It's hard to see a year coming to and end and not look back fondly at some of the most memorable events. My new year's resolution will, in part, deal with giving in to my urges more often, and I'm going to start early by looking at some of the best music that happened in Boise in 2007.
I asked a handful of music-minded people around town what their favorite show was, where it happened and why they thought it was the cat's meow.
The stresses of the holidays and busy work schedules kept a few local luminaries from answering, but below is the input I received. My take on 2007 follows.
Erich Walton, owner of downtown bar the Bouquet, said this year's appearance of The Yard Dogs Road Show at the Bouquet was his favorite event. "The band has superb talent and puts on a very entertaining show."
Andy Query, marketing manager of the Big Easy, was a bit more verbose with his answer. The Queens of the Stone Age show at the Big Easy was his top pick, but not an easy one.
"It was tough to decide between G. Love, George Clinton, The Black Crowes, Queens of the Stone Age and Reverend Horton Heat," he said. "These were all fantastic shows in their own right. But after giving it a lot of thought, I have to choose QOTSA because I left that show a bigger fan than when I arrived. I'm a big fan of the other four bands, but I was only a marginal fan of QOTSA. Everything about their show was tight. It was just like the first time I saw the Rolling Stones—marginal fan when I arrived, huge fan when I left. It's always a nice surprise when you get more than what you are expecting. Unless you are expecting a punch in the throat or something. I don't know why you would expect that. But if you were, more wouldn't be a nice surprise."
Lloyd Parrott, owner of Boise Records Recording Studio, said he's a big fan of locals IQEQ and Malachi, and their show earlier this year at the Big Easy ranked at the top for him, he said, because it was the "most original (and still talented) music I've heard since coming to Boise."
Audio Lab Recording owner Steve Fulton said two Big Easy shows stuck out for him. "Seeing Gary Jules and Jim Bianco in July was my favorite show, but Brandie Carlile on Oct. 23 was pretty awesome also."
Joy Hart, who's in charge of marketing and promotions at the Record Exchange, had an easy time with her pick.
"With unflappable admiration for Glen Hansard and his band, I choose, without hesitation, The Frames at The Egyptian Theatre on Friday the thirteenth of April, 2007 as my favorite moment in music this year," she said. "The engaging showmanship, storytelling and musical talent of this indie rock band from Ireland is still so memorable and hugely inspiring eight months later. I have yet to hear the sound in that theater so rich and perfect. Their traveling sound engineer, Jelle (also sound engineer for Calexico), is a genius. The only show that came close to matching that sound was the Iron and Wine show, but still a distant second. Chillin' with the band at the new and improved Pengilly's capped off a perfect spring evening in Boise."
I initially tried to make my list of faves fit in a pre-specified list: a Top 10, a Top 20. But in doing so, I would have had to force some great choices out or wedge some not so great ones in. So, here is my Top 11 list of shows for 2007 in no particular order:
Mutemath at the Big Easy. It was clear they were tired—exhausted really—and the show started off with a palpable lack of energy. But as the clock ticked, someone must have flipped the band's switch, because by the end of the show, frontman Paul Meany's Olympic-style gymnastics were enough to have the crowd sweating just from watching.
Menomena at The Egyptian, the Record Exchange and Neurolux (counts as three shows). Menomena's 2007 release Friend and Foe has experienced many a spin in my computer at work, at home and in the car. And it's becoming a staple on my mobile music-playing device.
An interview with the band's guitarist/keyboard player, Brent Knopf, confirmed that the gents in the band are as clever as their sound making their music all the more appealing.
Rocky Votolato at the Venue. In a space more accustomed to housing screamers and shredders, Votolato's set was all the more moving as he stood alone onstage with his guitar and harmonica as his only accompaniment.
EOTO at Terrapin Station. I dig the vibe at Terrapin and found the combination of EOTO's synth-heavy, oft-improvisational style mixed with the club's neighborly ambiance made for a most enjoyable evening.
Sasquatch and the Sick-A-Billys at the Bouquet. This last year was the third time the Rhode Island trio—fronted by the outrageous Dave "Sasquatch" Caetano—had included Boise in their national tour. Seeing them has become an annual tradition, consistently ranking as one of the best things I do all year.
Should there come a day when S&SB decide to bypass the Treasure Valley, I'll be saving up my pennies for a ticket to their home state.
Intervision at Tom Grainey's. A poorly copied CD and some funny correspondence with Intervision's frontman Paul Creighton was the start of my serious attachment to the band's 2007 release, Shades of Neptune. I always look forward to seeing them and was anticipating their upcoming January appearance at Grainey's, but, unfortunately, it's been cancelled.
Creighton said Intervision has a great new booking agency, so I'm not counting out an early 2008 show yet.
Beyonce at the Taco Bell Arena. Three words: The Beyonce Experience. One more word: Wow.
Billy Joel at the Taco Bell Arena. Naysayers who dismiss the idea of aged rock idols performing arena shows be damned. The Piano Man still knows how to tickle the ivories.
In-stores at the Record Exchange (counts as one). The in-stores are all wrapped up on my list as one because each experience is so similar: an intimate, often acoustic rendition of music I either already love—Menomena—or am being introduced to—The Whigs and The Blakes. (And though I missed the show, my co-worker puts in an emphatic vote for Josh Ritter.)
It's been a good year to experience music in Boise, and I anticipate 2008 offering up an even bigger bounty.