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

7 Questions for Hey Rosetta!

Filed Under: 7 Questions, Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Monday November 8, 2010

Hey Rosetta!

Photo credit: Jule Malet-Veale

Canadian rockers Hey Rosetta! are playing the Showcase Lounge at Higher Ground tonight (opening for Sarah Harmer), and bass guitarist Josh Ward was kind enough to answer a few questions for me in advance of their set. If you’re in town tonight, definitely check these guys out.

BB: Montreal and Toronto have been real incubators of quality indie rock over the past decade. Though it’s a smaller city, is there any such music scene in St. Johns, or are you pioneering the way? Do you think bands like BSS, Metric, Stars, etc have helped pave the way to a larger audience for other Canadian bands?

JW: It’s a funny thing, the St. John’s music scene. It has one of the most impressive amateur music scenes that I think I’ve ever seen, in terms of creative and talented people. With that, though, there are few bands from there who do it professionally, or go out and tour. It seems like music is always just something on the side. Your dentist might also be your favourite singer/songwriter. I think we’re lucky that we still have a small town kinda vibe. Chances are you know most of the people in the “scene” and as a result, there’s a lot of support.

There have been a lot of really amazing Canadian bands over the years who have certainly helped to make it possible for bands like us to do what we do. The bands you mentioned are great, and successful, proving that there is something to this “Canadian music.” We see it a lot when we’re out on the road. There’s a great respect all over for bands from Canada these days.

BB: I read on your tour blog that you’ll be bringing a smaller lineup on the next leg of your tour — who’s staying behind, and who makes that call?

JW: Well, on this leg we’re opening for Sarah Harmer, and her management wanted something a little lighter, and specifically smaller than we usually are. We had a discussion about it, and our guitarist, Adam, decided to sit this one out.

BB: I see that you’re working on a new album for early next year — did you write much of it while on the road, or did you take a break and make a more concerted effort to put together an album?

JW: Sometimes it is kind of difficult to find the time to really sit down and focus on writing an album while touring so much. A lot of these songs took a long time to develop. We would get together and bash out the tunes wherever we could find a little break, and do what we could (often forgetting most of the work we had done on them since the previous time we got together). There was no real extended break to strictly work on writing this album though. In fact, some of the tunes really only came together finally in the studio.

BB: You won several awards for Into Your Lungs – how has that success affected the creation of your upcoming effort? Did it create pressure, inspiration, something else?

JW: I’m not sure that success has affected the creation of the new album so much. Certainly we all feel a little anxious about it, though. There will likely be expectations from people of what it should be. I just hope this album can stand on its own. We really worked hard on it, and are proud of it as it is. Hopefully it won’t have to live in some shadow.

BB: Your band profiles have stayed pretty busy on Facebook and Twitter — who’s managing that stuff, and has the connection with your fans on those networks changed your experience as a band?

JW: We all kinda take part in that stuff. Our manager does some of the quick updates, but the rest is directly from one of us (usually Tim with the blogs, or Phil). It would be hard to imagine where this band would be without those types of networks. In the beginning, especially, we had a really strong internet community of fans and friends who helped us out immeasurably on our early tours. Not to mention getting hooked up with other bands and venues from abroad. It’s a great way to stay in touch with all those familiar faces we see on the road.

Thanks to Josh for taking the time out of a busy schedule. Here’s Hey Rosetta! playing A Thousand Suns (at a venue quite a bit larger than the one they’ll be playing tonight, but you get the point…):

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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.

Upcoming shows in Burlington & Montreal

Filed Under: Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Tuesday November 2, 2010

There is a lot of good music over the next couple of weeks in this area, and I wanted to bring some of it to your attention (though you can always check for good upcoming shows in Burlington and Montreal using the calendar to the right). You can listen to any of the bands using the links below. I highly recommend any and all of these shows, and will be making it to several myself.

The Joy Formidable @ Petit Campus, Montreal
Thursday, Nov. 4

Morning Benders @ Higher Ground, Burlington
Sunday, Nov. 7

Hey Rosetta! (opening for Sarah Harmer) @ Higher Ground, Burlington
Monday, Nov. 8

Clinic @ La Sala Rossa, Montreal
Tuesday, Nov. 9

Glasser @ Il Motore, Montreal
Wednesday, Nov. 10

Horse Feathers & Anais Mitchell @ Higher Ground, Burlington
Wednesday, Nov. 10

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti @ Le National, Montreal
Tuesday, Nov. 16

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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: Broken Social Scene @ Higher Ground Ballroom 9/22/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews
Written by Brendan
Thursday September 23, 2010

If you missed last night’s Broken Social Scene show, you really blew it — and don’t say I didn’t warn you. BSS treated us to over 2 hours of audio enjoyment, putting on one of the best shows — if not the best show — I’ve seen all year.

Openers The Sea and Cake started things off with an impressive performance, but I was so jazzed with anticipation that I could hardly pay attention. It’d been quite a while since I last saw BSS — a little over 4 years actually. The last time I saw them definitely stands out as one of my favorite shows of all time, at Merriweather Post Pavilion (MD) in the summer of 2006, along with Belle & Sebastian and Ted Leo/Pharmacists.

I was also at the BSS Presents… show in 2007 at the Ira Allen Chapel, but that was definitely Kevin Drew’s solo effort, no matter what it was called. Not to mention the sound quality was awful and Kevin Drew was sick. Needless to say, I’ve been waiting to see Broken Social Scene again for a long time.

Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene

Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene @ Higher Ground 9/22/10

They played a nice mix of tunes from all 4 of their albums, as well as a cover of “Soul Unwind” by Apostle of Hustle (BSS guitarist Andrew Whiteman’s side project). I was only allowed to take photos during the first three songs, so they may make the show look pretty mellow — don’t believe it. There was plenty of sweaty rock energy on stage and off.

Justin Peroff of Broken Social Scene

Justin Peroff of Broken Social Scene @ Higher Ground 9/22/10

Though I really wanted to hear “It’s All Gonna Break,” my disappointment was pretty easily overcome by some of my other favorites like “7/4 (Shoreline),” “Superconnected” and “Meet Me in the Basement.”

The band clearly had a strong connection with the audience, and their stage presence and banter really cemented that feeling. A few of them made a guest appearance at the Live Yo Gabba Gabba (children’s entertainment, for those without kid neighbors) performance earlier in the day, and Kevin showed off his newly acquired dancing skills by leading us in the “Peanut Butter Stomp.”

Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene

Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene @ Higher Ground 9/22/10

There was a fairly new female addition to the band (sorry I can’t remember her name and can’t find it online), and she fit in wonderfully, singing “Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl” live for the first time, and absolutely killing it.

I think there were 8 people in the band last night, though a couple members of The Sea and Cake also joined them on stage for several songs. There were tons of different instruments played — well beyond what I’m used to seeing at a show. The trumpet and saxophone definitely stood out, and there was some solid harmonica work in there as well. There was also plenty of instrument-swapping going on as usual, a true testament to the talent of this band.

Broken Social Scene @ Higher Ground 9/22/10

Broken Social Scene @ Higher Ground 9/22/10

Broken Social Scene really brought their best last night, and I couldn’t be more excited to see them again in December at Metropolis in Montreal.

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.

Show preview: Broken Social Scene @ Higher Ground 9/22/2010

Filed Under: Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Friday September 17, 2010

If you live in the Burlington area and there’s one show you see all year, I’d recommend it be Broken Social Scene next Wednesday, September 22 at Higher Ground in South Burlington.

I had a whole long post written out about why, but I decided to just leave it at that. They don’t need me to explain why – I’m sure the music will speak for itself, and I hope you are there to hear it. Here’s “Meet Me In The Basement,” an instrumental song from their 2010 release “Forgiveness Rock Record“:

I’ll post a review of the show and hopefully have some good photos to share, but please do yourself a favor and join me at the show.

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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.

On watching more local bands, and local bands to watch

Filed Under: Live Shows, Local Bands
Written by Brendan
Wednesday September 1, 2010

I have to admit that I am not nearly as immersed in Burlington’s local music scene as I’d like to be. I still have yet to see a show at Radio Bean. The Monkey House shows generally start pretty late, and I don’t like driving out there unless I’m really motivated by a band I love. Metronome shows also start pretty late, and the one time I’ve tried to go to a show there in the past six months, they were 30 min late to even open the doors, let alone begin. It’s sad, but I seriously have a very hard time staying awake until 11:30 or 12 on a weeknight.

So the few times I’ve caught Burlington-area bands have been as opening acts at shows I was going to anyhow. I’d like to change that, and I’ve been hearing from more Vermont artists recently about new releases and live shows (keep it coming). So with this post, I’d like to kick off an attempt to see more local bands and write about them here.

To get it started, I might as well talk a little about the area bands I have seen, as I’ve been nothing but impressed with every one of them.


I saw Maga (soft g) open for Givers in May at The Monkey House.  I loved a few of their songs, and didn’t love others.  Overall, I left thinking I’d like to see this duo of Bryan Parmelee and Brett Fiorentino again.  It was Maga I bailed on seeing at Metronome recently because of my old-ness.  To make up for it, I wore my Maga tshirt in both Rome and Tel Aviv as a bit of free international exposure ;-)

Vacant Lots

Vacant Lots opened for, and put on a much better show than, Fiery Furnaces at The Higher Ground in June. They play heavy, droning psych rock a la Black Angels, and they play it well.  You can download Hypnotized, a 9-song release from Vacant Lots, for free here.

Also check out the video for “Let Me Out” by the Vacant Lots, written & directed by my neighbor Graham Raubvogel:

Maryse Smith (or Maryse & The Rosesmiths)

I had the pleasure of seeing Maryse Smith last week at Higher Ground, and to be honest, I’m ashamed I hadn’t heard of her before.  She plays tomorrow at The Monkey House, and I’m strongly considering going after my softball game, even though I’ll likely be at least slightly injured again.

Listen to Maryse Smith’s album Is Becomes Was (a bit more of a stripped down sound than the live show):

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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 New Pornographers @ Higher Ground 8/27/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews
Written by Brendan
Saturday August 28, 2010

The New Pornographers, on tour in support of their May release Together, made their first-ever visit to Burlington last night.  Conspicuously missing (empty microphone/spot on stage and all) was Neko Case, who happens to live in Vermont these days.  Nobody spoke about it, and the lone shout of “where’s Neko” was met a wall of rock.  I guess that’s all I have to say about it, because I haven’t been able to dig anything up, and to be honest, I thought the show was wonderful anyhow.

Opening was Burlington’s own Maryse Smith, recently profiled by Dan Bolles in 7Days.  While we were waiting in line to get in, the Higher Ground owner came out from the ballroom and told everyone to get in there quickly because the opener was amazing.  He wasn’t lying.  I thoroughly enjoyed her set, and hope to see more of her and her backing band around the Burlington area soon.

Maryse Smith @ Higher Ground 8-27-2010

The New Pornographers played a good mix of music from various releases, including “The Slow Descent into Alcoholism” off their nearly 10-year-old debut album Mass Romantic and “Crash Years” and “Your Hands (Together)”, a couple of my favorites off their latest release.

Kathryn Calder of The New Pornographers @ Higher Ground 8-27-2010

While I do think there was some level of anticipation/disappointment in the audience regarding Neko, it was pretty apparent that the band worked their way right through it.  Kathryn Calder, the female half of the lead vocalists (Carl [A.C.] Newman being the male half) definitely stood out to me.  While Newman’s stage presence and slurry banter kept the audience engaged between songs (he played only 5 strings on guitar for a good chunk of the show, and had some ongoing conversations about it), it was definitely Calder’s vocals that I enjoyed the most.

Carl Newman of New Pornographers @ Higher Ground 8-27-2010

The audience (a mixture of 30 and 40 somethings, from what I could tell) was both sizable and very into the show, which was great to see.  The room felt full though there was plenty of room to move around, and very little jostling for an ever-closer spot.  Though I do want to say that just because your friends get there early and stake out a good spot does not therefore give you and 10 others the right to join them and push other people out of the way.  Simple courtesy is too often overlooked.

New Pornographers @ Higher Ground BallroomAnyhow, the catchy hooks, rocking guitars and vibrant pop energy of The New Pornographers were all on display last night, and I look forward to catching them again.

Dan Bolles reports that Neko had food poisoning…mystery solved.

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: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros @ Higher Ground 7/26/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews
Written by Brendan
Tuesday July 27, 2010

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros played a sold out show last night at Higher Ground — the first sold out show I’ve been to in a long while, and despite the small inconveniences (shoving fights, etc) of such a crowd, it was definitely nice to see Burlington turn out to support a band who isn’t a washed up rapper and isn’t known for their jamming.

Security was incredibly intense – I’m not sure if it was in response to an incident or incidents, but I’ve never seen things like this before. There were cops in the parking lot with breathalyzers, cops in uniform patrolling inside and out, and burly plainclothes cops with incredibly conspicuous firearms at the door. A youngish looking kid in front of us who definitely looked like he’d had too much of something got a field sobriety test before they’d take his ticket. Not normally what I’d expect at a ES&MZ show, but like I said, maybe it was in response to something else.

We got a good spot stage-left where there are generally less people (farthest spot from the bars). I came to this show ready to dance, so it was nice to have a little bit more room. I was definitely expecting some craziness based on what I’ve read about their shows and seen on YouTube. But I have to say, this show lacked the crazy.

Edward Sharpe @ HigherGround July 26, 2010

Besides the lead singer, Alex Ebert, forgetting the words to a couple of songs (which he played off well enough), the music was really good. I particularly liked Jade Castrinos’ vocals and loved the sporadic trumpet playing. And Alex certainly put on a performance — bouncing, dancing, jumping and interacting with the people right up front. But his energy didn’t seem to spread, and I was left feeling that the band seemed a little fractured, or at the very least just a bit tired.

In a bit of a revolt against the standard practice of pretending to leave only to come back out for an encore after some applause, most of the band just stayed on stage after their “final” song, which I thought was a nice touch. That whole routine definitely gets tiresome. And for their final number, they invited people up on the stage until it was completely full, then went down to the floor and asked everyone to sit with them for the campfire-style “Brother.”

Edward Sharpe @ HigherGround July 26, 2010

Most of the tunes were off of their 2009 release Up From Below, though they definitely played a few that I hadn’t heard and enjoyed. For their bigger “singles” like “Janglin” (popular from being featured on a Ford Fiesta commercial) and “Home” which has apparently been on heavy radio rotation, it was very apparent that the band was sick of playing them. They seemed much more animated and energetic on some of their more low-key or lesser known songs like “Up From Below” and “Desert Song.”

All in all, this was a very good show. But I was (maybe wrongly) expecting something a bit more. Unfortunately, the band doesn’t have a day off between now and their set at Osheaga. I think they could really use it based on what I perceived to be a lack of energy. Here’s to hoping that the atmosphere at Osheaga provides them with a little extra spark.

Edward Sharpe @ HigherGround July 26, 2010

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.

Argh! (or, how I blew it and didn’t buy tickets)

Filed Under: Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Sunday July 18, 2010

Well it finally happened. Normally, when a show that I want to go to gets announced, I buy tickets right away. My philosophy has always been: why wait? So I’m not sure that I can explain why I didn’t jump on tickets to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at Higher Ground when they went on sale a couple months ago. Sure, I’ll see them at Osheaga just a couple days later, but anyone who’s been to a festival can attest to the fact that a set there just isn’t the same.

Maybe it was that the past few indie shows I’ve been to have been completely empty. Maybe it was that I thought Rachel would get them. But whatever it was, the end result is the same. The show has sold out and I will not be seeing this incredible band when they come through Burlington.

Not that I needed the lesson, but it has definitely been learned. Never again.

If there are any good samaritans out there who would like to sell me their tickets (2), I’d be more than willing to pay above face value, as much as it would pain me to do so. Email me at opr@brendanbush.com

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: Fiery Furnaces & Vacant Lots @ Higher Ground 6/23/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews, Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Friday June 25, 2010

When this show was first announced, I briefly pondered going, but I’ve never particularly cared for Fiery Furnaces sound. Call me simple, but whatever they are going for has generally been a bit too complex for my head. On the urging of a friend (who ended up not showing…weak), I decided to give it a shot. I’d tried to catch The Vacant Lots last week at Metronome, but their website said doors at 9 and when I showed up at 9:30 they still weren’t open, so I took the old man route and left in favor of bed.

Needless to say I loved The Vacant Lots. Rachel had forgotten her new earplugs at home, and not being a fan of psych-rock to begin with, she had a hard time with it. But I thought they were excellent, and definitely had the talent to bring to mind some of my favorite psych-blues-rock bands like The Black Angels, Wolfmother and even The Black Keys. I look forward to seeing this local drum and guitar duo again soon. They looped a video composition during the show, which at times was cool, at times was distracting, and by the end was just old. I dig the idea, but I think it could be taken one step further by making it as long as a set, with no looping. I remember who I believe was Sound Team doing something similar at a show in the back stage of The Black Cat 5 or 6 years ago.

Fiery Furnaces @ Higher Ground Showcase Lounge 6/23/2010

Fiery Furnaces quietly took the stage and the scattered crowd did a little shimmy forward 10 or 20 feet, which still left another 20 between the stage and the closest audience member. They did very little throughout the show to encourage any further movement. They literally didn’t speak to the crowd once. The only non-lyric I heard come out of Eleanor Friedberger’s mouth was after the first song, when she told her brother Matthew and the other two band members that they had messed up and ended the song too early. That led to an awkward sibling exchange, with her not wanting to repeat herself and him aggressively prompting “what did you say? what did you say?”

With Eleanor staring out from behind her bushy bangs, almost still besides a tapping foot, it was tough to form any real connection with the band or the music. There was barely a pause between any of the songs, one kind of bleeding into the next. I did think that a few of the individual songs were entertaining, and it gave me the chance to try out my new EarLove hi-fi earplugs (more on those at some point soon), but the performance itself was so lackluster that I had to leave early because I couldn’t stop yawning.

Fiery Furnaces put on a show much like I envision creating were I in a band with my sister. Not fun for me, not fun for you, and certainly not worth paying to watch. I think I’ll pass on their next trip through the area.

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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.

Of Montreal to play in Burlington – while I’m in Montreal, where they are not from

Filed Under: Live Shows, Standout Albums
Written by Brendan
Friday June 11, 2010

What a cruel twist of fate. I just learned – via Angioplasty Media – that Of Montreal will be playing the Higher Ground on Saturday, July 31. That, as you may be aware, is the first day of Osheaga. I guess there is a small comfort in knowing that I’ll be immersed in an Arcade Fire show at the same time, but seriously, Higher Ground booking folks, I’d appreciate it if you’d cater to my personal calendar a little better ;-)

For those of you unfamiliar with an Of Montreal show – I’ve been lucky enough to catch a couple in the past two years, and they are quite a treat. Kevin Barnes, the lead singer, was gradually de-robed until he ended up in essentially a golden codpiece, wherein he was hand-painted by some sort of demons until he was completely red-as-the-devil. And that was about 1/100th of the insanity.

This video, of their song “Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse” from 2007′s Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? (my favorite album of theirs) should give you a better glimpse into the parallel dimension that you might get to be a part of:

p.s. tickets here.

Late Update (6/14/2010): Because one kick in the pants isn’t enough, Osheaga just announced that Of Montreal will be playing at Metropolis on Friday, July 30, while I’ll still be in Burlington. Argh!

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.