Two weeks ago, I spent the bulk of Labor Day weekend in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. As much as I poke fun at Billyburg, I really do enjoy it. In fact, given a choice, I would spend my occasional NYC visits milling about the streets of the noted hipster haven and avoiding the hustle — and expense — of Manhattan. In terms of people watching, you really can’t beat it.
Anyway, this trip I found myself flying solo with an entire Saturday afternoon to kill. After some aimless wandering — highlights of which included a stop at a dog park, too many iced coffees and taking in a few innings of a stickball game — I decided I needed to indulge my inner hipster. “When in Rome,” as they say. But how?
Needing time to plan my attack, I decided upon the most passively hipster-ish thing I could do and settled down in the open-air window of a French café, sipping Stella Artois and reading a Chuck Klosterman novel. Like I said, when in Rome.
While occasionally glancing up from my barstool perch to watch the world go by, I overheard two couples talking about something called the “Monster Island Block Party.” Clad in painted-on jeans, ironically un-ironic T-shirts and big, bright shoes, these people were almost unbearably stylish. I’m not sure, but I think they were in a band. OK, they were definitely in a band. In any event, from the bits I could glean from their conversation, this Monster Island sounded like just the sort of overly hipster event I had been hoping for. Game on.
I paid my tab and proceeded to stealthily follow the quartet for several blocks toward the river. Sure enough, as the Manhattan skyline came into view, the unmistakable strains of jangly indie rock wafted over me. A couple of blocks later, I was in hipsterer-than-thou art-fest heaven.
At first, I kind of felt like Steve Irwin, the late, great “Crocodile Hunter.”
’Ere we ’have the ’ipstah in ’is native ’abitat. Oooh, that one’s really mad! Someone must ’ave insulted Dirty Projectahs, I thought in my best Aussie accent, as two revelers, who may or may not have been American Apparel models — and in a band — animatedly argued nearby.
My voyeurish hesitation would soon submit to the surroundings. Before long, I found myself milling about the warehouse-cum-art studio and then standing in front of the makeshift outdoor stage as band I’d never heard of after band I’d never heard of rocked and/or rolled. I even gawked at some crazy-ass art. It was awesome.
As dusk gave way to nightfall, I left the still-raging party. But one thought ran through my head over and over: That was almost as cool as Art Hop.
Strange that I would need to go to New York, of all places, to essentially stumble upon a microcosm of our annual weekend-long artenanny. That’s right, I just made up a word. Deal.
But as last Friday’s hopping would ultimately prove, that’s what my Brooklyn experience was: Art Hop in microcosm. From the Blowtorch-fueled skate-punk party in the basement of JDK, to Husbands AKA rocking a checkered throng of teenage rude boys and girls at an auto shop, to the always impressive Rough Francis behind Speaking Volumes — not to mention the three or four bands I caught in passing at various locations, the identities of whom I’m still not sure — I marveled at just how brilliant this annual display of artistic wonderment is. And how much stuff you have to miss just to take in a little.
Art Hop is the Queen City’s artistic tour de force. And in a way, it’s Burlington in microcosm.
Burlington in Microcosm
See what I did there?
As I may have mentioned previously, Wednesday, September 23, is the date of the 7D-orchestrated “Burlington Bands 101” showcase at Nectar’s and Club Metronome. The two-floor throwdown features seven excellent local acts — granted, not all from Burlington … ahem — and doubles as a benefit for everyone’s favorite bastion of low-power awesomeness, 105.9 FM the Radiator. Oh, and it triples as the unofficial launch party for our annual (award-winning!) college guide, What’s Good. So there’s that.
Details for this year’s party are still materializing, but here’s what we’ve got thus far:
We get underway downstairs with local Righteous Babe and all-around sweetheart Anaïs Mitchell. She’ll be followed by the incomparable Gordon Stone, who will give way to the hip-hop stylings of BURNTmd, who will begat funk upstarts Bearquarium. Holding it down between sets are VT’s dynamic duo of hip-hop, DJ A-Dog and my main man, Nastee. Word.
Moving upstairs, we have the interplanetary power-punk pop of In Memory of Pluto, whose killer new EP will get some review love next week. Next up, indie-pop darlings Lendway take the stage, providing a velvety contrast to the leather-bound kickassitude to come, courtesy of heavy-metal chaps Amadis. DJ Disco Phantom keeps it rolling in between all the rocking, with an assist from yours truly, who is apparently emceeing. Yikes.
Speaking of A-Dog and Nastee, remember last week when I told you to go catch The Beatnuts at their weekly True School sessions on Wednesday, September 16? Yeah, well, that’s today — assuming you grabbed this issue on time. That directive still stands, so put down the paper and make your way to Nectar’s in a calm, orderly fashion. Why? ’Cuz The Beatnuts are crazy good and you’ll feel like an ass if you don’t go. That’s why. Also, Nastee will be dropping his brand-spanking-new album.
It seems former Langdon Street Café booking guru Ed DuFresne is keeping busy since leaving the kooky coffee shop earlier this year. On the heels of yet another successful Northeast Kingdom Music Festival, Ed has once again set his sights on the capital city this Saturday with the Montpelier Downtown Music Festival. You know all that nice stuff I wrote about Art Hop earlier in this column? Well, you could probably substitute “Burlington” with “Montpeculiar” and approximately get the gist. Equal parts street fair, beer blast and rock show, DuFresne is basically commandeering the city for a daylong celebration of art, music and beer — new-ish hotspot Three Penny Taproom is a sponsor. On the music front, expect performances from Brooklyn’s Big Tree, Amherst indie folks Rusty Belle, a new ensemble called the Motortown Revival featuring a baker’s dozen of local all-stars — Ryan Case, Michael Chorney, Miriam Bernardo, et al. — getting their Motown on, and, finally, Portland, Maine, Celtic-rock hooligans The Pubcrawlers. Oh, and it’s free — although donations are strongly encouraged.
Sign of the Times #1: WCLX 102.9FM, “the Album Station,” went off the air last week, citing — no duh alert! — financial woes.
Sign of the Times #2: Recently cancelled Champ 101.3 FM staple “Floydian Slip” is back on the air! Sort of. The Pink Floyd-centric radio show has found a new home on Queen City online station WBKM.org, Saturdays at 11 p.m.
Our old friends/arch-nemeses The Fatal Flaws are back in action this Saturday at Burlington’s Manhattan Pizza. They’ve been working on some new tunes with Montréal’s The Broken Jugs, one of which can be heard on my blog, SolidState — and made my day the first time I heard it. I’m told there may or may not be some special guests for this one, but I haven’t been told who they are, so … yeah. I love a good mystery?