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.
David Lowery fronts Camper Van Beethoven at 9:30 Club on Jan. 18, 2020 (Photo by David LaMason)
As I was listening to Camper Van Beethoven at the 9:30 Club recently, I was reminded of the title of a Spotify playlist of ’80s alternative rock: Left of the Dial. To the crowd’s delight, the band opened with their delightfully odd cult hit “Take the Skinheads Bowling,” from their 1985 debut LP, Telephone Free Landslide Victory.
Cracker’s David Lowery and Johnny Hickman (Photo by Bradford Jones)
Why front one band when you can front two? That’s surely the philosophy of David Lowery — guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, and mathematician — who heads both Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven. As is David’s habit in the past several years, he’s bringing both bands to 9:30 Club for a double bill on Saturday, Jan. 18.
I’ve always considered it the best concert trick ever when you can open for yourself, but that’s exactly what David Lowery has made a living doing in recent years as his band Camper Van Beethoven opens his band Cracker (or vice versa). You can catch Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker at 9:30 Club on Thursday, Jan. 11, and you can pull a concert trick of your own by winning tickets to go with Parklife DC.