Concerts of the Year
By Christopher Boan
Band of Horses at the Rialto Theatre
The mid-May concert takes the cake for me, as singer Ben Bridwell and his band of merry men blasted unrelentingly high energy rock music through the sellout crowd at the Rialto for two-plus hours. They hit all the typical crowd favorites (The Funeral, The Great Salt Lake, Ode to the LRC, etc.), and touched on several deep cuts as well. Bridwell discussed his adolescent years, which were spent in the Old Pueblo after his parents' divorce, and seemed more energized than normal. It was a legendary night of great music and a fun crowd, which makes a concert that much more enjoyable.
The Drive-By Truckers at the 9:30 Club (Washington D.C.)
I've seen the Athens, Georgia-based rock group probably a dozen times in my life, including several of their runs at D.C.'s legendary 930 Club. I did so once again earlier this year, heading home to catch all three of their sets in April with my parents, with Southern rocker Hiss Golden Messenger opening each night. It was a phenomenal experience, with lead singer Patterson Hood and guitarist Mike Cooley trading off licks and songs all night long. The band has such a deep catalog that they can play virtually an entirely different playlist each night, so it's hard to get bored watching them multiple times on a given run. It's just a shame that the group hasn't hit the Old Pueblo since I moved here in 2014, as I'd love to catch them without having to fly four-plus hours to do so.
Deer Tick at 191 Toole
This was a special night of music, with Deer Tick making its first appearance in Tucson in many, many years (at least, according to singer John McCauley). The band tore through their double-set at 191 Toole in November, playing both their albums, before touching on a few crowd favorites (such as my favorite, "Baltimore Blues No. 1"). Deer Tick is one of the finest live acts touring these days, and is definitely worth the money, should they come to our fine city in the near-distant future.
Jason Isbell/Frank Turner at the Rialto Theatre
I went to the show at the Rialto in all honesty to catch my old pal Frank Turner, who I hadn't seen in four years. The English rocker was the opening act and put on a typically high energy spectacle that included all of his well-known hits, as well as a few lesser known tracks. He played for about an hour, before ceding the stage to the former Drive-By Truckers singer, who played an equally-spectacular set of music. I've seen Turner and Isbell several times in the past, though this was the first time I'd seen them on the same bill. It was a truly unique night of music that I'll remember for a long time (as the ringing in my ears can attest to).
Steve Earle and The Dukes at the Rialto Theatre
My parents have played Steve's greatest hits for years, leading me to know the words to cuts like "Copperhead Road" and "Transcendental Blues" like the back of my hand. It was awesome to get to see Steve, and he played a phenomenal night of music, even taking time to denounce our president and his fetish for walls, which brought about a duke's mix of boisterous applause and hearty boos from the crowd. Steve's a one-of-a-kind fella and puts on one of the best concerts of any rock artist out there.
Honorable Mention: Social Distortion at the Rialto Theatre