Myles Kennedy performs at Baltimore Soundstage in 2018. (Photo by Chris Smyth)
Where 2020 was mostly a lost year for music, 2021 became a banner year for the industry. While much of the industry is still working to recover from the massive toll that was forced upon them by the pandemic, we fans have been gifted a plethora of music this year. Vaccines got in arms, bands went back on tour, and new albums were released in droves. So many new records came out in 2021 that at times it was hard to keep track of it all. There were multiple times that I was surprised by a new release, or I realized that I had completely missed a new album by and artist I loved. It’s very possible that there are still a few records that I haven’t listened to that I am certain to love.
CHVRCHES delivered a top show of the year at The Anthem. (Photo by Katherine Gaines)
Parklife DC invites our staff to list their Top 10 concerts of every year. Although this was a different kind of year, our love of music remained strong, and we definitely caught our share of shows once pandemic lockdowns eased. Some homegrown shows began popping up indoors around May, and events really made a remarkable return by August. Although we live with additional requirements, such as vaccinations, to attend live shows, we happily rise to the moment to do what we love to do — experience live music.
The Allman Betts Band performs at The Birchmere in June. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)
2021 saw a gradual return to live music as venues and musicians did their best to return to “normalcy” and keep everybody safe. Things didn’t always go according to plan: People still got sick, tours were canceled or postponed, and attendance to indoor shows still sometimes lagged.
Bob Mould’s return to 9:30 Club in September ranked among David LaMason’s Best Shows of 2021. (Photo by David LaMason)
If you would have told me around this time last year that I would have had the opportunity to see concerts again, let alone in indoor venues -– some that I hadn’t stepped foot inside in over a year and half –- I would have thought you were crazy. But not only did I have that opportunity –- in large part to vaccines, mask mandates, and the venues and artists who did everything in their power to make sure it was safe to experience live music again –- but I saw some of the best shows I’ve seen in years!
A virtual Wammies Awards program will be held on March 28, 2021. (Photo by Elise Cai)
Voting for the 2021 Wammie Awards has officially begun. Residents of DC, Maryland, and Virginia can now vote for their favorite local artists and musicians for a 2021 Wammie Award. Nominations are still open through Jan. 31, so music lovers can both vote and nominate through the end of January.
What can be said for a year that began with so much promise but ends, well, like we are all feeling stuck in an alternate dimension. Looking back on my calendar which went so off the rails after two and a half months in, it really does look like a glimpse into a world that should have been but one that’s now alternate history.
But even in this bizarro world of COVID-19 there was some great music created at homes, online, socially distanced, and even on the streets! There is nothing that can beat the feel of a crowded show, the thrill of being there, and the joyous exhaustion that follows, but this past year we saw people pulling together – giving what they could – to keep live music alive despite every roadblock tossed in its way.
Since these lists are often limited by “best of” or Top 10, I want to include, well, all of those performances I caught this past year. There weren’t many, but each one I relive when I hear a song from a brilliant artist I’ve seen or go through photos from the past year. Here are my Top 12 Musical Moments of 2020 in chronological order.
The year started out typically enough. But the way it began and how it’s ending are startlingly different. By the end of March, so many plans and hopes were dashed that now, as we race toward 2020’s conclusion, many of us feel they may never be realized.
Like so many others in this Year of Covid, I’ve had a chance to reflect, reassess, and reset for the coming year, sorting out what is, and isn’t, important. I enjoy photographing people, whether it be portraiture, cultural documentation, or musical performance. As a photographer, I strive to become invisible and capture moments as they are, not as I or the subject, would like them to be. Although photographing live music has been challenging as of late, I’ve been afforded the luxury of time to go through my archives and, as a result, have made a belated but important discovery: the final image must also render the photographer invisible.
Parklife DC today announces the best in DC concerts with our annual awards program, named for our mascot, DC’s own state bird — the Wood Thrush. Our Thrushie Awards salute bands and venues in line with our mission to review live music concerts.