Category Archives: live music

Five Years Live (Music)

I was a teenage show-taper.

After first being exposed to up-close-and-personal live music at age 15, through a serendipitous series of performances by local bands at a Boston radio station’s festival, I wanted to capture that magic somehow. And while I loved the idea of taking photos, I knew my skills in that department were rather lacking. Plus, photos aren’t the actual music.

Somehow I found out about the concept of a “professional” portable recorder, and I begged and pleaded my parents to get me one, until I was gifted a Sony WM-D6C for my 17th birthday. And there my journey begun, taping indie rock shows from Boston to New York, starting in earnest the following summer after I graduated high school. That summer I also had a boyfriend with a car (I didn’t drive), enabling me to drag him to attend far more shows than had previously been possible.

Most of these live tapes have been sitting around for over 25 years, rarely touched and never before widely shared. Given that the average lifespan of a cassette tape is supposedly 30 years, I figured I didn’t have much time left to extract the music from them before it was gone forever. And hey, now I get to share some of those inspiring, formative concert experiences of mine with you.

A Few From the Vault

Below is a list of shows that I attended and personally recorded, from 1990 to 1996. Some of these have already been digitized, some not. This week I will be sharing out some of the digitized and cleaned-up shows, one per day:

The Chills (1992) | Listen on YouTube

Edwyn Collins (1995) | Listen on YouTube

Small Factory (1992) | Listen on YouTube

Magnetic Fields (1995) | Listen on YouTube

Stereolab (1994) | Listen on YouTube

The Verlaines (1992) | Listen on YouTube

More shows to follow, on a slightly less predictable schedule. I will update this page with links as I upload each recording.

Jen Matson Live Recording Archive

Band(s) Venue City Date  
The Cavedogs
Gigolo Aunts
The Cat Club New York, NY July 16, 1990  
Steve Kilbey T.T. the Bear’s Cambridge, MA October 15, 1990  
Straitjacket Fits T.T. the Bear’s Cambridge, MA July 18, 1991 listen
Smashing Orange T.T. the Bear’s Cambridge, MA July 19, 1991  
Sebadoh The Paradise Boston, MA July 21, 1991  
Japanese Beetles (members of Shonen Knife, Big Dipper, Christmas) T.T. the Bear’s Cambridge, MA August 2, 1991 listen
Peter Holsapple & Chris Stamey The Hatch Shell Boston, MA August 3, 1991  
Small Factory The Spiral New York, NY September 28, 1991  
American Music Club The Knitting Factory New York, NY October 23, 1991  
CBGB’s New York, NY January 17, 1992  
Small Factory The Knitting Factory New York, NY March 18, 1992 listen
The Verlaines The Knitting Factory New York, NY March 27, 1992  
Magnetic Fields
Velocity Girl
The Providence Indie Rock Explosion! Festival at The Church House Providence, RI March 28, 1992 listen (MF)
The Verlaines Maxwell’s Hoboken, NJ March 29, 1992 listen
The Mad Scene The Middle East Upstairs Cambridge, MA May 17, 1992 listen
The Cakekitchen CBGB’s New York, NY June 17, 1992  
David Kilgour The Gas Station New York, NY June 18, 1992 listen
Velocity Girl Club Babyhead Providence, RI June 19, 1992 listen
The Chills Maxwell’s Hoboken, NJ October 15, 1992 listen
The Bats T.T. the Bear’s Cambridge, MA November 13, 1992 listen
Lois Maxwell’s Hoboken, NJ January 30, 1993  
Tiger Trap
Maxwell’s Hoboken, NJ June 19, 1993  
Stuart Moxham
Barbara Manning
The Middle East Upstairs Cambridge, MA July 19, 1993  
Nothing Painted Blue
The Folk Implosion
? Providence, RI July 25, 1993  
Honeybunch Patrick’s Pub Providence, RI August 4, 1993  
Air Miami Under Acme New York, NY August 1994  
Slant 6 Sideshows by the Seashore at Coney Island New York, NY August 1994  
Grant McLennan Fez New York, NY September 21, 1994 listen
Stereolab CMJ Festival at Marriott Hotel Ballroom New York, NY September 22, 1994 listen
Robert Forster Brownie’s New York, NY October 17, 1994 listen
Kicking Giant In Your Ear Records Boston, MA October 19, 1994  
Grant McLennan The Mercury Lounge New York, NY January 9, 1995  
Magnetic Fields
Pest 5000
The Middle East Upstairs Cambridge, MA January 27, 1995 listen (MF)
listen (P5k)
Edwyn Collins Mercury Lounge New York, NY March 21, 1995 listen
Hi-Fi The Coffee House Dennisport, MA June 1995 listen
Pest 5000 The Middle East Upstairs Cambridge, MA July 16, 1995  
Barbara Manning WHRB Cambridge, MA September 1995  
The Chills Mercury Lounge New York, NY November 2, 1996  
Vehicle Flips
The Receptionists
Mad Planets
The Poconos
Kardyhm’s house Hastings-on-Hudson, NY January 18, 1997  
Bis Other Music New York, NY February 1997  

Take Me Out

As part of my my top LPs of 2015 wrap-up, I mentioned having seen a lot of the bands on my list perform live. Because, quite simply, I love going to shows. And I happen to live in a city (Seattle) that not only gets its fair share of touring bands, but also is home to a number of excellent local acts.

I know I ramped up my showgoing considerably this past year, but I was curious to see just how much. And since I’m as much a data geek as a music geek, I decided to crunch those numbers!

Manually scraping show data from the Google Calendar instance my friends and I use to track events, I dumped every single band and show I saw into a text file, then an Excel spreadsheet. Then I connected that data store to my instance of Tableau Public, a free data visualization tool, with which I created a few basic charts.

The results? Last year I saw at least* 173 bands at 78 shows. That’s an average of 6.5 shows per month.


Have I mentioned that I don’t actually work in the music industry?

Anyway, if you’re curious, here are some charts below that show the spread of events, the bands and the venues. Also below is the month-by-month list that shows each gig’s lineup, including only bands I actually saw (at least 3-4 songs by, minimum).

Bands Seen in 2015

I saw at least 173 bands I saw (and remember seeing) perform live in 2015, along with the number of times I saw each.

Venues Visited in 2015

All 34 rock clubs, theaters, festivals and other venues in three cities (Seattle, Portland, New York) I visited last year.

Number of Shows Attended in 2015

A monthly tally of events. December was kinda slow (only 1 gig!).

Full List of 2015 Gigs

A month-by-month breakdown of each gig, including band lineup in order of performance.

  • 01/02
    A Tribute to the Cure (~4 bands) @ Chop Suey
  • 01/09
    Tangerine, Tomten @ Neumos
  • 01/18
    Tacocat, Wimps, Kithkin @ Chop Suey
  • 01/24
    Vaselines, Loch Lomond @ Neumos
  • 01/31
    Zebra Hunt @ Hilliard’s
  • 02/03
    Lloyd Cole @ The Triple Door
  • 02/06
    Zebra Hunt @ The Sunset
  • 02/13
    Dancing on the Valentine show w/The Service Providers + others @ Neumos
  • 02/21
    Unlikely Friends, Ruler, Oh Pears @ The Rendezvous
  • 03/13
    The Flamin’ Groovies, Bread and Butter @ The Tractor
  • 03/16
    Robyn Hitchcock, Emma Swift @ Columbia City Theater
  • 03/19
    Zebra Hunt @ The Highline
  • 03/27
    Viet Cong, What Moon Things @ Barboza
  • 03/29
    !!!, OCnotes @ Columbia City Theater
  • 03/31
    Ultimate Painting @ Chop Suey
  • 04/03
    Zebra Hunt, Ruler @ Barboza
    Broncho @ The Tractor
  • 04/04
    Twerps, Lures, Zebra Hunt @ The Sunset
  • 04/07
    Belle & Sebastian, Perfume Genius @ The Paramount
  • 04/11
    His Name Is Alive @ Barboza
  • 04/18
    Damon & Naomi @ EMP
  • 04/22
    Polaris, Scarves, Cotillon @ The Crocodile
  • 04/28
    Lightning Bolt, Liturgy @ Neumos
  • 05/09
    Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Nurses @ Barboza
  • 05/14
    The Jesus & Mary Chain, The Black Ryder @ The Showbox
  • 05/17
    Detective Agency, Zebra Hunt, Talkies @ The Funhouse
  • 05/22
    Hutch & Kathy, S @ Barboza
  • 05/27
    Wire, Mile High Club, Posse @ Neumos
    Speedy Ortiz, Alex G, Broken Water @ Barboza
  • 05/29
    NYC Popfest: The Catenary Wires, Jessica & the Fletchers, Pale Lights @ Cameo
  • 05/30
    NYC Popfest – afternoon show: Pete Astor, The Just Joans, Working, The Chandler Estate @ Baby’s All Right
    NYC Popfest – evening show: The Darling Buds, The Spook School, Veronica Lake, Brideshead, Wallflower, Expert Alterations @ Knitting Factory
  • 05/31
    NYC Popfest: Club 8, Eternal Summers, Lunchbox, The Holiday Crowd, Seabirds, Starry Eyed Cadet, Cold Beat, Sapphire Mansions @ Littlefield
  • 06/01
    Ride, Sshh @ Williamsburg Music Hall
  • 06/05
    Zebra Hunt, No Grave, Acid Tongue @ Columbia City Theater
  • 06/10
    Jonathan Richman @ The Crocodile
  • 06/13
    The Tripwires @ Georgetown Carnival
  • 06/17
    San Cisco @ The Tractor
  • 07/06
    Shellac, Shannon Wright @ The Tractor
  • 07/10
    The Thermals, La Luz @ West Seattle Summer Fest
  • 07/13
    Eternal Summers, Nic Hessler @ Barboza
  • 07/15
    Ceremony, Tony Molina @ Neumos
  • 07/21
    Dick Diver, iji, Invisible Hand @ Vera Project
  • 07/24
    Craft Spells @ Westlake Park
  • 08/01
    Seapony, Zebra Hunt, Tape Waves @ Vera Project
  • 08/04
    Metz, Big Ups @ Neumos
  • 08/07
    Tangerine, The Shivas @ Seattle Center (Concerts at the Mural)
  • 08/22
    Detective Agency, Tangerine, iji, Neighbors @ Summit Block Party
  • 08/30
    Cannanes, The World Record, Blooper @ The Sunset
  • 09/04
    Versing, Aan, Bod, Pleasures @ The Sunset
  • 09/10
    Colleen Green, Pony Time, Jaill @ Lo-Fi
    Dirty Sidewalks @ Victory Lounge
  • 09/11
    Dan Deacon @ XOXO Fest
  • 09/13
    A Place to Bury Strangers, Grooms @ Chop Suey
  • 09/14
    Mac McCaughan, Mike Krol, Flesh Wounds @ The Tractor
  • 09/17
    The Chameleons, Nostalgist @ Neumos
  • 09/22
    Hibou, Snuff Redux @ Frolik Kitchen
  • 09/23
    Duran Duran, Chic @ WA State Fair
  • 09/26
    Laetitia Sadier, Deradoorian, Lilac @ Vera Project
  • 09/30
    Mew, The Dodos @ Neumos
  • 10/06
    Ultimate Painting, Zebra Hunt @ Vera Project
  • 10/09
    Lushy @ The Swedish Club
  • 10/10
    Dude York, Versing, Clearance, Neighbors @ Black Lodge
  • 10/15
    Skylar Spence, Kero Kero Bonito @ Chop Suey
  • 10/16
    Viet Cong, Grave Babies @ Neumos
    Salad Boys, Prom Queen @ Highline
  • 10/19
    DIIV, No Joy, Sunflower Bean @ Neumos
  • 10/21
    Deerhunter, Atlas Sound @ Showbox
  • 10/31
    Your Heart Breaks, Mommy Long Legs @ Hilliard’s
  • 11/05
    Luna, Houndstooth @ Showbox
  • 11/06
    Cheatahs, Vulkano, Gibraltar @ Barboza
  • 11/13
    Broncho, The Shelters, Pearl Charles @ The Tractor
  • 11/14
    Joanna Gruesome, Tony Molina, King of Cats @ Vera Project
  • 11/16
    Ride @ The Neptune
  • 11/20
    Yo La Tengo @ The Neptune
  • 11/21
    Low, Andy Shauf @ The Crocodile
  • 11/23
    Public Image Limited @ The Showbox
  • 12/01
    !!!, Stereolad @ The Crocodile

This lifestyle made possible by dedicated fandom, coffee, childlessness, earplugs, friends who also like going out, and an equally-music-obsessed boyfriend who enables my behavior.

*Two shows I went to were themed events featuring lineups with rotating casts of members from local bands. Since I don’t remember the exact number of sets at each, I just counted each event as a single band.