- Courtesy of Chawna Cota
The close of a year is a natural time for reflection. It is also a time to look ahead. So, as has become Soundbites tradition, let's gaze into the crystal disco ball and get a feel for what's in store for the Vermont music scene in 2017.
Important note: These predictions, while they may be loosely based in a nugget of reality, are not meant to be taken seriously in any way, shape or form. In the many years we've been running this bit, not a single one of our prognostications has come true. Why? Because these are jokes, people. With that in mind...
Social scientists declare New Year's Day 2017 as the most hungover day in Vermont history. The working theory is that New Year's Eve revelers, following a year beset with all manner of cultural and political tragedy, drown their frustrations in an ocean of booze to an unprecedented degree.
"How is it fair that Donald Trump is still alive but we lost Prince, Bowie, Leonard Cohen and Alan Thicke?" says one obscenely hammered partier at Nectar's in Burlington, where the Renegade Groove and locals Rumblecat are playing a bash dubbed "Alien Invaders! A Cosmic New Year's Disco Party." "Fuck 2016," he continues tearfully, before excusing himself to vomit.
At the Higher Ground Ballroom, local psych-pop phenoms Madaila not only sell out their two-night NYE party, "The Secret," they oversell it. By a lot. HG co-owners Alan Newman and Alex Crothers consciously ignore the club's capacity limits as thousands descend on the South Burlington venue and drink every last drop of booze on the premises.
"After the way this year went, who cares?" says Newman of their brazen defiance of the fire code. "Smoke 'em if you got 'em," he continues, lighting a joint by the back bar. Then, staring at a far-off point in the distance, he mutters, "Alan Thicke, man..."
Leading up to the Madaila shows, there had been rampant speculation about just what, exactly, was the band's big secret. New songs? Maybe some new members? Another band name change? As it turns out, the Secret is the name of a new ultraliberal underground news zine published by keyboardist and outspoken political activist Eric Maier.
"You just can't trust any major media outlets right now to be as virulently left-wing as the times demand," he explains. "Also, I think this is what Alan Thicke would have wanted."
On Friday, January 6, in Washington, D.C., the United States Congress voids the presidential election of Donald Trump. In a shocking turn, lawmakers cite a litany of grave concerns about Trump, ranging from his innumerable financial conflicts of interest to increasing evidence of Russian influence on the election to his general douchebaggery.
"The guy really is a fucking idiot," says Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). "And I know from idiots. After all, I once chose Sarah Palin to be my running mate."
In Burlington, local protest punk duo NODON, who formed in direct response to Trump's presumed presidency, announce they are retiring.
"I think our work here is done," says front man Tristan Baribeau, dusting off his hands. He hints at a new band in the works, YAYBERNIE.
In April, exactly one year after local DJ and rapper Ryan Morin — aka BP — passed, his old group, the Aztext, release a new album in his honor as the Aztext Family. The record is largely based in Morin's own writings and on his unique DJ style. It is widely regarded as the best hip-hop album ever made in Vermont. There's actually no joke here. I can't wait to hear that album.
- Jim Lockridge
- My Revenge at 242 Main
Finally, in September, Burlington city officials unveil an ambitious plan to restore the decrepit Memorial Auditorium. The plans include renovating the gymnasium into a legitimate multiuse space for sporting events and major concerts, as well as upgrades for beloved basement punk club 242 Main.
Additionally, the city announces that the local nonprofit Big Heavy World will serve as the city's official music office. Among the organization's new duties is running 242 Main.
"That's pretty neat," says BHW founder Jim Lockridge. "I had only been petitioning the city for Big Heavy to be the music office for, like, 20 years. Man, time flies."
Throughout its 30-year history, 242 Main had bounced around from one city department to another. Most recently, the club operated under the watch of the Fletcher Free Library.
"That didn't make sense, even to us," says a library representative of being tasked with managing 242. "Why would you put people who 'shush' other people for a living in charge of the loudest program in the city?"
A Fond Farewell
Last but not least, it is with a mix of excitement and sadness that I announce that this Soundbites column will be my last. After nearly 10 years serving as Seven Days' music editor, I am moving on to a new position at the company and handing the Music Guy scepter to our current assistant music editor, Jordan Adams.
It has been a distinct pleasure and privilege to occupy this chair in what I genuinely believe to be the most dynamic and exciting period in the history of Vermont music. The exponential degree to which the scene has grown and evolved over the past decade is astonishing. That's a credit to the innumerable talented, visionary and passionate people who make the scene go — musicians, club owners, promoters and fans alike. I feel honored to have been able to tell their stories and share their music with you.
So why leave?
My passion for local music has not diminished. If anything, it's only deepened since I took this gig. But after almost a decade, I increasingly find that I would like to tell other stories, too. And, to be perfectly honest, a part of me is giddy over the notion of simply being a fan again. After all, that's how I fell in love with local music to begin with.
At this point you might be wondering, What's next, Dan? Great question.
For myself, the short answer is this: I don't know, exactly — though I'm staying at 7D. In the short term, I'll explore some other interests — sports, comedy and social activism, to name a few. I expect that over time those interests will expand and evolve into new areas. One of my favorite aspects of being the music editor has been how it's exposed me to music I might not otherwise have sought out. The job has a way of broadening your horizons.
I imagine that will be true of my new role, as well. But you'll still see my byline in music stories occasionally. I mean, somebody has to write the fake rockstar interviews, right?
As for the music section, I'm leaving it in good hands. Jordan is smart, talented, ambitious and dedicated. I think the local scene will benefit from his voice and perspective. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't leave the position. I'm keenly aware of the role the 7D music editor plays in the music community. I feel a personal stake in making sure my successor succeeds.
The last 10 years have been genuinely transformative for me. I've grown as a writer and a person in ways I wouldn't have dreamed possible. I've been able to interview some of the most influential and famous musicians in the world. And I've covered many more who work in relative obscurity. I've fallen in love with bands, people and places. I've cried over the loss of dear friends in our close-knit music community. I've laughed, a lot. In short, I have taken more from this job than I could ever return. It's been a hell of a run, and I can only hope that you've enjoyed it half as much as I have.
Thanks for reading.
A peek at what was on my iPod, turntable, eight-track player, etc. this year. Follow sevendaysvt on Spotify for weekly playlists with tunes by artists featured in the music section.
Angel Olsen, My Woman
Margo Price, Midwest Farmer's Daughter
Andy Shauf, The Party
A Tribe Called Quest, We Got It From Here ... Thank You 4 Your Service