This year, we were graced with the releases of quality albums from the likes of Fiona Apple, Taylor Swift and Bob Dylan, but even that can’t mitigate the concert withdrawals we’ve had to suffer over the course of the pandemic. Even worse is that we’ve somehow adjusted to this new, concert-less paradigm and have had to make peace with drive-in concerts, livestreams and failed social distancing experiments at music venues.
It’s a strange, unforgiving world for music, and to make these matters even worse, we would have been in for a hell of a year for live music. Below are 10 simple reminders of this fact.
March 14 at Canton Hall
The masked enigma that is Orville Peck enjoyed a meteoric rise in 2019 thanks to his crossover appeal between country and indie music as well as his unrivaled ability to cultivate mystique. This much was evident when a 2019 show originally slated to happen at Club Dada got moved to South Side Music Hall to accommodate the sudden influx of ticket sales, and it’s even more evident now that he has a Shania Twain collaboration under his belt.
March 22 at Trees
In a February interview with Variety, Eminem described Young M.A. as “definitely one of the new artists that I’m super excited about,” and said, “Every time she puts something out, I listen.” These accolades weren’t exactly left-field, as the Brooklyn rap prodigy was featured on Slim Shady’s 2020 single “Unaccommodating.” Sadly, her March 22 show at Trees, which was part of the aptly named Her Story in the Making Tour, has been postponed indefinitely.
May 1 at Fair Park
We were so excited about the February announcement of JMBLYA’s 2020 lineup that we even attempted to guess who would make the cut this year.
Turns out, our Doja Cat pick aged like milk given her subsequent controversies, but we were correct in predicting Lil Uzi Vert and Lil Tjay. And while, yes, Megan Thee Stallion would have made for an excellent coheadliner, A$AP Rocky and Playboi Carti were more than a sufficient consolation prize. Texas rising stars such as Don Toliver and Kaash Paige also made for an effective undercard, and to make the festival a stronger sell, organizers even gave attendees a sufficient window for a bathroom break by adding Lil Tecca to the bill.
May 1 at Sons of Hermann Hall
One of the biggest artistic strengths of singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield (AKA Waxahatchee) is her unparalleled ability to create music entirely on her own terms with little regard for what listeners want or expect of her.
Her 2012 debut album American Weekend garnered her a reputation as a lo-fi indie-folk artist, and when die-hard fans wanted her to stay confined to this mold, she came out with a more refined, electric sound in her 2013 follow-up effort, Cerulean Salt. She then signed onto Merge Records for the release of 2015’s Ivy Tripp, and between this album and its 2017 successor Out in the Storm, she continued down this trajectory of Liz Phair and Built to Spill-esque indie rock.
This year, Crutchfield made yet another creative departure in the release of her new album Saint Cloud, which was a more layered and atmospheric take on the folk/Americana styles of greats such as Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris.
May 9 at Club Dada
St. Louis experimental pop duo 100 gecs have built such a dedicated online following that this show sold out in a matter of minutes. The band has frequently attracted comparisons to Venetian Snares, Sleigh Bells and Atari Teenage Riot, but surprisingly, their stylistic palette primarily stems from “scene” and crunkcore artists such as Breathe Carolina, I See Stars and 3Oh!3.
Some would be inclined to gawk at this, but their off-kilter and quirky take on electronic music has made for solid collaborations with Charli XCX, Kero Kero Bonito, Rico Nasty and even Fall Out Boy.
May 9-10 at the Cotton Bowl
Over the last five years, K-pop became something of a fortuitous cultural force in the United States. Hell, just two years ago, Seoul-based pop leviathans BTS played two consecutive shows at the 13,000-capacity Fort Worth Convention Center, just one month after the compilation album Love Yourself: Answer debuted at No. 1 in the United States.
In the years since that album became platinum, three full-length successors continued this trend of taking the Billboard charts by storm. The South Korea boy band’s star power blossomed so quickly, they were scheduled to perform two consecutive nights at the Cotton Bowl.
The Rolling Stones
May 29 at the Cotton Bowl
We’ve already talked about this show at great length, and if we pick at this scab any harder, it’s just going to hurt.
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June 12 at Club Dada
Iggy Pop once called fellow Detroiters Protomartyr "the best band we’ve got in America right now,” and his point was only further proven with the band’s July release of Ultimate Success Today, which veered more toward the art punk and noise rock sensibilities of bands such as Wipers, The Fall and Pere Ubu.
The album especially showcases despondent and eloquent, albeit sometimes campy poetic lyricism. Perhaps the most discussed example is the following passage on the track “The Aphorist,” which some have interpreted to be a shot at Pitchfork writer Ian Cohen: “There's the failed lawyer haunting teen-punk shows / He'll explain his top 5 for 09 and what to eat / But if you ever saw his bald-skull head / You'd be certain he'd been dead for weeks.”
July 23 at Bomb Factory
We’ve talked about this show at great length as well, but if we could add one additional reason to that list, it’s that Rosegarden Funeral Party was supposed to open one of the legendary post-punk band’s North American legs.
The Killers + Johnny Marr
Sept. 11 at Dickies Arena
People who couldn’t score tickets to see The Killers at Bomb Factory and didn’t want to see them at KAABOO were given recourse with this show, and the-powers-that-be were even kind enough to have Johnny Marr play an opening set for people who want to like The Smiths without having to endure Morrissey’s usual brand of insufferable asininity. What a loss.