Monday, September 26, 2005

The Pernice Brothers - Higher Ground - 9/24/05

After a fun morning and afternoon, my wife and I headed out to see The Pernice Brothers at Higher Ground in South Burlington. Before the show, we tried out Toscano in Richmond for dinner. Nice place. Comfortable atmosphere and the food was interesting and delicious. It's amazing how Richmond has three great restaurants for a town of 4,000 people. I guess it helps to have an exit from I-89.

We then headed over to South Burlington for the show. I had never seen The Pernice Brothers before and was fairly excited to see them. Back in the mid-90's, I discovered Joe pernice's former band, The Scud Mountain Boys, via the Pavement mailing list. A bunch of the jam kids were raving about them so I gave them a try and fell in love with Massachusetts. That led to Chappaquiddick Skyline and Overcome by Happiness. All great albums. The new album hasn't done it for me but there are a few songs I like.

We arrived at Higher Ground in time to meet up with jds of Latitude 44.2N and see the opening band, Tim Fite. However, as we pulled into the parking lot, we immediately knew something was wrong. There weren't any cars in the parking lot. Heck, we parked in the exact same spot in front of the club that my wife had parked in on Thursday afternoon when she stopped by to buy the tickets. Normally, I'm parking in one of the side or rear lots. My first thought was that we had the date wrong but I checked the tickets and we were there on the right night. Unfortunately, nobody else was.

We walked in and there were less than a dozen people in the place including the bartender and the guys selling merchandise. Oh, sweet Jesus, why does this keep happening? Two empty akward shows in two weeks. Are my tastes that out of line with the rest of New England? Was something else going on that night that I was missing? Are The Pernice Brothers that unpopular? Have I allowed my love for their songs to blind me to their obscurity? What the fuck?

After running those questions through my head, I took the optimistic approach and figured that more people would arrive after Tim Fite finishes. The other weird thing was the age of the few people that were there. At 37, I'm usually one of the older folks in the room. However, last night, I brought the average age waaaaaaay down. Do The Pernice Brothers have some promo deal with AARP that I haven't heard about? Seriously, the majority of the crowd seemed to be in their late 40's or early 50's and I didn't see a single UVM student there. If I hadn't seen Joe Pernice walk by I would have checked my ticket again.

Tim Fite came out and immediately tried to bring the few people there up close to the stage. I've seen bands do this before and it always seems akward to see a band begging and cajoling the crowd to move within their comfort zone. Regardless, it worked and most of the people moved up. While I wasn't enthralled with Tim Fite's music (one song was fairly catchy but the rest was bland), the performance was memorable. The band is actually Tim Fite, another guy singing back-up & working the A/V equipment and a video projection of Tim Fite playing another instrument & singing back-up. Fite never looked back at the video of himself but everything was perfectly coreographed. The video of Fite always came in right on cue. It certainly was interesting to watch. Musically, it was half folk-rock and half carnival barker/southern preacher.

Well, Fite finished and time passed but nobody else really showed up. As you can see from the photo, by the time The Pernice Brothers took the stage, it was embarrassingly empty. If you are a fan of Joe Pernice, it has to hurt a little to see that picture. However, the sparse crowd didn't seem to bother Joe Pernice. He even admitted to being under the weather all day. So, I give the guy a lot of credit. He probably knew how bad the advance sales had been and was feeling like crap but he still showed up and played a very professional show.

The band sounded good and they played a nice mix of tunes from their various albums. The new song, "Status Quo", from Discover a Lovlier You has been stuck in my head all day since the show and hearing "Monkey Suit" from Overcome by Happiness made me happy. They played for about an hour and then left without an encore which was completely understandable. The small crowd detracted from the show but my wife and I had a nice night out without the kids which is always enjoyable regardelss of what you are doing. It was good finish to a nice day.

After seeing the tiny crowd The Pernice Brothers drew, I'm curious to see what kind of a crowd shows up for Lou Barlow on Friday, Oct. 7th. Both shows are on weekend nights and feature indie artists that were more popular in the 90's than they are today. I'm guessing that Lou Barlow will have a larger crowd but I'm not making any guesses after these last few experiences.


Nico said...

I hate when nobody turns up to see a band you love. I saw Drew Emmitt in front of about 25 people last December and it was painful. I remember seeing the Jayhawks in front of about 50 people in a venue that held 1,000. Worst though ever had to be seeing the Verve Pipe play in front of 10 people, 4 of which were in the bar for after work drinks. said...

Hehe - that is my fat ass in the center of that picture - sorry it looks like I got in the way of your p.o.v. I thought the band was fantastic, but Joe's voice was so gone due to his cold it took a lot away from the performance. Still, instrumentally, they were fantastic.

Todd Jones said...

The only thing more awkward than no one showing up is everyone leaving. I saw Strangefolk/Agents of Good Roots in Atlanta and the theater was pretty full, and once Strangefolks set was done everyone left and there was maybe 1/10th of the crowd left. AGR put on a great show though, so everyone that left missed out.

Flatlander said...


I wish I had known you were going to be there. It would have been nice to meet you and put a face with your blog. Between you, jds and me, it was a regular bloggers convention at the show. Are you going to the Lou Barlow show on the 7th? I may have a poker game that night but if not, I'll probably be there.

vtrockdork said...

I wanted to go so badly. Unfortunately, my roommate's new band (Fire the Cannons! - check them out if you get a chance) was playing their first show at a house party in Burlington... right at the same time Pernice was supposed to hit the stage. Bummer that it was a bit of a bust.