Continuing my “Awesome of 2010” series with Concerts, Part 2! The latter half of the year had some great ones, including an epic busy fall run….

Imogen Heap // House of Blues // June 1
Of all the concerts I saw this year, with all the meaningful songs and moments that go with them, the rare chance to see Imogen Heap stateside was a beautiful, magical experience I’ll never forget, impossible to put into words. (and yep… after U2 in ’09, she was the new top of my AIMSBIDoTR* list.) Probably the best moments came when she built her intricate sonic landscapes solo, piece by piece, especially when she improvised an instrumental based suggestions from the audience. One of the best performances of my life.

Thousand Foot Krutch // Disney’s Night of Joy // Sept 10
Night of Joy was kind of a fail for me this year. Oh, the weekend was awesome, with lots of radio and music friends in town for the CMB Momentum conference (along with awesome food and music all day!), but let’s be honest… a late Florida summer night at Disney after a busy day is a hot, humid, crowded, exhausting, grumpy-making event. But if I only got to see one band at NoJ proper, I’m glad it was TFK. (and really, this was it. I only saw one band.) I admit, I hadn’t listened to their music in a while, but this was a crazy fun rock show worth braving the crowds and rain. We jumped and sang and threw up our rawkfists. And then went back to the hotel to pass out. That’s the sound when the rock hits, I guess.

Jason Gray // One Homeless Night, Downtown Orlando // Sept 17
Over the past year, I’ve become a big fan of Jason Gray’s music, partly because I feel like I’m hearing my own story in his songs, and partly because once you get to know him, you can’t help but like someone so genuinely kind. He was the first artist I ever interviewed, and since then I feel very honored to call him a friend, as well as one of my new favorite writers.

One Homeless Night, an annual event hosted by Orlando Union Rescue Mission, was special because it was there that I met my Twitter-Turned-Real-World friend Kaitlyn, and the three of us made a little downtown Starbucks run after sound check (note: GPS is very un-helpful when roads are blocked and buildings are tall, but it makes for great stories/inside jokes later.) Sadly, I was working and missed a lot of the concert, but the pre-show adventure and opportunity to get to know Jason and Kaitlyn better was one of the best moments of my year.

Andrew Peterson // Riverbend Community Church, Ormond Beach // Nov 7
So Kaitlyn and I had such a blast at One Homeless Night, we did it again a couple months later…. with a little road trip up to Ormond Beach for Andrew Peterson. This was the year of writerly folk music and Rabbit Room culture for me, so to finally see one of AP’s full shows was a treat. Two hours of music and stories, laughter and wonder, from a writer and musician I greatly admire. I also discovered the music of Ben Shive that night, a phenomenal musician you may have never heard. Double bonus! (Oh, and AP covered my favorite Rich Mullins song ever. I may or may not have almost cried for joy.)

Switchfoot // House of Blues // Dec 2
I first saw Switchfoot in 1998, and ever since then they’ve been one of my favorite bands. But up until now, I’d never seen a headlining show… just opening acts and outdoor festival stints here and there. This night was worth the 12 year wait. Truly one of my favorite live bands ever. This was also where I rediscovered — and officially fell in love with — Damion Suomi and the Minor Prophets. A local guy, and incredible live. Go get to know this dude now. You’ll thank me later.

Jason Gray // Real Life Church, Clermont // Dec 26
Yes, he makes the list twice, because I had a hard time deciding between two shows that I loved for different reasons. Sue me. It’s my list. :) My second time seeing him (first where I could relax and enjoy it) was actually a church service, the third and last of the day. By this point he was battling exhaustion and a fading voice, but still pulled it off beautifully. In a blend of familiar and new songs, stories, humor, and worship, it was a special, even healing close to 2010. I needed it. (And it nearly made up for missing the epic tour he’d just finished.)

So that’s my year in concerts, a year that reminded me why I came to love music in the first place. Is it a coincidence that both my first and last shows of 2010 were quiet acoustic events centered on hope, stories, and community? I don’t think so. In a way, it sums up my entire year.

Friday, more listy fun… probably books, though I’m not so sure yet.

*Artists I Must See Before I Die or They Retire. In case you weren’t paying attention yesterday. ;)