I had a great time seeing music last Thursday at The Monkey House. I know, I should have been at WBKM doing my local music radio show, but thanks to the power of technology, for once, I was able to be in two places at once. I put the show together on Wednesday morning and recorded it in the afternoon. I hope I got the references to which shows were happening on which day correct. It’s always worth double checking me.
On May 18 of last year (2015) I felt like i received the greatest of late birthday gifts when I saw The Nancy Druids for the first time. I loved Envy’s songs in the ’90’s and The Red Telephone took that sound to a lovely place. I hoped the Druids would have that feel and was elated on the first few notes. I have caught several of their shows lately and chatted with the band often. I remember the idea of an Envy reunion being discussed and remember the day when Sean said it was going to happen. I had a couple of months to wait, but fortunately there was a lot of great music to catch.
After a long night of great music Wednesday I had a nice slow start on Thursday. Just before noon went to North Beach for the Gardener’s Supply summer picnic. It was fun to hang out with everyone until the rain came around 3. I headed out a bit after that and got home and was able to catch a short nap.
I woke up, put on the black, and headed out the door. I was running a bit late, but cruised through the long walk to Winooski. The first show of the night was set to start at 7 and I had left about 10 minutes late. I walked into oak45 at 7:09 to find the room filled with people apparently attending a class on cocktails. The band were set up in the corner of the room but all attention was on the bartenders stories and explanations about classic drinks. I got a drink, hung out, listened, and they wrapped up around 20 after. At 7:30 Andriana Chobot began to play. She sings and plays keys and was joined by Patrick J. Markley on bass and Cody Sargent on drums. I first heard Andriana sing a few weeks ago at the Eat More Kale festival and had to buy her album. I’ve been listening to it and playing it on my radio show ever since. The bass and drums added extra drama and a full sound to her songs. Her keyboard playing is powerful and her voice is lovely. The music is ethereal and enchanting. They played songs like Stumble and Cascade and Not I, and tossed in a mellow cool version of Come Together. They caught the attention of a few of the people hanging out after the class, and seemed to get a little bit more applause after each song. As the show was set to go until 9, and another band around the circle was set to go on at 8:30, I knew I was not going to make the full show. I kept not leaving and finally, about 8:37, they finished a song and I finished my drink and off I went. I really need to see them again when I can just hang out until the last note.
I dodged a bit of traffic and made my way over to the Monkey House. The first band was not on yet so I chatted with Molly King and Lauren and David Jarvis. There were a lot of familiar faces in the crowd. I thought it was odd that Bobby Hackney Jr. kept walking on and off the stage, but soon enough Barbacoa began to play and Bobby joined Bill Mullins and Kirk Flanagan on drums. His playing was fast and powerful and precise and sounded great as the band ripped through a great set of surf noir songs. Kirk’s bass playing drives the songs hard and Bill’s guitar work is always spectacular. They played a bunch of their own songs, everything is instrumental, and a few fun covers. They played a bit of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Paint It Black, and the Secret Agent Man/Spiderman theme mix. Of course, the cover of the night was an astounding version of Envy’s Bloodboy, which they did on the Burlington Does Burlington compilation from many years ago. The crowd was pretty fired up for the whole 14 song hour long set.
The set break was not long then Envy hit the stage for the first time in 21 years. They opened with Bloodboy which has those heavy riffs that melt into the lyrics. There is something about they way they put songs together that is like nothing else. It’s like they set a tone and unfold the sound and it just falls into the rest of the song. Their songs rock hard, even the slower ones, and seem to set themselves on a course for chords that just build and build until they explode. Several times I found myself raising my arm part of the way as a song climbs until it hits that part where the full fist pump is demanded. That brought back a few memories of how excited I used to get when seeing them, but the real treat was seeing four great musicians playing stunning songs here in 2016. The classic lineup of Sean Toohey on guitar and vocals, Matt Hutton on guitar and vocals, Ann Mindell on drums was joined by Julia Austin who played bass with them for a while back in the day. They played most of Distorted Greetings with songs like Still Life Scene, and Falling In And Out Of Sleep. There was one I was not certain of but I think it was Finger Prison. I was quite certain of Imaginary, Sunday, and Horse. They went to an older song they used to play, one that Sean recorded solo, called 1,000 Lies. They dropped a heavy and powerful Bomb then played one from an old cassette. I don’t remember it off hand, but it was great. They closed the night with a powerful cover of Purple Rain. All night Sean and Matt had been trading solos and Matt sounded great playing lead on the Prince song.
It was so wonderful to hear those songs again, and to see local luminaries like Daniel Bolles, Brendan Devitt, John Franklin, and Mike Luoma and lots of others that looked familiar. Despite the desire to look back at the time when those songs were created and first played I really couldn’t. All I could see was some great musicians playing some great songs in a timeless magical way.
I hung out for a little bit, then took the long walk home to Burlington with my head filled with musical magic.