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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Burlington Sucks

Just kidding. Burlington doesn't suck. But now that I have your attention . . .

In a couple of weeks, Seven Days will be running a cover story concerning ways to "make Burlington better." The piece is still very much in the planning stages. But a brainstorming session earlier today kind of got my juices flowing. So I thought, why not ask you, denizens of Solid State, for some music-y suggestions?

A few that jumped immediately to my mind were:

1. A Rock club (capital R). No offense to any of the existing area venues, but there's no denying there's been a void since Toast closed (which filled the void left when Hunt's closed). Nectar's and Metronome are great at what they do. So is Higher Ground, but you have to drive there. The Monkey Bar is close — but again, you gotta drive. And the recent rise of alt-venues has been a fun development. But we're missing the happy medium in Burlington proper. That dive-bar-meets-juke-joint kind of place that draws up-and-coming rock bands and established touring acts who don't quite fit the Nectar's bailiwick, are probably too big for the Monkey or an alt-venue and are too small for destination venues like HG. I know the Toast era is often viewed through rose-colored glasses. But there's a reason for that.

2. A Waterfront Amphitheater. Sure, we could really only use it for a few months a year. But it would be a hell of a lot better than the existing proposals for the Moran Plant.

3. More local music showcases. They're awesome. They always draw. And they don't happen often enough.

4. Mandatory showering policy at all venues. Bouncers would be required to smell all patrons before they enter. I'm serious about this one.

And some non-music related suggestions:

1. More trashcans outside of the Church Street district. I've logged more miles on foot clutching plastic bags filled with dog poop because I can't find a trashcan until I get downtown than I care to count.

2. A commuter rail. Lessee, we've got high gas prices, an imploding economy and state full of supposedly progressive thinking environmental types. Screw the Circ. Sure the Champlain Flyer didn't work. But it only served folks on the state's West Coast and only like twice a day. Extend the rails throughout Chittenden County and run it all day long. If we want to be a big boy city, we've gotta have real mass transit. Monorail!

3.  A weatherproof bubble over the city with a retractable roof. I'd say I'm kidding, but I'm seriously all set with winter. Enough already. 

4. More/better bars. The current crop is enough to drive a man not to drink.

5. A pool hall. I miss Cherry St. Billiards. A downtown bowling alley would be pretty rad too.

6. Fewer chain stores/eateries on Church Street. Remember Chassman & Bem's? Cassler's? Those places were great. But hey, at least we're getting a bigger Urban Outfitters! Gee, swell.

I could go on. But enough of my ramblings. I want to hear what you would do to improve Burlington. And yes, wishful thinking is wholeheartedly encouraged.



I agree that we need to have better bars! A place where the "older pop" (30s and up) can go have some drinks, some good conversation, and some good live music w/out getting pushed out when it turns into "Ghetto Fabulous". We also need to keep the local businesses in business, Why do we have Starbucks now on Church St, when there already exists great local coffee houses such as Uncommon Grounds, Speeder and Earls, and Muddy Waters, I mean seriously???


How about turning H&R block into a Big Heavy World venue. Not youth and straight edge like 242, us big kids want to drink. It's perfectly located near a multitude of bars and pure pop is downstairs. Who is going to write the grant? The landlord is already down with it.


Why not extend commuter rail beyond Chittenden County?

You're right that the Flyer only served a small group, but how about a Burlington-Montpelier rail? I'm not the only one making that commute. Plus it would be a good way to give Central Vermont an easier way into the Queen City.


It has always been clear to me that what Burlington needs most is an all night diner.

dan bolles

LOVE the Montpelier rail idea. The commuter bus is OK. But it's still easier to drive. Monorail, monorail . . .

As for the all-night diner: Amen. Unfortunately, it's been tried before and failed in a spectacular hail of home fries and hollandaise. Henry's did it a few years ago and stopped shortly thereafter due to drunk kids starting food fights. Don'cha just love living in a college town?


Late(r)-Night buses, specifically to and from winooski center (Monkey) and Higher Ground

dan bolles

Ahhhhh, yes. The drunk bus. Boston experimented with that when I was living there (maybe they still do it?) since the T mystifyingly shut down at like 11 p.m. Goddamn Puritans. Always a fun ride.

Actually, I think that could totally work here, at least on the weekends. Perhaps it could be subsidized by increasing the financial penalty for DUI.


When I visited Portland, OR a year and a half ago, I spent my last night passing time until the Red Eye at an arcade with a bar in it. I was kinda hoping what is now a monster Urban Outfitters was going to be revealed as an arcade/bowling alley/bar. Recreation and Libations should go hand in hand.


Don't think my last one posted properly...

An arcade/bowling alley/bar. Would've been perfect in Urban Outfitters' new spot. Recreation and Libations, hand in hand.


You suck Dan Bolles!!! Oh. Now that I have your attention I was wondering.......could stop SUCKING so much and write about something other than pretentious indie rock?
We are all aware that you don't like Phish and Grace Potter and any other band that plays anywhere other than the Radio Bean or the Skinny Pancake, but guess what? The community that you're writing for obviously does!!!


Hey BurlingtonMusicFan,

You certainly have a right to your opinion, but I think you are off the mark a bit with your last comment. Dan may not be a Phish head, but there is no shortage of Phish coverage on this blog. Just today Dan posted Phish news that was only 2 minutes old. As for Grace Potter, one of her Nocturnals, bassist Bryan Dondero has been guest-blogging right here on Solid State for weeks now. Not to mention, The Burlington Free Press has run many features on both bands over the years.

Seven Days is an alternative weekly and Dan's writing reflects that alternative spirit. I personally enjoy learning about new and underground bands through blogs just like this one. I've also been around long enough to know that some of the best music happens at the smallest venues. Maybe you should get your music news from or There's also a great radio station in town, it's called 95 Triple X. Every Sunday they have Rick Deez and the weekly Top 40. You should really check it out.


youre right. 7 Days does cover bigger bands and there was just a post about Phish on here. Now go read the post again and pick up on all the snide little undertones. Every time there's coverage of a bigger band from Burlington it's ALWAYS accompanied by little cheapshots about the bands popularity and fanbase. Perhaps I was too harsh in my wording of my frustration and over generalized our dear little indie scene; but I stand by my point that coverage of successful local acts tends to be mean-spirited and coverage of local indie rockers tends to be fawning. Just seems to me that a local paper should be proud of local bands that are good enough to play out of state and tour for a living in today's rocky musical environment instead of subtly hoping for their demise. And, for the record, suggesting that because I feel this way means that I only listen to top 40 and MTV is an interesting argumentative tactic. Kinda like if you oppose the war on terror than you're a terrorist. Lol. Heard that one before.


7D's coverage is certainly more varied that you imply, BMF. I don't think Gregory Douglas counts as a local indie rocker, but more af a successful local act. Last week's feature on him was very positive, not mean-spirited at all.
Dan does play the role of snarky, sarcastic, jaded music writer pretty well, but it is an alternative weekly paper, and it seems less mean spirited than off-beat, ironic somewhat obligatory coverage of bands that don't really need the press because who the fuck doesn't know that Phish is back together? Looking back through the 7D archives, I found a generally positive review of Page's solo album (granted it did start with the sentence "I don't like Phish"), and a very nice article about Mike Gordon's Ramble Dove project (pre-Dan, but still not too mean).
Alex Toth would probably take it personally if you called him an indie rocker, and his band, Rubble Bucket (an afro-beat jam band) has received good press in the 7D pages.

Dan and the guest reviewers cover a wide diversity of VT releases, including celtic, jazz, americana, world music, hip hop, all sorts of shitty music that isn't indie rock!

I guess some folks will always hate music writers (man, I hated that Casey guy...) but a lot of folks like Dan's writing, and enjoy reading the music section for more than just club listings.

He could cover Monoprix and the CLeary Bros. Band a bit more.


Don't make me move back and give you a spanking, Tyler.

PS: Dan and I both heart Phish so much that we both lived in Mike Gordon's old apartment. Actually, I'm pretty sure Dan still does. Gotten any credit card offers for Phish lately? That shit used to crack me up. Then I'd burn them in a black metal ritual.


Nuts. How did you see through my anonymous, super-encrypted screen name?


How about affordable rent for non-students?

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