Saturday, July 28, 2007

Reminder: Montpelier Pillow Fight

REMINDER: Today's the big day for the Pillow Fight. Unfortunately, I'll be in NH and will miss it but I'm hoping there'll be plenty of good photos floating around the web tomorrow.


Morgan over at Montpelier Matters tipped me off to this one. It appears that someone is organizing a pillow fight flash mob for the statehouse lawn on Saturday, July 28th at 3pm. They say to wait for the signal. I'm guessing we'll know the signal when we hear/see it.

If you go to Montpelier Matters, Morgan has posted a pair of videos from a similar pillow fight flash mob in NYC last February. It looks like a lot of fun. I showed the videos to my 5-year-old son. He got a big smile and said, "Yeh, let's do that." I'll probably just watch from the statehouse steps but it should be fun.

Based upon those two videos, one key ingedient is down pillows. Lots of feathers.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

iConcertCal | UPDATE

Last night, I received an email from Michael K of The Parallel Campaign titled "Maybe the most useful iTunes plug-in ever." You know what? He was right.

The email was about a new plug-in software for your iTunes library called iConcertCal. Here's how it works: After you download and install it, it goes through your iTunes library and creates a calendar of every upcoming concert in your area of the bands in your library. How cool is that? Plus, you can change the city and it'll recreate the calendar based upon that city and the surrounding area. That'll work well when I'm traveling for work.

The only two downsides I've discovered so far is that it doesn't work for shows outside the US (aka no Montreal) and since it uses Pollstar's database, it misses some opening bands. For example, it missed The Hero Cycle playing at Higher Ground on Feb. 21st in support of Lymbyc System.

However, those are small things in comparison to the upside. It's well worth the few minutes it takes to download and install.

Did I mention it's free?

UPDATE: While recently loading the latest version of iTunes, my iTunes plug-ins got deleted which sent me back to iConcertCal to download it again. I was pretty happy to learn that it now works for Canada too. So, it's a lot easier to find upcoming Montreal shows now.

The other bit of news surrounding iConcertCal is that the next version of the plug-in, which is due in the next few weeks, will also include upcoming album release dates. So, it'll look through your iTunes library and let you know which bands in your library will be coming out with new albums in the next few months. Very cool.

Did I mention it's still free?

Major League Soccer Coming to Montreal?

That image above is a rendering of Stade Saputo which is currently under construction in Montreal for the USL team, the Montreal Impact. It'll hold up to 18,000 fans when it's done and is next to Olympic Stadium. You can even watch a 3D virtual tour of the stadium here.

I don't follow the USL leagues (I do have my limits) but I'm excited about this stadium now due to this recent article. The article is in French but here's a rough translation from a poster on BigSoccer:

"The new stadium to be built, which should be ready in 2008 and will host up to 18,000 fans, was an important part in the decision of Richard Legendre to accept the offer."

"Saputo and Legendre did not hide their interest to bring the Montreal Impact in MLS ranks in which David Beckham will now play for the Los Angeles Galaxy."

"Saputo repeated several time that he had changed his mind about MLS and that every doors were open now that the league was leaving individual team owners act more freely instead of trying to administer everything from the league's offices. However, Saputo reminded people that the Toronto franchise owned exclusive right over the Canadian market for the next 3 years."

And the rest of the article they talk of how amazed they were that 40,000 people showed up at Olympic Stadium for the U-20 chanmpionship for games like Congo vs Mexico.
Here's why this idea has some credibility:
  • Toronto FC was an expansion team in MLS this year and has been a runaway success. Every game is a sellout (20,000 fans) with another 3,000 fans on the waiting list for season tickets. Plus, the fans have been wonderfully rabid creating lots of fun atmosphere with their singing and chanting.
  • Toronto FC holds the exclusive rights to the Canadian market until Dec 31, 2009. After that, Montreal could get a team.
  • Montreal Impact already draw about 13,000 fans a game for their USL games. That's better than some MLS teams. Combined with the large crowds for the U-20 World Cup, it shows a strong fan base for soccer in Montreal.
  • Lino Saputo is worth about $2.4 billion. So, he has plenty of cash to cover the $30M expansion fee and whatever upgrades would be need to bring the stadium above up from "Texas High School Quality" to "MLS Quality".
  • MLS has stated that they'd like to grow to 16 teams by 2010 which means adding two more teams to the existing thirteen teams and San Jose which starts next year.
Due to the long drive, I probably wouldn't be a season ticket holder for a Montreal MLS team but I'd certainly make it up for a number of games and gladly shift my alliance from Red Bulls to the Montreal team.

So, here's to hoping for 2010.

Editors | "Orange Crush"

If you like Editors, you'll want to head over to Chromewaves and grab their MP3 of the Week. It's Editors' cover of R.E.M.'s "Orange Crush" from some 80's compilation disc and it's well worth the click.

Plus, Chromewaves is one of the best music blogs out there. So, it's double-worth the click.

Kanye West + Zach Galifianakis + Will Oldham

This is all over the bloggosphere, but I can't help but add to the chorus spreading the love for Kanye West's video "Can't Tell Me Nothing". Zach Galifianakis and Will Oldham lip-synching at Galifianakis' NC farm along with tractor hudraulics, slow motion blue bell dancing, and even a reversed jesus plunge. Pure genious. Some details can be found in an interview on Stereogum. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Laura Veirs | Saltbreakers

First off, I have to admit that I have a thing for women in glasses. So, perhaps that’s what’s driving my love for Laura Veirs. Who knows? However, I do know that I’m spending a lot of time listening to Veirs’ new album Saltbreakers these days.

If you aren’t familiar with Veirs, here’s some quick math to explain her sound:

Laura Veirs = ((1/3 x Helium’s mysticism) + (1/3 x Sufjan Steven’s instrumentation) + (1/3 x Laura Cantrell’s smooth and beautiful voice)) x (1 + Fontaine Toups' cuteness)

Similar to her last album, The Year in Meteors, there are a few duds spread throughout the disc. However, three-quarters of the album is still immensely enjoyable. In fact, it’s definitely in my top five for the first half of the year and combining the highlights of the two albums makes for a fantastic iPod playlist.

Unfortunately, I missed her performance when she opened for Sufjan Stevens in Montreal two years ago. Hopefully, she’ll come around again.

Laura Veirs | Pink Light | Buy
Laura Veirs | Cast a Hook | Buy

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Late Nite TV Programming | Update

A quick note for the late owls out there...The National will be on Letterman tonight (Tues 7/24) and Editors will be on Jimmy Kimmel tomorrow night (Wed 7/25).

UPDATE: Here's the video of The National performing "Fake Empire" on Letterman. I'm still looking for Editors on Jimmy Kimmel.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Hagrid and the Muggles

After hitting Pitchfork, our Senior Midwest Correspondent, TK, came to visit Montpelier for the weekend. While here, he went to the Harry Potter book release at Bear Pond books and sent over this email (after I prodded him with a sharpened barbecue fork).


Sat., July 21
Bear Pond Bookstore
Montpelier, VT

Even in blogging, promotions only carry more responsibility. It didn't take long after being anointed False 45th Senior Midwest Correspondent to learn what else the job description entailed.

Flatlander asked me at last night's Strategy Meeting (ok, so it was a barbecue) if I'd write a review of what passes for a celebrity event in Vermont, which is standing in line with my nephew, Jackson, and sister for the new Harry Potter book at the midnight release.

Forget Beckham's unveiling and the Hollywood elite. The Simpsons' movie premiere in Springfield, VT? Puh-lease. This was the true hipster scene of the weekend because of my presence.

While waiting anxiously for the new release, I had a text conversation with my gypsy friend CC, who like my sister, is fluent in Harry Potter and was greatly helpful in translating. With permission, here's a transcript of that conversation as the tense final minutes ticked down:

TK: Waiting in line for Harry Potter.

CC: Why?

TK: Because Jackson's in charge. This is insane.

CC: Just tell everyone that you're Hagrid (half-giant). They'll get out of your way.

(Blogger's note: I'm 6-foot-6, hence the joke about the Hagrid reference).

TK: Some kid just called me Hagrid.

CC: So you dressed for the event? And I always thought you were just a boring muggle.

(Blogger's note: At this point, I ask sis, "What's a muggle?" She warns me to keep my voice down, like even though I'm tall, the wrong words uttered too loudly could result in my suffering several kicks to the back of my legs to fell me like a tree. Loggers vs. blogger?)

TK: You don't understand my magic (1st secret, 7th book).

CC: I don't want to know!

TK: So I shouldn't tell you that I die at the end?

TK: This is like a cult.

CC: That's why we're just buying our copy tomorrow. Have fun, I'm off to bed.

TK: Jackson put a "Home of Hagrid" sign on the room I'm staying in. Now I get the joke.

It looked like Trekkie Training. Seriously, kids and adults alike were everywhere with costumes. It was the junior Rocky Horror Picture Show. Jackson fared quite well on the trivia contest and scored some candy.

Midnight approached and I put my half-giant size to good use. Rather than relive my college football days to get through the mob, I just reached over the top of the crowd with the ticket to get a copy of the book.

One copy of the last Harry Potter book and a shoulder ride from his uncle later made Jackson a tired but happy camper.

I'd now like my title to read False 45th Senior WORLD Correspondent. It has a nice ring to it.



World?!?!? I'm thinking Senior Wizarding Correspondent.

By the way, after asking repeatedly, TK's sister told me how the book ends which is great because it saves me from reading seven long books I'm not really interested in to just get that cultural touchstone.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Vermont Link Dump

» It turns out that Tanner's image does appear on film. He was part of a segment on the local news regarding collecting some sort of odd musical format called vinyl; never heard of it.

» Also in Tanner news, he now has a new puppy named Oldham. Hmmmm, I wonder what other furry little creature inspired that name.

» Jay hit the Pitchfork Festival and posted reviews here, here, here and here.

» The King posted his review of the Wilco show. That guy is even later than me!

» The King has also started a new blog dealing with just sneakers called Lace Lock Losers.

» Bo posted about his vending at the Vermont Solar Festival. It looks like Bo's band will be playing Radio Bean on Sunday night (Jul 22).

» Ryan Maxfield, Rutland native, former UVM soccer player and contributor to the False 45th Year-End Music Survey, is now showing up in photos with David Beckham. Hmmm. I wonder if we'll be able to get Becks' "Best of 2007" music picks for this year's survey.

» Now that he lives in Chicago, k also hit Pitchfork. It's looking like I was the only jacknut not there.

» Vermont Daily Briefing has a rundown of the VT political bloggers' summit last weekend. I guess I wasn't invited. Perhaps they figured I'd be at Pitchfork. Then again, I can't remember the last time I wrote a political post.

» I thought our garden was doing pretty well but ours actually looks kind of sucky compared to Rob's from Found Drama.

» Morgan has a pair of interesting posts. Apparently, the Montpelier Farmers Market has been rated as one of the best in the country and, at the other end of the commercial spectrum, Home Depot wants to move into the vacant Ames building. I can just imagine the traffic on Rt. 302 on Saturdays around noon. Ugh.

» Montpelier Pillow Fight has a few more details up about next Saturday's big event.

» Dan has his take on Wilco here, here and here.

» Casey is throwing down. He dropped a 100 words off the top of his head about a piece of music and is challenging the rest of us to top his effort. The guy is crazy-good with the words. I might be better off picking on some Live Journal newbies.

» JB now has a pair of tracks up on the le duo (sextet) myspace page. I think they were recorded at his show at Kriya earlier this month.

» Ever so briefly, The Pages Within was back in business recently.

» Caleb has said goodbye to Vermont on his blog and on VPR.

Bob Dylan | Champlain Valley Fair Grounds | Jul 1

Some comments on the Bob Dylan show from a few weeks ago.

- I timed it perfectly to miss the opener Jimmie Vaughn. Basically, I heard him say, “Thank you! Good night!” as I walked across the parking lot. According to the guy next to me at the show, he sucked which was what I was pretty much expecting. I used to do a blues radio show in college and enjoy blues music but I have zero tolerance for guys doing that same tired re-treaded blues sound. Basically, the blues stopped existing as an evolving art form in the mid 60’s and since then has been a museum piece meant to entertain mid-life white guys with guts and ponytails.

- On the way into the show, I saw this guy at the front gates. Pretty colorful fellow. Nader is running again? This guy’s sign is the most I’ve heard about it.

- I coughed up the money for the better seats since I didn’t want to be really far away from the stage. However, that meant I wound up sitting among a bunch of old fogies. There was more Fosamax and Proscar being ingested than anything illicit.

- While I waited for the show to start, I chatted with the couple next to me. They were in about their early to mid-50’s and had never seen Dylan before. He was the regional VP of some financial services firm; not the usual person I chat up at a show but very nice. They asked how often I had seen Dylan and were shocked when I told them it was between 15 and 20. The guy’s wife leaned forward and with the curiosity and amazement of a tourist on their initial safari said, “Are you a groupie?!?!” Oy vey.

- The sunset at the Wilco show had been nice but the sunset at this show was spectacular. The sun settled to our left between some scattered clouds which sent a streak of beautiful pink light straight across the sky, over the stage and all the way to the cloud surrounding the top of Mount Mansfield on our right. So, we had this gorgeous scene stretching across the sky with Dylan’s stage right in the middle of it. Even better than whatever laser-light show The Machine will throw out there when they hit the Champlain Valley.

- Earlier in the week, before the show, I had dissed Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde, by saying it was one of the most overrated albums ever. Well, fate bitch-slapped me by having Dylan open up with “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat”. It’s weird how that happens. You can see the entire set list here. The highlight was the version of “Girl From the North Country” the band laid on us. It was beautiful and delicate. Dylan’s voice is pretty rough these days so it can be tough for him to convey the soft side of remorse and sadness the song requires. However, he did a fine job with it. The songs off Modern Times sounded really good live. His gravely voice perfectly matches the mood of that album. In general, it was a good set list. Lots of good accessible older classics and a few off the new albums. No real nuggets was a bit of a disappointment but I don’t go expecting those nuggets; just pleased when they occur. I thought it was interesting though that he played “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” since it had just appeared in the Sopranos season finale.

- Dylan played less guitar than I had ever seen before. He played guitar on about four songs and then played the keys for the rest of the show. Plus, there wasn’t any mini-acoustic set like he used to do. So, I wonder if his physical skills are slipping to the point that he isn’t able to play the guitar well anymore.

- About halfway through the show, some old big beer buffalo comes charging up the aisle from the front rows with his wife in tow. He stops at the row in front of us and yells to a friend, “He can’t sing and the music is terrible! We’re going home!” I couldn’t help but think that part of his frustration with the show was that his barcalounger and chips bowl was at home without him.

- For the encore, he did “Thunder on the Mountain” and “All Along the Watchtower”. Not wanting to get caught in the traffic getting out of the parking lot, I watched the encore from the back of the crowd by the exit. Back there, there was a bunch of people dancing and enjoying themselves which was nice to see after sitting among the near-dead.

- The next day, the Burlington Free Press ran a review of the show where the lady called it the best concert she'd seen in Vermont in twenty years. I guess she didn't agree with Paul Kaza's assessment of the Lindsey Buckingham show back in April. What is it with the Free Press and crazy superlatives these days. Hell, for me, it wasn’t even the best show of that week. I enjoyed all three shows that week (Dylan, Wilco and Old Crow Medicine Show) but I’d say the OCMS show was the best of the three. A little more intense, urgent and passionate than the others.

Vulgar but Funny

Pretty funny ad but definitely not safe for work...unless you work in a non-English speaking country.

Find more videos like this on AdGabber

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Poor Choice

I passed this knucklehead on I-89 today in the teeming rain. Do you think he just got stuck in a bad decision or just doesn't have access to a reliable weather forecast?

Bob Dylan | Early Mornin' Rain (with Gordon Lightfoot) | Buy

Barre the ‘new Brooklyn’

Seven Days, the state's free Burlington based independent weekly (with the second highest circulation in state) has just printed a suite of articles focusing on my fair City of Barre. The 6 articles explore our divisive Mayor, burgeoning food scene, established art culture, and more. Each article describes the downtown as being in the middle of a renaissance, comeback, resurgence, upswing, etc.

Living and working within the City I have no doubt this to be true. We are certainly experiencing some exciting changes, many of which were left unmentioned, such as the redevelopment of nearly all of the downtown's public spaces, public garden activities, and a community-wide project focusing on the establishment of an expansive passive recreation area. But one quote from the the Director of the City's gallery and art education space ticked me off: "Some people,” she claims, “are calling Barre the ‘new Brooklyn.’”

WTF? I thought Queens was the new Brooklyn, or was it Nashville? Maybe Bellevue is the new Brooklyn? Even New Haven's Whitney Avenue might be the new Brooklyn, but Barre? I know it's a figure of speech, a snowclone, if you will, ala pink is the new black (my favorite: Gay cowboys are now the new penguins), but that's just absurd. The City is finally experiencing a prideful, happy, and exciting moment of self-created positive change and quotes like ...the new Brooklyn are being dropped that do nothing but water down, distract and distort reality. I know it's intended to help, but it sets a trap for a resurgence that is very much in its infancy. It's easy to impress when expectations are low, but it's pretty daunting to bring a prideful face to the region, let alone the world, when being compared to the fourth largest city in the U.S. - bigger than San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta and St. Louis combined.

At least wait until there's something greater then a historic Jackson Browne visit. Or let us have more then classic rock cover band Native Tongue to call our own!

As a reward for making it through my diatribe, here's a remix of the Beastie Boys' Hello Brooklyn from Awesome: I Fucking Shot That!, originally found on the essential Paul's Boutique

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Brown Bag Series

Last week, Montpelier's Brown Bag Series kicked off and it'll continue through to mid-September. If you can't read the schedule in the photo, click on the picture and it'll expand for you. If you still have problems reading it after that, go see an eye doctor, Mr. Magoo.

The shows are during lunch and are held in the pocket park next to Christ Church. It's a good spot to grab a Michigan Dog and listen to some free music.

Unfortunately for me, I missed Rusty Romance last week and I'll be on vacation the week The Starline Rhythm Boys will be playing. Those are the two on the list I was most interested in seeing.

Having said that, The Starline Rhythm Boys will also be playing a free concert on Thursday, July 19th in Middlesex as part of Middlesex's free concert series. Middlesex's shows are held at the gazebo on the big lawn next to Rumney Elementary School and start at 6:30pm. The rest of the Middlesex schedule is available here.

Starline Rhythm Boys | One Small Favor | Buy

Joseph Ngwenya Golazo

Check out this sweet goal from Joseph Ngwenya of the Houston Dynamo. He beats the defender & goalie and scores from an impossible angle. However, if you get queasy with injuries, don't stick around for the slow motion replay of the Chicago defender slamming his leg against the post.

In This Century

In This Century is a alt-country/rock type outfit hailing from the "Devil's Washbowl" section of Northfield, VT. The Devil's Washbowl is the setting of the strange Pig Man legend. The story goes that in 1971 the disappearance of a teenage boy and several small animals were punctuated by the sighting of a naked beast with the body of a man and the face of a pig. Supposively there's still occasional sightings and strange "Pig Man" type sounds out in the hollow.

Anyhow, this is where In This Century call home. They aren't as distrubing, but plenty engaging and are opening for Western, MA jammers Reverand Tor Band tomorrow evening at Nectars:

In This Century w/ Reverand Tor Band - July 19 - Nectars

In This Century - The Cage.mp3
In This Century - If I Never Move Again.mp3

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Pitchfork Festival | Chicago | Jul 13 - 15

While I spent the weekend watching tennis and taking the kids to the county fair, Senior Midwest Correspondent for False 45th, TK, was with all the cool kids at the Pitchfork Festival in Chicago' Union Park. He was kind enough to hustle over a review of all three days before he heads East to visit Vermont for the weekend.


Fri., July 13
Union Park
Chicago, IL

To kick off this year's Pitchfork Festival, All Tomorrow's Parties "Don't Look Back" joined up with Friday's part of the program to have three bands playing full albums from start to finish.

Sonic Youth headlined by performing Daydream Nation. I'm not completely familiar with Sonic Youth but they put on arguably the best performance of the entire weekend. Teen Age Riot was a little soft on the sound but they eventually got it sorted as the set progressed. It would be a precursor of weekend filled with technical difficulties for many of the acts involved, which I suppose is more likely when you have bands shuffling in and out that much.

Silver Rocket isn't a bad tune to jack the volume with. It seemed like the band even took on a more muscular tone on songs like Eric's Trip and Total Trash midway through the set.

The audience was completely glued to the stage and erupted when they got done. In a cool touch, they threw in a three-song encore off of Rather Ripped, including Incinerate, Jams Run Free and Reena. It was pretty funny to hear the audience collectively groan when Yoko Ono was mentioned as Saturday's headliner by the MC.

GZA did Liquid Swords before Sonic Youth came on. I'm not really big on hip-hop so I was kind of indifferent to their set. Slint played Splinterhead to open but we got their late due to me playing bocce with my friend's family. Perhaps the most noteworthy part of their set is the GZA sound guys started playing intermission music while Slint was still playing. I don't know if I noticed it as much last year but with the proximity of the stages to each other, it was annoying to hear sound checks during other band's performances.

Photo above courtesy of a bee c.

Sat., July 14
Pitchfork Festival - Day Two

The Twilight Sad - Missed them due to lines around two blocks to get in. Nice work by Pitchfork and the schmucks they had working security. Knowing an event is sold out means getting more people to work things like the door. Big thumbs down to the festival staff for making me stand in line with my thumb in my ass rather than watch a band.

Califone - Not particularly memorable, for better or worse.

Voxtrot - Upbeat while narrowly avoiding coming off like Up With People. They weren't totally my cup of tea but they didn't irritate me, either. Their lead singer had kind of a prissy-boy thing going that played well with the females. I just hope there were other people around in case they accidentally ran into Mastodon backstage.

Grizzly Bear - Fascinating and frustrating at the same time. Because they were at the other stage from where we were set up, we constantly had to deal with noise and other crap. I enjoyed what I heard and only wish I could have heard more.

Battles - I believe they call this a mash-up on the other side of the pond. It was like three different cars had music blaring out their windows, got into a pileup on the Dan Ryan and had sirens coming in the distance for good measure. A rather entertaining little smorgasbord.

Iron And Wine - Like Grizzly Bear, they sounded great but too much interference from the near stage. Sigh. Talk about a day of odd transitions. You go from Grizzly Bear, to Battles, to Iron And Wine, to...

Mastodon - I've been curious about Mastodon but a friend told me it's nothing that hasn't been done before by the likes of Metallica. You can make the argument that damn near all of this has been done before, so if it's done this well, I'm fine with it.

Length of hair, including beards, is about all they had in common with Iron And Wine. I guess a good way to gauge the reaction is the cloud of dust kicked up by the moshers in front of the stage.

Ear-bleeding sound. Bodies pulled out of the pit. Ah, makes me nostalgic for the good ol' days of when I used to catch body surfers working security. It was a hoot to watch the energy of the pit and band feed off each other while some of the hipster showponies fled for cover.

Clipse - Yet another odd transition. Once again, I'm sure there's plenty of bloggers out there excited about hip-hop and giving reviews of it. So I won't waste time hating on something I wasn't overly concerned with.

Cat Power and Dirty Delta Blues - Mellow and fine. We were kinda wiped by this time.

Girl Talk (Balance Stage) - We thought we'd try to catch a bit of Girl Talk on the way out while fleeing Yoko but the Balance Stage was a complete zoo. It's a small side stage on a basketball court surrounded by a high chainlink fence. It was so insane that several people left the show to run around and catch it from the other side of the fence, only to get in the way of traffic and draw the ire of the police. One of the pratfalls of having multiple stages is you get a band that's too big for its surroundings. We opted to bolt rather than deal with the frenzy.

Yoko Ono - A headliner? Who's on for next year? Courtney Love?

Photo above courtesy of Gapers Block

Sun., July 15
Pitchfork Festival - Day Three

Deerhunter - Between the scrawny frame of Bradford Cox and the fact that he slipped one dress off and had another one (more comfortable, I guess) underneath it, I got a bit of a Marilyn Manson vibe. He also came out with some puppet-glove contraption on to start the set.

I could give a frog's fat ass what they look like if they sound this good. For me, one of the better sets of the festival. I wish they could have played longer than the 30-minute starter slot they were given.

The Ponys - They sounded all right. Right up until the point the main speakers went out for a song. It was a bad weekend for technicians at Pitchfork.

Menomena - The streak of good acts continues, complete with sax appeal.

Junior Boys - Time to dance. Or sit, in our cases with them being at the far stage. An infectious and welcome change of pace.

The Sea And Cake - Another solid sounding set. Here I was thinking we had a nice, easy set to relax too. Then they cranked up for the last couple of numbers. Maybe this year's lineup isn't the shell of last year's that I thought.

Jamie Lidell - Someone had to ruin the streak. His white boy wannabe act didn't really do anything for me.

Stephen Malkmus - No Pavement, no Jicks, just Malkmus. He even joked about anything that makes you sound closer to a band gets people excited. There's something lacking about playing solo at a festival full of bands but the audience gladly bought whatever Malkmus sold them.

Of Montreal - I thought Man Man was bizarre last year. They don't even hold a candle to these guys. Extra-large strange salad with weird dressing. I felt like I was back in the French Quarter at Mardi Gras. If it wasn't the guitarist with the pink angel wings, it was the guy singing with a leather bustier, leather shorts with a zipper in front, red scarf tied around the neck and turquoise boots. Pitchfork has some work to do to top this spectacle next year.

The New Pornographers - Bad times simply go away whenever I listen to them. They went back and forth between trying out material off their new album, Challengers, and playing their older favorites. This is the third time I've seen them, with the first being in Atlanta with a full band including Neko Case and Dan Bejar, and the last being in Madison without Case and Bejar. The Madison show seemed like a cover band but they sounded much better and more confident this time around. They seem at ease with the fact that if they get Case and Bejar to play, great; if not, they do their thing anyway. Kathryn Calder certainly seems to be more assertive this time around. It's certainly got me curious for the new disc.

De La Soul - We bailed. In the absence of reviewing their set, I'll rattle off some pros and cons of Pitchfork 2007:

Pros - Video screens to see the other stage better, the cost ($50 for the weekend), minimal set-up time between acts, easy access, free parking on the street within two blocks, much better weather than it was last year, relatively decent prices on food, exceptional prices on beverages and quality (Fuze or water for $1).

Cons - Waiting way too long to get in Saturday, interference and noise from other stages (wait until in between songs or afterward to test instruments, you rude assholes), lame headliners and after bashing him incessantly last year, a host that annoys me to the point I want him to shoot himself in the head.

For the cost, you can't go wrong. But I left kind of feeling that it wasn't nearly as good as last year with Art Brut, Mission of Burma, Liars, Jens Lekman and The National among others.

So here's a simple wish list to get me back next year: Get Deerhoof.

Photo above courtesy of kirstiecat.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The National | Daytrotter Session

Like peanut butter and chocolate, I love it when two of my favorite things come together. That's the situation with The National recording a Daytrotter Session. Love the band. Love the Midwestern studio sessions.

For this session, The National took the opportunity to respond to a fan petition requesting them to add "Lucky You" and "Gospel" to their live set. The band didn't want to add the songs to their regular set though. So, they compromised and recorded them at Daytrotter's studio.

They also do a peppy version of "Slow Show" and a cover of The Psychedelic Furs' "Pretty In Pink" for all you Molly Ringwald and Jon Cryer fans. The "Pretty In Pink" cover has already run over its allotment of free downloads. However, you can get it from the blog Let's Sexy Fighting right now.

Additionally, Daytrotter's video sister site, La Blogothèque, has a new pair of videos up from Architecture in Helsinki. Both tunes are from AiH's upcoming album, Places Like This. The angle for the video of the single "Heart It Races" is that AiH put a request out on their myspace page asking fans in Paris to meet them in front of a club for the video shoot. The fans were then told they had to be the choir for the song. As with many La Blogothèque videos, the most entertaining part is watching the random people on the street watching the highly unscripted recording.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Parts & Labor

I feel I've been writing about too many safe bands lately. Pop and dad-rock, if you will. So, here's some hairy dudes from Brooklyn doing electronic-infused fuzz-drenched songs that bring back memories of Hüsker .

Parts & Labor are a trio that formed a few years ago when two of the guys met while working at The Knitting Factory. Since then, they seem to tour constantly. However, according to their extensive list of past shows, they've never played in VT. That's probably why I never heard them until a track from their new album Mapmaker wound up on the KEXP Song of the Day podcast.

If you like that sound of buried vocals in a fog of jangly blurred guitars and scattered electronic
babel, then Parts & Labor are you're new fave band. Or if you just dig guys in scraggly beards.

Parts & Labor | The Gold We're Digging | Buy
Parts & Labor | Vision of Repair | Buy

Here's a live performance of their song "A Great Divide" off their earlier LP Stay Afraid:

The Format | Coming to Higher Ground | Aug 18

Quick. If you're reading this post before midnight on July 16th, stop reading and click on this link. Arizona popsters The Format have made their entire fine 2006 album Dog Problems available for free on their website. Just follow the instructions on their site and start enjoying their Kinks-influenced pop serenades.

You have to sign up for their mailing list to get to the page with the free downloads but they don't verify the email address. So, you could use your ex-girlfriend's email address and it'll work just fine.

The reason I'm encouraging you to grab the album is that 1) the free offer expires on July 16th and 2) a month from now, they'll be gracing the stage of the Grand Ballroom at Higher Ground. That'll give you the right amount of time to fall in love with their pop goodness but not get burned out on it. You should be good and primed by Aug 18th.

Here's the odd thing about the show...there are four other bands on the bill (The Format are the headliners) and the show starts at 6:30. Despite it being a Saturday night, it's unlikely I'll get there in time to catch all the bands but if you don't have a few little kids to put to sleep, it's a good way to hear a lot of bands. $15 ticket / five bands = $3 per band. Plus, their album is free. That's a fine overall indie rock bargain.

The Format | She Doesn't Get It | Buy
The Format | Oceans | Buy

Photo courtesy of karlyherron.

Ben & Jerry's Free Outdoor Movie Festival

If you haven't seen the posters around town, here's the line-up for the remaining films of the Ben & Jerry's Free outdoor Movie Festival. The films are shown on the top level of the parking garage at City Center (the building Ben & Jerry's scoop shop is located in near State & Main) and start around dusk which would be around 8:30 these days. If the weather is good, I might try taking my son to one of them. There's something about watching a movie under the stars that makes even crappy movies entertaining.

By the way, the same movies are run at the Ben & Jerry's factory in Waterbury on the Saturday following the Montpelier showing. The benefit of the Waterbury showing is that it's not a school night. The downside is that the factory is the #1 tourist attraction in the state and it probably gets mobbed with annoying tourists.

July 19 | Antz
July 26 | Catch Me If You Can
August 2 | Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone
August 9 | The Little Rascals
August 16 | Dr. Seuss' A Cat in the Hat
August 27 | City Slickers

Friday, July 13, 2007

SwedePop Four-Pack

David & the Citizens doing "Graycoated Morning". Dark blurry video but a good tune. Buy.

Pelle Carlberg doing "I Love You, You Imbecile". I'll post more about his new album soon. Good stuff. Buy.

Gustav & the Seasick Sailors doing "Nightlife". Buy.

Real Ones doing "Oh My". OK. They're actually Norwegian but they might as well be Swedish if they're going to dish out delicious pop tunes like this one. Buy.

U-20 World Cup | US v South Korea | Jun 30

Considering that since I went to Montreal to see the U-20 World Cup, that the US team has beaten Poland, Brazil and Uruguay and are now in the quarterfinals against Austria (Sat. 7/14, ESPNU, 2:15pm), this post is even more stale than that Wilco review. However, my World Cup post about Germany last year was even later. So, I’ll run with it anyway.

The only eventful part of the drive up was the traffic at the border. I’ve never run into more than two cars ahead of me trying to get into Canada. However, we had to wait almost a half-hour to get through security. On the other side of the border, we saw the mile long back-up to cross over into the US and hoped it would be cleared before we came home.

The Brazil-Poland game wasn’t until 2:15pm and it was only about 12:30 when we hit town. So, my friend and I headed over to Bar St. Sulpice on St. Denis to have some pre-game beers and lunch with members of Sam’s Army which is the supporters club for the US team. Nice guys. A few were up from NH while the rest were from NYC, NJ or DC. One guy was a student from Univ. of Illinois and was spending the summer working as an intern at the recreation department in White River Junction. My friend and I looked at each other and simultaneously said, “White River Junction’s rec department has interns?!? From Illinois?!?!?” Who would have thunked it? The only downsides to the pre-game beers was the loud jackhammer that some workers used next door for about ten minutes and the parking ticket I got. What happens if a foreigner doesn’t pay a ticket in Canada? I guess we’ll find out.

From there, we grabbed the Metro over to the stadium. It was a quick six stops and allowed us to avoid the traffic associated with the sell-out crowd of 56,000. The cars were packed with fellow soccer fans but nothing like the scene last year in Gelsinkirchen riding out to the US-Czech Republic match.

One of the many reasons Olympic Stadium is a crappy stadium is that everyone has to enter through the same set of doors. So, you can see the crush of people that we ran into shortly before kick-off. Plus, they were checking everyone for bottles and cans. So, after being crushed by everyone, you get felt up by some dude in rubber gloves. All in the name of love for soccer.

Having gone to a few Expos games in Olympic Stadium before they moved, I had gotten used to navigating the stadium in its typical empty state. So, it was very weird being in there with a huge crowd. The narrow hallways and meager amenities were even more narrow and meager with 56,000 people wandering around.

Here’s a quick rating of the fans. The best were Poland’s. There were lots of them, they were all decked out in red and white, had lots of flags & banners and made a ton of noise. Two weeks later, I still have their chants of “POL-SKA! POL-SKA!” rattling around in my brain. The next best were the Koreans. They seemed to have come over on a tour package because they were all mainly in three sections and had those inflatable bangers with Korea Air printed on the side of them. They also brought a bunch of big drums. All combined, they made a good deal of noise. However, when things weren’t going well for Korea, they were completely silent. There were a lot of people at the game with Brazil jerseys on but they barely uttered a peep. I’m guessing they were a bunch of fair weather fans who picked up a Brazilian jersey while on holiday in Rio de Janeiro. They’d try to start a “BRA-SIL! BRA-SIL!” cheer but the Poles would immediately aurally swarm them.

By far, the worst fans were the US fans. There were about 100 of us there. Plus, all the Poland and Brazil fans openly booed the US team throughout the game. The small group of Sam’s Army did their best but there was less than 50 of them and they were all the way at the back of their section in the corner. You can barely see them in the photo above. They tried to get the Poles on our side by chanting “POL-SKA!” during dead moments in the game. However, despite getting a few chuckles out of the Poles around us, it didn’t sway them. Sam’s Army did bust out the big flag though when the US scored which was cool.

Brazil was one of the pre-tournament favorites. So, it was surprising when Poland came out looking much stronger than expected. Poland held their shape, pressured down the wings and largely controlled the game. Even after Poland had a man sent off, they still closed the gaps quickly and held their backline straight. Meanwhile, Brazil had trouble connecting more than two passes in a row. Watching them beat Brazil 1-0, it looked like Poland would be a strong contender for the title. That’s why you can’t make such determinations based upon one match. In their next game on July 3rd, the US throttled the Poles 6-1.

One indicator that Poland may not have been as good as they looked in beating Brazil was the way they celebrated at the end of the game. It was the first game in a month-long tournament but they acted as if they had just won the cup. They formed a big circle, locked arms and jumped up and down for a few minutes before making a lap around the stadium waving & bowing to their fans. The US and Korea were well into their warm-ups when the Poles finally left the field. Perhaps the Poles knew better than we did that they had played over their heads and that would be their high-water mark.

Between the matches, we wandered around the concourse for a while. I checked out the souvenir booths but they weren't selling any US scarves. In fact, they had plenty of stuff for the other countries but all they had for the US fans was a crummy lame t-shirt. At first, I was annoyed but then I remembered how few US fans were in the house and realized that they were right to not stock up on US items.

The other odd thing we noticed on the concourse was that the were no lines for beer but the lines for soda were extremely long. I have no explanation for that.

As for the US match, the US pressured the ball really high right off the bat. For the first few minutes, it looked great as they the US shut down everything Korea tried. However, after about four minutes, they abandoned that approach. I don't know if it was a change in tactics right away or if they, for some reason, just wanted to knock Korea backwards initially and then absorb them. No idea. In general, the game was fairly even for the first fifteen minutes.

The US then scored in the 17th minute when Danny Szetela made a nice run onto a good cross from Sal Zizzo. However, around that time, the game shifted. Korea then started exposing our slow backline with their lightening quick forwards. Geez, were those guys fast. They beat us everytime. Even with the ball, they were faster than our defenders. This led to the US left back, Tim Ward, having the worst half of soccer I've ever seen someone have while wearing the US jersey. He looked like a traffic cone out there.

However, our poor play for the next 45 minutes wasn't all Ward's fault. Everyone looked crappy. Josy Altidore missed a sitter. Michael Bradley, who often starts for the full senior team, repeatedly failed to link the offense and defense as he sprayed passes to the feet of Koreans all night. The US goalie, Chris Seitz, and the aforementioned, Sal Zizzo, were the only players that looked like they belonged out there.

The only thing that saved us was Korea's complete lack of imagination once they got pass our defenders. It was as if their coaching had taught them how to get pass the defense but nobody had ever shown them what to do next. So, they blew a ton of chances to put the US away. They tied up the game in the 38th minute but, overall, out shot the US 17-8.

The US got a bit of a spark from Dax McCarty when he came on and the last half hour of the match was more even but we were still lucky to walk off the field with a tie. At that moment, my friend and I both agreed that the US looked like the worse team of the day while Korea and Poland looked like contenders. It's funny how wrong those impressions were in the end. The US is the only team of the four still playing.

After the game, we headed back to the Metro to head back to our car. Here's where the Canadians completely out shined the Germans. Last summer, we waited forever for trains after the games. It was completely disorganized in Germany. In contrast, the Metro system had a bunch of extra subway cars ready to go. The game was over at 6:55pm and we were back on St. Denis street by 7:10pm. Excellent job, Montreal.

We were still a bit worried about hitting the long line at the border. So, my friend and I decided to hit Bistro Iskaya for some post-game sushi. I know I always go back to the same place but it's easy, good and relatively inexpensive.

Thankfully, by the time we hit the border slightly before 10pm, the line was 100% gone. We sailed right up to the booth. The guard asked us what the score of the US game was and then asked if it was true that Brazil fielded a team of one-legged players in order to lose to Poland. It was pretty funny and refreshing to find a fellow American interested in the games.

Beckham Mania | Not So Much in Montpelier

While the soccer and celebrity lovers of the country are going gaga over the arrival last night of David Beckham in LA, things are a little different in Montpelier. Here's a brief conversation I had with some old guy at tonight's Mountaineers game:

During the rain delay, I noticed the guy in front of me was wearing a Real Madrid hat which is Beckham's former club. So, I decided to spark a conversation with him.

Me: Excuse me, sir. Are you a Real Madrid fan?

Him: Huuuuuh?

Me: Your hat. Are you a Real Madrid fan?

Him: Huuuuuh?!? [He then pulls on his earlobe and turns his ear to me giving me the impression he wants me to yell into his ear.]

Me: You're hat says Real Madrid! I was just wondering if you're a Real Madrid fan!

Him: Oh. My son went to Europe for vacation and bought it for me. It's say Real Madrid [he pronounced Real as "reel" rather than the Spanish version of "rey-ahl"] . It's some soccer team over there.

Me: Uuummm. OK. Thanks.

Walk It Out, Fosse

This isn't usually the stuff I post on here, but it's pure genious. Gwen Verdon and some classic '60s Bob Fosse moves to Walk it Out by ATL's UNK.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Barre Floods UPDATE 7/13/07

As you may have heard, after about four inches of rain fell yesterday afternoon, downtown Barre flooded. jds lives and works in Barre. So, he may not be able to post for a few days but he and his family are fine. Neither their house nor his office flooded.

One interesting aspect of the flood is the contrast between Montpelier's looming (yet never occuring) flood last March and Barre's flood. Montpelier had engineers, scientists, and the National Guard all working around the clock during those few weeks trying to deal with a flood that never came. Conversely, Barre didn't even get any assistance from the National Guard yesterday as the streets filled with water and mud. As jds said in an email, "I love the front page of today's paper with the dude riding a bike through the water and his handlebars are barely sticking out. That's how we roll in Barre. No National Guard, no fancy monitoring system, no press conferences, no sandbags. We just ride through the sewer. F*** yeah. "

That guy in the picture is great. I worry about getting a bit of rain on my 19-year-old bike but this guy doesn't have a care in the world. I wonder if he ever hit anything.

UPDATE 7/13/07 9:24 AM by JDS
Thanks to Murf for the post. I blame my lack of posting more on a cocktail of crazy work deadlines, kidney stone pain (peeing through a strainer is SO much fun!), and a night of hotdogs and fried dough at Thunder Road, the Nation's Site of Excitement. I wish I could say I was busy riding my bike through the cesspool to resuce orphans. Thanks for cutting me slack despite my lack of heroism.

I want to note that the Burlington Free Press has been doing a superb job covering the flood. Click here to check out their great audio slideshow entitled After the Flood. It's funny to see in the background of one picture the Times Argus building, our local paper. It's rediculous that the out of town paper has been doing a better job covering the event then the paper that was surrounded by a lake of flood waters (driving home on Wednesday evening I looked down 3rd Street and noticed half of it was a sea of brown with water lapping against the Times Argus building. I guess they kept the water out of the building and were able to keep operations going.). Usually the TA is the better paper, but they seem to have lost the battle this time around.

The Free Press also has a write up entitled Why The Flood Happened on their weather blog. It's an interesting read about the training effect, illustrated in this radar loop (put together by Weathering Heights).

And yes, we in Barre are tougher then our twin City of Montpelier. Stupider, maybe (where the hell was that guy going on that bike?), but definately tougher.

UPDATE 7/13/07 11:42 AM by JDS
A fella by the handle BuzzFisher has a pretty great Flickr set focusing on the flood. One of his shots captures the previously described scene of looking down 3rd Street to the Times Argus building. It's a little dark, but the idea gets across.

Wilco | Shelburne Museum | Jun 29

I’m about two weeks late with this review of Wilco's show at Shelburne Museum. So, I’ll just post some random thoughts about the show. The upside of being late is that a friend dropped off a copy of the show yesterday. So, now I can include a few tracks from the show with this post.

- I was fearing the cocktail of normal Friday rush hour traffic going down Rt. 7 and a few hundred extra cars full of concert goers. So, we took back roads from Richmond to Hinesburg to Shelburne to avoid the traffic. Despite getting a little lost, running into an impassable dirt road and putting the continuation of my marriage at risk, it worked. It took us about ten minutes longer than it would to drive to Shelburne without any traffic. So, by avoiding the stress factory of Rt. 7, we probably saved a few minutes. Plus, we kept moving. Since moving to VT, I have zero tolerance for sitting in traffic.

- The other potential bugaboo for us getting there in time to catch Low was will call. I’m horrible about keeping track of tickets I receive in the mail. So, I use will call a lot. The difference though is that I’m usually at shows with about a hundred people. This was a few thousand. So, I was a bit worried about waiting forever for our tickets. However, hats off to the crew from Higher Ground. There were about 20 people in line when we got there but the line flew. We had our tickets and were in the door in less than five minutes. It’s nice when things run well.

- I’d never seen a show at Shelburne Museum before so I wasn’t quite sure where on the grounds the show was going to be. I hoped it would be on the big lawn next to the Ticonderoga but I knew that would be a logistical nightmare. The show wound up being on the field that slopes away from the parking lot and towards Lake Champlain. You can’t see the lake from the hill but it’s a beautiful woodland setting and you can catch the tops of the Adirondacks. Considering the setting and the bright sunshine, it was a beautiful night to hang outside. The music was just a bonus.

- The best part of missing the traffic and having will call zip right along was that we got to catch all of Low’s set. In fact, we even got there in time to grab some dinner before Low hit the stage. I got a ham & cheese crepe from the Skinny Pancake and my wife got falafel from Ahli Baba’s. I liked my crepe but my wife had been spoiled by our trip to Mamouns in NYC a few weeks ago. So, she just kept mumbling, “Not as good as Mamouns”, as she ate. In general, though, it was nice to have a bunch of local vendors there rather than some crappy concession stand slinging over-priced hockey puck burgers and nachos. It seemed like the vendors did pretty well all night long too.

- I hadn’t seen Low since their tour with Dirty Three about a decade ago. However, their album “I Could Live in Hope” has remained one of my favorite albums over the years. While they didn’t play anything from that album, they still sounded good. Their haunting sound is better suited to small dark urban clubs late at night than sun drenched lawns at dinnertime. However, living in VT, I can’t be choosy about the setting where I get to hear them. So, I was happy.

- The one downside to the bright “sky blue sky” sunshine is that the sun came down right behind the stage. That means that for the last hour of sunlight, we were all staring directly into a heap of blinding sunshine. Combined with the fact that my eyes had been dilated earlier that afternoon for an eye exam, I was squinting like a madman.

- Wilco took the stage around 7:30 and played right up to their 9:30 curfew. The set was largely a mix of the last three albums and, in general, they sounded pretty good. The only odd part of their sound was the drums; the snare particularly. For some reason, it sounded more like a pop you get from bubble packing than its usual crack. I thought it was perhaps related to us being behind the soundboard but a friend who was closer mentioned the same thing. He said everything just sounded like a bad tom-tom drum. Regardless, it was a good set. I particularly enjoyed “Hummingbird”. It felt appropriate in that setting. I would have liked to have heard “Company In My Back” but I think I heard everything else I wanted to. You can see the set list here. Largehearted Boy has a link to the site where you can download the flac file of the show. I’d post all of the tracks from the show but it would blow out my allowed bandwidth from Fileden in about three hours. I really need to find a site where I can store files without worrying about bandwidth all the time.

- I guess nobody told Jeff Tweedy that kids 12 & under were free because he mentioned a few times how surprised he was by all the kids at the show. Didn't anyone tell him that Pitchfork called Wilco "dad-rock"? He said the show was the most wholesome one they’d ever done…and he’d been planning on working blue that night. He even had a dance contest for the kids and gave the winner a Wilco t-shirt. We thought about bringing the kids for about one second but we wanted to enjoy ourselves. So, we coughed up the money for a babysitter and had a relaxing time.

- In case you were wondering what Tweedy was talking about when he joked about being glad the kid's name wasn't actually Tawny, here's the Whitesnake video he was referencing. I dare you to make it through the whole video...with the volume up.

- It was amusing watching the hippie dancers struggle to keep going when Wilco would go into their feedback sessions.

- One freaky thing during the show was this guy who kept looking backwards with his binoculars. We happened to be right behind him. So, I spent all of “Muzzle of Bees” with him staring at me through his binoculars.

- Once the sun dropped down behind the trees and our squinting headaches subsided, the sunset was a nice light show and backdrop.

- The big winner of the night was the Magic Hat beer tent. It was hopping all night long. There was even an announcement from the stage prior to Wilco playing that encouraged people to stick around after the show to have some more beers while the traffic leaves. I’m not sure about the wisdom of telling people to drink some more before driving but people already seemed well on their way to following that advice.

- Not wanting to get stuck in the exiting traffic, we watched the last two songs from the top of the hill. I was surprised they squeezed in “Heavy Metal Drummer”. It seemed like Tweedy was saying goodnight, explaining the curfew and talking himself offstage when all of a sudden, the drum machine intro to “Heavy Metal Drummer” kicked in. Cool song to end the night with. While listening at the top of the hill, I noticed that some people had ridden their bikes to the show and were watching/listening to the show from just outside the fence. You’re a long way away but you can’t beat the price. Plus, you get to check out this guy’s cool hot dog hat all night long.

- By watching the end of the show from the top of the hill, we were able to get out pretty quickly. However, talking to people afterwards that stayed down by the stage until the end, traffic was a mess getting out of there. It took one person 45 minutes before he could even get out of his parking space. Part of the problem was that they weren’t allowing cars to exit directly onto Rt. 7. So, you had to cut all the way back across the parking lot and across the flow of people coming out of the gates. As well as the will call booth was run, it sounds like the traffic plan needs a bunch of work.

- In the end, my feelings for Wilco haven't changed. I always enjoy their music and have all of their CDs but never feel passionate about them. Once again, it was a fun evening of good music but there wasn't any "Wow factor". I'd never list among my favorite bands but I'll go see them whenever they come around, buy any new releases and never change the station when they come on the radio.

Wilco | Handshake Drugs (Live @ Shelburne Museum)
Wilco | Hummingbird (Live @ Shelburne Museum)
Wilco | California Stars (Live @ Shelburne Museum)
Wilco | Heavy Metal Drummer (Live @ Shelburne Museum)