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

Art Hop is tomorrow!

Filed Under: Live Shows, Local Bands
Written by Brendan
Thursday September 9, 2010

I love living in the South End of Burlington. It’s the perfect mix of quiet & convenient, and it definitely has a very particular character. The annual South End Art Hop, a two-day festival of local art in all its forms, really lets that character shine, and makes me love living here all the more.

If you’re in town this weekend, Art Hop is the only place to be. There’s a ton of good music playing, and I for one am definitely planning on catching some. Not sure I’ll make it to Maga at Speaking Volumes, but I’ll definitely be checking out Villanelles and The Vacant Lots at the Green Door Studio on Friday. Hope to see you there.

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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.


Filed Under: Live Shows, Random Thought
Written by Brendan
Monday June 28, 2010

earloveI’ve been a pretty off-and-on earplug user for concerts over the years. Generally if I’ve expected a show to be loud (a few recent ones that come to mind are The Hold Steady, Metric and Drink Up Buttercup), I bring earplugs. Though admittedly, even the shows that I don’t consider to be “loud” often leave my ears ringing for a good 24 hours. But the sound quality of the earplugs I’ve been using for years (Mack’s, the kind you can get at any drug store) is horrendous. There is a huge loss at either end of the spectrum, and generally I felt like the earplugs were really taking away from my enjoyment of the music, even if they were prolonging my ability to hear the music at all.

So lately, I’d been on the lookout for a higher quality brand of earplugs. I wasn’t sure where they were sold, or how they’d be different, but I was sure there was something out there that would allow me to protect my hearing without compromising the sound quality at concerts.

Imagine my excitement when I got an Facebook invitation to a group called Earlove from August Forte, a Chicago-based music label rep. who introduced me to JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound. Earlove sells “Hi-Fi Earplugs” with about 20 decibels of sound reduction (though the government only allows them to claim 12dB). Unfortunately I couldn’t find them for sale anywhere around here, so I ordered a few pairs online. The actual manufacturer is Etymotic Research, and they are less expensive if purchased directly through them, but with the shipping costs included, I got a better deal by buying a 3-pack from Earlove.

I finally got to test them out last week at the Fiery Furnaces/Vacant Lots show, and I have only wonderful things to report. First and foremost, no ringing ears the next day! The Vacant Lots definitely put the noise reduction capabilities to the test, and Earlove passed with flying colors. What was even more exciting was that there truly was no muffling, no dampening, no bass overload and no muted vocals.

I highly, highly recommend Earlove Hi-Fi Earplugs to anyone looking to protect their hearing without compromising sound quality. My only complaint is that although I ordered 3 pairs with 2 cords, only 1 cord was sent. It turns out that I don’t really need the cord anyhow, as they fit perfectly snugly in my ear and come with their own carrying case, but it’s always frustrating to pay for something (even if it’s only $1) that you don’t receive.

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.