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For the 2012 City Paper Critics’ Poll, we asked local critics, bloggers, and fans to tell us about their favorite moments in local music this year. This post has been updated to include input from Reese Higgins and DCHeavyMetal.com’s Metal Chris.
Packed into the Ethiopian joint Asefu’s in July and riled up by an all-too-brief set by surfy no-wave punks Priests, we yelled for more, knowing damn well that Priests only had six songs. What do you do when you run outta material? “We’re gonna play ‘The World’ again.” —Lars Gotrich @totalvibration
The Make-Up reunion show in September was pretty much the pinnacle of D.C. happenings in 2012—so many old pals were there to see Spiv & Co., and the band was in fantastic form. It’s always an odd but comforting feeling to see so many great, even historic D.C. musicians all reconvene like that in a single night. —John Masters @johnnymetro
My favorite moment in local music was seeing the Make-Up tear Black Cat to pieces. —Rohan Mahadevan @rorawks
The Dismemberment Plan debuted new songs for the firsttime in 11 years—and they were good. Even amid the excitement surrounding the band’s reunion shows in 2011 and 2012, few people clamored for new material. That, I think, was a result of the critical failure of singer Travis Morrison’s solo material. So when the band played seven new songs at Baltimore’s Metro Gallery, it felt especially redeeming: The new stuff was neither flat nor meandering. A few of the new tunes, like “White Collar, White Trash,” harkened back to the speedy, dissonant post-punk we remember from old Dismemberment Plan, but more often, the band’s stellar rhythm section offered glimpses into Morrison’s infatuation with Prince. —Valerie Paschall @vivalaphoenix
Pig Destroyer’s album release show for Book Burner at the Ottobar Oct. 19. Not only was it the band’s first local show in what felt like forever, but it featured guest vocals from the Grindfather and Kat Katz of Salome and opening sets from locals Ilsa and Necropsy, making it an awesome D.C. show even though it was in Baltimore. —Catherine Lewis @showlistdc
The most wonderfully surprising, joyful, awkward, and straight-up awesome moment for me was seeing teen punk sensations The Black Sparks play at St. Stephen’s Church in January. After one frantic song had ended and a circle pit of middle schoolers had broken up, lead singer Andrew Salfi pulled the mic right up to his lips and said something like, “I wanna see some older people up front dancing, too.” I looked around and realized that he meant me and my 20-something friends. It brought on a strange feeling—like I was one of the teenagers, but maybe I was one of the grownups, too. There wasn’t anything I could do—or wanted to do—besides give myself over to the music and the jittery crowd. It was what so many bands strive for. Pure punk. Pure joy. —Sarah Ventre @sarazonah
The go-go all-star tribute to Chuck Brown at the Summer Spirit Fest in August was a highlight. There have been some amazing tributes to the Godfather of Go-Go, but this one really got to me. When a performance makes you dance and cry at the same time, that’s pretty incredible. R.I.P. Chuck Brown. —Sarah Godfrey @sarahgodfrey
The memorial service for Chuck Brown definitely wasn’t anything local music fans wanted to happen, nor was it a “favorite”moment, per se. But the service at the Washington Convention Center in May was a fitting send-off for a man that came to define the sound of both a genre and this city. Undoubtedly, the moment Brown’s casket left the stage, and a crowd of singers, politicians, and everyday folk got down to Chuck’s groove, will remain one of those images that replays in my mind—accompanied by echoes of “Wind Me Up, Chuck!” —W. Jacarl Melton @wjacarlm
Trillectro came out of nowhere. Held in August, the all-day festival brought together a who’s-who of hip-hop and electronica from D.C. and beyond: Schoolboy Q, Cassie Veggies, Tabi Bonney, and Oddisee, among others. It was arranged quickly, according to Trillectro co-organizer Modele “Modi” Oyewole, and for a while it wasn’t clear how many people would actually show up. When the day rolled around, it looked like media threatened to outnumber fans at the concert—and the steamy hot weather and chance of thunderstorms didn’t help. But ultimately, none of that mattered. The showers that evening turned the show into a full-on rave, and in the end, Trillectro’s organizers had a rousing success to look back on. It’ll be interesting to see how they top it. —Marcus J. Moore @MarcusJMoore
I saw some great things in 2012. I got to see Hull play in an Annandale basement that only held about a dozen people. During the Sunn O)) show at Black Cat, the band was so loud, it rattled a bottle of liquor right off the bar’s top shelf. The first metal shows ever at both the U Street Music Hall (Onslaught and M-Pire Of Evil) and the Howard Theatre (Kreator and Accept) were great this year, too. But I think my favorite music moment has to be when D.C.’s original doom metal band, Pentagram, played its final U.S. show with guitarist Victor Griffin at the Fillmore Silver Spring. The band put on an awesome show, and you knew it was going to be a crazy night when vocalist Bobby Liebling dropped trow onstage, revealing some godawful skin-tight pants covered in eyeballs. He ended up wearing them for the rest of the show. And that was all going on while the band played a flawless medley of its 2011 song “Nothing Left” and the classic 1985 cut “Relentless.” I got to meet Bobby briefly that night, and he signed a poster for me. It went missing by the end of the evening—-but it wasn’t a big deal, because that performance is one I won’t ever forget. —-Metal Chris, dcheavymetal.com, @MetalChris
A community of music lovers in College Park, Md., organized some of my favorite shows of the year and released some terrific music. The College Park- and Baltimore-based tape label Tapdup put out excellent electronic music, and College Park’s Tricot Records’ genre-spanning catalog includes my favorite tape of the year, Morgan Spaner’s self-titled EP. Several new house venues, including Tricot Cottage, hosted awesome events. Meanwhile, the University of Maryland’s student-run radio station, WMUC—-where I used to work—-continued to broadcast great live shows, including a recent bill of Tapdup musicians. —-Reese Higgins @higginsr
The Slumberland Records reunion shows at Artisphere in April, and the way the D.C. community rallied to raise money to help Protect-U when the duo’s equipment was stolen in Paris during its fall tour. —Will Eastman @willeastman
I’ve got nothing against youngish music nerds spinning old soul records in rock clubs, but if I want to get my old-school R&B groove on, it’s hard to beat seeing a veteran DMV act at the Monday “Blues Night” at Westminster Church. September’s show with Lil’ Margie Clark and veteran players Jacques Johnson and Bobby Felder did the trick. Clark, best known for her work with D.C.’s still-active 1960s group The Jewels, may have looked fragile onstage, but she sounded strong. On The Jewels’ catchy “Opportunities” and a slew of R&B standards, she endeared herself to an engaged and racially diverse mix of blues fans. Chatty between songs and frequently smiling, she had folks of all ages swaying in their seats and dancing in the aisles. —Steve Kiviat @SteveKiviat
My “favorite moment” has been a continual one; watching the D.C. electronic music scene thrive, and watching local artists and friends grow from it and succeed. —Morgan Tepper @lxsxfrxnk
Every moment of every Moombahton Massive at U Street Music Hall. —Brian Miller
Every moment when Foul Swoops played. —Marc Masters @Marcissist
Dismemberment Plan photo by Erica Bruce
Black Sparks and Chuck Brown Memorial photos by Darrow Montgomery