show that included J.F.A., The Father Figures and Asses of Evil.

Psychedelic Furs at Talking Stick 9-16-20118. September 16 – Psychedelic Furs at Talking Stick Resort. Third time I have seen this great band, still delivering solid 80’s post-punk and new wave music with vigor. Thanks to former Hat Club bud Eric Larson for the great seats! Tom Tom Club put on a good show that night as well.

7. February 5 – Interpol at the Marquee Theatre. I last saw this band during the tour for its second album Antics years ago down in Tucson. The third release from the band was good but the fourth album did nothing for me, so I honestly was not even planning on going to this concert. I am so glad I changed my mind because this show may have been better than the concert from the Antics tour. I was both pleasantly surprised and blown away by how tight this band sounded, particularly since Interpol had just lost its bass player (I know it was one of the members, not 100% sure it was the bassist but pretty sure about that). The band played very little from the third album  Our Love to Admire and quite a bit from the self-titled fourth album, but what made the concert was the heavy inclusion of material from the band’s incredible debut Turn on the Bright Lights and its sophomore effort Antics. Ending with my favorite song “Not Even Jail” made this show even more incredible for this fan.

Elbow at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles 10-1-2011

Thanks for the great pic Steve Reiman!

6. October 1 – Elbow at the Greek Theater. Many people were surprised that Elbow “only” came in at #3 on my picks for Best Albums of 2011. Therefore, it may surprise a lot of the same people that the band “only” came in at #6 on this list. Trust me folks, this show was incredible and Elbow solidly remains the greatest band in the world. Period. A number of my friends saw the show as well and can attest to the fact Elbow was amazing on this evening. What is scary is the fact this concert did not come close to matching Elbow’s May 2008 performance at the Bluebird Theater in Denver. That concert still ranks #1 all-time for me.

5. November 8 – We Were Promised Jetpacks at Crescent Ballroom. I will be honest, as I am writing this it floors me this concert came in at #5, it was that intense of a show. It blows me away the progression of We Were Promised Jetpacks since I saw them in February 2010 at the Rhythm Room. Although not a particularly long set WWPJ packed an amazing amount of material and energy while onstage. Nearly all of In the Pit of the Stomach was played with a healthy dose from the band’s debut These Four Walls. Every song was delivered with the frenetic high-powered energy I have come to expect from my favorite FatCat records band with the last song from the new album “Pear Tree” quite possibly the highlight of the set. WWPJ closed out the evening with the lead track from the first album “It’s Thunder and it’s Lightning”, nearly tearing off the roof in the process. Yes, it was that loud and that intense. Bear Hands and Royal Bangs both delivered killer sets to open the show.

4. December 9 – X at Club Red. I figured I had seen X for the last time years ago when they played a great set at the Cajun House and I was perfectly content with that. Every time I have seen X play I saw the Billy Zoom line-up, never saw the band with any of the replacement guitarists. Those guys were good but X has to be seen with Billy Zoom assuming that legendary pose of his while delivering some of the slickest guitar licks I have ever seen. Needless to say the band once again delivered a monster set with nothing but material from the first four albums. Maybe they played something off the fifth album and last with Billy Zoom in the group Ain’t Love Grand but I do not think they did. Therefore, all evening we got to hear classics such as “The Hungry Wolf”, “Johny Hit and Run Paulene”, “The New World” and “We’re Desperate”, along with many others from the band’s brilliant career. I think they played a good 90 minutes or so, plenty of time to deliver most of the tracks from the first four X albums. Neil Hounchell from Desert Sound Productions has to be commended for putting together a RIDICULOUS line-up for this show, easily the best roster of bands for one concert in 2011. We had the chance to see X, Zander Schloss and Sean Wheeler, The Black Tibetans and Flathead on one stage, while The Love Me Nots, The Father Figures and Scorpion vs Tarantula tore things up on the second stage. Neil, thanks again for putting this show together and delivering in the face of a lot of adversity.

Agent Orange live at The Modified April 17, 20113. April 17 – Agent Orange at The Modified. Yes, The Modified does still do shows but only for special occasions. I had the fortune of being invited to a private party on this evening with the host booking the greatest punk band OF EVER Agent Orange along with the best Valley punk band now The Father Figures. Holy cow! Thanks to Bobby Lerma for the invite. Needless to say The Father Figures were definitely on this evening, but Agent Orange delivered a set so intense, so unbelievable and so amazing that I swore it was 1986-1987 during the band’s prime while touring in support of my favorite album from them This is the Voice. I remember at one point saying to Father Figures guitarist Michael Cornelius “I can’t believe they just played all of Living in Darkness!” Yep, all eight songs from that classic document of Orange County punk rock, most of the Bitchin’ Summer and When You Least Expect It EPs, almost all of This is the Voice and even “Wouldn’t Last a Day” from Virtually Indestructible. Guitarist/vocalist Mike Palm is a true legend  and the current Agent Orange bassist and drummer comprise the strongest line-up since the James Levesque/Scott Miller days. Unbelievable show, I was reeling for weeks after this one.

2. November 14 – Chameleons Vox at the Rhythm Room. I am still pinching myself that this show actually happened. Thank you Kimber Lanning from Stinkweeds for bringing The Chameleons to the Rhythm Room! The Chameleons are one of my all-time favorite bands, delivering a breath-taking style of post-punk loaded with Britpop harmonies and hooks. Alas, the typical “artistic differences” bug hit the group and they broke up in 1987. There have been a couple of reunions since but the band never made it to Arizona. Therefore, I was stunned when I read that original vocalist/bassist Mark Burgess and second drummer Jon Lever were bringing Chameleons Vox here. It was everything I could have hoped for, an incredible evening of music that featured all my favorite Chameleons songs from Script of the Bridge, What Does Anything Mean? Basically and Strange Times. Mark’s voice sounds as superb as ever and the additional members in the band from Black Swan Lane, who also opened the show, played the songs incredibly well. The crowd responded beautifully, acknowledging that a true legend was in its midst that evening. I will be honest, I had goosebumps when asking Mark Burgess to sign my copy of Script of the Bridge that night. When Chameleons Vox ended with my all-time favorite Chameleons tune “Second Skin” I thought I had died and gone to Heaven. I finally had seen one of my bucket list bands. Phoenix’s own The Captives and Black Swan Lane delivered great opening sets, so cool to hear Mark Burgess give props to The Captives and Kimber during “Second Skin”!

1. October 12 – The Fellowship of the Ring in concert at Arena. The Two Towers performed live at Radio City Music Hall was my #2 pick last year, barely getting nudged out of the top spot by The National. A tough pick again this year but this time I have to go with this concert as my number one pick. I pray The Two Towers comes to Arizona in 2012 because each year through 2013 the score from the successive movie will be delivered live throughout the United States. Folks, even if you are not a fan of The Lord of the Rings movies, watching the movie while the score is being performed live is something you should not miss.

I have to acknowledge two other great shows that landed just outside of my Top Ten, the Source Victoria CD release party for Slow Luck and the farewell show from The Other 49. Read the reviews, hopefully you were at both of them because both shows were outstanding.

Wish list for 2012? Let’s start with Nada Surf, Snow Patrol, A Place to Bury Strangers and Twilight Sad since all have new material coming out this year! Cheers!



  1. Dave Marsh · January 2, 2012

    I was at many of these concerts, also, and you are right on with each of them. Particularly Chameleons Vox and Elbow. Wish I had been there for the Lord of the Rings spectacular — next year for sure. I had very little experience with X, being sort of out of it at the time they were popular. I have to admit I was really surprised by how damn good they sounded! And, yes, your “singing” during the Anarchy Taco set was certainly a highlight of my year! Great reviews, Frank.

    • Dave Marsh · January 2, 2012

      BTW, the Father Figures are still, by far, my favorite local band and one of the best I have ever seen or heard.

    • tfronky · January 2, 2012

      My singing was spectacular, only Stevo could have outclassed me on “The Legend of Pat Brown”. The word “mother-f-ing” rolls off my tongue. 😉

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