Some people come into our lives and quickly fade away; others carry a torch that burns straight through to the heavens. 2016, at least for them moment will go down as one of the most pitiful excuses of a year, when it comes to the loss of so many talented musicians, actors and actresses, and public figures of all sorts. It’s only natural to attach ourselves to heroes we’ve never me. The since of loss can be unbearable, which on the outside looking in is puzzling to say the least. In turn, we process that grief in ways that comfort us. The five stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the things we’ve lost. The human spirit is a remarkable thing, but a fragile source of strength. So many lost souls continuing their journey couldn’t help but trigger those five stages. I’ve made it my mission, to try and capture those souls before they are not here anymore.
While 2016 has left a significant hole in the hearts of many, I was blessed to continue my glorified hobby. Quite easily the best show I saw in ’16 was Guns N’ Roses at the Superdome. The list from there on reflects a strange relationship I’ve created over the years with music. I was fortunate enough to cover the return of the WARPED tour to New Orleans, the inaugural Bear Creek Festival, and BUKU, all of which were hosted by Mardi Gras World. The only other festival I was able to cover was Voodoo at City Park. The great thing about all four festivals, while having similarities weaved throughout each event, they were very different experiences.
The range of talent that passed through New Orleans in 2016 was amazing to say the least. I was fortunate enough to see acts all around the city, from uptown: Gasa Gasa, The Willow, and Tipitinas to the CBD: The Republic, Howlin’ Wolf, The Orpheum, The Joy, Civic, The Ogden Museum, all three Superdome areas to the French Quarter: House of Blues, Parish, Saenger Theater, and One Eyed Jacks, as well as two amazing Cure shows out at UNO Lakefront Arena and the first rock show out at Zephier Field, Mumford and Sons. No matter how big or small the space was or the size of the crowd in attendance, each and every band put out a fine product, some better than others, but still willing to take the audience on a ride.
Last year I got to check off several bands on the to see/shoot bucket list including Elvis Costello, Def Leppard/Styx, Duran Duran, The Cure, Modern English, The Church, Book of Love, The Dead Milkmen, and Guns N’ Roses. The year also brought along some amazing acts, so of which I wasn’t too familiar with, which in turn made for an amazing ride. Some shows I enjoyed greatly included Bully (2), Preoccupations, Polyenso, Disturbed, My Jerusalem (2), James Blake, M83, The Kills, Peelander‐Z, Frank Turner, Zella Day, and The Afghan Whigs. Many of those acts were my first time seeing them.
2016 was also a great year for local music. I got to catch up with friends that I hadn’t seen in a while. Finally got a chance to see Golden Light (Daniel Amedee) put on a haunting set at the Willow. Also on the bill were Alexandra Scott and Her Magical Band and Portland’s Arc Iris. I saw for what was at that time, the last Coyotes show. Relieved to say, they will be playing again in 2017. Both Royal Teeth and Givers had new material to tour on and New Orleans stops were inevitable. One of my best finds locally was experimental cellist Helen Gillet who played the Ogden Museum. It was great to see her sit in with the Psychedelic Furs. I was also thrilled to catch up with the Cardinal Sons, Brass Bed, Bantam Foxes, and Lost Bayou Ramblers (and Spider Stacey).
Of all the acts I saw last year, picking a favorite show was pretty easy, Guns N’ Roses, the remainder of a top ten list would vary on any given day. Odds are they are up there though. If you like to see the craziness I was privileged to enjoy you can see you can check out my setlist.fm page at: http://www.setlist.fm/user/Enigmatic as well as checking out a whole lot of photographs here: http://stevenlhatley.jalbum.net/