Dan Littleton of Ida lists his five favorite concerts of 2004:
1. Joao Gilberto/Brian Wilson (tie), at Carnegie Hall
"The only thing weirder than seeing two fancy-pants, super-expensive concerts at Carnegie Hall in one year is that both were amazing, inspired, transcendent even. Joao Gilberto struggled through technical difficulties, characterized both his experience of the crowd and the sound at Carnegie Hall as "a void," and then proceeded to deliver the quietest and most intimate performance we've ever seen, and certainly one of the most beautiful, as well. In the same room on another night, the smile that Brian Wilson sent out finally returned to him, almost 40 years after he recorded the greatest album never made. He found a band that worshiped the bootlegs [of the album, 'Smile'] almost as much as we did, and we got to witness Brian's spiritual rebirth after the longest 'pregnancy' in recording history. Every standing ovation was a chance for us all to say thank you to Brian in a language that [Beach Boys frontman] Mike Love will never understand. Gratitude, love, and mercy."
2. White Magic and Mission of Burma in Hartford, Conn.
"Seeing my brother's band opening up for my teenage heroes was unbelievable. White Magic [whose drummer is Miggy Littleton] did a great Karen Dalton cover, and played one of the best shows I've seen them play. Mission of Burma's old songs hit the mark, sounding urgent and focused and necessary. The new ones do not betray the old. That night 'Dirt' and 'Revolver' sounded like they could have been written five minutes ago."
3. His Name Is Alive "Tribute to Marion Brown" Concert, Detroit, Mich.
"Even though we couldn't be there that night, just the fact that one of our favorite bands dedicated a show to honoring the music of one of the greatest and most overlooked free jazz saxophonists and innovators of New Music that we know of was enough to make our list."
4. San Serac "Late Blues" live/ Providence, R.I., MoveOn Benefit (tie)
"San Serac covered our song 'Late Blues' and turned it into an electronic Bryan Ferry meets Einsturzende Neubauten apocalyptic love jam at AS220. That moment was as much of a thrill as our previous live collaboration with the man. Before the election we played a MoveOn benefit with San Serac, who threw down super-minimal beats and noise while we played tributes to Joe Strummer and the Minutemen. We were very excited to play on the same bill as Lightning Bolt(!) that day, trying to take down Bush and the neocons. We said incoherent but heartfelt shit about hegemony and how elephants are way cooler and smarter than Republicans, who should use vampires as their new symbol. Then the mayor walked onstage and shook our hands."
5. Prince at Madison Square Garden, NYC
"Prince played the Rufus classic 'Sweet Thing' acoustically, and it was like a dream come true. Incredible. He had Shiela E and Maceo Parker in his band, and they left that place burning. Then Prince admitted publicly something that Liz [Mitchell, also of Ida] and I have always suspected. He said that he wrote 'Cream' about himself, while checking himself out in the mirror. That was always our joke about that song, and it turned out to be true ... Karla [Schickele, also of Ida] got us into an after party with her NPG secret handshake and Prince was there, but the man did not play. Damn."