While I didn't make it out to many shows this year, mysterious special guest star The Paper sure did. I'm proud to highlight the ten shows of 2016 that made his list of favorite shows.
Sometimes good music is like pornography.
It's impossible to articulate its excellence but one knows it when one hears it. Or perhaps one can judge by how early people line up. The crowd had dissipated at the conclusion of the previous three sets only to return upon soundcheck or when the first song started. That same crowd started to jostle for a good spot in the cramped and humid basement shortly after Rakta moved their gear into position, long before their set would begin.
Speaking of which, I distinctively remember being annoyed at checking the time multiple times. Because it was a house show, music needed to end by ten and they were not ready until after the sun had already retired for the night. What soon followed would wake anything from slumber.
In the dim lit space at twenty till ten, the three women appeared to glow with a mysterious aura. Their music was far more captivating. I lack the poetic prowess to fully convey the gravitation force that transfixed me to the spot. I just remember two things. It was cool when the keyboard player switched over to the two extra floor toms standing before the main kit. It added another head banging layer to the sonic experience. Finally, I was so absorbed in the ferocious yet measured combination of notes and rhythm, I failed to realize some of the sounds I picked up were actually rain drops hitting the window/pavement/something in the thunderstorm outside. It was rather fitting as Rakta roared like a force of nature.
At ten after, everyone huddled at the door, unwilling to venture into the mayhem falling from the sky. I figured the dash to my car at the end of the block wouldn't be too bad. I was drenched to the bone in that ten seconds. Peeling off my shirt, I wondered when it started pouring and how I could not have noticed. Perhaps there is no need to articulate the greatness of something. It speaks for itself when it compels one to listen.
This has been a great year of live music. After 120 shows and over 430 bands, I reflect upon my top ten even though top 50 would have been much easier.
[words and photo of Rakta by The Paper]