Noise Floor’s Year in Review 2018
I wouldn’t call 2018 a ‘good’ year, per se, but I did photograph 560-plus acts across 160-plus shows and 7 festivals during it, which made it my busiest yet. That definitely counts for something. I blew some opportunities, seized upon many more, photographed Thom Yorke twice, saw The National hold court in a tennis stadium, attended the Newport Jazz Festival and witnessed Travis Scott’s roller coaster, among other wonders.
Accompanied by a playlist of 50-odd records I liked last year, these are my chronological favorite photos and live music moments of 2018.
1/12 – Passion Pit
Passion Pit are a great live band. It’s weird that people are still in denial about this.
1/25 – Snail Mail
2/12 – Marilyn Manson
The first team-up of the year for myself and writer pal Terence Cawley. We were whisked inside the House of Blues through the faux-exclusive Foundation Room when we picked up our credentials, which sort of resembles the lobby of Disney’s Haunted Mansion and is a very appropriate way to enter a Marilyn Manson show.
2/14 – Royal Thunder
Who doesn’t love a good metal show on Valentine’s Day?
2/16 – Eleanor Friedberger / (New England) Patriots
City Winery is a nice spot to hear an Eleanor Friedberger solo set and drink a number of Old Fashioneds before jetting off to the Great Scott late show.
2/17 – Enslaved / Wolves In The Throne Room / Khemmis
2/18 – American Nightmare / Pissed Jeans
One of the year’s top “I really should’ve brought a flash” shows.
2/21-2/22 – Frightened Rabbit
I wound up covering both of the Boston nights on the Midnight Organ Fight anniversary tour without really planning to, which turned out to be among Scott Hutchison’s last performances. His is a deeply sad loss that’s remained difficult to process.
2/24 – Phoebe Bridgers
Even before this fall’s supergroup hype set in with the formation of boygenius, it was strange to think that Phoebe Bridgers played a room as small as Great Scott (with the similarly ascendent Soccer Mommy) as recently as February – with Conor Oberst in tow, no less.
3/1 – Shopping
3/3 – Vundabar
3/6 – Alice Cooper
I mean sure, of course Alice Cooper has a money sword.
3/7 – Godspeed You! Black Emperor
3/8 – Titus Andronicus
The Titus “acoustic” tour was among the year’s most underrated spectacles. Come for the boozy ballad arrangement of “Theme From Cheers,” stay for Patrick crooning Jeff Buckley covers from the bar.
3/15 – Dropkick Murphys
Finally took the Bostonian rite of passage that is photographing the Dropkicks on St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
3/17 – Earthless / Kikagaku Moyo / JJUUJJUU
It was nigh-impossible to take a bad photo at this gig. Bonus highlight: drinking at Charlie’s afterwards and witnessing an already-hammered individual shamelessly order a shot of Bailey’s.
3/19 – Nils Frahm
3/27 – Nana Grizol
4/1 – Lightning Bolt
The best way to experience Lightning Bolt is to essentially be inside Brian’s drumkit.
4/3 – Yo La Tengo
4/6 – Superchunk
4/7 – Ought / Mal Devisa
4/10 – Franz Ferdinand
4/12 – U.S. Girls
4/17 – Ministry
4/21 – Jeff Rosenstock
4/30 – Unknown Mortal Orchestra
5/3 – Hop Along
5/4-5/6 – Waking Windows
I can never recommend Vermont’s Waking Windows festival highly enough. Where else are you going to see Yonatan Gat perform in a gutted bank or Bully cover Mclusky on a town green?
5/7 – Turnstile / Touche Amore
My main 2018 regret is not being quick enough on the draw to get a shot of Brendan from Turnstile stage diving directly into a trash can.
5/15 – Alice Glass
5/23 – Parquet Courts
5/25-27 – Boston Calling
5/26 – Oh Sees
No better setting for the unhinged madness of an Oh Sees set than a late-night, sleep-deprived festival aftershow.
5/30 – Self Defense Family / Fiddlehead
6/1 – Japanese Breakfast
6/8 – Hot Snakes / Vundabar
6/9 – Bonnie “Prince” Billy
A long-awaited chance to both see and photograph a proper Will Oldham solo set.
6/12 – Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
6/13 – Cave In / Converge / Old Man Gloom, A Celebration of the Life and Art of Caleb Scofield
6/14 – King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
Sometimes when there’s no photo pit, you just go headlong into the regular pit.
6/15 – Ted Leo & The Pharmacists
Ted’s been a formative musical hero of mine for years and it’s been great to see him back on the road with the Pharmacists – especially on this summer’s Hearts of Oak anniversary tour, where the essential “Ballad of the Sin Eater” was dusted off from the vaults.
6/18 – Grizzly Bear
6/21 – U2
6/22 – Lovelorn / Kindling / Elizabeth Colour Wheel
More basements in 2019.
6/27 – Iceage
6/30 – Yob
7/1 – Frank Turner / The Hotelier / War on Women
7/3 – Phoenix
7/5 – Lingua Ignota
7/16 – Two Inch Astronaut
7/18 – Faust
7/20-7/22 – Pitchfork Music Festival
P4K 2018 highlights: Japandroids, This Is Not This Heat, a timely-ish Lauryn Hill appearance that we were actually allowed to photograph, hydrating with Miller Lites at the Airbnb in lieu of running water.
7/24 – Body/Head
7/25 – Deafheaven
7/28 – Radiohead
Much as I loathe the term, a serious bucket list shoot for me, and a killer show too. We got “You and Whose Army?”!
7/29 – Newport Folk Festival
Just one day of Folk Fest for me this year, but worth the trip for that golden-hour light on Mavis Staples’ appearance alone.
7/31 – David Byrne
8/5 – Newport Jazz Fest
My first-ever Newport Jazz, headlined by the inimitable George Clinton. A comparatively ultra-relaxed inverse to its more frenzied folk counterpart.
8/14 – Tacocat / Leopard Print Taser
8/17 – Pile
Not everyday you catch Pile in a basement anymore.
8/18 – Buffalo Tom, Wicked Good Festival
9/2 – Foxing / Pearl Jam
I pulled off a lot of double-headers this year – this was definitely among the stranger ones.
9/7 – The Jesus Lizard
I didn’t see a better live show than David Yow and company this year. Pure, chaotic firepower that all in attendance were privileged to witness.
9/9 – Drake
On the other side of Jesus Lizard Weekend, I had an extremely good time at the Drake show.
9/10 – Let’s Eat Grandma
9/13 – MC50
9/15 – Gang Gang Dance
9/20 – Idles
Even if their records strike you as a bit on-the-nose, Idles are an undeniable force of a live band. Among the most impressive new acts I saw all year.
9/29-9/30 – There’s No Leaving New York
I half-jokingly referred to The National as “my favorite rock band” a number of times this year. They’re definitely top three.
10/1 – Shame / Major Stars
Off the bus home from New York and straight to a pair of Harvard Square shows. Never miss a Major Stars gig if you can help it.
10/3 – Illuminati Hotties
10/7 – Nothing / Swirlies
10/10 – Culture Abuse / Gouge Away
The most sweltering show I covered all year, regardless of the fact that it was October.
10/13 – Tribulation / Satan
A big night for heavy metal in Allston.
10/15 – Calvin Johnson
10/18 – Big Thief
10/21 – KEN Mode / Birds In Row
Always a good show from the venerable KEN Mode, but French post-hardcore trio Birds In Row were one of my favorite discoveries this year both on record and on stage.
10/25 – Pile
Pile get a second entry for the show that had light.
10/26 – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Part of me does wish I’d been credentialed for this gig, as it turned out to be a rare pit shoot for Nick, but spending the whole night in the GA crowd – especially in such a massive room – was a communal experience I would’ve sacrificed otherwise.
11/2 – Wu-Tang Clan
11/3 – Young Jesus
11/6 – Fucked Up / Candy / Bad Waitress
11/8 – boygenius
11/9-11/10 – Boston Hassle Fest
Wasn’t able to hit every Hassle Fest set as I have in years past, but still made time for a healthy cross-section of noise sets, dream-pop, garage rock and inexplicable performance art.
11/10 – Elvis Costello & The Imposters
Another shoot I’d been waiting a good long while to check off.
11/12 – Antarctigo Vespucci
Jeff Rosenstock and Chris Farren are both great fun to shoot on their own, but their combined forces made for one of the most joyously photogenic sets of the year. The songs are pretty great too.
11/14 – Wild Nothing / Men I Trust
11/20 – Echo & The Bunnymen
My first Echo show – at long last – exceeded my expectations. This was also my first Globe-published review in quite some time (though the print edition ran with a pretty spectacularly incorrect photo accompaniment).
11/24 – Thom Yorke
Felt particularly lucky to see Thom both with Radiohead and solo this year – though I do wish he’d played approximately 95% more of the Suspiria soundtrack.
11/26 – Protomartyr
This year’s award for “album I badly underrated last year”: Protomartyr’s stellar Relatives In Descent.
11/27 – Drug Church
The hardest I got hit at a show this year was definitely someone’s half-botched stagedive during this Drug Church set, which did not diminish my enjoyment of the evening one bit.
11/28 – Why?
12/1 – Snail Mail
12/2 – Travis Scott
12/7 – Soccer Mommy
12/7 – Cult Leader / God Mother
12/10 – Priests / Empath
12/11 – Ryley Walker
12/20 – Ovlov
12/28 – Hop Along