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

Tonight: Drink Up Buttercup @ Monkey House

Filed Under: Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Tuesday May 11, 2010

Please, Burlington, don’t let another show be killed because nobody shows up. You won’t regret this one.

Comments Off

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: Givers @ Monkey House 5/9/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews
Written by Brendan
Monday May 10, 2010

Well it finally happened last night – for the first time since I started regularly going to rock shows six years ago, I think that an audience (or lack thereof) may have actually killed a show. Not that Givers didn’t give it their all, but there was no mistaking the lack of energy all around – it ended up feeling like I was watching them practice in their garage.

I’ve been to many other sparsely attended shows here, but that sparseness and lack of true interest was nothing compared to last night.

It was another solo show for me, and started with the bouncer essentially begging the guy in front of me to come in after he initially rejected the $8 cover charge. Not generally a good sign, but he ended up forking over $5 in a compromise and headed in.

The opening act, Burlington’s own Maga (soft ‘g’), was on when I walked in. Not all of their songs spoke to me, but the couple that did were really impressive (particularly their final song). Assuming it’ll be a fairly unique item for a while, I bought one of their t-shirts after the show (threadless shirts are everywhere these days, so I’m beginning to look for new sources). I definitely look forward to catching Maga again.

While they prepped the stage and got themselves ready to perform, Givers stood in an alcove between the bar and the windows and had what seemed to be an amazing freestyle rap session. Had I been a little bolder it would have been fun to jump in; alas, I’m not. So at least they had some fun. When they got started, I’d say there were maybe 20 people there, and half of those people never left the bar.

Givers @ Monkey House 5/9/2010

The music itself wasn’t bad – the vocal mix was a bit off for the first song, but once corrected I thought that both lead singers sounded great. You could feel them trying to drum up the energy to keep going, but you could also feel that energy being drained from them faster than they could keep up with. And I have to say, I don’t blame them. Not even Teddy Lamson’s frenetic pounding of the drums was enough to bring people up to the front to dance.

The area in front of the stage consisted of me and three seemingly wasted 30-something women who slurred “I fucking love you guys” or “you guys are soooo fucking awesome” as they sashayed (literally) across the dance floor after every song (and not in that really endearing way, but in that terribly obnoxious way). Taylor Guarisco’s eyes roll back in his head when he sings, so it’s tough to really tell, but I’m pretty sure I caught a couple of “yikes” type of eye rolls in there.

Givers @ Monkey House 5/9/2010

I really appreciate a band that can make it all the way through a show like that without saying “this is just awful,” but they didn’t really have to say that. After watching videos of their shows elsewhere and hearing fantastic things from my friend Aaron, I’m so disappointed that Burlington couldn’t turn out a crowd to really get the best out of Givers. As it is, I still got to listen to some good music, and it was well worth the $8 and drive to Winooski, but I need to see Givers again to get a better taste of the energy and excitement that they bring to the stage.

Here’s to hoping tomorrow’s Drink Up Buttercup show can get me out of the funk that last night’s show left me in.

Comments Off

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.

Coming soon to Burlington

Filed Under: Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Wednesday April 28, 2010

I hope anyone in the Burlington area can appreciate with me what amazing music our local venues are bringing to town these days. It’s actually bordering on too much good music at once (ok, that’s not technically possible, unless two shows overlap and I have to miss one).

There’s a handy Google calendar over there on the left that lists good upcoming shows in Burlington and Montreal, but I really feel the need to share with you the plethora of good acts that’ll be in the area over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, April 28
White Rabbits @ Petit Campus, Montreal
Listen | Tickets

Saturday, May 1
k-os @ Higher Ground
Listen | Tickets

Sunday, May 2
Yeasayer @ Le National, Montreal
Listen | Tickets

Wednesday, May 5
JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound @ Monkey House
Listen | Tickets (available at the door)

Friday, May 7
Shout Out Louds @ Cabaret Juste Pour Rire, Montreal
Listen | Tickets

Sunday, May 9
Givers @ Monkey House
Listen | Tickets (available at the door)

Tuesday, May 11
Drink Up Buttercup @ Monkey House
Listen | Tickets (available at the door)

Thursday, May 20
Midlake @ Le National, Montreal
Listen | Tickets

Unfortunately, it’s looking like I’m going to miss at least 2 of the Montreal shows. I wonder how much a cab costs…

Anyhow, thanks to Monkey House and Higher Ground for continuing to bring good music through the Burlington area – I really feel like this is the best the national indie scene has been represented since I moved here a little over 3 years ago. Keep up the good work!

[as a side note, I wanted to acknowledge my hatred for myspace, while still giving the site credit for being the easiest way to hear a few songs from any given band. sorry for including so many links there, but I think you'll find it as useful as I do for pure music sampling purposes. unlike iTunes, Amie St. or emusic, myspace lets you hear full songs, which I think is really important in judging the merits of a band.]

Comments Off

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.

This week’s music purchases

Filed Under: Live Shows, New Releases
Written by Brendan
Tuesday April 27, 2010

On Friday I ended up picking up “Swim” by Caribou, and I’ve only been through it once with not much to report. I’m out of downloads at emusic for the month, and Amie St. didn’t have any of the 5 albums I was interested in listening to, so I didn’t pick up any of today’s releases.

However, I did get sent “atlas” by the american dollar (another fantastic first to encourage me to keep doing this – free music!), and I’m really into it. It reminds me a lot of Explosions in the Sky, with a little bit more of an electronic/digital feel. But it has the same depth and texture as an Explosions album, as well as similar euphoric crescendos and crushing decrescendos.

I’m not sure I’ll make it to their upcoming show at the Monkey House (June 24) — I kinda feel like I need to be outside to really experience and appreciate this genre of music live — but I can definitely recommend the album to those keen on the “post-rock” or “experimental rock” styles of music.

One more quick note – Caribou will be at La Tulipe in Montreal next Wednesday, May 5, though I’ll be at JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound at the Monkey House.

The American Dollar - Atlas Caribou - Swim


Comments Off

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.

7 Questions for JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound

Filed Under: 7 Questions, Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Tuesday April 20, 2010
JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound

who's bad?

I’ve been a music fan and fiend for nearly my entire life — I can’t think of a time that music didn’t at least partially define who I am or was. But it didn’t occur to me until just recently to start writing about it. So I have to say I was both surprised and amused that after only posting 7 entries to this nascent collection of musical musings, I got an email from a label representative, asking me if I’d be interested in interviewing a soul band with an upcoming show at The Monkey House.

Obviously I jumped at the opportunity, made all the more satisfying by the fact that the band – JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound – is really good. Posted below is the first of what I am optimistically expecting to be many such Q&A sessions written here. Without further ado, 7 questions for JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound, answered by bassist Ben Taylor except for the question specifically addressed to guitarist Billy Bungeroth:

Q: What are the two most recent live shows you have each been to (other than shows you played at)?

A: The Gossip @ The Barton Theatre, Adelaide, Australia – they happened to be playing there while my wife and I were on our honeymoon. Beth Ditto is the one of the most amazing performers I’ve ever seen — she genuinely makes a connection with the audience.

Diplomats of Solid Sound @ Martyrs, Chicago – an amazing soul/jazz group from Iowa City, featuring some great Hammond organ and sax playing, plus the lovely ladies of the Diplomettes singing up front.

Q: Have you met an audience you couldn’t make dance?

A: No, every audience we play for dances. [having listened to a bunch of their music, I'm not at all surprised]

Q: Do you ever wish you were in the audience at your own show, or do you get the same high playing music that others get listening to it?

A: I wish I could see this band. We saw JC sit in with the Diplomats of Solid Sound once and it was mind-bending watching him work the crowd. I get higher playing it, and I have the best view in the room.

Q: (for Billy Bungeroth): Given your blog post on new can’t-miss bands, I see we share an interest in both hip-hop and indie rock. What’s the first hip-hop album you owned (and was it vinyl, cassette or CD)? What’s the first non-mainstream or “indie” rock show you went to? [mine are Big Daddy's Kane's "Long Live the Kane" cassette and Rogue Wave/Fruit Bats/Chad VanGaalen in 2005 - 17 years later]

A: Public Enemy’s “Nation of Millions” on cassette (with James Brown’s Greatest Hits on the flip)
Fugazi, NoMeansNo, The Ex @ Sacred Heart Church, Washington DC 1991

Q: Chicago question – Ever been to the Wieners Circle in Lincoln Park? if so, what’s the worst thing you’ve been called by one of the staff? [I got called "you Beavis looking honkey motherf***er"]

A: Yes, but since it’s usually during the day, and I was sober, they were pretty nice. when I asked them to hold the mustard, they asked “you don’t fuck with mustard?!!”

Q: I’ve been inspired into a funk/soul renaissance by a friend (and Sharon Jones). What inspired you to start playing soul music (a band, a generation, an artist, or just a groove)?

A: It started with finding out who Public Enemy, Tribe Called Quest, and the Beastie Boys were sampling, progressed through a heavy Motown/Stax/Aretha/Meters/Funkadelic/James Brown kick in college, but not bothering to play it live until I met Billy and JC, cats who could actually walk it like they talk it.


Thanks to Ben and Billy for taking the time to answer some questions. And thanks to Billy for introducing me to Cool Kids. Here’s a reminder that JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound will be at The Monkey House in Winooski on Wednesday, May 5. See you there!

“JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound are for the people remaining awake through a great revolution… for people who want to move and not just sit tight… for soul people! Guaranteed to make you dance by any means necessary, JC Brooks is the new sound of Chicago.”

p.s. if you only counted 6 questions then you are paying too much attention. here’s the 7th question, which wasn’t answered: Howard Zinn was an inspiration to many – as a civil rights and anti-war activist, an historian, and a proud liberal. what made you write a song about him?


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 Morning Benders @ Monkey House 4/16/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews, Live Shows, New Releases
Written by Brendan
Sunday April 18, 2010

As my first thought, I just want to say that I love the Monkey House. It’s amazing that a venue that size (~100 capacity) is able to bring bands like The Tallest Man on Earth and The Morning Benders to the Burlington area. Not only that, but the bartenders were attentive, the crowd was generally friendly and respectful, and it’s pretty hard to find a bad place to stand there.

Moving on, and I’ll get these out of the way quickly – though the crowd was generally respectful, there was WAY (and I don’t capitalize frivolously) too much talking going on from the back of the room. Yes, it’s still a bar, and yes, there is a pool table. But why waste $12 extra for a ticket to a show you only marginally pay attention to? You can definitely buy the newest Morning Benders album for less than that, and I bet there is a better place to play pool on a Friday night. So I’m just saying…

(also, I wish I had brought my SLR because I’d love for quality photos to accompany these posts, but the Monkey House photo policy requires explicit permission from the band, and I unfortunately never got an answer from the band’s manager)

I’ve done some intentional damage to my ears in the past few years, there’s no disputing that. But like various other things, it’s taken me this long (30+ years) to figure out that it might be better to start with prevention instead of instigation. So I donned my heavy duty construction-grade earplugs early, having heard ringing for at least 2.5 days after The Hold Steady show the week before. And as it’s always really tough to gauge the true sound of a show with earplugs in, I may have had it better or worse than those standing around me — but I thought the Morning Benders sounded great.

The musical depth of their recently released album “Big Echo” could truly be felt at The Monkey House. The vocals were crisp and comfortably sung, the guitars were steady and strong, and the bass and drums made me move. If I paid more attention, I’d say that they may have played the entire new album (though not cover to cover). We also got to sing happy birthday to Tim the bass guitar player, whose earnest smile made it worth having to hear myself sing.

Having put “Patient Patient” from their 2008 release “Talking Through Tin Cans” on my favorite music from that year, I do have to say that I was sad to not hear a single tune from the album. But I gather that album was personal and the band feels good about moving on, so I’m glad I was along for the ride. The Morning Benders are fresh-faced (literally and figuratively) and entertaining, and I definitely recommend seeing their show.

Looking forward to seeing these guys again at Osheaga. Maybe this time they’d at least give me all 1:58 of “Damnit Anna”…

Comments Off

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.

This week’s music purchases

Filed Under: New Releases
Written by Brendan
Tuesday April 6, 2010

Today I bought Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings’ “I Learned the Hard Way” and The Morning Benders’ “Big Echo.” Both are quality releases. The Morning Benders album is a bit more subdued and atmospheric, and a little more polished than their previous, “Talking Through Tin Cans,” while still maintaining a fun, lighthearted rock vibe. They also clearly spent a little more time writing songs for this one, with several songs over the 4 min. mark.

Reminder: Morning Benders at the Monkey House next Friday, April 16.


Comments Off

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.

JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound

Filed Under: Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Monday April 5, 2010

Admittedly, I had not heard of these guys until today, but I’ve just spent the last 30 minutes checking them out on YouTube after getting an email about them, and I’m psyched they are coming to Burlington! JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound will be playing at the Monkey House on Wednesday, May 5. I’m hoping to get an interview with them to post here, and will definitely be at the show. More to come, but for now, here they are performing a cover of Wilco’s “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.”

p.s. While it is true that I don’t like Wilco — in fact, I harbor a strange animosity towards them after a miserable concert experience — I apparently like their music when it is performed by quality soul artists.

Comments Off

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

Filed Under: Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Wednesday March 24, 2010

I wanted to flag a couple of shows coming to town soon that I’ll definitely be at.  Hope to see you there…

I’ve had the good fortune to have seen The Hold Steady twice – at the Black Cat in DC and at Lollapalooza. Both shows left me covered in sweat with no voice, and I didn’t regret a minute of it. The Morning Benders didn’t seem to leave the West Coast last year, but I’ve been keeping my eye out for them since I bought their 2008 album Talking Through Tin Cans. “Patient Patient” made it to my favorite music of 2008.

Monday, April 5
The Hold Steady
Higher Ground Ballroom ($17)
Tickets
Listen

Friday, April 16
The Morning Benders
Monkey House ($12)
Listen

Comments Off

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.