Archive for the ‘Burlington College’ Tag

The Precipice Day 1 Friday August 1, 2014 in the field behind Burlington College   Leave a comment

I had a great time seeing music yesterday, and last night, and this morning. It was day 1 of The Precipice: A Vermont Music Festival, and I had been waiting for months. The morning had a rough start with a low battery chirping fire alarm waking me up at 8. I was able to get a few things done, then caught a little nap in the afternoon. Around 3, I headed out the door, caught a bus to Shelburne and met up with my brother Ken. He has liked a lot of the local music that I play on my radio show, and it was well past time to get him out to see some.

I borrowed a car and we drove to the show. We parked by the college and took the long winding walk down the hill. Instead of using the full bottom part of the field, they used about half of it. Last year, everything was more spread out, and this year it was a bit more concentrated. There were enough people at the height of the show to make it feel full, but not even remotely packed. There was plenty of space to spread out and walk around. There were several food vendors, a place to get henna tattoos, and a couple of other attractions. The main event was in a large tent with a stage on each side and a soundboard in the middle. There a fair amount of room between the stage and soundboard, but at times it did get a bit cramped. The effect of almost continuous music had it’s ups and downs. Last year it was fun to check out a couple of different bands and see which one grabbed you, but this year, it’s one at a time. I have mixed feelings, but it did concentrate people a bit more, and that feeling of being one of the few people seeing a band at a festival, was not there. Either way, they set the stages that way, and went with it.

We arrived a few minutes early, and heard Jane Boxall warming up on the marimba, but soon enough, it was time for the show.

Binger were the first ones on. They are a guitar, bass, drums trio with guitarist and bassist singing. They started with a hip hop groove but built the song into an indie rock work out. As the show went on, they seemed comfortable playing jazz, indie, hip hop, at times sounded a bit like a prog rock band and had some notes of metal here and there, Lots of hammer on guitar and bass playing showed how good they are with their instruments. I was impressed that they could play around with so many genres but still sound cohesive. They have an album coming out in a couple of months, and I will have to check it out.

As their last notes rang out, my focus turned 180 degrees and Jane was at the marimba and ready to go. Gregory Douglas sang a beautiful song, and showcased his remarkable voice. Michael Chorney came up next and they did a sweet cover of Neil Young’s Ambulance Blues. Jane took it from there and played a couple of bouncy old timey tunes that got the slowly filling audience to smile and have a good time. Pyramid followed and she showcased her ability to play the instrument with anywhere between 6 and 0 mallets (she ended the piece by playing with just her hands). She wrapped it up with a little Salsa Mexicana and called it an evening.

I turned around and Grundlefunk filled the stage. They played as a 9-piece with guitar, bass, drums, keys, singer, a percussion/trumpet player, a couple of sax players, and there must have been another horn player in there too. The sound was mixed perfectly and you could hear the guitar cutting through the sound, the keys taking the lead, or whatever they needed the music to do. They sounded like a big full jazzy brassy funk band. The audience was slowly filling in, danced and had a great time.

Up next, a group of masked chaos masters, apparently all named El Beej, except the drummer who was Sergeant Cody, played a loosely odd set of sonic weirdness. They got a cool vocal sound out of an old telephone, and the two guitar, bass, drums, two sax, and keyboard band swerved and drifted as Joe Adler kept asking if anyone was there. At times they had a big rocking jazz(?) sound, and had a slow steady huge build for the last song. The playing was great, and the set was fun and I was happy to see the keyboard player was from And The Kids, who will play tonight.

After their set, Steady Betty came on and locked into a groove. They were super tight and the harmonies were delightful. Kat Wright’s voice blended beautifully with Miriam Bernardo’s and Linda Bassick added some sweet backups. The mellow happy rock steady sound had a lot of people dancing and having a great time. Their songs of social justice, wrapped within a happy dance groove were fun an powerful. The sheer talent of the players was on full display. They wrapped it up with the song that goes la la la, and then it was time to turn around again.

Barika were set to go and played some super smooth building flowing jazz. The sound is driven by a sting instrument called a Kamel N’goni, and the plucked strings lead down a path filled with the key/trombone, sax, trumpet, bass and drums. The music has a lovely sweeping flow and kept the audience dancing. Miriam and Kat joined them for one song and the whole set was a relaxed good time.

Up next, Kat Wright & The Indomitable Soul Band filled the stage. The whole tent, past the soundboard, was dancing as they played some soul with a few rock and roll edges. With guitar, bass, drums, keys, and a couple of sax players, they created a beautiful space to let Kat loose. Her voice is warm and sweet and her stage demeanor is relaxed and confident. She led the band through lots of solid songs, and sang at least one with guitarist Bob Wagner. While the relaxed dance vibe thing works for most people, it left me wanting a bit of rock and roll. Bob threw in some nice guitar work, here and there during the set, so it made me happy.

Up next, it was time to rock. The Dirty Blondes were a little shorthanded, since Rebecca Rogers had recently been arrested in Cleveland, but they persevered. Sole singer Diane Sullivan was the opposite of Kat, loud brassy, and in your face. The band ripped through some very fast versions of their songs. From the opening notes of Burn, they played loud fun punk rock. Crybaby has a fun flow to the rhythm. They taught everyone the dance move for Kung Pao. Things threatened to get a bit spiritual with Hallelujah, but the ripping guitar and killer bass kept it nicely grounded. Slut was loud and fast, and Ornan McLean‘s drumming was blistering. Drunk was fun to sing, and Jacking Off has a great flow to the music. That New Guy Is Not James Bond had a nice spy theme going to it, and they wrapped the night with a cover of Cher’s Turn Back Time. The audience had fun with it and the guitar especially ripped. All in all, the set was a tad rough, but I was blissfully happy.

It was after midnight at this point. The air had a hint of crispness to it, but was still pretty warm. The audience had dwindled a bit, maybe due to the late hour or the Blondes volume, but there were lots of people there as Ryan Power hit the stage. He was playing keys and singing, and was joined by guitar, bass, drum, and another keyboard player. His songs are unique pop sort of songs. There are lots of layers of voice and keys and Michael Chorney mentioned that it doesn’t sound like anything else he’s ever heard. I concur.

It was late, and I was starting to feel drained. Ken was tired too, so we listened to most of Ryan’s set as we walked up the long hill. Bella’s Bartok and Plato’s Ears were still set to play, but it’s hard to catch everything. I drove him back to Shelburne, then drove home to Burlington. Later today, I will go pick him up, and we will do it all over again, this time with even more rock and roll!

 

The Precipice Day 1 July 26, 2013   Leave a comment

Wow. Last night was a brilliant night of music. I headed out just before 5 and made my way to the field behind the new Burlington College building. I presented my three day pass and got double stamped and arm banded, and headed in to the show. Funbridge were jamming some funky rock in the inTENT, but I briskly walked by, to the OmnipoTENT main stage, to see Swale. They were on and playing a killer version of Cancer. The sound was huge and wonderful and proved a harbinger of the night. For the most part, all of the bands had nice mixes and sounded great. Swale mixed up the pace with a couple of slower songs, but even Waterlanding had more of a rock edge than it sometimes does. They sounded so great, that if felt like an unpardonable sin to leave.

Unfortunately, Anna Pardenki and Her Apologies were playing in the CoexisTENT, and I had to check out her music. I’m not a huge fan of her band VT Joy Parade, but I’ve heard her solo songs a couple of times, and loved them. She was playing acoustic guitar and singing. Her band consisted of an electric guitar player, who had a mellow tone and shaded the songs rather than leading them. Matther Kloss played a killer stand-up bass, and kept the songs rocking. The drummer was solid and steady, and kept the focus on Anna. The first three songs were intricate pop songs with challenging rhythms and were fun to figure out. The next three were more straight forward and let her voice shine gloriously. I loved what I heard and bought her brand new six song EP.

Wave of the Future at the Precipice photo by Marc Scarano

Wave of the Future at the Precipice photo by Marc Scarano

Wave of the Future at the Precipice photo by Marc Scarano

Wave of the Future at the Precipice photo by Marc Scarano

Wave of the Future came on right after, in the InTENT, which was pretty close to where Anna played. They were dressed in matching bright greenish yellow shirts with the band name printed in the back to the future logo. They were full of intensity and enthusiasm and got the crowd rocking. With two singers, one of whom was the wonderful Samara Lark, guitar, bass, drums and keyboard guitar, they wreaked sonic havoc and were lots of fun. The bass player had a grungy rock sound, the guitar player Tim played fluidly with metal intent. The drummer was a wild man who knocked off a cymbal in the first song and used some double bass drum pumping when the songs needed to go over the top. The whole sound was like they were a rap band who played their own instruments, sang shouty growly vocals, instead of rapping, and sounded like a funk metal band playing ‘80’s pop. Whatever the heck they were, it was lots of fun and kept me dancing until the last note.

Steady Betty at the Precipice photo by Marc Scarano

Steady Betty at the Precipice photo by Marc Scarano

Steady Betty at the Precipice photo by Marc Scarano

Steady Betty at the Precipice photo by Marc Scarano

As soon as they were done, Steady Betty was set to go in the CoexisTENT. The ladies all looked fabulous in shiny sparkly attire. The rock steady music was slow and deliberate and it was impossible not to get your sway on. The casual pace of the music was pushed forward by the intent drumming of Jane Boxall and the rocking bass of Caroline O’Connor. The vocals, about justice and equality, were magnificently performed by Kat Wright and Miriam Bernardo, but the times when Caroline and Linda Bassick joined in, the power was magnificent. It sounded like a chorus of angels.

When their set wrapped up, I was going to check out the main stage to see what I could of Birdie Busch, but Joe Adler and the Rangers of Danger started up on the InTENT, which was just a few hundred feet away. Rather than making the long trek across the field, I just went and listened to Joe and the guys rip it up. With a full band, the Rangers of Danger sounded great. Mainstay Eric Seagalstadt was stunning, as always, on lead guitar. That guy can really let loose. They were joined by the bassist and drummer from the Indomitable Soul band, Samara Lark on backing vocals, a keyboard player, and Bob Wagner on lead guitar. A couple of horn players joined in at times, and Johnnie Day Durand played saw on a couple. There were a couple of slower songs and a couple really got in the groove and rocked. Eric and Bob took turns laying in wicked guitar solos and I was very happy. They opened with Spit N Fire Blues then played a killer rock version of the Mime. Joe Broke a sting, so they followed with a stripped down broken string jam version of Many A Girl. The fourth song, about Brothers and Sisters, caught fire and was my first highlight of the night. That thing just rocked! They followed with a slower blues song about Jersey, then kicked it into full speed for Mirror Mirror. They wrapped the set with a jammed out version of Hungry Like the Wolf, which featured two masked rappers at the end. Fun was had by all.

Lynguistic Civilians at the Precipice photo by Marc Scarano

Lynguistic Civilians at the Precipice photo by Marc Scarano

I went to check out Lynguistic Civilians in the main OmnipoTENT, but their rap did not grab me. I chatted with Kevin Lynman for a bit and we headed back to the CoexisTENT for Magic City, a tribute to Sun Ra. The music was like a mini orchestra playing mellow and extremely intricate outer space love songs. With Michael Chorney on acoustic guitar, a stand-up bass player, drummer, three horn players, a pedal steel player, a cello player, a viola player, and Jane Boxall on marimba, the sound was dense, yet easy and fun to listen to. Miriam Bernardo sang wonderful songs about being an angel from outer space, and the whole vibe was challengingly delightful.

Me at The Skamaphrodites at the Precipice from Ariel Bolles

Me at The Skamaphrodites at the Precipice from Ariel Bolles

Next it was back to the InTENT for the Skamaphrodites. With guitar, bass, drums, keys, a couple of horns and Dan Bolles singing, they played some fast rocking ska that got the audience going wild. Tyler Bolles and Steve Hadeka kept the rhythms tight, and now and then the guitar would reach out and rip. Dan was dancing to the groove the whole time and was a fun front man. A little ways into the set, the guys and girl from Wave of the Future came up front to dance or mosh or something. Much of the audience followed and the energy level was through the roof. By the last song, it was almost a full on mosh pit and Wave’s bass player ended up doing a little crowd surfing. My highlight was a quick run through of the Duff beer song.

After that fury, I took a stroll over to the main stage OmnipoTENT and caught a song by Kat Wright and the Indomitable Soul Band. They sounded nice, with Kat’s voice soaring. Unfortunately, Blue Button was playing soon, so I did not hang out long.

Me at Blue Button photo by Ariel Bolles

Me at Blue Button photo by Ariel Bolles

Eric Olson played with Swale from 5-6:30, then Swale had another gig from 8:30-10:30. He made it back to the Precipice to play with Blue Button when they went on at 11:15. With two guitars, bass drums and vocals, Blue Button played some furious punk rock. Heavy rockers like Fucking Burning Bridges and We’re Closed! were nicely balanced by slower, but no less intense songs like Hit and All the Young Dudes. The sound was very clear and they sounded fantastic. They kept me rocking from first note to last, and were my highlight of night one.

It was late and I was drained but I still had more to check out. I headed towards the main stage when I ran into Brass Balagan. They were playing drums and various brass instruments and were slowly moving from the big tent to the middle of the field. With no amps and power cords to hold them back, their sparkly Christmas lights highlighted their red jumpsuits, and made a gentle spectacle.

After checking them out for a bit, I headed back to the InTENT for Brainscapes. I thought it was just Matt Hagen and Bob Wagner, but they were joined by a bass player and drummer. Everyone played intently but the music was drifty and mutable. They did not play songs as such, but invoked some sonic weirdness. They rhythm section did not lay down a bed for the guitars to play over, but rather each of the four musicians wandered in their own way. At one point Matt coaxed some nice feedback and used a drill over the whammy bar to let the feedback flow. When he turned the drill on, it became really intense. Their set was cool, but I still had one band I wanted to check out.

Playing at the same time, across the field, was Barika. I stopped in for three songs and they were incredibly tight. Rise sounded fantastic, full and alive, and they had the audience dancing gently. They had a bass, drums and several horns and the instrumental songs had a beautiful sweep. I should have stayed longer, but I was ready to drop at that point.

I wandered back for a few more Brainscapes, the slowly walked up the hill to the exit. I saw Matt and Caroline and said good night, see you tomorrow. My body was tired so the walk home was slow and intent. Tons of great music played in my head, and my heart was full of happiness. Two more days of this, eh? I’m ready. Bring it on.