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Soundbites: All About Mardi Gras


Published March 27, 2019 at 10:00 a.m.

  • Courtesy Of Trace Montgomery
  • The Le Tigre tent

In-Tents Partying

I hope you're in the mood to get wild. Because this Friday and Saturday, March 29 and 30, Burlington busts out the first huge rager of 2019 whether you like it or not. I'm talking about Magic Hat Brewing's annual Mardi Gras celebration, of course. On the off chance you have no idea what I'm talking about — or, slightly more likely, that you're still confused about this year's changes — I'll quickly recap the whole shebang.

For 24 years, beer baron Magic Hat has thrown a Mardi Gras festival in downtown Burlington, the focal point of which was, until now, a huge parade. In fact, the size of the parade and accompanying crowds grew so much over the years that the processional was relocated from the Church Street Marketplace to Main Street about 10 years ago.

But this year, the parade isn't happening for two main reasons. First of all, early March, when the fest usually took place, is cold AF. Though we Northerners are a tough folk, we're only human. Braving the cold for little reward proved tiresome.

Weather considerations weren't the only factor. Being the spectacle that it is, the parade drew throngs of people into downtown Burlington for only a few hours. It made getting in and out of town unbearable before and after the parade, and it also meant that most people weren't sticking around for the other Mardi Gras happenings. Speaking of which...

This year, a number of specially erected, heated event tents will pop up at locations in and around the Marketplace, comprising an all-day street festival on Saturday. Additionally, nearby clubs host some seriously hot music marathons and special nighttime events. Read on for a brief preview of specific performers — but make sure to visit for a comprehensive guide.

Tents will be located in City Hall Park, on Church Street near Leunig's Bistro & Café, and in front of the former Burlington Town Center. Plus, the extra-special Le Tigre tent camps out at the top block of Church Street. What's the Le Tigre tent, you ask? Essentially, it's a 100-seat arena specifically designed for vaudevillian antics — like the kind of shenanigans we can assume performance art duo Daredevil Chicken might get up to at various points on Saturday. Between acts, Sugar Cone serves up sweet piano interludes.

Many scheduled entertainers are of the circusy variety, including acrobat Derek Derek and break-dancer Snap Boogie, whom you can find in the tent near Leunig's. Also, aerial performers from Secret Circus and puppet comic El Gleno Grande take up residency in the Town Center tent, and bizarro performance artists Big Nazo will be milling around pretty much all day.

The City Hall Park tent hosts primarily music-related acts. Burlington radical street band Brass Balagan and Vermont's Afro-Brazilian percussion ensemble Sambatucada perform throughout the day, as well as Brooklyn's Underground Horns.

Nectar's and Club Metronome are the official Mardi Gras club locations. On Friday night, funk and jam band lovers should head to Nectar's for Kung Fu and Mungion, while fans of disco and electro should head upstairs to Metronome for a DJ set from the Juan MacLean and a live set from disco band Escort. (Read our interview with Escort's Eugene Cho.)

Saturday is an all-day affair at gravy fry central. Nectar's presents a slew of bands — many of which are local, including Americana outfits Wild Leek River and Kingfisher, and funk-rock groups Brickdrop and Nico Suave. Additionally, Boston's QuadraFunk and Kentucky blues-rock band OTIS are on the scene, all leading up to headlining act Organically Good Trio, a reggae supergroup featuring members of Slightly Stoopid, John Brown's Body and Dub Apocalypse.

For the indie kids, Vundabar headline Club Metronome on Saturday, with support from math rockers Peaer and local bummer-rock group J Bengoy.

Again, this is hardly everything you'll find out and about in the Queen City this weekend. There's the official Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball featuring Grippo Funk Band, which takes over Burlington City Hall Auditorium on Saturday. Earlier in the day, trombone band Bonerama accompany the Kegs and Eggs party at the Magic Hat Artifactory in Shelburne. If you do Mardi Gras right, you should be exhausted by Sunday.

One final thought: Wouldn't it be hilarious if folks who live in apartments overlooking the Church Street Marketplace went full Bourbon Street on us? You know: hanging out their windows — safely, of course — drinking from those weirdly tall plastic tumblers and egging on pedestrians below to flash various body parts for beads. Architecturally speaking, we're all set. But could Burlington handle that kind of full-blown debauchery? Only one way to find out. I'm looking at you, residents of Church Street.


  • Courtesy Of Steve Mandamadiotis
  • Cyndi Lauper

Earth Hour is upon us, a time when we energy-sucking humans are encouraged to unplug, disconnect and enjoy a serene screen- and power-free 60 minutes. The hour itself takes place on Saturday, March 30, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., EST. To celebrate, two local rock bands, Swale and the Nancy Druids, are hosting a little shindig at the big Shelburne Field House. Feel free to bring lawn chairs and blankets as if you were attending an outdoor summer concert. And, because the show will take place in relative darkness, you can bring a flashlight or solar lantern.

WTF? Cyndi Lauper, of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" fame, will give the commencement address at Northern Vermont University-Johnson's graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 18. Apparently, Lauper was an art student at the former Johnson State College from 1973-74. In addition to giving the address, she'll receive a Doctor of Letters honorary degree. Unfortunately, you won't be able to attend unless a graduating student hooks you up with one of their four allotted wristbands. But maybe you'll catch a glimpse of the fabulous singer if you cruise around Johnson that weekend.

If you were scanning a list of Burlington events and came across a party called Cavern, you wouldn't be out of line to assume it was a Phish-related affair. But in this case, you'd be wrong! Hosted by the folks at the Generator maker space in the South End, Cavern is billed as a dark, experimental dance night. Saturday, March 30, DJs Gabriel Night and Semantichrist — two of the best-named DJs in town, if I do say so myself — spin darkly sexy tunes amid "wonderfully spooky plant-based art" courtesy of Moonflower Gardens, according to Facebook. The party relocates to Generator from its previous location, Colchester's Groennfell Meadery.

Listening In

If I were a superhero, my superpower would be the ability to get songs stuck in other people's heads. Here are five songs that have been stuck in my head this week. May they also get stuck in yours. Follow sevendaysvt on Spotify for weekly playlists with tunes by artists featured in the music section.

JUPTR, "Filthy"

Tamaryn, "Path to Love"

Rina Mushonga, "Good Vacation"

Escort, "Cameléon Chameleon"

The Beach Boys, "God Only Knows"

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