We saw Brad Mehdau play unworldly jazz piano at a little performance room at NYU, then again at a tiny stage just a few steps below the sidewalk in the West Village. We saw Beck and MGMT at the Palace Theater, which is just as cool as it sounds. There was the last minute trip to see Fiona Apple at Terminal Five, crowded into the middle with hundreds of iPhone-welding strangers, our ears ringing the rest of the night. There was the epic Leonard Cohen concert at Madison Square Garden, a man pushing 80 years old rocking the massive space. Same goes for the long jam sessions by Neil Young at the new Barclays Center (but he wasn't as great at Lenny C). A fellow Graceland-loving friend and I went to see Paul Simon one night at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, completely star struck. We saw Ryan Adams at Carnegie Hall, on the last row possible, getting dizzy looking straight down onto the one man show. Everything anyone said echoed across the whole space. The acoustics made it feel almost intimate.
Then there were the more hipster-inspired shows. We got into the Rosebuds one year and went to see them at the Bell House. They performed one song on the floor, and we all hunkered down together to perform "Bow to the Middle." We saw Ambulance LTD at the Bell House too, and got so into their music we saw them again in the small basement of Union Hall in Park Slope.
We saw Yeasayer at a Pier on the Hudson. Neko Case's beautiful face and songbird voice on a sunny afternoon at Summer Stage at Central Park. Andrea Bocelli on another night at the Central Park Mainstage, on a gloomy summer night with thousands of people hiding under umbrellas but refusing to leave.
Brooklyn Bowl was one of our favorites. We could go for a 10 minute walk and be surrounded by the crowd, watching RJD2 spinning tracks and being completely mesmerized. Almost to the point of not seeing Aziz Ansari right next to me. (Almost.) We discovered Dead Confederate here one night and became faithful fans, heading to the Mercury Lounge one a random weeknight to see them. We liked the Mercury Lounge and went another night to see Fujiya & Miyagi (and while they were great, I admit I was a little disappointed to find they weren't Japanese).
There were some random makeshift venues too. Like the Foreigner show at Citi Field after a Mets game. A ballpark makes such a great venue. It really made me wish I had gone to the Pink Floyd concert at Yankee Stadium. But the weirdest venue might have been the Apple Store in SoHo. We saw Talib Kweli perform a random show to only a handful of seats on the upper level. I'd spent the day bicycling through Central Park with friends and finished off the day with hip hop downtown. That was one of the best perks of living in the city. You didn't even know what your day would turn into. Sometimes there was no need for planning.
There were shows we went to to support budding musician friends, and friends of friends. There were the shows in the back room of the Gutter, underground on Bleecker St, at jazz center Fat Cat, at Rockwood Music Hall with the owner himself manning the lights in the small space above the door.
It's hard to believe I won't be shouting chants of Encore! with the crowds anymore. But I feel like as long as I remember the possibilities that come with simply being surrounded by the energy of the city, we'll be back. Until then, I'll have to live vicariously through my music-loving friends. Instagram everything, ok guys?