As I write this column — Monday morning — we stand on the brink of an event that could permanently fracture relations between two significant portions of our local population: fans of the New England Patriots and fans of the New York Giants. For the non-sports fans out there, or anyone who awoke from a coma this week, those two NFL teams will meet this Sunday, February 5, in the Super Bowl. Especially as Vermont is uniquely located both in New England but next to New York, this year’s game is indeed a very big deal around these parts. So if you’re wondering why there’s almost nothing going on at local clubs Sunday night, there ya go. Ditto why two-thirds of the local workforce will call in “sick” on Monday morning. (Note to President Obama: Wanna win reelection in November? Declare the Monday after the Super Bowl a national holiday. You’re welcome.)
If you think I’m overstating the potential divide, you weren’t at the Thurston Moore show on Sunday. About mid-set, the estimable Mr. Moore innocently mentioned that his drummer was from Boston, prompting a shout of “Go, Pats!” from the balcony — which may or may not have erupted from the mouth of Dino Bravo’s Matt Perry. Moments later, a response erupted from the back of the room: “Go, Giants!” (Anyone know if Scott Mangan was at the show?) It was an awkward, tense moment. And keep in mind the context here. This was a low-key, acoustic indie-rock show. In a church. When it comes to local allegiances for this year’s Super Bowl, nothing is sacred. (And fear not, more on Thurston in a sec.)
As a die-hard New England fan, I’m overjoyed at the prospect of my beloved Pats playing for another title and avenging their SB loss to these very same Giants four years ago. However, some of my best friends are Giants fans. The prospect of never speaking to them again, should things go awry, saddens me greatly. And I’m only sort of joking. (It doesn’t upset me all that much, really … go, Pats!)
Clearly, I’m a mess of emotions right now. My thoughts are scattered. I can’t focus. I’m having trouble sleeping and eating. There’s only one solution: a good, old-fashioned, rapid-fire, all-BiteTorrent edition of Soundbites. So strap on those shoulder pads and let’s get dirty.
Among the big stories of the past week was the grand opening of the new Three Needs in the spot vacated by Parima last year. All weekend long, the line from the bar’s front door stretched down Pearl Street. And with good reason. The bar is awesome, making good use of Parima’s unique design and sprucing it up (down?) with the Needs’ distinctly homey and eclectic dive aesthetic. As a longtime devotee of the old Needs, I approve. However, losing a great music venue in Parima still stings. That’s why I’m delighted to report that music is returning to the space, at least on a part-time basis. Songwriter — and hardcore Giants fan … grrr — Scott Mangan wrote in recently to inform us that his wildly successful and delightfully hedonistic monthly bash, Mildred Moody’s Full Moon Masquerade, is coming home to roost, after a short stint moonlighting across the street at Radio Bean. The next installment is this Tuesday, February 7, and will feature some familiar faces, including Mildred Moody (Mangan’s band), Jenke Records’ Tommy Alexander, headliners Dr. Ruckus and, as always, the body painting high jinks of the Human Canvas.
Congratulations to both MSR Presents and Angioplasty Media for presenting a dynamite evening with Thurston Moore at the UU Church in Burlington last Sunday. Backed by an acoustic band that included violin and harp, Moore was as compelling and daring as you’d expect the cofounder of Sonic Youth to be, playing in unusual tunings and seriously pushing the limits of what one can do with a 12-string guitar and balloons. (You had to be there.) He’s also really, really tall and doesn’t seem to have aged — he’s 53 and still looks like a gangly teenager. If you didn’t go — and since it didn’t sell out, many of you didn’t — you missed something special. Normally, this would be the part of the column in which I chastise you for not going to a show that should have sold out within hours of tickets going on sale. But I’m not going to do that. You have your reasons, I’m sure. Instead, I’ll simply offer that MSR and Angio have big plans to utilize the UU Church this year for similarly unique shows. It’s an exciting development that could become a regular thing, but only if we collectively support it. And with performances such as Moore’s — and Jeff Mangum’s last summer — to be had, why the hell wouldn’t we?
It’s hard to do jazz hands in mittens, and though it’s only February, the 2012 Burlington Discover Jazz Festival is closer than you think. Need proof? Last week, the BDJF began leaking the names of some acts appearing at this year’s fest, including Christian McBride and Inside Straight on the Flynn MainStage on June 8, and the Mary Halvorson Quintet at the FlynnSpace on June 7. Think warm thoughts.
Speaking of big show announcements, Feist is coming back to Burlington for the first time in four years to play the Flynn MainStage on Friday, May 11. Tickets go on sale at flynntix.org this Friday, February 3, at 10 a.m.
Red Square debuts a new series called Old Soul this Thursday, February 2. As astute readers may have inferred, the weekly series focuses on, um, old soul music, specifically 1960s- and ’70s-era hits from the likes of Solomon Burke, Booker T. and Billy Preston. Noted local musicians Alex Budney, Andric Severance, Max Bronstein and Caleb Bronz make up the house band and will be joined by different local vocalists each week.
The 2011 winner of the annual Advance Music Singer-Songwriter contest, Giovanina Bucci, is something of a mystery to Vermont audiences. In part that’s because she’s from Plattsburgh and doesn’t make it across the lake very often — except to school our Green Mountain tunesmiths in competitions, apparently. Anyway, this Thursday, February 2, Bucci makes a rare Vermont appearance at On the Rise Bakery in Richmond as part of the monthly In the Round at On the Rise songwriter series. It’s hosted by Derek Burkins, who was also a finalist in the Advance contest last year. Rounding out the bill is Burlington’s Joshua Glass.
Happy trails to Bonjour-Hi’s Allie Pacelli, aka DJ Treatz. The spunky house DJ spins her last local gig this Friday, February 3, at ½ Lounge before moving on to the concrete pastures of New York City. Best of luck, Allie.
While we’re on the subject of EDM, those wascally curators of fine bass music, Mushpost, present their first major gig of the year this Saturday, February 4, with downtempo auteurs Emancipator, Little People and Natasha Kmeto at the Higher Ground Ballroom. Emancipator nearly sold out the Ballroom last year and is a safe bet to do so this time around. But if you miss out on that show, you can check out the official Emancipator pre-party on Friday, February 3, at Rusty Nail Bar & Grille in Stowe, featuring live EDM acts BioDeisel and Sonic Spank. Interesting note about the former band’s drummer, Johnny Rabb: He holds the Guinness Book of World Records title of fastest drummer on Earth. True story.
Last but not least, Burlington doesn’t see many Ghana-born rappers who count Dave Chappelle, Fela Kuti, Public Enemy’s Chuck D and Pelé among their greatest influences. Enter Blitz the Ambassador, who describes his sonically progressive and intellectually stimulating brand of Pan-African noise and hip-hop as “Afrotronic hop.” Works for us. He’ll be at Nectar’s this Friday, February 3, with local support from the Lynguistic Civilians.
Once again, this week’s totally self-indulgent column segment, in which I share a random sampling of what was on my iPod, turntable, CD player, 8-track player, etc. this week.
Cloud Nothings, Attack on Memory
Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Area 52
First Aid Kit, The Lion’s Roar
Howler, America Give Up