One of the more frequent — and in certain ways, valid — criticisms of this column is that I tend to focus on the same few venues, week after week. Places like Radio Bean, Langdon Street Café and, of course, the Monkey House. My counter is usually: (1) I try to focus on bands, not necessarily venues, and (2) cool underground and up-and-coming local outfits tend to play those joints a lot. Thus, they get mentioned a lot. (Classic corollary: Find me a local music column or zine from the mid- to late 1990s that doesn’t mention Club Toast. I dare you.)
That’s not to say other area venues don’t provide great options for your entertainment dollar. Of course they do. And I try to spread the love as best I can. But, some weeks, certain venues simply go above and beyond the call of duty and present a week’s worth of music seemingly tailor made for this column. And this week, that venue is — drum roll, please — the Monkey! You’re shocked, right? In other news, I like the Low Anthem and I’m not a big fan of Phish. Moving on…
The slate at the Monkey this week is almost completely local, and roundly excellent, beginning Wednesday, August 18, with BTV folk rockers Citizen Bare, and fellow 802 jam bands High Spirits and Gneiss.
Thursday night features the welcome return of Burlington rockers Cave Bees. In a quick missive from Rebekah Whitehurst, the bassist writes that the band plans to unveil five new tunes. That’s in addition, presumably, to some choice selections from vocalist and lead guitarist Steve Tremblay’s killer rock opera Famous Alligator, which was partially released on their self-titled debut album last year. Also on the bill that night, Queen City supergroup Blue Button and the one, the only James Kochalka Superstar.
Speaking of Kochalka, Burlington’s bizarro Renaissance man was kind enough to drop off a copy of his latest, a split reissue of last year’s Digital Elf and the long-out-of-print classic, Kissers, released by Dutch label/comic-book distributor Señor Hernandez. On Thursday, Kochalka will be celebrating the rerelease of both albums — on sick, heavy-gauge white vinyl, no less.
Saturday marks just the third appearance of Anders Parker’s seldom-seen rock trio Cloud Badge. That alone oughta be enough to get you out and about in the Onion City that night. If not, handling opening duties are local alt-whatever collective Paper Castles and dreamy indie-folk chanteuse Maryse Smith.
Finally, rounding out the weekend, on Sunday the Smittens — including Max Smitten — return from what I’m told was a stellar European tour in support of their recently released dance remix EP, Dancing Shoes: The Smittens Remixed. For more info on that record, read my cover story from the July 14 issue. This show is sort of the de facto local release for that album, as well. Oh, and before I forget, you’ll want to get there early to catch the opening band, Iowa’s Poison Control Center. That goes double if you like the indie rock — which I know you do.
And finally, this week’s totally self-indulgent column segment, in which I share a random sampling of what was on my iPod, turntable, CD player, 8-track player, etc., this week.