Barbacoa Play Pop-Up Concert in Burlington's Old North End | Live Culture

Barbacoa Play Pop-Up Concert in Burlington's Old North End

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Barbacoa - JORDAN ADAMS
  • Jordan Adams
  • Barbacoa
You can't stop the music.

That's what Burlington surf-rock band Barbacoa proved on Saturday as they played a pop-up concert in the parking lot of a vacant building in the Old North End. Despite state-mandated restrictions on public gatherings, the long-running Queen City outfit performed to a crowd of about 40.

"It was a lot of fun," said the band's front person, Bill Mullins. "It was good to see people out."



Live music has been on hold since March, when the coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of all public gathering spaces. Barbacoa's surprise set was Vermont's first live public music performance in months.

The band hinted at the concert via social media on Friday.

"If you hear any noise it's just me and the boys (Barbacoa) playing in the ONE tomorrow (Sat) afternoon at 4pm at an undisclosable location ... Just follow your ears," a Facebook update read.
Onlookers reveling in Barbacoa's surf-rock mayhem - JORDAN ADAMS
  • Jordan Adams
  • Onlookers reveling in Barbacoa's surf-rock mayhem

Just after 4 p.m., about 30 people had wandered into the triangular parking area in front of the dilapidated former Champlain Transmission building at the corner of Archibald Street and North Winooski Avenue. Extension cords originating at the nearby Junktiques Collective powered the band's equipment.

Passing cyclists, skateboarders and motorists were all drawn in by the band's rambunctious performance. Attendees maintained appropriate social distancing, although many were without masks or other face coverings.

Though Gov. Phil Scott rolled back some social distancing restrictions for Vermonters on Friday, including reopening restaurants for outdoor dining, he has yet to address the return of large public gatherings, saying only that no music festivals and fairs will happen this summer.

Just before 4:30 p.m., an officer of the Burlington Police Department arrived. Mullins said the officer told Barbacoa that, since the band did not have a permit, the show would need to stop. The band played one final song before dispersing.

"We'll do it again and maybe get a permit," Mullins said. "We'll see what they say."

[Disclosure: Members of Barbacoa are Seven Days employees.]