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List-O-Mania: Best Letterman Performances

Final Letterman Show

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In honor of my favorite Late Night talk show host calling it a career, I wanted to give my Five Fav David Letterman performances. After Dave said his “Favorite Band” would be on to close his show, only to find out it was Foo Fighters, I had no choice but to respect his musical taste.

I used a few different factors to decided on the ranking. First, it had to be a band I like. Second, I wanted it to be memorable to me – either their energy, how great they played, or how Dave may have reacted them. Also, let me point out this is a pretty hastily put together list. I thought of the idea last night and wrote it within like four hours so the content is a bit light for my standards. Eh, whatever. Without further ado…

5. Future Islands – “The Chase”

I had heard of Future Islands before, but this was the first time I actually listened to their music. My first impression was of the strange vocals. I hated them in the way you hate something so much you can’t stop thinking about it. Eventually, I loved them. His dancing is pretty interesting as well. Is it good? Is it awful? I don’t really know, but damn, he leaves it all out there. This is such a great song and has made me a fan.

4. The Strokes – “Heart in a Cage”

Quintessential New York City. The Strokes playing for Dave Letterman, how much more NYC can it get? Answer me! I happen to think this is one of the most underrated songs by The Strokes, too. Obviously, this wasn’t picked for the energy. As much as I love him, Julian seems like he is always straddling the line of “I don’t care” and “I don’t give a fuck.” And this performance is no exception.

3. Foo Fighters – “Everlong”

This performance was from the first show back from heart surgery in 2000. On his last show, Letterman shared a story to illustrate the character of Mr. Grohl and company. Essentially, Letterman was asked if he wanted any particular band to play on his first show back, so he asked for Foo Fighters. After getting in touch with their manager, Letterman was told Foo Fighters were on tour in South America…but they would be canceling their shows in order to come back to New York City for this request. Simply incredible. Just when I didn’t think Dave Grohl could be any cooler, I hear this story.

2. The Heavy – “How You Like Me Now?”

I have always loved The Heavy. They are not a big name stateside, however. This song fucking rocks, but hearing it played live with the horns on fire and the lead singer just destroying it makes it 100 times better. Then, Letterman does something I have NEVER seen from him before, (or any talk show host for that matter) he asks them to play the song again during the commercial break. I think Dave really enjoyed this one, so did I.

1. The Black Keys – “I Got Mine”

This is what all other live performances are judged against. Raw and dirty (like my prom night). Just the two of them, killing it. As much as I hate to sound like a hipster, this is when I really loved The Black Keys, before they sold out and got all poppy. The breakdown just before the final apex gives me chills every time I watch it. Patrick just pounding that drum kit into submission and Dan getting everything out of that filthy fuzz. That, my friends, is how you rock.

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