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.
On Oct. 12, 2017, the Foo Fighters headlined the first night at The Anthem at the shiny new Wharf development, and nothing in DC concert was ever the same again.
Promotions company IMP, the owners of 9:30 Club, had an ambitious goal. The principals would build a tremendous theatre to hold 6,000 seats in the newly recapitalized southwest neighborhood, providing ample space for bands that appreciate a general admission experience but might be too big for one night at 9:30 Club.
Prior the declaration of a national emergency on March 13, DC’s IMP concert venues, including 9:30 Club and The Anthem, declared they would voluntarily close down through March 31 as part of precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
But a clarified order issued by DC’s mayor on Sunday shut both venues indefinitely all the same.
Sturgill Simpson released Sound & Fury, his fourth studio album, through Elektra Records in 2019. The album was accompanied by an original Netflix anime film that he wrote and produced with Japanese director Junpei Mizusaki.
Tank and the Bangas performs at The Anthem on Feb. 29, 2020. (Photos by Casey Vock.)
There’s something invincible and miraculous about a musical act that never really fit into a specific genre and probably never will.
But it’s tough to understand where a record store clerk might slot albums from the Grammy-nominated Tank and the Bangas, an inexplicably fascinated posse of musicians who about eight years ago in the birthplace of jazz — the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans — and have become one of the hottest acts on tour today.
Last year, Tank and the Bangas made their major label studio debut with Green Balloon. The band quickly blew up, scoring a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. The R&B group is now on tour opening for The Revivalists, and you should arrive early to see them when they perform at The Anthem on Saturday, Feb. 29.
Fitz and The Tantrums (Photo courtesy Donovan Public Relations)
Neo-soul band Fitz and The Tantrums released All the Feels, the band’s fourth studio album, last year via Elektra Records. The six-member group performs their biggest show in DC to date with a concert at The Anthem on Friday, Feb. 14.