A collection of musically themed musings by Brendan Bush in Burlington, VT

Wrapup: Waters & Clap Your Hands Say Yeah @ La Tulipe 12/10/2011

Filed Under: Concert Reviews
Written by Brendan
Monday December 12, 2011

I made it up to Montreal on Saturday night for the first time in too long. I’ve been fairly obsessed with the new Waters album, Out In The Light, since it came out in September, and as a bonus, they opened for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, whose latest effort Hysterical I’ve also enjoyed.

It was a wicked early show (started at 7:30p), so I can’t say that I was surprised to walk into a fairly empty venue just as Waters started playing. But it did feel really strange that only a handful of folks were on the dance floor while Waters cranked through a fairly energetic and engaging set.

Of course, that meant that I was able to stand directly in front of the stage, and even leave my beer on the floor as I walked around for a couple different camera angles.

Van Pierszalowski of Waters

I’ve finally got the aperture setting down for show photos, but I’m still having a hard time with manual focus (as auto-focus uses a beam of light to find the subject, which I assume would be incredibly annoying to the band). So while he gave me plenty of opportunities to get a great shot, this is the best I could do to capture Waters frontman (and former Port O’Brien lead singer) Van Pierszalowski’s impressive headbanging:

Van Pierszalowski of Waters

Eventually Pierszalowski was able to coax some of the more timid from the back, culminating in an acoustic rendition of “Mickey Mantle” played from the floor, with the audience leading the song’s chorus. Pretty damn cool way to end a show, and an excellent way to energize a fairly docile and uninvolved crowd for the main act.

Van Pierszalowski of Waters

Unfortunately, CYHSY did very little to continue that energy. Their music sounded great, a good mix of tunes from their debut self-titled album and their latest, with at least one tune off of their sophomore album. But they had absolutely no stage presence, putting on a performance best characterized by the look on lead singer Alec Ounsworth’s face in this shot:

It’s too bad – I really dig their new album, and hoped I’d catch a performance as energized as the first time I saw them (at Bonnaroo in 2006). But it definitely felt like they’d all taken a handful of sedatives right before taking the stage.

The best part of the night was yet to come, however. Since the show let out so early, I was also lucky enough to stumble upon a k-os performance at Club Soda. I had sadly left my camera behind, but suffice it to say k-os made up for whatever lack of energy I’d been left with from the previous show, accompanied by a break dancer and a kickass band and turntablist. k-os gave me exactly what I asked for in May of 2010 when I wrote “I hope to catch k-os again at some point, preferably playing to a much larger audience with a lot more energy.” Thanks Kevin!

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Wrapup: The Thoughts @ Monkey House 11/7/2011

Filed Under: Concert Reviews
Written by Brendan
Monday November 7, 2011

What can I say, I’m a sucker for falsetto. I wasn’t sure what was going to get me back to writing, but now I know the answer.  Though he didn’t need to play Radiohead and Neutral Milk Hotel covers to draw the comparison, The Thoughts vocalist Ian Williams made it easy for an overworked web developer-cum-music blogger to make a lazy comparison for reference.  Williams did a perfect Thom Yorke and a really good Jeff Mangum, but their original work was all The Thoughts needed to make me a quick fan.

Ian Williams of The Thoughts

Though I was one of maybe 3 people at the Monkey House to see The Thoughts tonight (the other 8 folks there were REALLY LOUD people playing pool in the back), they still put on a show that would have worked as well in either my living room or to a crowd of a couple hundred.  While the show was billed as a trio, Williams and violinist/harpist Katie Mosehauer were without percussion.  It may have livened up the show, but I was just as happy sitting in a chair at the front and resting my legs so my ears could do all the work.

Katie Mosehauer of The Thoughts

I only wish I’d paid more attention so I could have invited more folks to the show tonight.  I can’t think of a single person who I share musical interest with who wouldn’t have loved the performance.  The Thoughts are on the East coast for a few more shows, and are based out of Seattle.  If you have the chance to see them, I highly recommend it.  I’m already looking forward to their next trip east, and will be listening to I Won’t Keep You Here from now until then.

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Yeasayer @ Club Soda, 6/8/2011 – Wrapup & Photos

Filed Under: Concert Reviews
Written by Brendan
Thursday June 9, 2011

I made the drive up to Montreal last night to see Yeasayer at Club Soda and left impressed by both the band and the venue. It was my first show at Club Soda, and I hope to see another there soon. The two-tiered balcony and narrow, long shape provide for great viewing areas and great sound.

The show was opened by Hush Hush. I’d rather you find out for yourself what that set was like, but let’s just say it was one of the most unique experiences I’ve had in a while. If you get the chance, catch Hush Hush live. Bring your sense of humor, and leave your political correctness at home. Smith Westerns were up next, and while I had heard really good things, their set was pretty forgettable to me.

Yeasayer @ Club Soda, Montreal

The general atmosphere of the Yeasayer set felt slightly subdued. It was tough to say if it was the energy of the crowd, the energy of the band or the combination of both, but I definitely expected a much more raucous, face melting show. Not that I’m complaining – the music was fantastic, and I’m way more into Yeasayer as a band than I was before seeing them. It just wasn’t as out of control crazy as I’d expected.

Yeasayer @ Club Soda, June 8, 2011

Their music is remarkably more instrumental than I’d previously thought – ODD BLOOD (their most recent album) sounds more electronic-driven. While there were several keyboards and a drum machine or two on stage, it was definitely the drummer who creates much of their sound, accompanied by some impressive (though not quite loud enough) electric guitar work and thick, thumping, rapid basslines.

What’s more, their two (and sometimes three) part vocal harmonies were literally perfect. Having more than one voice adds such depth to the sound, especially when they all sound so good on their own and together.

Yeasayer in Montreal at Club Soda

I’d absolutely see Yeasayer again. The songs they played off of their two albums were all mesmerizing, as were the couple of new tunes. I’m already looking forward to their next release, and hope they consider Burlington as a stop on a future tour. The trips up to Montreal definitely take a toll, and I’d be hard pressed to do it twice for the same band.

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Photos & Wrapup: Girls In Trouble @ SEABA Center, 5/27/2011

Filed Under: Concert Reviews
Written by Brendan
Saturday May 28, 2011

Last night, I was lucky enough to host Girls In Trouble in my impromptu debut as a concert promoter. A quick back story: I follow the band on twitter (having loved their music since their 2009 self-titled debut), and a couple of weeks ago they put out the call for a New England show on May 27, after a previously scheduled show fell through. I initially sent the request along to Angioplasty Media, the guys responsible for much of the amazing music that comes to Burlington. When it seemed like there was nothing happening there, and the band asked again for a show, I decided I’d give it a whirl.

The SEABA Center on Pine St. was kind enough to be our host for the evening – providing the perfect setting for what one friend who came to the show called “a far, far more relaxed and intimate way to experience good music than going to a bar.” I have to agree, and thanks to the expert sound setup (put together by bassist Aaron Hartman), it was also a much better sounding experience.

Aaron Hartman of Girls In Trouble

The band played a good mix of tunes from both of their albums, and lead vocalist/violinist Alicia Jo Rabins kept the mood light and friendly between songs. My favorite tune was the aptly named “Waltz For A Beheading,” a fiesty fiddle-laden instrumental number from their latest release (Half You Half Me), which she introduced with the story of the song’s inspiration – the biblical tale of Judith, who used her beauty and guile to behead an enemy general and save Israel from the Assyrians.

Alicia Jo Rabins of Girls In Trouble

Biblical women feature heavily in the music of Girls In Trouble, their stories spun so deftly and beautifully as to create an immediate and visceral connection when performed. That was definitely evident last night in the responses of those in attendance. And that’s not to say that the connection is necessarily religious – though it is for some, it’s the storytelling that so captivates me. I’m certain that everyone there last night was as enthralled as I was with the band’s performance, which also featured drummer David Freeman and guitarist/percussionist Elaina Morgan.

Elaina Morgan and Alicia Jo Rabins of Girls In Trouble

Many thanks to Girls In Trouble for giving me the chance to put together a show for them, and for making the trip to Burlington. I’m already looking forward to their return, and feel really inspired by the whole experience. I also want to personally thank everyone who was there for coming out and supporting live music in Burlington’s South End. Hopefully there will be more to come!


Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Wrapup & Photos: Milagres w/ The Milkman’s Union @ Monkey House 4/22/11

Filed Under: Concert Reviews
Written by Brendan
Saturday April 23, 2011

Last night’s show at the Monkey House was easily the best $5 I’ve spent in weeks. Well, that cheeseburger for lunch from The One Love Market last week might top it, but that was a damn good burger. And I guess I really spent more like $20 after the tshirt and album purchases. But you get my point — there was some really good music.

A quick aside for those who were at the show that I was neither the person shooting flash photography nor the professional photographer who stood right up front for most of the show, never once clapping or showing any interest in the music but helping himself to the best floor real estate the entire night. Not that I was irritated at either of those…

Husband & Wife opened the show, and for a band with such a terrible name, they were pretty good. I actually planned getting to the Monkey House late enough to miss them, based purely on their name. Shows me what that kind of judgementalism gets you… good thing they started later than I thought they would.

The Milkman's Union @ The Monkey House, Winooski

They were followed by The Milkman’s Union, whose frontman Henry Jamison (pictured above) is a Burlington native though the band calls Portland, Maine home. There seemed to be a pretty good hometown turnout for Jamison, including his mom (to whom he apologized for not being better at on-stage banter). They played a fairly long set, ranging from moody and mellow to witty and whimsical. Their baseball themed tune “Brooks Robinson” was my favorite.

Milagres @ The Monkey House

The highlight of the night was definitely Brooklyn’s Milagres. They were able to crowd themselves onto the Monkey’s small stage with surprising ease, considering the several keyboards and big drum kit. The band seemed really comfortable on stage, and all clearly had a great time playing music. Although the crowd thinned a bit before they came on, those who remained crowded closer to the stage to feed on the band’s energy.

Milagres in Winooski, VT

They played what felt like a bit of a short set, but what it lacked in length they made up for in quality. It was a really upbeat and catchy collection of songs, using the poppy electronic keyboards to complement tempestuous drumming, thick basslines and ripping guitars. The drummer was a bit of a short fellow, but his head often popped out above the cymbals as he fought to stay in his seat.

Their impressive performance leaves me wanting more Milagres, and I was psyched to hear they’ll be out with a new album on Kill Rock Stars in September. It’ll definitely be on my list of must-haves, and should Milagres be so kind as to return to the Monkey House for a third time, I’ll be there in a heartbeat.

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Starfucker @ Higher Ground 4/8/2011: Wrapup & Photos

Filed Under: Concert Reviews
Written by Brendan
Sunday April 10, 2011

“No, no barricade — we’d rather they fuck up our equipment than have a barricade.” That was a wonderful start to a wonderful show, as Ryan Biornstad, Starfucker vocalist and jack-of-all-trades (guitar, keyboard, turntables, dancer) told Higher Ground security to stop backing people away from the stage as they sound checked.

I had really high hopes for this show and the band met my expectations, easily. There were lasers, a ton of dancing (on and off stage), and well, this photo does a much better job than I could of describing the energy at the Higher Ground’s Showcase Lounge:

Starfucker @ Higher Ground 4/8/11 Burlington, VT

Starfucker played a brief but exciting set, much of it from their recently released Reptilians, but also featuring some of my favorites from their self-titled debut LP, including “laadeedaa” and “Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second.” Thankfully, there was a really good turnout, and I don’t think there was a single person there who didn’t have a wicked good time. The energy was infectious — smiles never left the faces of the five guys on stage, and it was impossible not to move to the music.

Starfucker @ Higher Ground 4/8/11 Burlington, VT

I’m fairly fascinated with the demographics of the crowd that turned out, further confusing my understanding of what makes people go to shows. It was a significantly different group of folks than I generally see out at the Higher Ground, and I’m glad to see a band like Starfucker have the draw to bring out such a seemingly diverse audience. If that many people turned out regularly to support live music in Burlington, there is no doubt that we’d become a regular stop between Montreal and Massachusetts. Thanks to the hard work of Angioplasty Media and MSR Presents, and the continued willingness of Higher Ground and Monkey House to host indie music bands, we’re on the way. But it’s fans who really keep these bands coming back, and I really enjoyed seeing so many music fans turn out on Friday.

Starfucker @ Higher Ground 4/8/11 Burlington, VT

I’d see Starfucker again anytime they came through town, and if you like to dance, I suggest you keep them on your radar as well.

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Wrapup: The Head and the Heart @ Higher Ground 2/15/2011

Filed Under: Concert Reviews, Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Wednesday February 16, 2011

Last night, I caught The Head and the Heart (who opened for Dr. Dog) at the Higher Ground.  It’s the strangest thing, but their performance was so impressive that it really makes their album seem a little lackluster.  Not that I’ve stopped listening to it today (currently on the third time through), but the band has definitely come a long way since they recorded it (they originally self-released the album in July 2010), and their live act adds so much character to their music.

The Head and the Heart @ Higher Ground, Burlington VT

They clearly have such a good time playing that it was hard not to get swept up in it, but what impressed me wasn’t  just the energy they played with.  They also consistently belted out flawless 3-part vocal harmonies, thumped and shook impeccably timed percussion and threw in a jangly piano and some violin to boot.

Jon Russell and Josiah Johnson share the lead vocal duties, and both went all out.  Russell’s voice is normally deep and raspy, but he hits falsetto notes too.  Johnson was so crisp and clear that at times it was hard to believe there were other instruments playing.  Percussionist Tyler Williams went from four-limbed madman, nearly jumping out of his seat for entire songs, to egg-shaking time keeper, precisely placing shifts and tics.

My only hope is that as they continue to write music, The Head and the Heart finds a way to use vocalist/violinist Charity Rose Thielen’s voice more often.  She’s the perfect complement to the two male voices in harmonies, but it was her several solo lines that garnered the most attention from the audience (In “Rivers and Roads” and “Winter Song”), and I was seriously impressed at her vocal range.

All in all, I highly recommend seeing The Head and the Heart.  It’d be pretty hard not to have a good time.  Oh, and if they are opening for Dr. Dog and you plan on staying for that, make sure to bring your earplugs.  I brought the wrong ones, and only made it through the first 5 Dr. Dog songs before I couldn’t take the loudness anymore.

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Wrapup: Split Tongue Crow @ Shelburne Steakhouse 1/22/2011

Filed Under: Album Reviews, Concert Reviews
Written by Brendan
Tuesday January 25, 2011

I wrote about Split Tongue Crow’s self-titled debut album last year. What impressed me then was the same thing that I enjoyed about their show last weekend at Shelburne Steakhouse: vocalist Cara White’s voice.

Though I was a little skeptical of the venue, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at the general ambiance and setup of the “stage” area at the Shelburne Steakhouse. For the most part, folks sat at tables that basically surrounded the floor to enjoy the easygoing folk sounds of Split Tongue Crow. The majority of their music doesn’t exactly lend itself to dancing, so the empty dance floor didn’t feel as awkward as it might have otherwise.

The show was well attended, and the band played many songs from their new album as well as several others. They had a good rapport with the audience, and drummer Matt Marro’s dry-humored (if perhaps overeager) banter kept things light.

Electric guitarist David Anderson, who spent much of the night re-tuning his cold weather averse instrument, could have spent a little less time with his back to the audience, as his impressive guitar work is certainly worth watching. Lead vocalist Eoin Noonan and bass guitarist/vocalist Jeremy Woods both sounded great — particularly Woods on “Midlife Missile Crisis,” my favorite from their album and from the show.

Like I said, Cara White was definitely the highlight for me. I didn’t actually pick up how much her vocals play into harmonies throughout their album, but her impressive contribution was on display on Saturday. Not to diminish how good the band sounded as a whole though – I’m significantly more into their music than I was before seeing them play live.

I definitely recommend seeing Split Tongue Crow when they come to your town (they play The Skinny Pancake in Burlington on Feb. 5). You can check out their full schedule, listen to their songs, and buy their album via this link.

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Twitter-length review: Villanelles @ Muddy Waters 12/10/2010

Filed Under: Twitter-Length Review
Written by Brendan
Saturday December 11, 2010

missed harmonies, rocking walking basslines. better screamed than sung – maybe it was because they were trying to be quiet? I’ll try again.

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

Wrapup: Stars @ Metropolis 12/4/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews, Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Monday December 6, 2010

The last time I saw Stars was this past summer at Osheaga, and I was so disappointed by their performance that I was all but ready to give up on seeing them live again (this was my 4th Stars show). Thankfully, I was encouraged to give them another shot, as they definitely earned redemption on Saturday night.

The show was opened by Montreal’s Young Galaxy who put on a good performance, albeit a little bland. I think their energy would have translated better at a smaller venue. Interestingly, vocalist Catherine McCandless was the first of two pregnant women to perform (Amy Millan, Stars’ lead singer, is also pregnant). Not everyday you see that…

I got there early and scored an amazing spot – directly behind the sound board, elevated at least a foot above the rest of the crowd. Pretty much dead center, and with a clear view of the entire stage. It’s become a little cumbersome to carry an SLR camera to every show I go to, so I just took my Lumix LX-3, with which I managed some decent shots:

Stars played a good portion of both their most recent release The Five Ghosts and their 2005 album Set Yourself On Fire, as well as a few songs from 2007′s In Our Bedroom After the War and 2003′s Heart. They even delved a little deeper, including the title track from their 2001 EP The Comeback and one from the 2008 EP Sad Robots. Needless to say, it was a wide-ranging setlist, impressive in the range and particularly in the performance.

Vocalist Torquil Campbell was back to his usual self, full of emotional energy, and theatrical without being cheesy. Towards the end of the show, he got so carried away with a bear hug that he tackled Young Galaxy’s Stephen Ramsay (out to perform a song with Stars) into the wings off stage. He seemed to be riding a pretty fierce high for most of the show, returned and enhanced by the enthusiastic crowd.

I had forgotten how Amy Millan’s voice is able to sound sweet and whispered at one moment and crisp and penetrating the next. I wish she were the lead singer of more rock bands so I could hear her sing more often. While she has released a couple of much softer solo albums, it’s the range she displays in Stars that really shines. Even through the densest bass, most piercing keys and distorted guitar, Amy’s voice is always there. Kudos to the sound guys on that too…

I have to assume that along with being their last show of 2010, this also might be their last show for a bit longer than that. As I mentioned, Amy Millan is pregnant, due in the spring of next year, and bassist Evan Cranley is the father. I’m sure it’s been done, but I don’t see them touring again for quite a while, at least with the same lineup. So I’m thankful I can say I was there for this one, and hope it wasn’t the last.

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Note: All photos are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush unless otherwise noted. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.