Every now and then, when the stars and planets align just so, Burlington experiences the musical equivalent of a lunar eclipse. Though not listed in any astronomy guides, it appears that Friday, June 29, 2007, will be one such date. And it could quite possibly go down in local history as the best night music fans in the area have ever experienced. How's that for hyperbole? Anyway, here's the rundown.
Those not living under a rock are likely already aware that everyone's favorite Volkswagen schills, Wilco, are making a stop at the Shelburne Museum. The band's new album Sky Blue Sky has been topping national and local sales charts for weeks now and has garnered a wide - and often amusing - variety of responses. While the middle-aged champion of dad-rock, Rolling Stone, reverentially call it "understated, erratic, often beautiful, disarmingly simple music," the kids at hipsterer-than-thou Pitchfork Media snarkily tab the record as "the stylistic equivalent of a wardrobe change into sweatpants and a tank top." Adds my girlfriend: "It sucks."
I'll reserve the right to withhold full judgment until after the show, except to say that, as with every Wilco album, appreciating Sky Blue Sky requires you to put aside whatever preconceptions you have about the band and approach the record with a clear mind. Sure, it's an aural workout, but if the band's illustrious track record is any indication, it's worth it.
It's an early show, with experimental slow-core outfit Low opening at 6 p.m. Hopefully, that should give folks plenty of time to head downtown - after Wilco's inevitable fourth and fifth encores - and check in with the rest of the goings-on about town.
Though the timing might not work out for those coming back from Shelburne, the Tick Tick folks have an interesting lineup for the non-Tweedy-inclined at the Kriya Studio. Local experimental freak-pop group Nosebleed Island relay their bizarre tales of Nazis and dinosaurs with the help of Zbear - the group's 11-year-old drummer - a homemade robot and Dracula. As we now enjoy daylight until well past 9 p.m., the show's 7 p.m. start must be somewhat distressing for musical vampires. Perhaps openers The Brixton Guns and Ira Glass' favorite Burlington indie-rockers Ghosts of Pasha can stretch their sets past sundown. I'd bring along some garlic and a crucifix, just in case.
Just over the river in Winooski, the ever-industrious Tick Tick kids are at it again, this time presenting an evening of superlative singer-songwriters with Micah Blue Smaldone and Anna Pardenik. Smaldone was a founding member of the "politically pink" band The Pinkerton Thugs, but lately has been releasing a slew of well-received solo efforts combining Delta blues with neo-traditionalist folk melodies. Pardenik is a local chanteuse known for intense live performances, poetic songwriting and a seductive, sultry voice.
The show starts at 8 p.m. at the Monkey House, whose new owners have been making a concerted effort to showcase a wide variety of interesting, offbeat music and thus far have been doing a spectacular job. At least someone in downtown Winooski is thinking outside the box. Whoever's responsible for Spinner Place, the mostly vacant, monolithic monstrosity across the street, I'm looking in your direction.
Since I began this segment with a bit about dad-rock, it's only fitting that I should close by mentioning The Breaking In's CD release party at Club Metronome with The Jazz Guys and The Fatal Flaws. While they are dads, and they certainly do rock, this is not your father's adult-contemporary Oldsmobile. Defying the conventional confines of age and good taste, the duo's live performances are a sight to behold, typically involving porn-filled piñatas, copious amounts of PBR and, if you're lucky, drummer Todd Haire drunkenly hurling himself into his minimalist set of skins. And lest you think the group is all about shtick, I suggest you read the illustrious Casey Rae-Hunter's review of their new disc in this issue. Two jaded local rock critics can't possibly be wrong, right?
Dads looking to rock more comfortably can always head downstairs to Nectar's and check out local Dead-tribute act Blues For Breakfast, but the porn-piñata stays with me.
WEIRD AL WAS A PUSSY
In your average hip-hop posse, it's sometimes difficult to tell just who is the baddest dude in the group. Is it the guy with the do-rag and gold teeth? Not hardly. How about the cat with the gat sticking out of his boxers? Nope. Try again. Give up? It's the homie with the accordion.
Think about it. How badass do you have to be in order to be an MC that plays, arguably, the dorkiest instrument ever invented? While most rappers are out earning reps in the ghetto, you're holed up in your mom's basement with your squeezebox watching "Dr. Who" re-runs and eating Cheez-Its. Just what, exactly, does someone like that have to do to earn street cred? Frankly, I don't think I want to know, but it has got be baaaad.
Maybe I'll ask accordionist/MC Julz-A this Saturday when he begins his residency at Nectar's. Actually, the Brooklyn-based MC doesn't really look all that tough, and he incorporates a wide variety of styles into his polka-inflected hip-hop gumbo. He's kind of like Beck . . . with an accordion. In any event, his residency runs every Saturday at 7 p.m. from now until July 22 and is totally free. Hip-hop hooray!
I'm guessing they won't have an accordionist, but local jam-pop trio Lucy Vincent will also take up residence at Nectar's next month. Hot on the heels of their second full-length release, Head of the Tide, the band has been touring extensively to - according to their website -"bring the world ultimate joy though music." Isn't that nice of them?
Lucy Vincent play every Monday in July before heading back out on the road in August, presumably to tackle that little problem in the Middle East with some sweet hooks and a gnarly guitar solo or two. Good luck with that.