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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Starf**ker Plays Burlington!

OK, I lied. My new(ish) favorite electro-indie band from — where else? — Portland, OR isn't playing Burlington. But since I tried a similar tactic in the paper a couple of weeks ago with Phish and failed to yield results (. . . so far), I figured it was worth another shot with a band I actually, you know, like. (Note to Phish: Please disregard that last line should you actually take me up on the suggestion to turn Burlington into hippie Austin for a weekend. All will be forgiven.)

Anyway, here's the deal: Starfucker — whom I wrote about in my belated roundup of non-local 2008 faves — are currently on tour in advance of their forthcoming album Jupiter, due out on May 5. On Sunday, April 19, they play a relatively new joint in Montreal called Il Motore. On April 21 & 22, they play NYC (Mercury Lounge) and Brooklyn (Union Pool), respectively.

Are you seeing what I'm seeing?

There's a gaping, Burlington-sized — perhaps, Winooski-sized? — hole in their itinerary. If only there were a group in town who were really good at plucking up-and-coming indie bands on tour between Canadia and points south out of the ether and plopping them down in Burlington for a night.

If only . . . tick . . . tick . . . tick . . .

(Note: that ticking sound was simply the sound of my brain working overtime and not me publicly putting Tick Tick on the spot to serve my own greedy indie ends.)

OK, I lied again. That was totally me putting Tick Tick on the spot. But I'll happily put any of our other venues and booking groups on the same spot if it means Starfucker plays Burlington on April 20. Let's make this happen, people. I'll start a petition if I have to.

Wait a sec . . . April 20 . . . April 20 . . . Why do I feel like there's something else happening that day?

Pretty Nice

This just in from yet another South by Southwest I didn't get to go to: Pretty & Nice at Beauty Bar playing "Gypsy," possibly my favorite cut from Get Young. Next year, Dan. Next year . . .

Monday, March 30, 2009

But I Would Lay You Down . . .

Is there a more perfect time for napping than a dreary Monday afternoon in late March? Would that I could go home, curl up in my Snuggie, er, comforter and snooze away the rest of the day. Sadly, a late afternoon trip to Sleepytown — take your first left after Funkytown, you can't miss it — just ain't in the cards. Instead, I think I'll lean back at my desk, close my eyes and listen to this track courtesy of one Mr. Neil Cleary over and over again.

Gold star to the first person to correctly identify the tune. And a silver star to the first person to correctly complete the lyric in the heading of this post . . . wink wink . . .

Note: star offers not valid for Neil Cleary.

Friday, March 27, 2009

You're The Best . . . Aro-hound

 . . . Nothin's ever gonna keep you down. You're the best ar . . .

Oh, hello. Didn't see you there. Come on in.

So I was all set to deliver some seriously fanboyish reactions to last night's Jeff Tweedy show at Higher Ground. In a word, "ohmigod." In a few more, it was among the more simply enjoyable concert experiences I've had in a while.

One, it was nice just to go to a show as a fan, critic's brain turned off. And yes, I realize I'm leaving myself wide open for one of our disgruntled "anonymous" commenters to suggest that a critic's brain is always turned off. Beat you to it. Ha!

Two, he was really excellent. It's easy to get caught up in the swirling iconography that is Wilco. And I mean that both in musical terms and the particular aura that surrounds the band (near constant lineup changes, label issues, etc.). But last night's show reaffirmed, at least to me, that at its core Wilco is about little more than great songs. To borrow a line — ironically enough, from the worst Wilco song ever — it's just that simple.

Anyway, I was going to do that. But instead, I'll do this (it's VERY loosely related):

Over the last couple of days, I've had a lively email debate going between myself, Bryan Dondero and State of Mind's Mike McKinley. It started out as a discussion of the merits — or lack thereof — of Wilco's "Hate it Here," which was referenced in part one of my interview with Bryan. I won't bore you with the details, except to say it's been a fun back and forth.

As all great discussions usually do, ours eventually turned to The Karate Kid, which prompted Bryan to pose a question that has been gnawing on my mind all day:

"If you could be any character from The Karate Kid (the movie changed my life mind you), who would you be?" 

I chose a slightly different tack with my answer, instead wondering not who I would be, but with whom I most closely relate. Here's my response:

The Karate Kid essentially shaped my entire childhood. In fact, a little known tidbit about your friendly neighborhood music critic is that prior to relocating to VT, I was a youth karate champ in Maine. No shit. If my family hadn't moved when we did, I would have become the youngest black belt in the state. Unfortunately, there wasn't a school in VT that taught the style I studied. So continuing would have meant starting over as a white belt. Long story short, I turned to music instead. I'm still not sure about that decision . . .

The Karate Kid inspired me to study the martial arts. Well, that, and the frequent ass-whoopings one receives as the smallest kid in a school full of hicks. Ironically, once it became known that I was really good at fighting, the challenges actually increased, as everyone wanted a piece of, and I'm not making this up, The Karate Kid — I imagine the whole "Daniel-san" thing didn't help either. Fortunately, it only took a couple of examples to put a stop to all that — like I said, I was really good.

So the obvious answer to your question, Bryan, would of course be Daniel (with an "L"). And back in the day, I would say that was probably true. But age does funny things to a man. And while I wish I could say pure-hearted Daniel Larusso is still the answer, I have a feeling I might more closely align with Tommy.

Yeah, he runs with the Cobra Kai and sometimes seems of questionable moral character. But deep down he's a good guy who shows genuine remorse when he's forced to hurt Daniel's leg, and never really seemed comfortable with the whole bullying thing to begin with ("He's had enough, Johnny.").

Or, maybe I'm the two drunks at the beach ("Kindry do it yourself, Mr. Moto.") Tough call.

Bryan also included a link to this video for No More Kings, "Sweep The Leg," which pretty much made my day.

So fess up, Solid State. In a Karate Kid world, who would you be?

. . . It's a cruel,CRUEL, cruel summer . . . leavin' me here on my own . . .

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Birth of American Hay

In the years since the brutal kidnap and murder of American rock radio, we critics of music have remained perched, phoned heads titled at our computers, digitally fledgling for the next nice sound.

As a review writer and fan of review writing, the exploration of music criticism sites remains a pastime of mine, when I'm not searching Burlington's Craigslist to spruce up my home, that is.

Obviously, there are just too many music review sites to list. (Some Solid State readers might be pleased to know my work has been rejected by quite a few of them.) However, a recent review at CMJ — the esteemed College Music Journal - caught my attention.

The band, Other Lives, is critiqued as having "interwoven an avant-garde edge into their indie-rock on their self-titled debut, a record that is sonically diverse though often quietly contained."

Nevermind that any CCTA bus, the Burlington lakefront and Church Street's bicycle drunks are all sonically diverse, though often quietly contained. Or that the music of Other Lives is actually very good.

Days after reading this review I've yet to determine what's "indie" about Other Lives. And I seriously think I've busted CMJ asleep at the wheel. Is it the expert production? The crisp instrumentation? The highly discernible, somber lyricism? The delicately infused piano?

One of my favorite bands of all time is Archers of Loaf, oft heralded as one of the godfathers of indie rock. They screeched noise guitars over throaty screams about cheese and dripping faucets back in 1993. That was indie rock — the kind of rock few, if any, were making at that time. Compared to the Archers, Other Lives are the Eagles.

Consider CMJ bagged for slapping their generic "indie_rock_review.doc" on Other Lives, out of either pure laziness or simple lack of invention.US_HAY

I hereby designate the music of Other Lives — and like bands so often plopped into indie rock's distended league — as American Hay. Or American Hay Rock. Or maybe just plain Hay Rock.

It's catchy — like "hey!" And like hay itself, there's tons of it around and needles like Other Lives are increasingly hard to find in it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thank You, FailBlog

In light of the unpleasant business of the last two posts, here's a little something that made my day, courtesy of FailBlog:

For the (Pete) Best? The Deep Cut, Part 2

(Editor's Note: And now, the dramatic conclusion of my interview with ex-Nocturnal Bryan Dondero. -DB)

SD: Not to dredge up and "he said, she said" stuff, but I am curious as to how it all went down.
BD: To be fair to Grace, what happened between us is a personal thing;. But I also felt a sense of holding her accountable. And that's where I've been struggling. Because someone says something, you don't necessarily have the right to go spreading it around and throwing mud and trying to get vengeful. And that's not my style.

The one thing that bothered me, and I still don't know that I completely understand it . . . and these are her words, and the ones I feel justified in holding her accountable for, is that she said something along the lines of, "Bryan, you have so much integrity. You are integrity personified . . . and that scares the shit out of me. Because I feel like I might have lost mine." Those are pretty much her words exactly. And I was like, "What? What the hell does that mean?"

But for what it's worth . . . whatever. That's for her to think about. I think I understand what in essence she meant by that. There's one way just to take it at surface level. But there's another way to take it as someone who has known me for five years to say something like that . . .

I don't know that  she completely understood why she said it and what she meant by that. And I don't know that I completely understand some of those things that she was saying. But that's for her to decide.

SD: Do you feel you were forced out?
BD: It felt a little forced. There was pressure. Not pressure to quit, pressure to make a choice. Pressure to say, "This thing that you stood for is no longer going to be that. And I'm forcing you to choose whether or not you're willing to accept what this is going to become."

Continue reading "For the (Pete) Best? The Deep Cut, Part 2" »

For the (Pete) Best? The Deep Cut, Part 1

(Editor's Note: What follows is part one of the full transcript from an interview I recently conducted with ex-Nocturnals bassist — and occasional Solid State contributor — Bryan Dondero, concerning his recent decision to leave the band. Excerpts of the interview appeared in today's music section (3/25). Part two will appear on Solid State tomorrow. -DB)

SEVEN DAYS: So, what the hell happened?
BRYAN DONDERO: (Chuckling) It's hard to digest what happened. I think in some ways I saw it coming. In other ways I feel like I was completely blindsided.

SD: Then this wasn't an amicable split?
BD: Not necessarily. But when is a split ever amicable? Anybody who says they split amicably is full of shit. It's never easy. It's never, "Oh, this was was the best thing that could have happened!" Bullshit. I've been thinking about that word "severance" a lot lately. I like that word, to "sever." And that's kind of how it feels.

I felt like I was put in a position where I was basically being forced to make a choice. And that's what I wrote on my website. I don't know if you saw that quote. One thing I've learned is that it's better to make a choice and make the wrong choice than to not choose and face the consequences of not choosing. That's worse.

SD: Are you worried you might have made the wrong choice by quitting?
BD: I hate using that word too. It's not quitting. It's withdrawing. It's leaving.

I started taking Aikido recently, and I've realized that withdrawing is not quitting. You know what I mean? It's a different thing. Literally the last class I was taking we doing some bokken work, the wooden sword. And the instructor was showing this maneuver that he's . . . you'll have to pardon me. I'll have to show you visually. (Stands) He was standing, and as the person was attacking him with the sword, he's doing this. (Steps back with his right leg, turning his torso) So he's withdrawing. He's moving out of the way of the sword so that it sweeps here (motions across his midsection). And this hip (pointing to his left hip) is going forward. So he looks like he's withdrawing, but his front hip is moving this way (toward the attacker). It was cool. I mean, he's like a magic Jedi, so he can hold sword here (at his hip) and then he just let his hands go and his body was holding the sword into his opponent's body. So . . . that's kind of how I feel right now (laughing). I feel like I'm doing that kind of maneuver. I'm not running and ducking. I'm not coming at anybody with a big hammer to beat the shit out of them. I'm kind of just doing that, which is sort of how it feels right now.

Continue reading "For the (Pete) Best? The Deep Cut, Part 1" »

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Nightmares & Tweetscapes

My name is Dan, and I have a Twitter feed.

"Hi, Dan!"

I thought I had kicked the habit. Really, I did. I mean, I was never a terribly prolific Tweeter — Tweeterer? Tweetist? — to begin with. And deep down, I do sort of resent the intrusion of yet another social networking tool that reduces communication to truncated pseudo-English — or as I like to call it, webonics.

Is your day really enriched by knowing that I'm over-caffeinated in the morning, reading FailBlog in the afternoon when I really ought to be doing club listings or craving a cold beer in the morn, er, after work? Probably not. By the same token, do I really need an up-to-the-minute rundown of how your day is going? I like you guys and all, but I'm the kind of fella who likes to leave the mystery intact to some degree.

So I had basically stopped Twittering. For like a good two weeks. Maybe longer. But every day, I noticed more and more people following my (then dormant) feed. And I started feeling guilty. Not guilty enough to actually start using Twitter again, mind you. But guilty just the same. Is this what it's like to be Catholic?

Anyway, today I finally succumbed and unleashed a few sub-140 character brain dribblings into the Tweetscape. And you know what? It felt good. Really good. Like that first beer in the morn, er, after work. And that's not all.

After acquiring a small cadre of followers over the last couple of weeks, I found myself checking in to view their brain dribblings too. What's worse, I started to care. (My 7D predecessor, Casey Rae-Hunter, tweets like Robert Pollard writes songs, which is to say non-freakin'-stop.)

Then came the tipping point, when after being forced to wait several seconds because Twitter was "over capacity" — WTF?! NOOOOOO!Daryl Rabidoux posted a link to a YouTube clip of late San Diego outfit No Knife, whom I'd never heard of but fell immediately in love with and promptly downloaded an album via eMusic. (Pinback fans might recognize the drummer.) Here's the clip:

If this keeps up, I'll be broke in a week. Damn you, Twitter. Damn you!

Aw . . . I can't stay mad at you.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Hey folks. Happy Friday/really chilly first day of spring.

I've just got one little item to pass along before I sign off for the weekend: due to a late scheduling scratch, Barbacoa and Swale will be rockin' The Monkey House this Saturday night. Eric and Amanda have been slightly preoccupied with parenthood of late, so any chance to see Swale — aka Burlington's art-rock royalty — is certainly not to be missed. Although there is no word yet as to whether baby Magny has joined the band. But it's only a matter of time . . . 

Plus, I hear Winooski is simply lovely this time of year.

Have a great weekend, everybody!


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lendway is groovy

I can now scratch one more thing off my to-do list: I finally caught Lendway, who played the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge last night. Their mellow, sometimes melancholy, other times lilting sound was the perfect complement to a dreary Wednesday night in March. Picture Weezer covering Pavement's "Range Life" or Pavement covering anything off Rubber Soul, and you'll start to get an idea of what they sounded like. This isn't entirely fair, though, because they have a pretty unique sound that no other band in Burlington is doing right now (to the best of my knowledge- feel free to set me straight in the comments section). One thing's for sure: they're definitely shoegazers. Literally.

They spent a lot of time staring at the floor during their set. The band seemed a little uncomfortable in their own skin, and the between song banter was blind-date awkward. But maybe they were just feeling out of their element; it was an all-ages show and there were a lot of young kids there. In fact, the tween courtship rituals going on all around me were pretty distracting. That's probably why I didn't stick around to hear any of the other bands on the bill.

Lendway's sound is clean, featuring reverb and echo instead of fuzz and distortion. The two guitar players meshed really well together; at times (like in the song "Two Sleepy Arms") playing a point-counterpoint rhythm that reminded me of the first Strokes album, which I am very fond of. "Hollywood" also caught my ear with a nice hook in the chorus and intelligent lyrics ("you're my Hollywood"). But where they really shined was in their vocal harmonies, another factor that sets them apart from the pack. Solid vocal harmonies give a song so much more depth and substance, and you just don't hear a lot of bands doing it. Lendway did it well, especially in the coda of "Yardsale", where all four members leaned into their microphones. The band impressed me enough to make me want to hear their album, which they were selling at the show on cd or vinyl. You can hear a few tracks for yourself at their MySpace page.

Bryan Dondero Leaves GPN

This just in from Grace Potter and the Nocturnals: bassist Bryan Dondero has left the band. GPN made the announcement today on their blog, This is Somewhere, but didn't cite specific reasons for his departure.

My guess is that Dondero, who also recently left GPN offshoot Blues & Lasers, plans to focus on blogging for Solid State . . . ahem. Or, and this is purely speculative, to spend more time working with Americana-noir favorites, Farm, with whom he has recently been playing and recording. If only Dondero had some sort of public forum to let us know what's up . . .

Seriously though, Bryan is a geuninely great guy — and a uniquely funny writer, as you folks well know. Whatever this next phase of his life brings — hopefully more blogging! — I wish him the best of luck.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I Wish I Was This Bat . . . er . . . um, Man.

As I said to a friend who posted this link on my Facebook page, "that's just fuckin' cool!" For those too lazy to click on said link, the article is about a bat that supposedly latched itself on to the side of the Space Shuttle Discovery as it was launched from Cape Canaveral this past Sunday. Side note: as my Facebook friend points out (he's a math guy) they must have had one crazy camera to be able to spot a flippin' bat on the side of a shuttle as it traveled roughly, I don't know, 17,500 mph!!!  Anyway, the article left me with a whole slew of thoughts. For example:

Have we inconsequentially just started some strange sort of alien life form? Maybe this bat's DNA will be picked up by an extraterrestrial being and used in an intergalactic experiment that will result in the creation of an entity the likes of which the universe has never seen. Maybe said "entity" will evolve over millenia into a whole species of MEGA-BAT-ALIEN-SUPER-CRAZY . . . um, things. Things that will return to Earth and seek their vengeance on the human race for swatting them with brooms for thousands of years, for making shitty movies about them, for following our inane tendency to keep wild animals as pets (see also my previous blog about Monkeys), and for subjugating them to god awful musical montages such as this.

In hindsight, perhaps thousands of years from now, we will have realized that we should have payed closer attention to Adam West's interpretation of the bat.

But really, my Occam's Razor for all of these musings is this: This bat, in my opinion, quite possibly had the coolest death in the history of all species!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Kiss Me, I'm Irish-ish

Happy Amateur Night, Solid State!

In the close to ten years I've been "legally" able to celebrate my sorta-Irish heritage, I've rarely been able to fully partake. Most years, I worked as a bartender and/or bar back in Boston or Burlington. Although just prior to becoming of age, I was actually in Dublin for Paddy's Day — anyone who tells you it's really a "religious holiday" in Ireland is takin' the piss out of you. It's an orgy of drinking, just like it is here.

Being free of obligation on Paddy's Day is a relatively recent development for me. And I gotta say, I much prefer being behind the bar. I'm not sure who exactly decided that wearing a green hat entitles one to behave like a complete jackass. But I'm pretty sure it wasn't St. Pat. In any event, I'm actually glad the "holiday" falls on a Tuesday this year. It provides a built-in excuse to stay the hell home.

Still, I do have a bit of soft spot for drunken tomfoolery. So to that end, I offer you this, in the spirit of the day:

And also, one of my favorite pseudo drinking songs:

Monday, March 16, 2009

File Under: Really?

This just in from Higher Ground: Third Eye Blind is playing the Ballroom on Tuesday, May 5.

In other news, Third Eye Blind apparently still exists.

Out of morbid curiosity, I simply had to go to the show page to check out the details. Upon removing my jaw from the floor after seeing the $35/37 price tag — for Third Eye Blind! By contrast, Jeff "I'm Jeff Fucking Tweedy" Tweedy reduced his ticket prices . . . to $25! Now, where was I?

Oh right. After absorbing the absurdity that a band like Third Eye Blind would command such an outrageous sum, I composed myself and perused their press clipping. I don't mind telling you that it is among the finest examples of PR speak I have ever seen. And by "finest," I of course mean "inscrutable." Check it out:

Since 1997, San Francisco’s Third Eye Blind have recorded three best-selling albums and assembled one career retrospective. 3EB will release ’Ursa Major’, their first studio collection in five years, in autumn 2009.

Led by Stephan Jenkins, 3EB won wide success during a tumultuous group of years when the major-label recording industry was finally losing its grip on an enterprise that for decades it had dominated with steely efficiency. Nothing could have made 3EB happier! 3EB, however, have experienced no comparable loss. Instead, they have gained artistic clarification -- and, surprisingly, a fan base larger than ever.

Participation in the older, untouchable realm of nervous star-making could color a band’s identity. In the case of 3EB, it often blurred the perception of their brilliant musical creations. In recent years, those creations have recast the band among a current generation of fans.

3EB now write, tour, record, and communicate in a fluid new world where their music continues naturally to evolve. Their exchange with their audience is unfiltered.

I'm not even sure what most of that is supposed to mean. But I feel dirty. Verrrrry dirty.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Solid State of Mind

Happy Friday, Solid State.

This Sunday I'll be sitting down with student filmmaker Kieran Delaney, who is producing a short documentary for State of Mind magazine examining the current state of the Burlington music scene with "an emphasis on the history behind it." Nifty. Since the words "scene" and "history" are fairly nebulous and sorta depend on your point of view, I asked Delaney to send along some questions so that I could have a better idea of what it was he was looking to unearth about our cozy little burg.

Here's what he sent, along with my initial take on each — I won't go into too much detail here, since I'll be discussing these in depth on Sunday. But feel free to jump in to the fray below.

How would you describe Burlington to someone who had never been here and has no familiarity with the city itself. Complete the sentence, "Burlington is . . ."
Eden, four months a year.

Why are so many musicians drawn to Burlington? Is it a result of the college population? Of various venues? Is it more of a local group or do people move into the scene?
In a word, yes. On all counts.  Burlington's arts scene certainly gets a boost from the college population, especially since it turns over annually and provides us with a constant infusion of new blood. People move in, they move out. And, to crib Stephen King, sometimes they come back.

How has the scene changed since you've been here? How long have you been here. What brought you/kept you here?
I've been involved with Burlington music as a fan, performer or both since I was 15 — I'm 30 now. And yes, the "scene" has changed considerably over that time. In fact, it is always changing and evolving. But that is precisely what keeps it interesting and healthy.

How does the city's size affect the scene? How would things be different if Burlington were a larger or smaller city?
It's a double-edged sword. The city's relatively small size makes the music scene readily accessible for performers and fans alike. By the same token, there is a perceived glass ceiling that leads artists to seek supposedly greener pastures like Brooklyn or Boston. Though I suspect that has as much, if not more to do with Burlington's location as it does size. Despite the old aphorism, you actually can get there from here. It's just kind of a pain in the ass.

Do you think the politics/lifestyle of local people helps to create an atmosphere of creativity? If so, how?
Definitely chicken. Although maybe egg . . .

Who are your favorite local performers? Favorite venue? What music do you find is popular here?
Too many to choose from. Ditto. Almost everything.

What effects has the success of bands like Phish and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals had on the scene?
Negligible. Though you could argue that Phish's ascent in the 1990s shined a bit of a spotlight on Burlington music and helped out the Strangefolks of the world. But any success achieved by other local bands from that era had little to do with the popularity of the Phab Phour. Trickle-down doesn't really work in music either.

You may be familiar with the idea of the "the San Francisco sound." What combination of genres or influences do you think best describe local music as a whole? What part of the music being created here is unique to the setting. Complete the sentece, "The Queen City Sound is . . ."
I don't think there is one. Although, if you really dig, the one true constant in Burlington music over the last 20 years or so — and maybe longer — has been hardcore and punk. Alt-rock came and went just as indie-rock will. The same with jam bands — Phish reunion notwithstanding, you could argue that scene has already gone. But heavy music, though frequently overlooked and underappreciated, has been and continues to be perhaps the city's only true "scene." In a thoroughly unscientific poll conducted just now off the top of my head, practically any local band you dig right now has at least one member — and probably more — who spent at least a little time in a punk or hardcore band as a teenager.

To me, the fact that Burlington music can't be pinned down to one style is its greatest strength. In the 15 years I've been involved with it, I can't remember a time when there has been such a wide variety of music being made here. Maybe we don't have Toast. Maybe Nectar's isn't birthing the next Phish — then again, maybe they are. Who the hell knows? But what we do have is a stunning array artists and venues that combine to make a whole larger than the sum of its parts. 



Thursday, March 12, 2009

Son of a . . .

This just in from Higher Ground: Andrew Bird's performance on Sunday, April 5 has been canceled. If I may . . . DAMMIT!

Though no official makeup date has been announced, a letter from the band states that they'll try and catch us in the fall. Here's hoping.

As a consolation prize, Bird is offering a free download of a recent show in Montreal via the HG site. Click here to go directly to the HG calendar page and access the link. A word of warning though: I downloaded the concert and it's pretty good. But you'll need to navigate through a bunch of spam pop-up offers — A free WalMart gift card?! Gee, thanks!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Burly Song is Back!

It's been about six months since last we heard from Rebecca Kopycinski's — aka Nuda Veritas — "monthly" local music TV show Burly Song. Due to time and money constraints, it seems biannual editions will be par for the course for the foreseeable future, which is too bad. It's a nifty show and offers nice exposure for local bands. But in these troubled times, we'll take what can get.

This time around, we get local indie-rock outfit Villanelles. I haven't seen the band since I wrote a live review of a show they played at Radio Bean with reigning Queen City pop-punk darlings In Memory of Pluto last year. IMOP was clearly the more polished act that night and have gone on to become one of the area's more dependably excellent live bands. By comparison, Villanelles displayed a healthy degree of potential but were a bit rougher around the edges and seemed about a year or so away from really hitting their stride.

Judging by this video, it seems they've done just that — and almost a year to the day after I first saw them, no less. The sound quality here is a little rough. But it certainly whets my appetite to catch them live again soon. Say, maybe this Friday at The Monkey House? Take it away boys . . .

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Now THAT's a Stimulous Package

They came. They saw. They got arrested.

As numerous media outlets are reporting, last weekend's Phish reunion shows in Hampton, Va resulted in a perhaps predictable flurry of activity on the city's police blotter as 194 concertgoers were arrested and cops seized — are you sitting down? — an estimated $1.2 million in drugs and another $68,000 in cash. Read those numbers again slowly . . . holy shit, right?

In other Phish numbers, Hampton's Daily Press is reporting the shows infused more than $7 million into the local economy and apparently was a boon to . . . wait for it . . . Hooters. As DP staff writer David Sturdevant reports:

Hooters at the corner of Coliseum Drive and Mercury Boulevard had a tie-dyed banner that read, "Hooters is Phish friendly." Servers dressed in their trademark orange shorts and tie-dyed tank tops played around in the parking lot with water balloons and hula hoops as Phish fans from as far away as Germany and Hawaii came to get burgers and beer. Some fans were in head-to-toe costumes, and servers made as much as $400 in tips on just Saturday and Sunday.

Read that last sentence again. "Some fans were in head-to-toe costumes . . ." Oh man. That definitely gets my vote for Best Unintentionally Funny Reportage of the Year. I guess Virginians just aren't as accustomed to Heads as we are here in the Jam Band Republic. If I'd had the time, money and patience, it would have been fun to go and report the show from the Hamptonites' perspective. Maybe next time.

I know I've been especially snarky regarding the Phab Phour reunion — just wait until you see tomorrow's column . . . ahem. But in reality, I think the whole thing is great for Phish fans. Really, I do. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop poking fun any time soon. You guys just keep serving up hanging curveballs like this little, um, nugget from Phish Twitter-feed aggregator PhishTwit: "RT @jcrawfor: The cultural relevance of Twitter is gay. Rick Sanchez digs it. Senator Grassley digs it. I joined so I can follow #Phish." I mean, come on.

When I was a lad, "following Phish" meant hopping in your parent's luxury SUV clad in patchwork corduroys with a cooler full of shrooms and nitrous and hitting the road for months at a time, stopping only only to put gas on your parent's credit card and/or dance barefoot at rest stops. There was none of this namby pamby "free bootleg downloading" and "Twittering." We had to smuggle recording equipment into shows and tape on crappy cassettes to trade for even crappier cassettes of the same show. And we liked it dangnabbit! Kids these days.

But I digress.

Back to the point, anything that makes so many people this happy can't really be a bad thing. Congrats Phish-heads. 

Monday, March 09, 2009

This Band Should Be Your Life

To some, they invented shoegaze. To some others, if it weren't for band in-fighting they could have beat Nirvana to the punch and brought slacker rock to the masses. To Wikipedia, "their distinct sound, characterized by high gain, extensive use of feedback and distortion . . . and melodic guitar solos, were highly influential in the alternative rock movement of the 1990's . . ." To me, Dinosaur Jr is just a great fucking band and anyone who loves great fucking music ought to check 'em out!

Our brothers from Amherst bring their gargantuan rock to Higher Ground on Saturday, April 4. Tix are 20 bucks and include a free tour only 7" or digital download! 

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