Uproxx Editor Corbin Reiff chats about his new concert book 'Lighters In The Sky'
Cover art by Annie VanEngelen

Music Editor Corbin Reiff knows a thing or two about music highlights, and his newest endeavor of writing a book about some of the best and most memorable concerts over the last 50 years is no exception. Reiff has chosen a variety of concerts amongst different genres, that span from 1960 to 2016. The artists include classic rock groups like The Beatles, The Who, late, exceptional guitar players and vocalists like Prince. More current artists include The Strokes, Jay-Z, Drake and numerous others. 

Not only is Reiff the music editor of Uproxx, he's also a contributor to well-known and popular publications such as Consequence of Sound, Guitar World, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, among others. As noted in a press bio, he's a "live show enthusiast and resident of Chicago." Praise has come in for the book from Will Toledo from Car Seat Headrest, who shared in a press release that "Reiff does a commendable job of translating a half-century of intangible musical energy into a compelling panorama of cultural evolution. You'll come away with something new, whether you're familiar with every artist on the list or you've never been to a show before.” 

Find out what Reiff had to say about his new book, why he chose to write, the cover art, and much more.

AXS: Why did you feel it was time to release "Lighters In The Sky," and how many years in the making was it?

Corbin Reiff: From when I first hit upon the concept to the time I handed in the final work probably took about 18 months. Then of course came the editing process, which maybe took another six months or so. As to why “now,” felt like the right time. I think given the current climate, and the way so many artists really make their living nowadays, concerts themselves have never been more vital than they’ve ever been. The festival circuit, in particular, has become one of the industry’s main lifebloods. Given their larger role in the culture, I thought a book about iconic live gigs would really resonate with people.

AXS: How did you choose the concerts and artists you chose? 

CR: A lot of listening and a lot of watching. I didn’t want to just pick the same artists over and over again. I wanted to book to unfold in some ways as a musical history of popular music across the last six decades. You start with the blues and Muddy Waters, move on to rock and roll and soul with Elvis (Presley) and James Brown, hit The Rolling Stones, (Led) Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen, then more pop-oriented acts like Madonna and Michael Jackson before hip-hop takes over with Kanye West and Drake. Above all, however, the concerts themselves had to mean something, and they had to be compelling. I really had to want to be there. 

AXS: Were there some concerts you wanted to include, but felt others took priority? Will you have a sequel to include those concerts?

CR: I’d love to write a sequel in some fashion! The great thing about a subject as broad as concerts is that it’s almost impossible to include everything. As a result, you inspire some really great and fun debates about who should have gotten in and who maybe should have been left out. The exclusion I’ve heard about the most has been The Grateful Dead. Their live reputation obviously precedes them, but frankly, I just couldn’t fit them in over say, The Ramones when punk was breaking in 1977, or over the Stones on their S.T.P. tour in 1972. Don’t hate me Deadheads!

AXS: We love the cover photo and its colors. Did you work with someone to collaborate on design?  

CR: I did actually. That was done by a close friend and family member Annie VanEngelen. I basically laid out the concept, and she just did a fantastic job of bringing it to life. An incredible artist!

AXS: You've already received positive feedback from musicians and live enthusiast fans alike...which concerts from this year (2017) do you think have been the greatest?

CR: I actually wrote a sort of bonus chapter for my 2017 pick, which you can check out over on the Lesser Gods website. Maybe at some point, we can include it in the official book?  For me, it’s got to be Kendrick Lamar. I personally caught his DAMN tour twice and was just blown away by the spectacle, the intensity, and the theatricality of his performance. Other than that, the One Love Manchester show with Ariana Grande was pretty special. I also really enjoyed Brand New’s latest live show as well. Incredible catharsis there.