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.

Too many bands are dying

Filed Under: Random Thought, Wicked Good Music
Written by Brendan
Friday August 5, 2011

Figuratively speaking of course.  But seriously, this is getting worrisome.  I’m still upset about the loss of Drink Up Buttercup (RIP May 2011), Wolf Parade (RIP 2010) and Port O’Brien (RIP 2010), and now I’m mourning another.   The Middle East announced via Facebook earlier this week that they were ceasing to be:


writing to inform you that we’re ceasing. i’m not sure if we’ll make more music later on or not.

we don’t feel like playing anymore for a whole lot of reasons that i won’t list here and i’m afraid if we continued any longer it would just be a moneygrab. i’d rather go hungry. thank you to all those who came to shows.

we had fun.

t.s elliot wrote ‘you are the music while the music lasts’, but he also wrote that confusing little book about cats so don’t put too much stock in his quotes.

i’m very tired. until next time.

sincerely yours,

the middle east.

Yeah, that’s the same Middle East that recently released I Want That You Are Always Happy, my favorite album of the year to date.  While I do have to give them credit for going out on their own terms, I’m also selfishly pissed that I’m not going to see them perform live.  They were definitely on the top of my must-see list, and it really sucks to be adding them to the list of lost bands so soon.

To celebrate their work while mourning their loss, here’s The Middle East’s “Jesus Came To My Birthday Party:”

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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: farm @ Monkey House 9/25/2010

Filed Under: Concert Reviews, Local Bands
Written by Brendan
Monday September 27, 2010

farm - Sat., Cloudy, Calm, 36 F, 10:44 p.m.farm put on an impressive performance Saturday night to mark the launch of their latest album, Sat., Cloudy, Calm, 36º F, 10:44 p.m.

The show was well attended, with about 50-60 people there when farm took the stage. As a quick aside, it was great to see a show at the Monkey House that well attended. The last couple shows I saw there (Givers, Drink Up Buttercup) were all but empty, so it was a nice change in energy, and brought a much more intimate feel to the bar. It was also nice to see Maryse Smith — who recently opened for The New Pornographers — in attendance, supporting fellow VT musicians.

The band — who records as a 3-piece — was joined by their friends Sam Boutin and Brennan Mangan for this show. Even with 5 people on stage, they managed to make the constant trading of instruments look almost effortless. At least three of them took a turn on lead vocals, and duties were shared on the drums, keys, guitars and a variety of other instruments. While it would be pretty easy for this to become a distraction to the audience, they were quick and seemingly practiced enough to make it interesting.

Most of their set was from their new album, though they also played 3 or 4 songs I hadn’t heard before. My favorites were “anticipating snow” and “hotel manners” though really there were many highlights. The only thing that felt out of place to me was opening with “is it wrong?”, a sleepy, spacy, stripped-down song that, while beautiful, didn’t really pull me into the show right away.

I found myself drawing comparisons between Port O’Brien (particularly the vocals on “getting cold” which sound remarkably similar to Van Pierszalowski’s voice) and Wild Sweet Orange, though farm definitely has a sound all their own. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing farm again, and recommend that Burlington indie music fans check these guys out soon.

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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.