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Quiet Before the Storm 

Soundbites: Quiet Before the Storm, Ska: Where the Pun Never Ends, Bite Torrent

Published August 12, 2009 at 8:48 a.m.

Do you hear that? Shhh. Just shut up for a second and take it in … yeah, that’s it. Nothing. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

After months and months of prattling on about this huge singer or that wild festival, we have officially reached the dog days of summer, and an entire week virtually devoid of headline-grabbing music. Exhale.

The middle weeks of August are traditionally a little slow on the music front. Most of the bigger festivals have come and gone — but not all! The college students won’t be back for another couple of weeks, so many club calendars are on the lean side. And the Champlain Valley Fair has yet to thrill us with its annual lineup of guilty pleasures. Mid-August is sort of the summer equivalent to our annual winter doldrums in January and February, during which absolutely nothing happens and I have to figure out how turn open-mic night at Radio Bean into a 1200-word column. Good times.

This year the phenomenon is compounded by this Sunday’s tour-closing Phish show at SPAC. Seriously, Burlington is about to become a freakin’ ghost town. We should probably just put up a huge sign over exit 14 that reads “Gone Phishin’.”

Of course, those not heading to Saratoga Springs won’t lack for things to do closer to home this week. You’ll just have to look a little harder to find them. Or, you know, keep reading.

It’s actually pretty cool to get a respite from the big to-dos that have defined the summer thus far. We can reacquaint ourselves with local haunts that we might have overlooked in recent months, due to the weekly onslaught of big-ticket bands swinging through the state. And enjoy it while it lasts, because the remainder of this summer is going to be epic. Trust me.

Ska: Where the Pun Never Ends

One of those local institutions we’ve overlooked this summer is undoubtedly 242 Main. In part, that’s because I’ve had to devote so much ink to the myriad other offerings about town. But it’s also because, well, 242 is always overlooked.

An all-ages bastion of the local hardcore and punk scenes, the dark basement club is not typically the first place your average music fan turns to for a night on the town. One, the space itself is pretty bare bones, especially compared to the more plush environs of the bars and nightclubs down the street — but, quite frankly, that is part of its charm. And, let’s be honest, the alcohol-free environment is a turnoff for some. But the fact remains that the club is a cornerstone of the Burlington music scene and has been for, um, pretty much forever, I think. The bruising hardcore strains that typically shake the building’s walls appeal to a very specific audience, but we’re starting to see a wider spectrum of music cropping up on the joint’s calendar.

Case in point: this Friday’s show, which features a trio of high school ska bands. No kidding. Ska. It’s back. Kind of. Um … pick it up!

Headlining the show is Vergennes-based ska septet Busted Brix, who recently released their debut EP, Get a Grip. (Note to Busted Brix: You can send that EP my way any time now. Based on what’s up on your MySpace page, I’m pretty sure I’ll dig it. Just sayin’.)

On the undercard is Boston-based rock outfit Aloud, whose last album I totally panned in these pages. So, um … yeah. This is awkward.

Moving on, Westfield, Mass., Ska-some Society are also slated to appear — guess what kind of music they play? These guys kind of remind me of a young Suicide Machines, or perhaps pre-“Jolene” Spring Heeled Jack (remember them?). And, yeah, I realize I am totally dating myself right now.

Rounding out the bill is an alternative-rock outfit out of Essex Junction called Dented Personality and Rutland’s Skamakazi — guess what kind of musi … oh, never mind.

While we’re on the subject, it does seem that ska is experiencing something of a renaissance, at least ’round these parts (thank you, Husbands AKA). You could call it the fourth wave, I suppose — and I have. Though at the moment, it’s really more of a ripple. But before this whole thing takes off again, which it probably will, I’d like to make one modest plea to the checkered masses. Enough with the ska puns. Please. (Yes, I’m fully aware of the irony in this suggestion, coming from a guy who once fronted a band called the Skamaphrodites and played drums in another called Ska-Ka-Doodle-Doo. Deal with it.)

In the history of the genre, there have been but two truly great ska puns: the Skatalites — from whom the whole pun thing is derived, theoretically in tribute — and Mephiskapheles. That’s it. Two bands. In, like, 60 years. Let it go, people.

Bite Torrent

When he opened his new B-town hotspot Lift, Craig Mitchell promised that, in addition to local DJs, we would see a regular infusion of marquee deejaying talent. Obviously, by tabbing the Roots?uestlove to spin over the opening weekend, he set that bar pretty high. This Friday, he might actually be raising it when award-winning turntablist DJ JayCeeOh swings by the club. Dude has worked with just about every big hip-hop name you can think of and is among the finest battle DJs in the world. Our own Sultan of Spin, DJ A-Dog, opens the show.

Congrats to the 1/2 Lounge’s long-running drum-and-bass series Whiplash, which turns five years old this week. Wednesday, August 12, the whole Basscamp Crew celebrate with a special installment of the weekly session, featuring renowned Renegade Hardware artist Raiden.

Experimentalthingamagignoisecollagedronewhatever fans, take note: The esteemed Mr. Greg Davis presents still more mind-bending fare this Thursday at Burlington’s North End Studio. This time around he welcomes light-noise duo Mazes, improvisational mistake-ist and Kranky Records label mate Lichens, Rel Records artists Eli Keszler and Ashley Paul, and Mirror Phases, a “media artist couple” who use an amalgam of symbiotic circuit-board wizardry to explore the circular nature of human relations. So they’re kind of like the experimental-music equivalent of a Woody Allen film. Or maybe not.

This just in: Providence indie-folk duo Brown Bird have been added to the Monkey House calendar for this Saturday. I love this band. Like, a lot.

There is a bit of a reunion at Vermont Pub & Brewery this Friday as B-town ex-pat Chip Wilson returns home from New Orleans for a show with his old pals the North/South All Stars, featuring Sean Harkness (Windham Hill Records), Lucas Adler (Kilimanjaro) and Gordon Stone. I’ll go out on a limb and say that might be pretty good.

And finally, our old friends The Grift are making an appearance at the Intervale’s ongoing Thursday night music series this week and asked me to mention it. I couldn’t think of a good reason not to, so, there you go. Also, vocalist Peter Day made me laugh with a well-placed Caddyshack reference in the same email. Sometimes, I’m just that easy.

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About The Author

Dan Bolles

Dan Bolles

Dan Bolles is Seven Days' assistant arts editor and also edits What's Good, the annual city guide to Burlington. He has received numerous state, regional and national awards for his coverage of the arts, music, sports and culture. He loves dogs, dark beer and the Boston Red Sox.


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