Hot Chili Peppers at the 1992 Lollapalooza at SPAC.
Capital Region’s top 10 live shows of the past 30 years
where that subjective memory thing gets interesting. A few
of our respondents included “Bob Dylan at SPAC” on their list
of best area live shows. You know he’s played there a few
times, right? Like, a million?
specificity would have affected the final tally, though the
lack of it helped to boost our No. 1 entry. We allowed the
first two Lollapalooza festivals to rank together at the top
of our list for a few reasons: First, a few of those polled
seemed confused as to which one they actually saw; others
just wrote in both. The inaugural freak-fest—featuring Jane’s
Addiction, first-wave Nine Inch Nails, Ice-T’s Body Count,
and Siouxsie and the Banshees—represented a coming of age
for the counterculture. The 1992 edition was stocked with
soon-to-be rock-radio staples like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden
and Red Hot Chili Peppers, and served to measure the massive
surge in the popularity of what was just starting to be called
“alternative” music. Together, these two festivals pinpointed
the zeitgeist of their time, serving as a changing-of-the-guard
ceremony in popular music. Teen spirit never smelled so good.
zeitgeist, albeit on a smaller scale, was nailed when Albany’s
own Clay People co-headlined the 1999 EdgeFest at the Altamont
Fairgrounds. The band were at the height of their popularity,
having just released an album through a major-label affiliate,
and their performance that afternoon was positively electric.
On this day, the Clay People were superstars.
the audience may have known it, but when Sonic Youth played
QE2 in April 1987, they were trying out songs from their then
soon-to-be-released masterwork, Sister. (Daydream
Nation was still 18 months off.) Their music had by this
time coalesced into the perfect storm of pure-pop sensibilities
and Lower East Side scuzz. Was this the beginning of Sonic
Youth as we now know them? Possibly.
4 is a tie between two unexpectedly bittersweet performances.
The Boss’ 2006 Magic show was one of the last with
organist Danny Federici, who passed on a few months later.
And Count Basie’s 1984 stop at J.B. Scott’s was, also, one
of his very last.
making the list: Guided By Voices’ Budweiser-chugging Valentine’s
show, the Stones’ vital late-period stop at the then-Pepsi,
U2 and the Pretenders in the ’80s, the Pixies’ believe-it-or-not
acoustic show at the Egg, and the late Elliott Smith’s cloud-parting
summer 2000 set at the Empire State Plaza.
on the outskirts of the Top 10 (or so): the Smashing Pumpkins’
1996 Knickerbocker Arena show; the 1997 H.O.R.D.E. tour at
SPAC (with Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Beck, Ween, and so
many more); Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense-tour appearance
at SPAC; From Good Homes’ many stops at Bogie’s; Elvin Jones’
late-’90s show at the Van Dyck; Frank Sinatra’s Knickerbocker
Arena-opening show in January 1990; Bob Dylan’s set at the
Woodstock Anniversary Show in Saugerties; Faith No More’s
Angel Dust-tour stop at the Palace in 1992; Richard
Buckner and Anders Parker at the Larkin in 2002; Between the
Buried and Me’s post-post-metal thrashing at Revolution Hall
in ’07; and Radiohead’s post-“Creep,” pre-“High and Dry” set
at Saratoga Winners in the spring of 1995. Raise your hands:
How many of you knew that Radiohead played at Winners?
respondents ranked up to 10 choices, and points were tallied
as follows: 10 for 1st place, 9 for 2nd, and so on.
Lollapalooza @ SPAC, 1991-1992 (30)
2. Clay People @ Edgefest, 1999 (18)
3. Sonic Youth @ QE2, 1987 (17)
4. Tie: Bruce Springsteen @ TU Center, 2006 (14), Count Basie
@ JB Scott’s, 1984 (14)
6. Guided by Voices, Spoon @ Valentine’s, 2001 (13)
7. Tie (all 10 points): Dr. John @ Pauly’s Hotel, 1985; Pixies
@ the Egg, 2005; Elliott Smith @ Empire State Plaza, 2000;
Rolling Stones @ Pepsi Arena, 2005; Missing Persons @ Palace,
1980s; U2 @ SUNY, Mayfest (early 80s); Nick Matulis, Matt
Loiacono, Bob Buckley, Troy Pohl @ Larkin, 03-04; Pretenders
@ JB Scott’s; Mekons @ QE2, 1988; Stigmata, Clay People, Terrorcake,
Plaid @ Winners, 1995
to Metroland 30th Anniversary