Like the majority of self-respecting hipsters in Burlington, this past Friday evening I found myself at the BCA center (formerly Firehouse Gallery) to catch the release party for local indie duo Parmaga’s debut EP, Ghost Pops. Or, as a colleague also in attendance that night proclaimed it, “Hipsterpalooza.”
I arrived just in time to catch the latter half of Joey Pizza Slice’s opening set. With me was a friend in town from NYC for a job interview, who, though he grew up here, was seemingly unprepared for this side of Burlington arts culture. “You ever see ‘Portlandia’?” he asked, chuckling.
In fairness, he may also have been taken aback by the show’s dress code. Fortunately, the fine fellas from Angioplasty Media were handing out skinny jeans and scarves at the door to those who arrived unprepared. (OK, I made up that last part.)
As Pizza Slice hap-hazardly crooned the final crumbling notes of a karaoke Sinatra tune from his wheelchair — Yes, really. And no, he’s not handicapped — I turned to my bewildered friend, smiled and said, “Welcome to Burlington.”
It was a joke. But as the night unfolded, I’m not sure my friend could have asked for a better introduction to the Burlington indie-rock scene.
Ryan Power followed and reminded everyone in attendance why the local indie cognoscenti hold him in almost impossibly high regard. I hadn’t seen Power perform in nearly a year. And I had forgotten just how brilliant an artist he really is, how effortless he makes it all seem. Power is a rare treat.
But the night belonged to Parmaga. In front of a packed house, the duo faithfully recreated the swirling, hypnotic sounds from their debut EP. Especially given how uniquely atmospheric that material is, I was curious to see how it would translate live. Feeding off an appreciative crowd, Parmaga may have actually transcended the recording, making up for any live limitations with an inspired performance. All in all, it was a classic Burlington night.
Saturday evening, after making my debut curling performance at the HowardCenter’s Curling Challenge benefit — it seems I’m a natural when it comes to bizarre sports — I made my way to Parima for another installment of Mildred Moody’s Full Moon Masquerade. And this time I even managed to make it in time to catch Mildred Moody themselves. Scott Mangan’s revolving cast of musical misfits put on a ragged but thoroughly enjoyable performance, highlighted by the soulful charms of vocalist Samara Lark. It had been a while since I’d seen Lark in person. The woman’s got some powerhouse pipes.
The headlining act was folk-punk collective Sai U Drom. Catching this band had been on my to-do list for several months, though I’d heard mixed reviews. I came away impressed. Blending an obvious affinity for Tom Waits with eastern European flair and a punk sneer, their set was energetic and bawdy, and positively destroyed the dance floor on several occasions. As a friend remarked toward the end of their set, “It’s, like, if Gogol Bordello covered [Waits’] Mule Variations.” That might be a little overboard. But it’s not entirely inaccurate, either.
The Masquerade party is quickly becoming the Queen City’s most exciting monthly gig. It doesn’t hurt that Parima, in general, has elevated itself from simply a decent place to see an occasional show to a legitimate, go-to venue. But the energy in the room Saturday night was something special — heady and sensual, a little dangerous, even. Or maybe it was just the “supermoon.”
Speaking of happy hipster fun times, local indie-rock outfit the Fifth Business celebrate the release of their latest record, Time of Year, at the Monkey House this Saturday with opening support from central VT rockers the Isleys and the Dirty Watts’ Seth Gallant (ex-In Memory of Pluto). As mentioned in my review of the new disc earlier this month, the band’s sophomore attempt was a marked improvement on their solid but unadventurous 2009 debut, Fiction Pilot. TFB seem far more willing to take risks sonically, and I’m predicting good things in the future. Plus, you gotta love a group with the cojones to refer to themselves as a “sexual indie-rock band.” No idea what that means, but it has to be better than an asexual indie-rock band, right? (Looking at you, Vampire Weekend.)
Band Name of the Week: Dangermuffin. I’m not sure why I find this roots-rock outfit’s name so amusing. It could be my long-running theory that adding the word “danger” to anything makes it inherently awesomer, such as “Danger Mouse” — the cartoon and the producer. Then again, I have another theory that adding the word “muffin” to something makes the object in question insufferably cuter. In any event, Dangermuffin will be at Killington’s Bear Mountain Lodge this weekend as part of the annual wiggle fest that is the Snoe.Down Winter Music & Sports Festival at the ski resort and various locations in and around Rutland. Also slated to appear: Keller Williams (not the real estate company, presumably), the London Souls, the Brew, Twiddle and hippies. Lots of hippies. As per usual, jam giants moe. will headline the fest both Friday and Saturday. For a full schedule of rocking, visit snoedown.com.
Gypsy jazz really seems to have taken hold around the Green Mountains of late. The latest addition to the disciples of Django Reinhardt are Burlington’s Bohemian Blues Quartet. The group features violinist Asa Sourdiffe, bassist Corey Beard, and guitarists Greg Evans and Matt Harpster. The BBQ are in the midst of a monthlong Thursday-night residency at Montpelier hot club Langdon Street Café, though they are taking this Thursday off. However, they get their manouche on this Friday at Burlington’s Skinny Pancake. Continuing on a theme, local Stephane Grapelli groupies the Queen City Hot Club have two shows this Thursday with renowned Boston-based jazz violinist Jason Anick. Catch their early set at the BCA center and/or a later jam session at the Parima Acoustic Lounge.
This Saturday marks the ninth annual Cabin Fever Reliever benefit to support the Cancer Patient Support Program. As always, local rockabilly stalwarts Starline Rhythm Boys will headline the shindig at the Sheraton Emerald Grand Ballroom in Burlington. And, as per tradition, they’ll be joined by legendary Telecaster ace Bill Kirchen. The guitarist has played with, well, pretty much everybody, but most notably Commander Cody, Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe.
Congratulations to Bob Bolyard, who, this Friday, celebrates 10 years of “offering karaoke therapy to the performance impaired.” In other words, hosting karaoke at the St. John’s Club in Burlington. My guess is that the highlight of Bolyard’s decadent decade was when a certain local music critic drunkenly serenaded a certain local sex columnist at a certain local paper’s staff holiday party … ahem. Anyway, if you’ve never been, the SJC is a pretty cool joint, and it’s open to the public every Friday.
This Thursday looks to be a big night for local hip-hop, as DJ Oh-J Freshhh presents the release of Face One’s latest EP, Dead Seas, at Club Metronome. We’ll have a review in the coming weeks, but in the meantime you can check out the new joint at faceone.bandcamp.com. (Hip-hop semantics question: If it’s an EP, is it still a new “joint”? Shouldn’t it be a new “one-hitter” or something?) Also slated to appear are Earegulars, Brutally Honest, Zack Numbers, 2nd Agenda and Rajnii & Entricut and DJ Yellow Crocs.
Last but not least, safe travels to B-town expats Rubblebucket, who hit the road this week for a two-month-long tour that will take them from sea to shining sea, and during which they’ll share the stage with the likes of Ozomatli, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, Black Joe Lewis and String Cheese Incident.
Once again, 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.
J. Mascis, Several Shades of Why
The Strokes, Angles
The Dodos, No Color
Beach Fossils, What a Pleasure