The thirty best concerts of 2012
10. SKRILLEX @ RED ROCKS | 8/9/12
"The request from Skrillex for everyone to pull out lighters, cell phones, glow sticks or whatever they had capable of illuminating was met with feverish enthusiasm. Once the entire place was singing along with Gary Go's lyrics, the waves of energy began to rise from the bottom to the top. What else could trump lasers, fire blasts, fireworks and confetti streamers? A full wall of fucking fireworks blasting from the top of the stage, that's what."
9. PHISH @ DICK'S SPORTING GOODS | 8/31/12-9/2/12
"Telluride '88, Red Rocks '94 and Denver '97 -- these aren't just places and years to Phish fans. They're monuments, pivotal parts of Phish's Colorado legacy. Out of nearly eighty concerts that the band has played in the Centennial state and more than 1,578 shows in all, they represent high points of the band's career and various peaks of their musical eras. This past weekend, Phish showed over three nights that after nearly 24 years touring in Colorado, they still have the stuff of legend."
8. RYAN ADAMS @ TEMPLE BUELL THEATRE | 2/4/12
With such bountiful charisma, Ryan Adams would be forgiven if he were merely a marginal performer. He's not, of course -- not even close. There's a reason he can pack places the size of the Buell on his own with just a guitar and keep everybody engaged for two hours: If you haven't seen him live, Adams is every bit as compelling on stage as he is on record. From beginning to end, the set -- which pulls songs from all parts of his catalogue -- is profoundly enjoyable thanks to Adams's masterful sense of dynamics and his mellifluous vocals, which are in absolute top form on this evening. Hell, even when he's goofing, Adams is still better than approximately 99.5 percent of the other songwriters clogging the airwaves.
7. AFGHAN WHIGS @ OGDEN THEATRE | 10/30/12
The band played the hits you'd hope to hear, but it also switched things up with covers for intros or outros, as mentioned previously, including "Who Do You Love?" into "Fountain and Fairfax," and, during the encore, Pegboy's "Jesus Christ" into "Somethin' Hot." It was seamless, and the Whigs made everything its own. With a lot of sonic variety from bluesy, blustery rock and almost torch song pop to proto-emo fireballs of soulful ballads and smoky R&B, the Whigs put on an impressive display of emotional delivery... If this was just a reunion, at least the Afghan Whigs came and showed us what rock and roll could be -- and more often should be.
6. RADIOHEAD @ 1STBANK CENTER | 3.13.12
From the moment Radiohead opens the show in front of a towering, two-story wall of LEDs, with giant flat screens simultaneously descending from the ceiling and pointed every which direction, like a deck of cards tossed indiscriminately in the air and gently floating back down to earth, until the band eventually finishes nearly two hours later with "Idioteque," backdropped by Day-Glo-colored psychedelic fractals, it's like a giant Windows Media Player visualizer. And as the music twists and turns, the visuals follow suit. During "Bloom," the blue-green hue and aquatic pattern evoke the sensation of being under water, fitting for a song that makes references to jellyfish and the ocean blooming. Elsewhere during the set, the spectrum of colors matches the mood, and the visuals range from soothing to erratic, with Matrix-like displays that conjure twitchy, nerve-damaged Times Square scrolls. As Yorke and company soldier through their set, which itself veers from subdued moments of tranquility to manic blasts of bludgeoning bass lines, they keep their light man busier than a Galaga junkie with a backpack full of quarters.