Soundbites: Bigger and Better; Glass Ceiling | Music News + Views | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Soundbites: Bigger and Better; Glass Ceiling


Published November 1, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.

Kat Wright performing at Radio Bean - CREDIT: BLOOM MACHINE PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Credit: Bloom Machine Photography
  • Kat Wright performing at Radio Bean

The first weekend of November marks a festive annual milestone for Burlington's Radio Bean. The intimate live music venue first set up shop right around this time in the year 2000. Seventeen years later, it celebrates its birth with an all-day music marathon on Saturday, November 4, which features just about every local band and singer-songwriter currently active in the area.

Last year, just for fun, I decided to test my own endurance and camped out for the entirety of the 19-hour affair. If you think you can handle it, I highly recommend trying it once. Just make sure to drink as much water as you do coffee. And it couldn't hurt to keep a 5-hour Energy handy.

In preparation for the copious shindig, the Bean and its sister space, the Light Club Lamp Shop, have undergone some slight structural changes. The coffee shop's stage is now a bit bigger. I'm sure large ensemble bands such as Mal Maiz and Lokum, both regulars on the pint-size dais, will appreciate the extra room to boogie. Unfortunately, to accommodate the expanded performance area, the house piano got the heave-ho and is likely going to be permanently benched.

Two doors down at the LCLS, the "porthole" walls that once stood just beyond the lounge's large storefront windows are history. Those ornately decorated walls — which were completely cosmetic and not load-bearing — ensconced two intimate seating areas perfect for group hangs and quiet conversation. So, why rip them down? According to proprietor Lee Anderson, chitchat in the secluded booths often overpowered and distracted from musical performances.

Instead of alcove seating, two raised, lounge-y nooks now occupy the club's front corners — one of which will house a designated DJ booth. Though no square footage has been added, the space somehow feels much larger. You know the phrase, "It really opens the place up?" Well, the renovation really opens the place up.

Lassies (and Laddies) Come Home

Speaking of the Bean's birthday bash, this year's festivities get a jump start on Friday, November 3, with a hip happening called the Homecoming Ball. Former Radio Bean employees will come out of retirement and post up behind the bar, just like they did in the good old days. Swale, Eames Brothers Band and Mickey Western are set to perform — all of whom are also playing the bash — followed by a turntable set from Anderson's alter ego, DJ Lee J.

It's not the first time Anderson and his old crew have gotten together, but those instances were usually dictated by other events.

"[The idea for the Homecoming Ball] was sort of to counteract the wedding, memorial-service scenario of reunion — which can be wonderful and healing," Anderson explains. But he says this is a chance for folks to get back together on their own terms.

"If you're not actually from Burlington, then you move away, you may or may not come back for a long time," he says. "It's going to be really fun because [some people] haven't worked here in 15 years."

If you're a longtime patron of Radio Bean, expect to have some serious déjà vu and early-2000s flashbacks.

Glass Ceiling

  • Credit: Jupiter Keyes
  • Alice Glass

Last week, former Crystal Castles singer-songwriter Alice Glass posted a revelatory statement on her website alleging years of psychological manipulation, abuse and rape at the hands of her former bandmate, Ethan Kath (whose given name is Claudio Palmieri). It was the first time Glass had ever specifically named Kath as an abuser, though she had previously spoken out on the subjects in general.

Glass left the gothy, electro-punk band in 2014 after nearly a decade. The contentious split was highly publicized, as was the induction of Crystal Castles' new singer, Edith Frances, who has not yet made a personal statement regarding the accusation.

Following Glass' revelation, all dates on the band's upcoming tour were canceled — including a November 15 stop at the Higher Ground Ballroom in South Burlington. Hers is among the latest in a string of similar claims leveled at prominent men in the entertainment industry, such as former Real Estate guitarist Matt Mondanile, former Marilyn Manson guitarist Twiggy Ramirez (real name Jeordie White) and, of course, film exec/professional sleazebag Harvey Weinstein.

Some internet comments regarding Glass' allegations didn't sit well with me. I'm not talking about the typical rape-apologist nonsense, though there was plenty of that kind of ill-informed sentiment. And, to the surprise of no one, those comments usually came from men who astutely point out that, in America, people are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Um, no shit, Sherlock. We've all seen "Law & Order." But this isn't a Dick Wolf-produced courtroom drama. This is the court of public opinion wherein no such laws govern the outcome, so comments comparing the two arenas are worthless and misplaced — not to mention arrogant.

But these ignorant assertions aren't the ones grinding my gears this week. It's the people who say they're throwing out their Crystal Castles records and will never listen to them again, because they could never support a monster such as Kath. I see their reasoning and how it can be applied to situations similar to this one. More and more people are unwilling to separate art from artist. But, in this case, it seems overly harsh and not at all fair to Glass.

In her statement, she writes, "I was miserable, and my lyrics indirectly spoke to the pain and oppression that I was enduring." To expunge all traces of Glass-era Crystal Castles from your music library indirectly disavows the former vocalist's experience. Instead of tossing your copy of (II) in the trash, maybe give it a deeper listen and try to hear her words for what they truly were.

If you haven't figured it out by now, we're in the midst of a sea change. We should be prepared to question everything we think we know about the people we idolize. The current wave of women and others breaking their silence against powerful, abusive men is merely a whitecap. The tsunami is likely still to come.

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.

Beck, "No Distraction"

Ibeyi, "Deathless"

Jessie Ware, "Your Domino"

Desire, "If I Can't Hold You"

PREP, "Futures"

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