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I went to many music performances this year. Here's my top dozen, in chronological order... there's actually lots of singing.

Devendra Banhart @ The Mayan

Devendra Banhart is someone I hadn't really paid attention to ever, but whenever a song of his would show up somewhere, Diana would make note of it. So as a Christmas present I bought her tickets to this show and in the meantime familiarized myself with some of his music. For a weeknight about a week after the inauguration (which was addressed in a few ways at the concert), it was a moment of escape and comfort. The Mayan has seating on the balcony, so that's a plus.

Moderat + Hypoxia @ The Mayan

I think comfortably sitting at the front of a balcony might be the key here. In any case, for a few years I was resistant to Apparat's singing, not crazy about Moderat and its... singing, but eventually let it break through to me. Moderat is an expertly-crafted pop act by people who have a deep understanding and facility with some of my favorite music. Show is solid. Visuals are good. For the opening I finally got to see Moe perform as Hypoxia, which was moody and fantastic.

Bjork @ Walt Disney Concert Hall


Ojai (Music Director Vijay Iyer)

This is kind of cheating, since this included several concerts over a period of a few days. I can't choose specifics from it, but I'll say it's the best music festival I've ever attended with an amazing program (the programming of material but also the actual physical program), and I'm looking forward to returning this June.

Planetarium @ Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Planetarium is a kind of strange concept work from Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner and Sufjan Stevens, another person I sort of ignored until recently. This was my first time doing the whole cemetery picnic thing (though I had been to some shows at the lodge/hall), and again it was another kind of weeknight escape. I particularly liked the encores (Somewhere over the Rainbow, Space Oddity) done in the strange style of the project. Also enjoyed the opening performance of Angelo de Augustine.

Solange @ FYF

This performance was an outstanding realization of A Seat at the Table and a few additional songs. She got up close (arm's length) during F.U.B.U., which was cool.

Kendrick Lamar @ Staples Center

Have seen him a few times over the years, and this was the best. No full-song-recorded backing vocal. No rock-style band. A great album to tour with a catalogue to pull from. Adoration of a hyped arena.

St. Vincent @ Paramount

Have wanted to see her for awhile. First half a review of past work with new versions of the songs, 2nd half a play-through of the new album. A tightly produced show without a live band, in keeping with some of the themes of its promotion and the fun-and-weird setting, which was Paramount's NYC backlot. So it was like a fake block party. Kind of strange. We had to stand around for too long.

Natalia Lafourcade @ Walt Disney Concert Hall

This was so good. She is great. More magic.

Busdriver @ Zebulon

Busdriver deserves greater recognition/celebration for his art. This was a dynamic, fluid show with The Underground Railroad jazz ensemble. Cool to hear his songs in such a different context from the electronic presentation I saw at the Aesop Rock opening show last year. Also enjoyed Kenny Segal's beat set, and Jerry Quickley is awesome, both the writing and delivery. Zebulon has a good setup.

Bill Frisell Beautiful Dreamers Trio @ Moss Theater

Lovely music. Fits in with the name. I Loves You Porgy wins. Encore included What the World Needs Now Is Love.

Interface 58

This is a bit of an honorable mention. While I was there everything was on point. Everything I saw from afterward showed that it went off and went strong through the morning. Left early due to a disturbance in the force.