This is why I love my job.
The sweet, familiar musk of rock show — that would be sweat and cheap(ish) beer — hung heavily in the air last Friday night at Nectar’s. Milling about the bar, a sizable crowd — especially for a late-summer evening in a college town — hummed with idle chatter as it awoke from a druggy hypnosis, courtesy of increasingly impressive garage-psych duo The Vacant Lots. There was a palpable excitement in the room, evident on the faces of those in attendance — some familiar from years of show hopping and others, seemingly new blood. It was a classic scene, evoking the fondest of memories from the fabled glory days of Burlington Rock City.
Following a blistering set from art-punk favorites Blowtorch, I stepped outside into the close August night. Both in conversations I had personally and those overheard on the sidewalk in front of the club, a familiar undercurrent began to take hold.
Dude Number 1: “Hey, you know what tonight kinda reminds me of? Club Toast.”
Dude Number 2: “Yeah, man. Totally.” [Drags on a cigarette and exhales while wistfully gazing toward the sky.]
If you hang around the Burlington music scene long enough, you will undoubtedly overhear someone — usually in their early to mid-thirties and almost assuredly drunk — lament the passing of the late, great Club Toast. And with good reason. The place served as a cornerstone of the local music scene until its doors closed in 1998. It is a testament to the club’s profound lasting effect on our tiny hamlet that it is still mentioned with such reverence today. In fact, “this kinda reminds me of Club Toast” is just about the highest compliment that can be paid ’round these parts when it comes to a night on the town.
But if you think about it, that’s actually pretty sad, isn’t it? And it is hardly fair that local rock brilliance like that on display Friday at Nectar’s — if I failed to mention it, the Cave Bees and Rough Francis rawked — needs to be framed by a dive that hasn’t been around for more than a decade. It’s time to move on, people.
That said, the show was reminiscent of the essence of what made Toast and that era so special — at least among those of us old enough to remember it. A bar is just a bar. A stage is just a stage. Call me a cheeseball — hell, you’ve called me worse. But what makes a venue great are the people inside it. And for the first time I can recall in longer than I care to admit, I felt a true sense of community and excitement at a locals-only show at a Burlington nightclub. And it was wonderful. It was a throwback. It was rockin’.
Well done, Nectar’s. Here’s to more nights just like it in the near future.
What’s Good? We Are.
So I told you that story to tell you this one.
The day this issue hits newsstands, the second installment of our annual college guide, What’s Good … er, excuse me, our award-winning college guide, What’s Good, will also make its debut. And you know what? It’s good. And I’m not saying that just because I wrote a lot of it. Really, it’s a great read. An award-winning read! Ahem.
Though it’s technically directed at incoming college students, I’m guessing even townies will find it useful for scoping out cheap eats, off-the-beaten-path hangouts and, of course, great local bands.
As we did last year, 7D will be hosting a local music showcase in celebration of the guide, our general awesomeness, the awesomeness of our cozy scene and, most importantly, the awesomeness of the Queen City’s low-power beacon of eclecticism — and awesomeness — the Radiator, to whom all proceeds from the show will go. Awesome.
The big night will be Wednesday, September 23, at both Nectar’s and Club Metronome, so mark that night on your calendars. Do this right now, please. We’re still ironing out the final lineup details, but as of this printing confirmed acts include Anaïs Mitchell, the Gordon Stone Band, In Memory of Pluto, Lendway and BURNTmd. And of course, I’ll keep you posted as events warrant — or even when they don’t, provided it’s a slow news week like this one and I need to fill some column space. Moving on…
You know it’s a slow time of year on the music front when Higher Ground is closed all week. Perhaps they’re just resting up for the Journey tribute night in two weeks. Or maybe for the unbridled kickassitude that is the remainder of their fall calendar. Seriously, check it out. I’m impressed.
This just in from Waylon Speed: The speedwestern revivalists are beginning work on their debut album. No word on a release date yet, but I’m stocking up on denim just to be prepared.
The Waterbury Reservoir Restaurant and Tap Room is unveiling a new series on Wednesday, September 2 — that’s right, we’re talking about September already … sigh — entitled “Ladies Night, with Shrimp on the Side.” There is a lewd joke in there somewhere, I swear. Anyway, every Wednesday, eclectic multi-instrumentalist Glenn McElwain (aka Shrimp) will be joined by different female songwriters from around the region, which may be the most creative way to meet women I’ve ever heard of. First up is Somerville’s Danielle Miraglia. Future installments will see the likes of Sara Grace, Pam Manning, Erin McDermott and Taryn Noelle. (I was totally kidding about the meeting-women thing. Unless it’s true. In which case, well played, sir!)
I am absolutely tickled that JP’s Pub is doing weekly live music. No, I won’t take any credit for it. But I will point out that I made the suggestion in this very column mere weeks before the Thursday-night series began earlier this summer. Coincidence? Yup. Still, it’s pretty cool. The fun continues this week with local electro-acoustic chanteuse Nuda Veritas and a pair of out-of-towners, Chicago’s A Lite Sleeper and Brooklyn outfit Pure Horsehair.
And speaking of Nuda Veritas, if you haven’t seen the latest installment of her semi-regular local music TV series on Channel 16 with Ryan Power, you are missing out. It’s incredible. Check it out online at www.burlysong.blip.tv. Or on my blog, Solid State.
And finally, the Champlain Valley Fair starts this week, which means we are nearing the end of the “Summer of [Blank],” which as regular readers know, officially concludes following Kid Rock’s third encore on Sunday, September 6. Where does the time go?