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.

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.

Late April/Early May shows to see in Burlington & Montreal

Filed Under: Live Shows, Local Bands
Written by Brendan
Tuesday April 19, 2011

I’ve been dying to post more here, including a wrapup of the fantastic Iron & Wine show at Higher Ground this past Sunday. Unfortunately, 100% of my time at the computer has been consumed with work, and as this blog currently costs more money than it makes me, I’ve been unable to give it the attention it deserves. Apologies — I’ll do better.

But until then, there is some really good music coming through Burlington over the next couple of weeks. Here are a few highlights:

Friday, 4/22
Milagres w/ The Milkman’s Union @ The Monkey House, Winooski
Show: 9pm $5 (at the door)

Friday, 4/29
Villanelles EP release party @ Signal Kitchen (71 Main St), Burlington
Show: 9pm $5 BYOB (at the door)

Tuesday, May 3
In Tall Buildings w/ Maryse Smith & The Rosesmiths @ Monkey House, Winooski
Show: 9pm, $8 (at the door)

I know there are a few readers from Montreal, and there are also a couple of really good shows coming up. It’s been too long since I’ve seen a show up there (since BSS in December), and unfortunately I won’t be able to make it to these, so would someone please go and have fun for me?

Sunday, May 1
Freelance Whales @ Le National
Surfer Blood @ La Tulipe

Wednesday, May 4
Dan Mangan @ La Sala Rossa

Thursday, May 12
The Airborne Toxic Event @ La Tulipe

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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.

Good shows upcoming in Burlington & Montreal

Filed Under: Live Shows
Written by Brendan
Wednesday March 23, 2011

Here are a few shows I recommend seeing over the next month or so.

Monday, March 28
Young Galaxy @ Monkey House
$7 (at door)

I saw Young Galaxy open for Stars in December and would recommend them to anyone. Be prepared for a very pregnant lead singer…

Wednesday, March 30
Titus Andronicus @ Metronome
$10

You’ll have to like your rock a bit on the grittier & noisier side to enjoy this show. Expect a lot of sweaty excitement, and definitely bring earplugs.

Friday, April 8
Starfucker @ Higher Ground Showcase Lounge
$10

If you like to dance, this show is for you. Starfucker play high energy pop rock.

Tuesday, April 12
The Black Angels & Suuns @ La Sala Rossa (Montreal)
$17

The Black Angels are psych rock at its finest. I’ve wanted to see them since their 2006 release Passover.

Sunday, April 17
Iron & Wine @ Higher Ground Ballroom (sold out)

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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.

Wrapup: The Joy Formidable @ Le Petit Campus 11/4/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews
Written by Brendan
Friday November 5, 2010

Rachel and I drove up to Montreal last night to see The Joy Formidable, who we’ve both been dying to see since their EP A Balloon Called Moaning came out this past summer. I wrote about the haunting vocals, driving guitar riffs and frantic drumming in a post in June.

We left Burlington early to try and beat the traffic and get in dinner up there. It was a miserable, rainy drive both ways which definitely took a little more out of both of us than the trip up and back usually does. We ended up getting to the club early which was cool because we got to really check out the space, and wasn’t cool because we had to both wait for and then listen to the opening band, who I definitely didn’t care for. Seems like they had all the right pieces, but their sound was boring at best.

The next band, The Dig, definitely brought me back to life a bit. They were an energetic 4-piece (drums, bass, guitar and guitar/keys), out on a brief swing with The Joy Formidable. The bassist Emile Mosseri and the guitarist David Baldwin shared singing duties, and both held their own, though Mosseri’s parts were definitely the highlight. The bouncing bass got the crowd moving and psyched up for the main act. I’d definitely see these guys again.

The Joy Formidable @ Le Petit Campus 11/4/2010

Rhydian Dafydd, Ritzy Bryan and Matt Thomas of The Joy Formidable

There were about 60 people there when The Joy Formidable took the stage, about 2/3 standing right up in front, and 1/3 in the back of the room sitting at tables, which must have felt a bit odd from the stage. They started with “Cradle”, and we were quickly introduced to lead singer Ritzy Bryan’s crazy eyes (exactly as it sounds), which definitely added an edge to their performance throughout. It was a great song to start with, and definitely got the crowd pumped. Bryan and drummer Matt Thomas were full of energy, with her thrashing her guitar around stage, and him with a face full of hair and arms that moved so fast you could barely see them. They had a great rock vibe.

There were three songs that I can think of that I loved, “Cradle, The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade,” and their final number “Whirring”, which they extended into a massive writhing, sweating ear-bursting freak out (glad I had my EarLove hi-fi earplugs with me). That performance definitely made the show for me.

Ritzy Bryan and Matt Thomas

Ritzy Bryan and Matt Thomas

Unfortunately, the rest of the songs, mostly a mix of new material including their recently released single “Popinjay” fell a little flat with me. It’s often really tough to hear a song live for the first time, especially at a club with fairly poor acoustics, because I find myself trying to hear things, instead of just listening and feeling. So I don’t want to say that their new material was necessarily not as good, but I definitely felt a lack of connection. I also found myself thinking how nice it’d be if they added some keys to their lineup (there were at least 2 songs which included pre-recorded sounds that could have been played by an actual person).

The set lasted barely an hour, which on most nights might have disappointed me, but I was so exhausted and really wanted to get the drive home over so I could be back in bed. I’d see The Joy Formidable again if they came to Burlington, and would definitely make it a point to hear more of their new stuff before I did. They put on a good — though not great — show, and could definitely benefit from a room with clearer acoustics. I recommend seeing them if they come to your town, with the caveat that their show is a bit of a mixed bag of fantastic and fair.

Ritzy Bryan of The Joy Formidable @ Le Petit Campus, Montreal 11/4/2010

Ritzy Bryan

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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: The xx @ Salle Wilifred-Pellitier 10/1/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews
Written by Brendan
Saturday October 2, 2010

Being that I stalk the live music scene in both Burlington and Montreal (and sometimes Boston and D.C. as well), I was able to act quickly enough to score 2nd row seats to last night’s performance by The xx at Salle Wilifred-Pelletier at the Place des Arts in Montreal. The lighting was amazing, the venue was a top-notch theater, and the sound quality was spot on.

All in all, I enjoyed myself at the show, but I also felt a little disappointed. Although I went into the show knowing full well that a good portion of the sound created by the band is electronic, I couldn’t help but be disappointed by the guy on the drum machine. Frankly, it’s really distracting and takes away from the show to have the person at the center of the stage essentially be pushing buttons with his index fingers. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen some seriously impressive drum-machine work, but this was pretty standard stuff. Honestly, if they had kept the drum machine off stage, I would have enjoyed the show so much more.

The xx @ Salle Wilifred-Pelletier, Montreal - Oct 1, 2010

Female vocalist and guitar player Romy Madley Croft sang wonderfully, though her guitar work seemed even more sparse and simplistic than on their album. She also had absolutely zero stage presence, only uttering a couple of thank yous to the audience. I definitely could have gone for a bit more engagement. Bassist Oliver Sim was more engaging and talked with the audience on a few occasions, though not enough to compensate for the silent Croft. Their music is so personal, sexualized and sultry that I definitely expected more.

The xx @ Salle Wilifred-Pelletier, Montreal - Oct 1, 2010

Like I said, I did enjoy myself, and I think that The xx performed their music fairly well, but I don’t think I’d see them in concert again until they incorporate some more actual instruments (I think a drummer and an additional percussionist could handle most of the work of the drum machine) and create a little more rapport with their audiences.

The xx @ Salle Wilifred-Pelletier, Montreal - Oct 1, 2010

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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.

Osheaga 2010 Wrapup: Still Life Still

Filed Under: Concert Reviews
Written by Brendan
Tuesday August 10, 2010

Day 2 of the festival was significantly hotter and sunnier than day 1, so Rachel and I left the Galactic show on one of the main stages a little early to catch some shade at the Scene Verte before Still Life Still came on. This gave me a great chance to get up close for some good shots at the beginning of the show.

Eric Young of Still Life Still @ Osheaga 8/1/2010

Still Life Still put on an excellent set, full of sweaty rock goodness. As a testament to their grit, after what seemed like a series of electric shocks from the mic as his sweat dripped on it, lead singer Brendon Saarinen just kept right on going without a word.

Still Life Still @ Osheaga 8/1/2010

Most of the set was from their 2009 release Girls Come Too, though they also played at least one new song. Their sound was tight and their energy and excitement was clear.  This was definitely in my top 3 favorite shows of the festival.

Brendon Saarinen of Still Life Still @ Osheaga 8/1/2010

Still Life Still is a must-see for lovers of rock music.  They remind me a bit of Broken Social Scene, with a little more of the rawness of Kevin Drew’s solo album (or whatever you want to call Spirit If…).  Their album is great, their show is better, and I’m really looking forward to their next release, which they are working on currently.

Aaron Romaniuk of Still Life Still @ Osheaga 8/1/2010

note: all photos in this post are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.

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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.

Osheaga 2010 Wrapup: Stars

Filed Under: Concert Reviews
Written by Brendan
Thursday August 5, 2010

Stars are easily one of my five favorite bands. They’ve put on some of the best shows I’ve ever been to. And their live performances have made me love songs of theirs that I previously couldn’t stand listening to (The Ghost of Genova Heights comes to mind). So it’s fair to say that I had high expectations for their set at Osheaga – in their hometown.

Amy Millan of Stars @ Osheaga 7/31/2010

Unfortunately, things didn’t quite go as I’d hoped. We headed over to their stage about halfway through K’Naan’s set (he was playing on the other main stage) to stake out a good spot, which we got. Unlike the other bands that had been playing back-to-back on alternating main stages, Stars didn’t take the stage right after K’Naan ended. I could hear the seconds of unplayed music being wasted.

They came onstage to huge applause and threw out some of the roses tied all around the stage to the audience – a nice touch. Then it went quickly awry. As the first note was played, Torquil Campbell (1/2 of the lead singing duo with Amy Millan) began throwing what ended up being a half-set temper tantrum because the sound in his earphones was either completely broken or just way off.

Stars @ Osheaga 7/31/2010

No matter how justified he was, his attitude immediately turned me off of the music. I couldn’t help but cringe as he whipped the corded microphone around the stage, leaving mic stands, keyboards and stage crew on the ground in his wake. By the time he got over it, Stars did manage to really nail “Take Me To The Riot,” and “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead,” two of my favorites. So ultimately there was redemption, and Amy Millan sang as wonderfully as ever, but what I’ll remember most about that show is the attitude.

I’m planning on seeing Stars again in Montreal in December, and I’m hoping Torquil can leave the other stuff off stage and put on a performance that I know he and the rest of the band are capable of putting on.

note: all photos in this post are copyright © 2010 Brendan Bush. You are free to copy, distribute and transmit them as long as proper attribution is given, in accordance with this Creative Commons policy.


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.