Last week, I wrote about I Make Music , a battle of the bands at Nectar’s and Club Metronome, put together by Broke in Burlington  and Thread Magazine . It was a massive, two-floor rock-analia on Wednesday, December 14, featuring more than a dozen acts from all over the genre spectrum. Punk, house, hip-hop, indie rock, singer-songwriter, ’90s funk-metal — you name it. The range and diversity of the local music scene was on full display.
The showcase was split roughly along genre lines, with hip-hop and electronic fare upstairs and more traditional rock-centric bands downstairs. Along with a few other scene notables — Rough Francis, Mike McKinley from State of Mind, etc. — I was tasked with adjudicating the latter. And we had a blast. For the most part, the bands were all polished and entertaining. And then Spit Jack  took the stage.
I’ve been curious about this newish local punk band since I started hearing the rumors about them getting kicked out of their own shows. That’s just the sort of over-the-top, rock-and-fucking-roll shenanigans that warm my snarky critic’s heart.
The band exuded ragged, boozy swagger as it tore through two bruising punk anthems. The crowd, a healthy percentage of whom were adorned in Spit Jack trucker caps, went batty. I started wondering how many bonus points I could award if they got booted from this show. Then, just as SJ launched into their third slobbering snarl fest, the lights went out. Like, pitch black.
As the emergency lighting came on, security began herding a confused crowd out the door. Spit Jack’s drummer, however, took the opportunity to unleash a solo. I loved it. Security, not so much, as it delayed the exodus outside. Then shit got really crazy.
The mass of people gathered on the sidewalk in front of the club discovered that power had gone out for several blocks in either direction on Main Street. Spit Jack, it would seem, had rocked so hard they broke the power grid.
After a minor verbal clash between rankled rock fans and police trying to disperse the crowd — including a few tense moments during which one officer looked as though he might arrest Spit Jack’s bassist — it was announced that the show would not go back on. The night was over. And the legend of Spit Jack grows.
At this point, you may be wondering, So who won? Glad you asked! And the winner is …
Tommy Goldman !
I know. I had never heard of him, either. But the singer-songwriter took advantage of a new tech-y judging wrinkle in which audience members were asked to text their votes, “American Idol”-style, for their favorites. Goldman packed the house with his own fans during his set and tallied 108 audience votes. By comparison, the Zack duPont Band , a pretty established local act, received just 11 texts. Incidentally, the next-closest band was Spit Jack, who also brought their own crowd, and nabbed 88 texts despite an abbreviated set.
In any event, congrats to Goldman, who scored some studio time and a Thread spread.
A few other observations about the night:
Indie rock is a tough sell at a BOTB. Hello Shark  was a personal favorite. I hadn’t caught the Pavement-ish quartet live until that night. But I found them as charming and clever in person as I have on record. They’re almost comically shy onstage, so I doubt they’ll win many such battles. But they impressed all the same, as did Parmaga .
Holy crap, the Lyngusitic Civilians  are good. I snuck up to Metronome during a break and caught some of their set. Frankly, I was stunned. There’s a reason they took the top prize upstairs. Gang of Thieves  were fun. I had actually judged them in a high school BOTB contest a year or two ago, which they won. They’ve gotten better. Though I still can’t figure out how a group of kids not yet old enough to drink can seem so influenced by the likes of Rage Against the Machine and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Did one of your older brothers grow up in the 1990s? And did we hang out?
Dr. Ruckus  obliged the college-funk-band portion of the evening and were … well, a solid college funk band. Though, to be honest, bassist Brendan Keogh could stand to tone it down a bit, especially during his bandmates’ solos. Sometimes the best notes are the ones you don’t play.
The Zack duPont Band. Man. Simply excellent. As I told Zack after the show, had he broken a major city utility, he probably woulda won.
Gather ’round, kids. I have a tale to tell of a true Christmas miracle.
By now you’ve probably heard the story of Ben Hardy and his guitar . It was big news, locally, for at least a news cycle or two earlier this month. If you missed it, Hardy, a Seven Days freelance music critic, was a victim of the burglary spree in Burlington’s Old North End over Thanksgiving. Among other instruments, musical devices and clothing, the thieves made off with a priceless guitar: a Fender Telecaster signed and given to his late older brother, Josh Hardy, by the members of Pearl Jam in the early 1990s. At the time, 16-year-old Josh was stricken with cancer and met the band — and many other greats in the Seattle grunge scene at the time — through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Josh Hardy passed away mere months after meeting his idols.
Since then, the guitar had remained in the care of Hardy’s parents, until it was given to Ben earlier this year. A few months later, it was stolen.
A media blitz ensued. Nearly every local media outlet from TV to newspaper to radio ran some sort of story about the theft. Social media was on fire with posts about the guitar. But after a week, there were still no leads. The chances that Hardy would recover his brother’s guitar grew more remote by the day. Then a funny thing happened.
Burlington police phoned Hardy saying they had found his guitar and most of his other stolen possessions. Once again, the Twitterverse and Facebook exploded, this time with joyful noises — or tweets or whatever. But when Hardy went to the station to recover his guitar, he discovered the thieves had sanded off the Pearl Jam signatures. Sometimes douchebaggery knows no bounds.
And then another funny thing happened.
During the local media firestorm, the Associated Press picked up the story, and it went national. A certain grunge band from Seattle heard about it and were none too pleased.
Last week, Hardy emailed Seven Days to inform us that a representative for Pearl Jam’s lead guitarist, Mike McCready, had contacted him. “They want to put the signatures back on,” he wrote.
And that, friends, is a Christmas miracle.
(Incidentally, one of the suspects in the Hardy case faces life imprisonment if convicted. So the lesson is, as always: Don’t fuck with Pearl Jam. Also, don’t have a rap sheet three miles long that includes being an accessory to murder.)
Super-quick BiteTorrent this week to pass along some late-breaking holiday-party news:
Bob Wagner is throwing a holiday spectacular at Club Metronome on Thursday, December 22, dubbed Yukon Cornelius Presents the Majestically Musical Holiday Mixer. Among those scheduled to appear are — read this in a Don Pardo voice, please — Swale , Lendway , Whiskey Bullet, the Eames Brothers Band , Anders Parker Cloud Badge , Brett Hughes, Joshua Panda , the Wee Folkestra , Lowell Thompson , Seth Yacovone  and many more.
Levity hosts a special holiday comedy showcase this Friday, December 23, headlined by DC-based comedian Jon Eick , who will be the first out-of-towner to headline Vermont’s new/only comedy club. Nifty.
Last but not least, who doesn’t love an ugly-sweater party? As has become tradition, Manhattan Pizza hosts its annual Sweater Party this Friday, December 23, with the Cheddar Band , DJs Stay Gold and Juscaus, Lazerdisk Party Sex ’s DJ ZJ and all five members of Bonjour-Hi!  BTW, a canned-food donation knocks a buck off the cover.
Once again, this week’s totally self-indulgent column segment, in which I share a random sampling of what was on my iPod, turntable, CD player, 8-track player, etc., this week.
Sufjan Stevens, Christmas (yes, still)
Bob Rivers, Twisted Christmas
MU330, Winter Wonderland
Ella Fitzgerald, Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas
Dean Martin, Christmas with Dino