I wrote in late January about searching for the "grails" - those elusive items that I have been hunting for, in many cases, between one and two decades. I have found one since then - Super Mario All-Stars for the SNES - but it has been exceedingly difficult not to just order a number of them from eBay. Of course, it's not like my list will go away - after all, I would just replace those items with new items - so I wait and see what will happen. I also wrote about some of my goals for the year, many of which were focused and ideally achievable - even some of the aspirations I included. In the midst of those two posts, I found that there is another category I wanted to acknowledge but had difficulty in figuring out how to do so: the achievements on my "bucket list", the accomplishments I would like to make before I die - or at least in the not-too-distant-but-also-not-necessarily-immediate future. They are the kinds of accomplishments that are not easy to set as goals, since they sometimes rest upon circumstances as much as internal motivation, and they often get lost in the midst of the regular goals. Some of my aspirations are really similar to "bucket list" items, such as writing a book, but these often tend to be more confined events that can be completed in a short period of time in order to fit what seems to be a true bucket list - a term whose origins are surprisingly elusive to track. I suppose that all of those grails are in a way part of my bucket list, but I'm going to leave them off of these lists. I figured I would start with the biggest category and leave the rest for another post, so here is my musical bucket list.
Music: I find that I am always talking about the bands I have to see before they quit, so I thought it might be interesting to really think through which would be my top bands to see on my bucket list. I crossed a couple off recently, as I finally saw Big Sugar last October - I thought that would never happen after they stopped touring a decade ago - and I finally saw U23D in theatres last week. I have also missed out on a few major opportunities lately, too: for example, Keane was in Vancouver in September, and I just missed Muse (again!) in Vancouver in February. So I thought I should actually sit down and figure out what my list actually is. As I worked further through my list, I realized that there are several subtle levels and categories into which these artists fall. Here are my thoughts.
I thought I would start with making a list, as best as I could, of the artists I have seen over the years, just for points of comparison. I am certain that this list is not complete, and I have omitted some artists that were opening or playing on a bill but that do not really matter to me (ie. Alexisonfire, The Used). Here is my list of artists I have seen over the years, for reference as you read : The Arrogant Worms (x2), Big Sugar, Blindside, Brave Saint Saturn, The Civil Wars, Collective Soul (x3), Copeland, Creed, Downhere, Emery, Foo Fighters, Green Day, Hokus Pick (x2), John Reuben, The Juliana Theory, Kings of Leon, KJ-52, Lenny Kravitz, Means, Milo Greene, MuteMath (x2), Pigeon John (x3), P.O.D., Project 86, Roper, Skillet (x2), Superchick, Switchfoot (x2), Tea Party (x2), Thousand Foot Krutch (x2), Thrice, Tree63, U2 (x2), Underoath (x2), and Wide Mouth Mason.
A. The Showstoppers: These are the artists that I will look up every time they are on tour to see if there is some way to make it work, and issues like price and timing only apply as a last resort. They are the ones that I feel the need to see live at some point, and they're the biggest acts on this list. There are only five of these artists on my list right now, and a little part of me dies inside every tour that I do not see them live: The Black Keys, Coldplay, Keane, Mumford & Sons, and Muse. And of course, U2 is always on this list, as I will go out of my way to see them on any tour they have (though if I did not see them again, it wouldn't destroy me in the same way). I'd put MuteMath in this list as well, even though I've seen them twice.
B. The Headliners: The next level is a bit of a grab bag, as it includes a number of different types of artists. They're mostly indie, but some have had significant success and do arena tours. I have missed out on quite a few of these artists of the years, especially when they perform on the mainland, as it's such a pain to go over to see shows. I am always interested in seeing them, but price, timing, and venue are all factors. These ten artists are: Anberlin, The Avett Brothers, Deas Vail, Death Cab for Cutie, The Decemberists, Florence and the Machine, Fleet Foxes, The National, Sigur Ros, and Wilco.
C. The Veterans: These are all big arena headliners, and I find it kind of inconceivable that I have not seen them in concert yet. Any of them could stop touring at any time, so I'm always thinking of whether it's time to see them. Alice Cooper leads this group, but there are four other longtime tourers on my list: Aerosmith, Rush, The Tragically Hip, and Van Morrison. There are also other more recent veterans like The Killers and Weezer that I would enjoy seeing at some time. I have not seen Foo Fighters since 1999, and I'd enjoy seeing them for real (not just in a festival). Although I have seen Collective Soul three times, the last time I saw them was in 2005, and I'm sure I'd enjoy seeing them again with their newer material. I'm sure I can think of another artist to fill this list out eventually, but let's leave one spot (out of ten) blank for now until I think of who should fill it.
D. The Maybes: There are a few artists that might be fun to see sometime but that are not huge priorities for me. If I was in the right time and space, I'd see them, but they're not really high on my list. The five I can think of are: Bon Iver, City and Colour, Feist, Jars of Clay, and Mat Kearney.
E. The Openers: I know I would really enjoy seeing these artists, and it's quite possible that seeing them live would cement my emerging fandom. They are always on my radar, and I think they would all put on great shows. Milo Greene is a great example, as we saw them open for The Civil Wars, but there are a few others in this category, including: Josh Garrels, The Lone Bellow, The Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men, Whitehorse (who I just missed in the past two months due to sickness).
F. The Dreams: These are the artists that I have probably missed out on for good, but I can always have hope that there will be a reunion tour that will come near enough to me. They fall into two categories, depending on whether they are active or not. Five of these artists have just re-activated or remained active, so they're slightly more in the realm of possibility, even though they're probably still mostly a dream: Audio Adrenaline, Five Iron Frenzy, Further Seems Forever, mewithoutYou, and The O.C. Supertones. The other five are probably best to let go, as I have probably missed out on them, but you never know with musicians: Audioslave, David Crowder Band, Stavesacre, The Swell Season, and The White Stripes.
G. The Outliers: There are a few artists that just don't really fit anywhere else. I would love to see Flight of the Conchords sometime, and I really want to see Video Games Live the next time they come to town. There are also artists like Demon Hunter that I think I might want to see, but I'm not sure if I would actually still enjoy their show or whether I would be going out of nostalgia. I would also throw acts like Gungor and Jesus Culture here, since they don't necessarily tour in the same way, but I think I'd appreciate seeing them sometime.
So that's my musical bucket list. I just listed fifty artists, and I'm certain I forgot a few, too. I would be interested to hear how our lists match up, and whether you have similar categories or thoughts. Or maybe, like a normal person, you have a list of five, not fifty. Either way, I'm interested to know who is on your list.