Don’t let anyone whine about no good concerts in Columbus. In 2012, I watched The Black Keys rumble an arena and Action Bronson rumble through Skully’s. I witnessed Odd Future and Fun. in the throes of ascendancy. In one night, The National and Corin Tucker boiled political disenchantment into soul-stirring sounds.
Liars and R. Kelly enthralled me in kind. Seeing Wilco (again) and Noel Gallagher (for the first time) was like visiting with old friends. I bid Phantods a fond farewell and squealed with glee at The Saturday Giant. And those didn’t even crack my Top 10! Here’s what did.
10. John Vanderslice at Tree Bar, Nov. 6
On election night, a great American songwriter proved the “dude + acoustic” formula still works when the right personality powers it.
9. Cloud Nothings at Outland Live, April 7
The mix was questionable, the crowd too small, but the hungry young Cleveland rockers held nothing back while bashing out Attack on Memory tracks.
8. The Washington Beach Bums at ComFest, June 22
I gave up bouncing between stages, lured by bouncing of another sort: dozens of beach balls soaring to the sound of ebullient party rock.
7. Drake at Schottenstein Center, Feb. 18
After great sets from A$AP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar, hip-hop’s reigning king presented a hit parade that might’ve been the year’s best if he could sing a lick.
6. Jack White at LC Pavilion, Oct. 8
This is what rock stars sound like: Uncouth, unhinged, unafraid to play whatever they feel like.
5. El Jesus de Magico at Ace of Cups, Jan. 28
Sorry, other Columbus bands. El Jesus dusted off their transcendent garage-psych dirges for just one night and outclassed you all.
4. Divine Fits at Newport Music Hall, Oct. 24
August’s intimate engagement at Ace of Cups didn’t transfix me, but on the return visit, local drummer Sam Brown’s partnership with indie greats Britt Daniel and Dan Boeckner was stunning.
3. Field Report at Rumba Café, Nov. 14
Field Report’s album is splendid, but hearing Chris Porterfield’s artful folk rock come to life so vividly was spectacular.
2. P. Blackk at Independents’ Day, Sept. 15
The city’s best young rapper showed poise, power and authority like I’ve rarely seen.
1. Fiona Apple at Palace Theatre, Oct. 7
I had so much to say about this, but in a pinch, my 721-word review (look it up!) could be reduced to a simple, breathless “WOW.”