1. Arctic Monkeys at White River State Park in Indianapolis, Indiana 6/24/14
I think everyone at this show will agree with me when I say that the queuing experience in and of itself deserves an entirely separate article. Several of us had alarms set for about 7 am, when we figured no one else would even be awake to line up. Fast forward to the next morning at around 6 am, when one of us gets a call from someone just getting to queue. There are already a handful of girls lined up at the front gate, and we were advised to come as soon as possible. Luckily our hotel was literally just a walk across the street so naturally we rush over and claim our spots. When a queuing experience begins at 6 am, you know you’re in it for the long run and there’s no backing out. About 4 hours into this saga, the clouds start rolling in and no one thinks anything of it until it starts to get very humid and overcast. It looks like rain; little did we know it would be a lot more than just a rain shower. Thunder begins to roll in the distance, and we start hearing talk of weather cancellations. The panic begins to set in only when it’s announced that we may have to be forced indoors to wait out a tornado that’s headed in our direction. As avid concert goers, we all know that simply walking away and leaving our spots to an honors system will result in us probably ending up in the very back of the crowd. This would simply not do, especially not when we had already clocked in roughly 6 hours on the pavement with more people (mostly teenagers) lining up by the hour. Security had made it clear that staying was not going to be an option, so naturally several people in our group suggested that we be issued numbered wristbands to secure our places in line so that we could all still be at the barricade after the weather blew over. We shuffled into the hotel lobby and were eventually directed down to the stuffy parking garage when the sirens began to blare. We emerged from the parking garage and were greeted by rain. By the time the gates opened, we had been standing in the rain for a good 2-3 hours. We ran like mad through a grassy/muddy field area and all made it to the barricade, which eclipsed the drama of the tornado and the storm. Our perseverance paid off, and we were all just glad the show was able to go on despite the weather. We witnessed Alex’s epic jazz hands during the Knee Socks/My Propeller transition, and that moment alone made it all worth it for me. Being able to experience Arctic Monkeys with people who love them just as much as I do was the biggest and best highlight of all my 2014 concerts.
My second best concert memory of 2014 was being able to get barricade for Lollapalooza. Again, Arctic Monkeys overshadowed any of the other potential bands I could have spent the day seeing. We were up bright and early and already had our spots in queue by 5 am. The gates opened at 11 and the run to the barricade wasn’t as far as we had originally thought. Our day was filled with Temples, J Roddy Walston & the Business, Interpol and Lorde (with horribly disproportionate bass blasting our ears for every second) Arctic Monkeys played Teddy Picker, that was the instant highlight of Lollapalooza for me. I hadn’t heard it before, since it had been taken off the setlist when I saw them in Minneapolis in February as well as in Indianapolis.
Number 3 was a tough call, mainly because I wanted it to be a moment from one of the 4 Drowners shows I attended in 2014. I made the decision to follow them around the Midwest and seeing them 3 nights in a row was a great experience. Then of course I had to see them again in Dallas. Having a summer mostly filled with shows of a larger scale, I was pleasantly surprised upon attending Drowners shows. The venues were tiny, the crowds were friendly and somewhat non-aggressive. (Except when it came to grabbing the setlists. Four tries in four different cities and my arms just weren’t fast enough to snag one.) The setlist itself remained consistent, with a cover of Gun Club’s Sex Beat (intermingling with a new song called Another Go.) Sex Beat was a highlight for me because it was a perfect fit for this band.
Fourth best moment comes from Cage the Elephant’s show at Myth in Maplewood, Minnesota. May 15 may be springtime for most, but in Minnesota of course there was still a bit of snow on the ground. The queue wasn’t terribly aggressive, and we were able to hustle to the barricade with little incident. The highlight of the show came when Matt Schultz stood above the sea of people, held upright by the crowd. He crowd surfed right beside us, and everyone just went absolutely crazy. Those are the best moments, when everyone can be completely in sync with their enthusiasm. Fifth and certainly not the least of these moments is another cover moment. The Black Keys played in Minneapolis on October 24 to an almost sold out crowd. The setlist had been quite predictable overall, which is not at all surprising considering their rise and transition to being an arena band on a large-scale. It was my third time seeing them in 3 years, and the songs from their first and second records have been replaced by newer songs on the setlist. They covered A Girl Like You by Edwin Collins, and it was a surprising but refreshing and welcome addition to their set. Dan’s bluesy grooves and understated stage presence blended in seamlessly to the song and it felt completely like a Black Keys tune in that moment.