2014 Year Enders

Top Notch Midwest Shows from 2014

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Many of you may not know this, but I don’t even live in Boston or the Boston area. I’m trapped in the Midwest, specifically in Ohio, until I graduate in a few semesters. While Boston and the rest of the East Coast is constantly blessed with outstanding shows, Midwesterners like myself have to wait until a tour comes through a city within a six hour drive. Yes, unlike most of you, I cannot walk a few blocks and see a great show. It’s a shame, but doing so allows me to travel to all different cities and venues to catch shows (but also causes me to skip class a bit too frequently). So next time you Boston-ers think about passing on a show in the area, just remember how much I would love to be in your position.

Anyway, here is a list of some of my favorite shows from this year that I was lucky enough to catch.

January 17, 2014
Wexner Center for the Arts – Oneohtrix Point Never + visuals by Nate Boyce
This was one of my first “real” shows I went to in 2014, meaning it wasn’t in somebody’s living room or kitchen like they usually are. I walked through the museum’s long hallways to find a dark room with pounding bass. Lopatin was working his magic onstage and quickly entranced me with cuts from R Plus Seven. With him was visual artist Nate Boyce who produced bizarre 3D loops on a huge screen behind the stage that made me feel like I was on acid. The two combined were such a clusterfuck of everything all at once, but it was really amazing to witness and I felt like I was in another universe. This was definitely a good start to my shows this year.

March 26, 2014
Magic Stick – Warpaint
Ever since the Exquisite Corpse EP came out, I had been dying to see Warpaint live. That moment finally came 5 years later, but I was still determined to go. The girls started with “Intro” off the new album and right off the bat they sounded clean. I mean…really clean. Like, better than on the album. Everybody was perfectly on time with each other and filled the room with smooth and sexy sounds. It ruled, and I gained a whole new appreciation for them that night.

April 13, 2014
Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit – Julianna Barwick
This show was at one of my favorite venues. I had seen Julia Holter here the year before and was blown away by how the warehouse amplified her voice. The same happened with Barwick that night. It was an intimate, seated show but she commanded the room like no other. The looping of her vocals echoed against the cement room and bounced back, creating layers and layers of beauty. Behind her, a video of a spinning planet seemed to dance to her sounds. It was truly beautiful.

September 17, 2014
Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit – Modern Love Showcase with Andy Stott and Demdike Stare
I had seen Andy Stott in Chicago the year before and left his set waiting for the chance to see him again. I had been dying to see Demdike Stare too, so this combination was perfect. In front of me were tables full of blinking lights, buttons and knobs that Demdike Stare masterfully manipulated. Their sound ran through me and had me in awe the entire set.

Andy Stott followed, playing much of his soon-to-be-released Faith in Strangers and choice cuts from Luxury Problems. His set was a bit more footwork-y this time than the first time I saw him, but it was an interesting twist and allowed me the chance to watch him create his sound right in front of my eyes.

Though Millie & Andrea didn’t perform at this particular show, the two of them separate was enough to blow me away.

September 19, 2014
Music Box – My Brightest Diamond
Hailing from Detroit, Shara Worden held her record release show in the Music Box at the beautiful Max M. Fisher Music Center, the same venue where the Detroit Symphony plays. The music sounded outstanding, bouncing off the wooden walls and filling the venue with warmth. Worden’s playful attitude lightened up the room as she pulled members from the audience out of their seats to dance with them. The entire performance was like it was out of a movie. Total strangers were twirling each other around on the floor and singing their heart out to each other. Worden made it a point to put on a show for everyone, and she did an excellent job at that.

September 26, 2014
Horn Gallery – Mount Eerie
Phil Elverum made a special trip to the small college town of Gambier, Ohio to play this intimate set. Prior to the show, he invited my friends and I to join him for dinner. He was extremely sweet and treated us as friends, not fans. When the show started, Phil was sitting in a rocking chair in an all glass and wooden room. He sang to the small group of us sitting on the floor as he bantered and shared stories with us. It was a very personal show and is one that I will never forget.

October 29, 2014
Majestic Theater – Slowdive with Low
When I heard that Slowdive was reuniting for a tour, I was curious to see how they would hold up after not releasing music for just shy of 20 years. I was floored at how well they picked back up that night, hitting every note and key perfectly after all of those years. The entire band looked like they were having a blast being back together, which made it more enjoyable from an audience standpoint to witness. The addition of Low on the bill made the night even more outstanding and added to the nostalgia of the entire show. This was one tour that if anybody decided to skip, they truly made a mistake.

November 18, 2014
Wexner Center for the Arts – Nils Frahm
This may have taken the cake for the show of the year for me. Nils Frahm sent tingles up my spine within the first minute as he played “Says”. I had listen to Spaces countless times, which is beautiful on its own, but to hear those songs come to life in front of you was something that words will never be able to describe. Frahm played “You”, one of my favorite pieces by him, and the beauty of watching him play and hearing it drift through the venue brought me to tears. I was not alone in this, as he moved several other audience members to this point as well.

Watching him switch between three pianos, a Juno 60 and an assortment of manipulators, samplers and distorters was unbelievable. Simple yellow spotlights were programmed to the beat and casted an array of shadows and tranquility on the stage. I could have sat in that small room watching him perform for hours and I would have never grown tired of it. Frahm commanded the room and left everyone in complete silence and amazement.

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