i'm going to make this quick because this is a pretty straight-forward list. these are my favorite bands of all time. they are in order. out of the top 10, i've seen 8 live, totaling 26 shows.
i've taken into account a few important factors, such as listenability (how often i listen to their music), live performance, and overall who they are as musicians. i value exemplary songwriting, engaging live performances, energy, growth as musicians, and obvious love for playing music.
without much hoopla, here is the start of the list:
bear cub and the composure - two local favorites
fall out boy
10. The Hold Steady - Old, dirty rock and roll. No-nonsense storytelling and instrumentation.
9. mewithoutYou - One of the most odd bands I've seen around for this long. Their musicianship and personalities help them rise above so many others.
8. Brand New - Their newest album has dropped them off my radar some, but you can't deny their intensity and emotion.
7. MxPx - One of the most influential bands of my life. 3 dudes, mostly 3 power chords, and some simple punk rock.
6. Modest Mouse - Unbelievably creative songwriting. Modest Mouse can be mistaken for no other, if for no other reason beside Isaac Brock's voice.
5. Thrice - I didn't expect Thrice to be this high on my list, especially considering the first time I saw them was thanks to a bill alongside mewithoutYou and Brand New. Dustin Kensrue is one of my favorite songwriters. He uses Biblical references often, as well as C.S. Lewis references. His lyrics are deep and meaningful to a wide range of listeners. Thrice hits with an absolute intensity in their live shows. Teppei Teranishi is one of the most creative guitarists/musicians around. The songs have complexities that Thrice portray as simple. The band doesn't talk much during their live shows, but the songs speak for themselves.
4. Jimmy Eat World - Some have dropped off the Jimmy bandwagon with the last album, but I certainly have not. They are humble fellows from Arizona with gentle and introspective lyrics. JEW are fantastic at performing their music. They don't tour as frequently as many other bands, which makes their ticket a must-buy when the chance arises. Each album brings about different memories for me, but Bleed American will surface on my top ten list for sure. It's as close to a perfect album as bands can hope to attain. The songs are catchy and independent. JEW hits a wide range of music-listeners, but the musicians among us can especially appreciate the work they do.
3. Death Cab for Cutie - I resisted Death Cab, for sure, until one night at Primanti's when Ron Cepek basically called me an idiot for being a musician who didn't appreciate Death Cab. I gave them a listen (Narrow Stairs) and was instantly hooked. Ben Gibbard is one of my favorite songwriters because he has a way of manipulating words in a way that is useful to him. He uses vocabulary in a way that helps one lyric play off of another. The musicianship is simple, yet intriguing. They know that it doesn't take much to catch people's attention. I have not seen Death Cab live, but they're at the top of my must-see list.
2. Squad Five-O - Quite simply, the most important band I've ever listened to. Squad has incredible energy, rock and roll swagger, and no-bullshit attitudes. They've been described as a mix of The Clash and The Rolling Stones, which is accurate. Their lyrics are simple and truthful. On their last album, Squad ventured into dangerous territory by speaking about current events, but somehow did it in a way that was impactful yet not offensive to either side. Jeff Fortson is hands-down the best frontman I've seen. He has relentless emotion on stage and a certain sass that makes you love and hate him at the same time. Talk to him in person, though, and you'll know that he's just one of the guys doing what he's got to do to have a good time.
1. The Avett Brothers - I never thought a band could supplant Squad Five-O in this spot, but the Avetts have. I saw them for the first time in Kent, OH, in March 2008 and have seen them an additional 7 times since then. Their live show is unbeatable.. but you wouldn't think so, thanks to the acoustic-banjo-standup bass-cello combo.
These North Carolina boys have the humble "aww shucks" personality that makes you know they appreciate every single person in the crowd every night. They come out to meet fans after every show. They want to shake the hands of the people who have made it possible for them to do what they do.
The energy is second-to-none. These guys simply leave it all on the stage every night. Arguably the best part, though, is the incredible range of songs they will perform on a nightly basis. In seeing them 8 times, I'm sure I've seen about 70 different songs played. They'll reach all the way back to the first album, even after putting out an album that hit the Billboard charts in 2009. We all wondered if "making it big" would change the Avett Brothers, but it certainly hasn't.