22 concerts in 2022, ranked
When MLB went into a lockout in December of 2021, I went full Ross Gellar (“we were on a break!”) and bought a bunch of concert tickets. I ended up going to nearly all of them, even though the lockout resolved in March. The one I missed was War on Drugs, and that was because I had COVID.
As a result of missing that show, I accidentally went to exactly 22 shows in 2022.
I don’t know why I’ve decided to rank them all here, but I made sure to take at least one photo at each show, so what else am I going to do with all those photos? Here they are, ranked in ascending order:
22. Pedro The Lion + Oceanator — April 14, Granada Theater, Dallas, TX
I already feel bad about ranking these shows. Here’s the thing: I like all of these bands. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have paid money to go see them. Pedro the Lion is one of my all-time favorite bands, and David Bazan is one of my favorite songwriters.
But this just wasn’t a great show. The energy was low, even for an expectedly-melancholy vibe, and while I totally understand being frustrated with Texans as a general rule, he was a bit antagonistic toward the crowd. While I don’t begrudge acts playing their new stuff, some of us have been fans for ~20 years. It would have been nice to hear, like… some old songs.
21. The Texas Gentlemen — January 13, Rodeo Bar, Dallas, TX
The show was great, but it ranks this low because I caught COVID that night.
20. Flickerstick — June 25, House of Blues, Dallas, TX
The fact this ranks so low is less to do with the performance and more to do with the fact that I saw a lot of great shows this year. For a band that hadn’t played together in years, they did great, and I was grateful to get in to the show, given that it sold out so quickly.
19. Night Vale Presents… (feat. Mal Blum) — April 4, Texas Theater, Dallas, TX
This one is only ranked so low because it wasn’t really a concert so much as a theater show. I took my son (13), and honestly, it was beautiful. But as a concert, it wasn’t much. Not that Mal Blum was bad, but the music was more an appetizer than the main course. As an experience: top notch. As a concert… eh, fine.
18. The Get Up Kids + Sparta — August 22, Amplified Live, Dallas, TX
I hadn’t ever seen Sparta, despite being a fan since their first album. The show was moved indoors to a smaller stage, since there was flooding in the area, and it was great to finally see them. I’ve seen the Get Up Kids about a half-dozen times, and they were playing through Four-Minute Mile, an album that never really clicked for me. So I got an early start on beating traffic.
17. Petey + Young Jesus — Sept. 26, Neumo’s, Seattle, WA
I paid $15 for this ticket, which was exactly the right price. I thoroughly enjoy Petey’s music (and his videos), but the live show felt like someone still finding their feet as a live performer. The energy was great, the execution was mostly-good, and it was a nice show. Young Jesus were a pleasant surprise as the opener.
16. Thrice + Bayside — June 6, House of Blues, Cleveland, OH
I never really got into Bayside, for some reason. They did perfectly fine playing songs I didn’t know that well. Thrice always put on a solid show, and this one had the added benefit of resulting in some parking lot baseball after the show. Unfortunately, the band caught COVID that night (I didn’t, it wasn’t from me), so that knocks it down a few pegs, probably.
15. The Maine + The Happy Fits — April 23, The Independent, San Francisco, CA
This one takes a hit because I wasn’t very familiar with either band before the show. I also missed Charlotte Sands, who opened before I got in. The show was sold out before I arrived, but I managed to catch The Maine’s guitarist outside the venue and snag a guestlist spot. Both bands were exceptional, and have since gone into semi-regular rotation on my Spotify.
14. Gang of Youths — May 24, Echo Lounge, Dallas, TX
Listen: the band was great. The problem here was the venue. Echo Lounge is aptly named — the sound isn’t great, and it’s an extremely-sterile environment. It feels like a small venue that tried to replace personality with cleanliness; like a small venue for people with children in private school who don’t mind the cost of a $16 beer.
Not your fault, Gang of Youths. Good job working with what you were given.
13. Odezsa + Sylvan Esso — Dos Equis Pavilion, Dallas, TX
This is where the list gets challenging. This one is only 13th because (for me), it was production over music. I think Odesza is fine, but I don’t listen to them regularly. The production value, however, was astounding. Also, I’ve been wanting to see Sylvan Esso for a long time, and they did not disappoint.
12. Thrice + Coheed and Cambria + Touche Amoré — Oct. 19, Rock City, Nottingham, England
The last time I saw Coheed and Cambria was, I think, 2002. If I remember correctly, it was them, MxPx and Brand New. They’ve still got it. Also, Thrice was the only band on this list I saw twice this year. Bonus points for the show being in England.
11. IDLES + Injury Reserve — Sept. 1, The Factory, Dallas, TX
If you ask me who my favorite band is currently, IDLES would be a strong contender. But compared to the first two times I saw them, they seemed a bit exhausted. Add to that the openers being incomprehensible noise (their recorded stuff is great, though?!) and the Factory being similar to Echo Lounge but bigger, and this experience didn’t quite live up to the first two times.
They’re still IDLES, though.
10. James McMurtry — June 11, SPACE, Evanston, IL
Another first-time act for me. SPACE is one of my favorite venues (maybe the favorite). McMurtry made it seem cool to be from Texas, which is something I find rare and lovely when it happens. This one would have ranked higher if I listened to more of his music on a regular basis.
9. Willie Nelson + Jason Isbell + Charlie Crockett (Outlaw Music Festival) — July 2, Dos Equis Pavilion, Dallas, TX
Speaking of it being cool to be from Texas… I somehow made it to 42 years of age before I saw Willie Nelson live. I wish I’d seen him earlier, and at a smaller venue, but it was still a bucket-list item crossed off. Jason Isbell was heavy on the guitar and honestly the best performer of the night. This was my introduction to Charlie Crockett, and seeing the show with two of my best friends added to the experience.
8. Dashboard Confessional + Andrew McMahon — August 26, Southside Ballroom, Dallas, TX
I would not have expected a Dashboard Confessional show to beat Willie Nelson, but — all due respect to Dashboard—ranks so high because Andrew McMahon absolutely ruled. Watching old Something Corporate live videos, he used to be very pitchy live. He has 100% solved that. Amazing.
7. The Beths + Lunar Vacation — February 16, Club Dada, Dallas, TX
We took the kids to this one, and The Beths were on point, while also being very funny and engaging from the stage. Lunar Vacation depressed me by revealing how young they were, leading me to realize I was literally old enough to be their dad.
6. The Mars Volta — Sept. 22, The Factory, Dallas, TX
This might have been №1 if it had been in a different venue. I don’t know how Cedric Bixler-Zavala still hits those high notes, and Omar Rodriguez-López is a wizard-mage on guitar.
5. Phoebe Bridgers + Sloppy Jane — May 19, Toyota Music Factory, Dallas, TX
I missed an opportunity to see Phoebe Bridgers when she opened for Pinegrove and Kevin Devine in 2016. This venue was much larger, and the combination of stage production and me-loving-literally-every-song-she-has-ever-released made this a magical night. Sloppy Jane wasn’t really my thing, which is fine: I’m not the target audience for everything.
4. PUP — April 27, Granada Theater, Dallas, TX
Here is my relationship to Pup, the band: about five of their songs, I love with all my heart. The rest are good, but haven’t penetrated the outer shell of my “songs I love” bubble. What made this show so special (aside from seeing those five songs live) was that the crowd seemed to be made up of 90% people who knew every song and were willing to scream along as they were played. The atmosphere was absolutely electric.
3. John Craigie — Oct. 28, Omeara, London, England
Half acoustic troubador, half stand-up comic. If you ever get a chance to see John Craigie live, please, please do yourself the favor. Not a moment was wasted, between the clever songwriting and the quick-witted quips.
2. mewithoutYou + The ’68 — June 26, Southside Music Hall, Dallas, TX
I’ve seen mwY more than any other band in my life. They’re probably my favorite band of all time. This was their last show in Dallas before breaking up, and it was not only a masterful performance, but was also tinged with the bittersweet knowledge that this was the last time. I’ll miss this band forever. (Also, The ’68 were excellent)
1. Kishi Bashi — June 23, Kessler Theater, Dallas, TX
I didn’t expect anyone would beat mwY, but just three days before that show, my friend Cameron texted to ask if I was going to be at the Kishi Bashi show, which was starting… now.
I’ve known the banjoist, Mike Savino, since I toured with Kate Havenevik in 2013, and I’m extremely bummed out that in the time it took me to get dressed and hurry to the venue, I missed his opening set. But my goodness, this show was everything. Musical mastery, engagement with the crowd, sincere enjoyment of the craft, both from the band and the crowd. Absolutely the best show I saw this year, hands down.