Editor's note: Central Oregon gets more than its fair share of great touring acts, as well as local musicians, hitting its stages. To help us recall some of the best nights in live music, we consulted someone who attends more than his fair share of shows: local DJ Mike Thomas, who I join each Thursday on his morning show on 92.9 FM. But because I also see more than my fair share, I also made one addition to this list...
Midtown Ballroom, Feb. 23
We had many big names of all genres in Bend this year. In fact, there were several stretches over a couple of weeks that would have made an entire year's worth of shows a decade ago. But one under-the-radar show worth mentioning, is Gogol Bordello. It was a fun night had by everyone on stage and in the crowd! Hopefully the sound guys had a good time, too.
Midtown Ballroom, planned for March 24
The best concert that nobody saw was Flogging Molly. The cancellation of that show because of bad weather and roads was a serious disappointment to so many fans. We had been looking forward to them coming back to Bend since they played the station's first anniversary show. The band was bummed about it, too. They will be back soon, we hope!
Marty O'Reilly & The Old Soul Orchestra (editor's addition to this list)
Volcanic Theatre Pub, April 12
Ah, memories... Go see a Marty O'Reilly show, they said. You won't be disappointed, they said. And I wasn't. With a mix of Delta blues, soul, jazz and funk, a whole lot of haunting strings and a fun stage personality, I'm checking our calendar right now to see if and when he's back in Bend again.
GoodLife Brewing Company, June 21 and Oregon Spirit Distillers, June 22
Floater at Oregon Spirit Distillers and GoodLife Brewing were rare outside shows for them in Bend. They thrived under the sunlight of early summer. A fun and humble group that put on a good rock show. The crowd was more enthusiastic for Floater than the headlining band.
Poor Man's Whiskey
4Peaks Music Festival, June 23
Poor Man Whiskey's Saturday set at 4 Peaks had a power failure, thus losing amplified sound. Other bands' members came out to help, with everyone grabbing acoustic instruments and whatever else would make noise to play several crowd sing-along covers to make some sweet-sounding lemonade out of technical-difficulty lemons.
Midtown Ballroom, July 8
Social Distortion was back at the Midtown this summer for another sold-out show. I'm all for bringing in more acts that haven't played here, and I feel there are some bands that could take a rest on Bend for a concert season, but Social D is not one of those bands.
Les Schwab Amphitheater, Aug. 5
The Pixies were one of the first bands to play the Les Schwab. Their return to the stage with opener Sleigh Bells was fun and energetic. The crowd got to watch a band that influenced famous bands that aren't around anymore rip through their catalogue, showing why they are so admired.
Oregon Spirit Distillers, Aug. 23
When first asked what I thought of Dwight Yoakam playing Oregon Spirit Distillers, I could not say, "Yes! Please! That would be amazing!" fast enough. Or Fast as You...
Shaking his hand is one of my favorite moments in my career. Cowboys, hipsters and everyone in between all came together to witness this living legend.
Portugal! The Man
Les Schwab Amphitheater, Aug. 31
Portugal! The Man had fun busting out all their radio songs right away, including the massively popular, "Feel It Still," "so all the parents could get home early." The Portland band's music chops, lighting, videos, and other stage effects made for a fun Labor Day Friday on the Les Schwab stage.
Cold War Kids
Oregon Spirit Distillers, Sept. 1
While this show was toned down in scale and bombast compared to the previous night with Portugal! The Man, this talented group brought their best on their hits and sing-alongs. This night's opener, Daysormay, also impressed everyone who showed up early.
Fall Fest, Oct. 6
I was late to the party on Dead South, but was relieved to have found out about them before they played Fall Fest. They completely lived up to my expectation. That entire festival with both main and local stage was solid, capped off by this fun group.