This is the second in a five-part series. Read how I’m scoring my list and find out about my “special consideration” acts HERE.
10 – JACK WHITE at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – Aug. 23
There’s not enough successful rock-driven guitar bands left, and I certainly didn’t have my fill of them in 2014. I was on my way to see Royal Blood this month when I was hit by two cars, leaving me stranded on the freeway for more than three hours. Perhaps that show would have replaced this one on the list. White’s performance wasn’t flawless and he was nursing an ankle injury that limited his mobility. But that meant that he spent more time interacting with the audience, which made the show feel like a more personal experience. In the video below, White talks about introducing your children to music, advice I’ll take to heart, now that I have two of them.
9 – THE NATIONAL at the Greek Theater in Berkeley – April 26
This is a biased list (all are), but this may be a more-biased selection. I’m not sure. The show came three days before my daughter was born, so I was a bit emotional the whole time. The fate of the show in my memory was sealed forever with their touching performance of “I Need My Girl.” Even remembering it now makes me tear up. This band is so great at making you feel a range of emotions.
8 – LORDE at the Fox Theater – March 27
It took me a while to hop aboard the Lorde bandwagon. I skipped her first few Bay Area performances and didn’t see her for the first time until December 2013. Her vocal delivery, gyrating stage presence and smart lyrics made me a fan where before I thought she was too you, too inexperienced. Well, she is young, and in one instance , I didn’t like her story about feeling like a grownup for hosting a party while her parents were away (grownups don’t do that, kids). But that was only one instance. The rest of this tour-closing Bay Area stop was stellar.
7 – THE SOFT WHITE SIXTIES at the Chapel – Feb. 28
The Bay Area has many great bands currently vying for the next opportunity to break it big. The Soft White Sixties are very deserving and showed why at this Noise Pop festival show. By combining soulful vocals with the blues, garage rock and strong stage presence, these guys deserve your attention.
6 – LYKKE LI at the Fox Theater – Sept. 21
She had my favorite performance at Outside Lands, and one of my favorite headlining shows of 2014. It’s not just that voice, which radiates from haunting to playful; the vocals, which shift between introspective and conversational; to her persona, a mix between innocent and world-weary. It’s that Lykke Li can make a concert in a 3,000-plus hall seem like it’s just for you.