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.
It wasn’t just a Tuesday night. It was THAT Tuesday night and I was stoked to vote Emilyn Brodsky for President after what felt like an eternity. As is always the case when one is eagerly looking forward to something, the opening band, while pleasant, seemed to play forever.
She was solo last I saw her years ago and this time she was accompanied by bass guitar and drums. They were mostly accoutrements, like decorative buckles on a leather jacket. It would be a mistake to construe that as a derogatory statement towards the band. Far from it, it is precisely their contribution that compels one to put on the jacket. However, I want instead to emphasize the significance of Emilyn’s undeniable presence.
There’s actually no need for me to review her music or performance. While that’s certainly important and merits lengthy discourse over lovely cups of tea, her banter during the set is easily worth the price of admission on its own. This may not seem remarkable until one sees over four hundred bands and notices that the overwhelming majority of musicians do not talk much on stage beyond the obligatory mention of merch or to fill the silence while tuning between songs. I don't blame them. Public speaking is frightening and is a bona fide skill.
Emilyn speaks like an old lady telling kids to get off her lawn. Whether she’s sharing dating anecdotes or providing background on her songs or praising Hallie of The Unlovables or the myriad of subjects that constitute her experience, Emilyn demonstrates the wit and brilliance of a confident and accomplished woman that knows her worth and isn't afraid to show it.
A woman genuinely comfortable in her skin is the pinnacle of beauty. Of power.
As the country burned in voting for a bigot that represents the gross product of the privileged patriarchy, Emilyn’s nature proves even more inspiring given the systematic oppression she encounters daily. She is empowering all women simply by being herself.
The Unlovables is irony at its best given they are anything but. While unable to outshine Emilyn's set that preceded, it would be a crime not to give them credit in enriching my night. The four piece exemplifies the summertime school's out attitude of pop punk, especially Hallie with her bubblegum popping vocals. Grab your skateboard or water gun and blast it on high.
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 Emilyn Brodsky by The Paper]