As an avid concertgoer and music enthusiast, I do my best to get out any time a noteworthy band comes to my area. Cash isn't always good over here, but when I can afford a concert, I get out and attend it. I'm not about to prioritize the shows I attended, as all were amazing in their own way. Instead, here's a chronological list of ten amazing concerts I attended this year.
3.21.12--Alcest & Deafheaven @ Crowbar. Tampa, FL
Say what you will about "blackgaze," "hipsters," or any other trend in music you dislike, both of these bands put on quite a good show on their tour this year. While Deafheaven's vocalist has a stage presence that disarms and confuses many metal purists, I feel that the sincerity and suburban disgust of their music is more rebellious than any amount of corpsepaint or spooky subject matter. Similarly, Alcest's somewhat soothing musical textures have earned a degree of criticism from folks hoping Neige's earlier material would come back to the forefront, but I really enjoyed seeing them live as they are now. Songs both old and new delighted, and it was incredible to finally see this band after years of listening to them.
4.23.12--Melvins & Unsane @ The Social. Orlando, FL
Many of the shows I'm listing here had more artists than I indicate, simply because I'm only naming the bands that were worth writing about/featured prominently. For this show, however, there were no other supporting acts. Unsane simply opened the show up with their working class noise rock madness, featuring guest drumming from both of Melvins' drummers. Watching the legendary Dale Crover play songs like "Scrape" with Unsane was a massive treat, to say the least. After Unsane's assault was Melvins' set of equal immensity. I've been listening to both bands for the better part of my life, so it was wonderful to catch them together in such a high energy show.
6.2.12--Sleep, Psychic TV, & Oxbow @ Ybor City. Tampa, FL
These three legends played together as part of a festival here in Tampa that featured many other greats, who sadly played at times that clashed with my ability to be in four places at one time. Sleep came back from the dead this year, seemingly out of nowhere, and their resurrection in the live arena is something I still can't believe I witnessed. Adding to the magic of Sleep was my second encounter with the ever-intimidating and beautiful Oxbow and an hour plus psychedelic jam courtesy of Psychic TV. While I'm not big for corporate sponsorship, I'm thrilled I got to see some of my favorite bands for free.
6.20.12--Whitehorse & Collapse @ Brass Mug. Tampa, FL
As far as shows in Tampa go, it seems that a lot of our concerts specialize in traditional death metal and little else. Having the opportunity to see bands like the local crusty chaos of the (recently deceased) Collapse play with the hideous churning death/doom/noise violence of Whitehorse was a rare treat. My good friend Julio and I attended the show together, and you can read his review of it over at Doommantia.
7.28.12--Void Meditation Cult & Cellgraft @ Brass Mug. Tampa, FL
Void Meditation Cult (formerly known as Sperm of Antichrist) performed one of their very infrequent live shows here in Tampa, which was quite fortunate for me. Their Beherit-worshiping black hymns sounded even better in a live setting, and seemed to win over quite a few converts who hadn't yet heard their music before. This was also Cellgraft's second to last show, and they annihilated the audience in short time with their grinding fury. While they broke up too soon in my opinion, it's clear they already had managed to make quite a mark on the grindcore community.
7.31.12--Agalloch & Taurus @ Orpheum. Tampa, FL
The fact that Agalloch had never managed to play Florida before came as a great surprise to me. As a former resident of California, I often heard about Agalloch tours and the like in the past, but never quite had a chance to see them. It was fitting enough that I finally managed to catch them live after I moved across the country. They played a bit of everything one would hope to hear and their set was lengthy and fulfilling. Opener Taurus also managed to impress me with their droning psychedelic doom. I didn't have the cash to pick up an album from either band at the show, but now that the holidays are ending, I'm pretty sure I deserve to treat myself to a copy of their record.
10.16.12--Swans @ The Social. Orlando, FL
Seeing Swans two years in a row has been a huge treat for me. While 2011's performance was violent and ritualistic, this year they gave an equally intense, but more spiritual and welcoming show. Opening with a song so new it wasn't even on this year's double length album, they played up some of the more psychedelic and folksy influences that were present on The Seer. It was great seeing them play two entirely different sets a mere year apart. I hope that I'll have the opportunity to see them again in 2013 to see how they've evolved yet again.
11.30.12--Possessed & Druid Lord @ Crowbar. Tampa, FL
Far more surprising than Agalloch's lack of prior Florida shows was the fact that this turned out to be Possessed's first time visiting the state, despite Tampa's death metal legacy. Orlando death/doom horde Druid Lord were among the openers and impressed me thoroughly. I've long been an enthusiast of the genre, and Druid Lord put on one of the finest shows I'd seen in quite some time. When Possessed took the stage at the night's end, it was everything one would hope from such a legend. The band played every classic song with an intensity I can only imagine they had back in the 80's.
12.14.12--Floridian Winter & Church Whip @ Cafe Hey. Tampa, FL
Not to sell this amazing show short, but I posted a review of this last week, and it'd be useless to copy/paste the whole thing into this post. Give it a read.
12.15.12--Pig Destroyer @ Churchill's Pub. Miami, FL
As the final show I'll be attending this year, I cannot put into words how amazing it is that I saw Pig Destroyer. Ever. In my life. Anybody that knows me personally is aware that Pig Destroyer were one of the bands that drove me to start creating music of my own, so it's not hyperbolic to say that finally seeing Pig Destroyer live may have been the single musical highlight of my year. The band played almost every song I'd hoped they would play, and they gave top energy the entire time. To view their whole set, check out this video courtesy of SFLHC.