Waking Windows 5: Your Guide to the Best Time // Published in Offprint Magazine // May 1 , 2015
With its center ring of restaurants and bars, downtown Winooski has no dearth of small, tucked away spots for those seeking refuge from the Burlington crowd. In terms of the summer festival circuit, however, the Onion City generally bows to the Queen. Between Grand Point North, WYSIWYG, the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, and The Precipice, Burlington wears Chittenden County’s festival crown.
Yet, little old Winooski is doing its damnedest to add its voice to the mix, thanks to Waking Windows. The festival, now in its fifth year, brings the noise right into the heart of the traffic circle with three days of music to please all ears.
While WW does feature some national acts like Cymbals Eat Guitars, as well as established local outfits such as Barbacoa, Swale, Argonaut & Wasp and DuPont Brothers, it also caters to emerging artists. In short, it’s got a little bit of everything.
With over 100 performances lined up over three days, picking your favorites and setting your schedule can be a daunting task. Offprint is here to help. We’ve crafted a sample itinerary of noteworthy shows by bands that are a little less well-known. By no means exhaustive, this primer serves as a heads up, and will get you ready to sing, dance, imbibe and jive. Read on.
Day 1 — Friday, May 1
Ease into your weekend at Four Quarters Brewery with a five o’clock beer and listen toNear North, a St. Albans trio that toes the line between alt-country and straight-up rock. Seven Days’ recent review largely focused on the group’s departure from its alt-country twangy roots to scuzzy indie-rock. It will be interesting to see what side of the Mason-Dixon line the group lands on at WW. Will they go full-tilt, fiery Northeast garage band, or will they dust off their Southern whiskey-grass harmonicas?
Next, sip a glass of wine at Oak 45 and enjoy the sweet stylings of twee-pop ensemble,The Smittens. “These Lips” is a cheeky, sexy number that will have you smirking across the bar. Having toured extensively in the U.S. and abroad, The Smittens are no strangers to performing live, so their 7 p.m. set is sure to impress.
If you’re looking to head home early and close out the night on a chill note, drop by the Monkey House at 8:20 p.m. There, you’ll be treated to Vesuvio Solo, a Montreal-based pop duo composed of Thom Gillis and Cameron MacLean. Their debut albumFavors, released last October, combines luxe contemporary pop with 70s light rock. Sleek and seductive, their track “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is your perfect soundtrack to driving down a California highway.
Interested in a fusion of ska, funk, and reggae? Steady Betty will be bringing down the house at Waterworks, starting at 9 p.m. Steady Betty is a live-performing amalgamation of seven Vermont-based female musicians, including Burlington’s soul sweetheart Kat Wright. Their cover of Eric Donaldson’s “Cherry Oh Baby” will have you swaying in your seat.
Perhaps you’re intent on closing down the bar? Not to fear, because you’ve got a few options. Head over to Mule Bar at 11 p.m. for downtempo, meditative soundscapes from Sasquatch. Are heavy beats, psychedelic bass, and indistinguishable metallic sounds more your style? Stop by The Monkey House from 1:30 to 2:15 a.m. for some late-night experimental hip-hop by SnakeFoot.
Day 2 — Saturday, May 2
Begin your day at The Monkey House at noon for humble, yet powerful blues-folk-rock from Iron Eyes Cody. Its seven members are all students from Middlebury College, but they are certainly more than a ragtag college band. Besides performing on campus, they’ve opened for Madaila and gigged at Nectar’s, Radio Bean and Higher Ground in Chittenden County. Built on swelling vocals and stirring instrumentation, their song, “The Bayou” shows singer Renn Mulloy’s raw star-power.
After brunch, enjoy some jazzy sounds from Burlington DJ Luis Calderin at Misery Loves Company, starting at 2 p.m. He has performed extensively and has also held a residency at Hotel Vermont, acting as its music director and requisite DJ. His R&B-infused beats include world music, soul and brassy big band sounds.
Step off the beaten path and head to the United Methodist Church at 4:30 to hear the haunting sounds of Portland, Maine duo Blood Warrior. Together, Greg Jamie and Joey Weiss create a sound that is, honestly, a bit uncomfortable. Spectral keyboarding, brooding percussion, and spooky vocals define their single, “Bloodletting.” Other songs incorporate chanting, organs and international instruments. Their music is primitive, emotional and provocative.
Next, pop over to Bird Folk at 5:40 p.m. for a unique set from New Hampshire-based singer Will Kindler. He plays a self-described “fusion of rockabilly, 1980’s pop, and 1940’s World War II British folk songs.” That tagline alone should compel you to listen to a song or two. On the tune “Write You Off,” Kindler’s tinny, off-kilter voice is oddly compelling.
Craving some polished electro-pop? Then don’t miss Basic Shapes at Oak 45 at 7:25 p.m. This cool trio from Brookyln weaves textural electronica with sing-a-long pop melodies and prides itself on being a live performance group. Their song “Shining Armor” is upbeat, catchy and slinky. Get ready to dance.
As the last rays of sunlight disappear beyond the horizon, amble over to Waterworks at 9 p.m. for horn-driven trip-hop Willverine. Willverine is a project of Burlington trumpet player Will Andrews, who has dabbled in many groups, most notably Japhy Ryder. His debut EP I’ll Come Through, released in February, also features Zach DuPont of the DuPont Brothers, as well as singer-songwriter Maryse Smith. For his WW set, Andrews will have a full band. Willverine’s tune “80s haircut” is sophisticated, melodic, and sensual, with soft horns to set the mood for wining and dining.
Wind down the evening with Kafari’s DJ set at Misery Loves Co. Bakeshop at ten o’clock. His mellow electro allows for plenty of head-nodding and nursing that last drink (unless of course, you’re intent on staying out till the wee hours.) If so, there are plenty of other unannounced DJ acts at Mule Bar and the Monkey House to satisfy your late-night wanderings.
Day 3 — Sunday, May 3
The last day of the festival doesn’t wrap up until last call, so you’ve still got a full day ahead. Begin with cocky, confident rock at Four Quarters. The Whiskey Dicks’ 1 p.m. set is sure to bring bluesy, electric guitar-driven tunes with touches of harmonica. There will also likely be plenty of vamping and crowd interaction. These guys like to party.
High school rockers The Snaz play Scout & Co. at 3 p.m. If “ high school band” conjures up images of lame, stilted guitar solos and pitchy vocals, think again. The Brattleboro quartet has gained recognition around the state for its tight instrumentation, and has also worked with Grammy-winning producer Peter Solley.
Linger at Scout & Co. and slow down with ambient, dark tunes from local indie group Crater Lake. Their melancholy four o’clock set will transport you to distant, unearthly places.
Next, fist pump at the main stage at 7 p.m. with New Jersey outfit Delicate Steve. These guys have toured with Tame Impala, play hard, progressive rock and occasionally finger-pick their way through fast guitar solos. Their track “Butterfly” was listed on NPR’s top 100 songs of 2011.
Close out your weekend with surf-rockers Gymshorts at The Monkey House at 9 p.m. This Providence, R.I. gang serves up defiant punk and surf-rock, with moments of apathetic shoe-gaze. If you’re still awake after a long weekend of harassing your eardrums, stick around Monkey House for Philadelphia sleaze-rockers Low Cut Connie at ten o’clock.
With this suggested schedule in hand, your Waking Windows 2015 experience is sure to be a whirlwind of good tunes. We’ll see you out there.