Droppin' the Ball
Sai U Drom
“Maybe it’s much too early in the game. / Ah, but I thought I’d ask you just the same, / What are you doing New Year’s, New Year’s Eve?”
Well, how ’bout it? What are you doing? Wait … what? You don’t have plans yet? Are you serious? It’s lucky, we ran into one another, then. Very lucky indeed. Take a deep breath, relax, and I’ll guide you through anything and everything worth doing on December 31, 2010. And, who knows? When the clock strikes midnight, and if you play your cards right, we might even make out. Fingers crossed.
OK, I’m messing with you. We are totally gonna make out. But in the meantime, we’ll have to find something to occupy our time.
The most obvious option is probably Grace Potter & the Nocturnals at the Higher Ground Ballroom. It’s the finale of their annual three-night stand at the region’s marquee juke joint. Don’t know if you’ve heard, but they’ve had one hell of a 2010, so I’m guessing this will be a monumentally raging celebration. Plus, opening band Lowell Thompson & Crown Pilot are pretty killer, too. What’s that? You’re not really into blues-rock or alt-country? How ’bout funk, then? Next door in the Showcase Lounge, Dave Grippo will be throwing down with a (funky) bunch of old friends. Should be fun.
If you don’t feel like driving, we could always just stay downtown. There’s lots of good stuff happening at bars and nightclubs all over the Queen City. For example, at Nectar’s there’s a special encore presentation of Operation: Prince, featuring Craig Mitchell as the artist formerly known as … You know, you’re right. Mitchell is probably too tall to play Prince. I think that dude’s, like, 5-foot-2. Still, I can’t think of anyone else around who could come close to vocally impersonating him. You might not know this about Mitchell since he spends most of his time in DJ booths, but the man is a gifted singer. And actor.
Case in point, the last time Mitchell did the Prince gig, his longtime friend DJ Fattie B approached him backstage between sets. He called Mitchell by his first name several times but didn’t get a response. Finally, after about the fifth or sixth attempt, Mitchell turned his head and said with a vacant stare, “Craig’s not here right now.” The man was possessed. Fattie recalls backing away. Nervously.
Speaking of Fattie B, he’ll be holding court over a special Friday-night version of his long-running dance party Retronome, upstairs at Club Metronome. In addition to the typical ’80s fare, he’ll be spinning classics from the 1970s and 1990s. It’s like a mashup of all of his weekly dance parties in one night.
And speaking of dance parties, the cool kids from Bonjour-Hi! are throwing what should be a pretty epic one at Parima. The eclectic DJ collective headlines a package night at the Thai restaurant that includes a three-course meal, champagne toast and — this is brilliant, trust me — a late-nite breakfast buffet. Genius!
Another option would be to simply stay home and celebrate while snuggled up on the couch. OK, so it’s not as glamorous as going out. But there are certain other things we could do. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. Things that will make you feel really, really dirty, if you catch my drift. Such as watching the live pay-per-view webcast of Phish’s NYE concerts at Madison Square Garden. Yes, really. And for only $19.95 a pop. You’re right, that’s totally ridiculous. Maybe we should skip town?
Our first stop will be at Waterbury’s Reservoir Restaurant & Tap Room to catch surf-punk outfit Torpedo Rodeo. Those guys put out one of my favorite albums of the year, Vs. Sharktopus, and I’m betting they’re a blast live. We can’t linger too long, though, because the main event is in Montpelier at — where else? — the Langdon Street Café.
The capital city’s capital of quirk features a local band called Sweet Hound that’s headlining — I’m not making this up — the “Rock ’n’ Roll Erotica Show.” The central-Vermont-based band plans to rock out the “Café-a-Go-Go” with slinky, sexy covers of the likes of David Bowie and T. Rex — flanked by a harem of go-go dancers, obviously. Once the clock strikes midnight, however, things take a turn for the lurid as the café transforms into — again, I swear I’m not making this up — “Erotic City.” I’d explain further, but I can’t without blushing. I’ll just point out that the invitation to the party promises that “champagne bubbles and sex will be in the air” and leave it at that. Is it hot in here?
And there you go, New Year’s Eve in a nutshell. So, what are you doing New Year’s Eve?
BiteTorrent: Do Not Open Until 2011
Because this issue of the paper covers two weeks, straddling two years, this installment of BiteTorrent covers only events happening in 2011. Typically, the first part of a new year marks a relatively slow period on the local music front. But, judging by the first few weeks, 2011 is shaping up to be pretty rockin’ wire to wire.
Langdon Street Café is scaling back its live-music schedule, at least through the lean winter months. While they’ll no longer have music seven nights per week, what they do present will be extra awesome, I promise. For example, “The Return of New Year’s Evil” on Friday, January 7. This night of rock-and-roll devilry features Iron Maiden tribute band Made In Iron, black metal acolytes Nåthruzym and eclectic folk-punk collective Sai U Drom. That last band sits atop my list of new groups to check out in 2011. Every time I run into accordionist Tim Lang, he mentions some little nugget of intriguing info about the group. Such as crazy audiovisual displays and having more members than could possibly fit on LSC’s stage. Color me curious.
Speaking of Sai U Drom, they’ll take over Nectar’s for a residency, every Tuesday in January.
Back in Montpelier, veteran local rocker Steph Pappas continues her statewide tour Saturday, January 8, when she drops by LSC with her band, the Steph Pappas Experience. For all her years of rocking and/or rolling, Pappas claims she’s never really done a Vermont tour before. No time like the present!
BNOTW: Betty Poison. A couple of months ago I received an email from Lucia Rehab, the lead singer of Italian grunge-rock outfit Betty Poison, asking if I would mention something about her band’s upcoming gig. I checked out their MySpace page and got a kick out of their Hole-esque grunge — the band actually opened for Hole in Europe earlier this year, FYI. I was especially amused by song titles such as “Fuck Twice,” and “Paris Hilton Up Your Ass,” partly because they’re good, if rather explicit, songs. And partly because I remembered where they’re playing: upscale-ish St. Albans restaurant Chow! Bella, on Sunday, January 9. Yes, really. BP is not exactly dinner music, which is fine, since the restaurant won’t be serving dinner that night — though, if you go, I’m told you could still get food.
Pennysylvania’s RiverRat Jenkins open. You can also catch both bands the previous night, Saturday, January 8, in the more familiar confines of Burlington’s Radio Bean, along with Missy Bly, Diamond Tiger and Sons of Dawn.
Last but not least, up-and-coming local Afrobeat/pop outfit the Move It Move It will be recording their show at Parima’s Main Stage on Monday, January 3, in hopes of releasing a live album later this year, coincidentally called Paris Hilton Up Your Ass. (And, yes, I made up that last part. It’s actually called Fuck Twice.)
Since this is the last “Soundbites” column of 2010, here are the five albums that most often found their way onto my iPod, turntable, 8-track player, etc., this year.