Elliot Smith at EJs in 1998
  • Elliot Smith at EJ's in 1998

I've always found it strange that bootlegging concerts hasn't become more prevalent in the internet age. Recording technology is more portable and easier to use, and online sharing is fast and efficient (forget waiting for the tapes to dub at regular speed, then dropping them in the mail—and shit man, when Jere Bear drops the 80-minute version of "Truckin'," that's a whole cassette right there). I have a feeling it has something to do with the way bands play—a lot less improvising, and near-facsimile sets—but that's just a guess. Maybe it's just that the only people who ever really wanted to hear all a band's shows were dirty, stinking hippies.

For the most part horrible jam bands like String Cheese Incident (1,141 shows) and Ekoostik Hookah (493 shows) dominate archive.org's Live Music Archive. But poke around and you might find something a little less dank, like the 93 different recordings of Elliott Smith or 28 outings of the Minutemen. Each of the 83,364 shows at the site is available for free download.

Better yet the concerts are searchable by city and venue, which in Portland's case you means can thumb through a few of the bygone days at venerable clubs like La Luna and EJ's. They aren't always great quality, but it's pretty cool to listen to Elliott Smith back in the mid-90's when he beginning to hit his stride—gives the whole thing a little extra weight.

There are a number of bootlegging sites like archive.org out there, and if you know any good ones, please share. I guess that's how it works now—instead of trading tapes we trade sites.