Is it just us, or does it feel like nobody really gets stoked about live albums anymore? If you look at your parents’ music collection, you’ll definitely see a couple. But they probably date back to the ’70s and ’80s when the trend was a really big deal and bands could actually get a career spike from it. Those were different times. But that’s not stopping us from running down 10 live albums from the 2000s that continue to kick ass.
Live albums are still righteous. First, they recall a special moment in time, for you and your buds (or romantic interests). Secondly, while the studio records we love are sweet, there’s something about the raw elements a musician embraces right at that moment. The sound coming off the stage is life-affirming and nothing else matters. Sure, the original records sound perfect. But when you strip all that stuff down and throw it out there, there’s an excitement that’s positively palpable. Third, you sometimes get a treat that only happens at gigs. A different version of an old favorite or maybe a secret cover song that only gets done on special nights. (That’s fallen by the wayside often, though. Thanks to smart phones and YouTube, no band wants their tracks up online prematurely. So they don’t play ’em until they’re just so.)
The criteria for the live albums list we’re presenting to you are nothing more than how we felt when we heard them. What we mean by “them,” is the bands who did their thing while the recorders were on. If a live album can give you that head rush of being there, why wouldn’t you want to revisit that? We’ve got final riots, obituaries to dark marching groups and a few records taped at the Congress Theater in Chicago. You’ve got the good sense to check ’em out.