8 bands whose live show changed how I listen to their recordings


Andrew Bird, changing the way I hear his music, at the Fillmore, May 2007

Usually, I like a bands’ recordings and then I’ll see them live. Sometimes, though, something about a band’s music won’t click until I see them live. I find the oddest part of this phenomenon not that I’ll like bands live whose recordings didn’t work for me, but that when I go back to listen to the recordings afterwards, I’ll hear them differently often forever.

For example, I’d listened to Mumford & Sons before SxSW and thought they were ‘meh’. I saw them there and really liked their show and now I love listening to their recordings, though they’re the same recordings I thought were ‘meh’ before.

Bands whose live show changed how I listen to their recordings [in chronological order from first show]

  1. Mates of State
    (first seen: October 2001 at the Middle East (upstairs), Cambridge)
  2. the Polyphonic Spree
    (first seen: August 2003 at the Paradise, Boston)
  3. Ted Leo
    (first seen: March 2007 at the Great American, San Francisco)
  4. the Dodos
    (first seen March 2007 at the Cafe du Nord, San Francisco)
  5. Mount Eerie
    (first seen April 2007 at ATA, San Francisco)
  6. Andrew Bird
    (first seen May 2007 at the Fillmore, San Francisco)
  7. Frightened Rabbit
    (first seen: November 2008 at the Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco)
  8. Mumford & Sons
    (first seen: March 2009 at the Flamingo Cantina, Austin)

So which bands changed the way you heard them?



3 Responses to “8 bands whose live show changed how I listen to their recordings”

  1. Frank says:

    the RX Bandits and Portugal. The Man have definitely changed ym view on live music. I had never even heard of either band until I experienced their live performance.

    Both have album releases in July and I would suggest you check the releases out. RX Bandits is pushing their album “Mandala” through Sargenthouse records and Portugal. The Man is pushing “The Satanic Satanist”

  2. dp says:

    beirut @ roundhouse in camden. the cut and dry layered instruments in their albums really dont do it justice. to have all those instruments on stage esp condon on the trumpet just blows my mind. and ditto on bird, although i’m not sure i’m liking his latest tour with the addition of that giant wind-sound-making machine spinning in the background like a gramophone

  3. amy.leblanc says:

    built to spill: i don’t know what i was expecting when i went to see them live, but it wasn’t a bunch of 40-something guys who dress like my dad on stage and a crowd full of baseball hat-wearing 20something dudes. i guess i thought they were more indie-rock in terms of look+crowd, and less dave matthews band. it changed the way i listen to their music, but not in a bad way.

    blonde redhead: i never could get into their recordings, but saw them live and was impressed. still don’t own any of their albums, but when i hear them on the radio now i definitely “get it”.

    the black crowes: their studio recordings are good but they sound like just another southern-ish rock band until you see them live and then realize they are like, the closest thing to led zeppelin you might ever see. now hearing their studio stuff it sounds a lot more rockin’ in my head than it probably does to anyone who hasn’t seen them live.

    phish: the studio recordings pretty much just plain suck. live – it really is a whole experience to get all that wrapped around your head and wrap your head around.

    tori amos: if you’ve never seen her writhe on a piano bench while growling into the mic and then get up and dance all silly around the stage, her studio music probably doesn’t resonate as much.

    the biggest one for me though was RUSH. i was an avid Rush hater for a long time. i just didn’t get it. i would turn the station whenever it came on the radio. it aggravated me. and i didn’t seem them live in person, but not long ago there was some thing on PBS showing a live concert, and i was MESMERIZED. i was totally blown away by what i was seeing on stage, and know i enjoy their music.

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