The coronavirus has basically canceled all live shows and tours for the rest of March if not further. If you’re already jonesing to see a show, or just need a brief distraction from the insanity of the world right now, thankfully there’s YouTube which has an amazing array of live footage from throughout the history of pop music, from clips from concert films, TV performances and other pro-shot footage, to tons of fan-shot video from shows. We’ve picked a few of our favorites. Watch below.
Taking Back Sunday @ The Sahara in Syosset, NY – 2001
The new Koyo EP (members of SeeYouSpaceCowboy, Typecaste, Hangman, and more paying tribute to classic Long Island emo) got me thinking about back when Taking Back Sunday were directly tied to the Long Island hardcore scene, which got me thinking about this amazing full-set video of them playing a tiny room in Long Island before their debut album even came out. People are going nuts, opening up the pit, yelling along to now-very-familiar songs (which were out as a demo at the time), and the band — who are right there on the floor with the crowd — already sound as great as they did when they started playing to crowds of thousands.
Bon Iver & St. Vincent @ Music Hall of Williamsburg for BrooklynVegan-Presented Haiti Benefit – 1/23/2010
Back in 2010, we presented a show at Music Hall of Williamsburg with a slew of musicians and comedians to raise money for Haiti (read our recap from 2010 here), and among many other things, it featured some now-legendary covers from Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and St. Vincent’s Annie Clark (with Brad from Megafaun helping out too). Among those were an especially devastating, slowed-down cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” and they also did Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” and “Annie Lennox’s “Why” (plus Tom Petty’s “Face in the Crowd” with Brad on lead, which we can’t find video of right now). Justin and Annie also did some originals and Annie covered Nico’s “These Days,” and watching these videos reminds you that 2010 was a thousand years ago because Annie talks about joining Twitter before playing “The Party.”
Radiohead @ Glastonbury 2003
With Glastonbury’s 50th anniversary lineup out this week (and everyone’s fingers crossed that the fest happens), why not revisit one of the festival’s most epic headlining sets? Radiohead have headlined a few times, and their 2003 set remains one of their most famed live recordings for a reason. They opened with “There There,” which had just been released as a single the month prior, and it kicked things off with a bang and the set only kept rising from there.
James Brown on The T.A.M.I. Show
The T.A.M.I. Show, a multi-band concert staged just for this 1964 film, has an amazing lineup of performers: The Rolling Stones, Marvin Gaye, The Beach Boys, The Supremes, Chuck Berry, Smokey Robinson and more, but none of the performances come close to the show-stopping 18 minutes James Brown delivers. Backed by The Famous Flames, he is 100% pure dynamite from the second he sashays across the stage. The real knockout is “Please, Please, Please” where he famously drops to his knees and has to be helped up by his band. It would be schtick with anyone else but James makes it pure magic.
Gang Of Four – “He’d Send In The Army” (from URGH! A Music War)
URGH! A Music War, which captured an amazing array of punk, post-punk and new wave artists playing live in 1980, has loads of incredible performances (The Cramps, Klaus Nomi, Devo, XTC, Echo & The Bunnymen to name five), but among the best is Gang of Four’s incendiary take on Solid Gold track “He’d Send in the Army.” It’s a great showcase for the original, powerhouse lineup of the band, but the late Andy Gill is particularly incredible, trickling out gigawatts of pent-up energy into fits and bursts of scratchy guitar. At one point, the song drops just to him and singer Jon King banging on a road case with a drumstick. Gill misses the strings more than he hits them, and it’s as tense a moment as you’ll find in any Hitchcock film.
Owen Pallett @ Hillside Festival in Guelph, Ontario, 2009
Ahead of the release of his 2010 LP Heartland, Owen Pallett took the stage at Guelph, Ontario’s Hillside Festival for a set that was cut off early because of heavy rain and lightning. Before it was, though, he played an unforgettable version of “Lewis Takes Off His Shirt,” at that time still unreleased. Despite crew members side stage telling him to cut the song short, he persists in triumphantly performing the song’s violin and keyboard runs, as if in direct defiance of the pouring rain. It’s goosebump-inducing, even in video form.
Julien Baker @ Mercury Lounge in NYC – 1/21/2016
One of Julien Baker’s first headlining NYC shows in support of her 2015 debut Sprained Ankle happened at a packed, spellbound Mercury Lounge, where Julien had the crowd in the palm of her hand with just her voice and guitar. A devastating cover of Elliott Smith’s classic “Ballad of Big Nothing” was just the icing on the cake.
The Evaporators (Nardwuar’s band) – “I Don’t Need My Friends to Tell Me Who My Friends Are” (SXSW 2009)
You know Narwuar, the Human Serviette, as a celebrity interview and gift-giver and maybe you know him as a radio DJ. You may not know, however, he also fronts awesome Vancouver punk band The Evaporators who have been going since 1986. Nardwuar is a regular fixture at SXSW and sometimes the band comes, too, and they are known for their very fun, very interactive shows. The Evaporators played a BrooklynVegan day party in 2012 but here’s footage of them at the 2009 Todd P / Woodsist party at Ms Bea’s where, after Nardwuar “stage-dived,” he had the crowd drive him though the audience.
For more of our favorite live videos, go here.