Bradley's Almanac

Remembering Burlingtonitus

Posted on April 15, 2004 at 11:20 am | No Comments

It was 10 years ago this weekend that my friend Colin and I put on the first annual Burlingtonitus independent music fest.

In April 1994, Burlington, Vermont was crawling with jam-band spawn (crunchy-hippy bands and the college kids who loved them), so our fest was really an excuse to bring indie bands we knew and loved to town, to share stages with ’em, and to have friends come out for a weekend-long party. More than a dozen bands over two days at 242 Main (the local non-profit teen center), all ages invited, and five bucks a show. It was strictly for fun, about as far from a money making venture as it coulda been. If we were lucky, the bands would get a little more than gas money… the further they drove, the more we tried to give ’em.

It was really a fest of necessity; doing it ourselves was the was the only way to see some of these bands without driving for hours. We naively hoped to kick off a trend, maybe bring some of the (imagined?) indie kids outta their rooms, get people motivated to put on their own shows, maybe get a few new bands to add our little town to future tour schedules. To a fairly minor degree, that actually happened for awhile.

Even though the people in the bands occasionally outnumbered the crowd, the first fest was such a success that we ended up hosting three more of ’em (in ’95, ’96, and ’98), growing a bit to include more invitees and other clubs. Friends were made, stories were shared, but mostly, lots of pretty great live music was played for receptive ears. We owe a lot of the fest’s success to the support of the staff at WRUV, the UVM radio station where you’d find me between classes, and to CKUT, the McGill station that helped spread the word to all the Montreal kids that drove an hour and a half south for our little indie experiment. We also couldn’t have pulled it off without the labels who sent bands our way (Sonic Bubblegum, Pop Narcotic, Harriet Records, the Proteen guys, Teenbeat), and all the bands who liked the thing enough to play more than once (the Stand GT, Chisel/Ted Leo, Tulips, the Van Pelt, Tizzy, Tugboat Annie, the Smiles, and more).

Here are the complete lineups for all four Burlingtonitus fests …

(Naturally, I couldn’t find links for all of these, so I tried to reference a related artist, a review, or another download)


Burlingtonitus One

Friday & Saturday, April 15th & 16th, 1994 at 242 Main

New Radiant Storm King, Tuscadero, Rollercoaster, Pest 5000, Driver UFO, Morning Glories, the Stand GT, Snowplow, Buddy Sevaris, Madelines, Chisel, the Smiles, Yum Yum Tree, Tulips, Green Magnet School, and other random guests


Burlingtonitus Two

Friday, April 21st, 1995 at Club Toast: the Stand GT, Tuscadero, Pest 5000, Eef, Tizzy

Saturday, April 22nd at 242 Main: Tulips, Yum Yum Tree, Blast Off Country Style, huffy, Tugboat Annie

Sunday, April 23rd at Club Metronome: Chisel, the Van Pelt, Radio to Saturn, Madelines, Buddy Sevaris, the Smiles, and Sleepcrash


Burlingtonitus Three

Friday, April 19th to 21st, 1996 at Club Toast

Sugar Plant, Pirate Jenny, Babe the Blue Ox, Saturnine, Lindy Pear, Daviess County Panthers, the Van Pelt, Tugboat Annie, Catapult, Me Jane, the Smiles, Tizzy, Starlight Conspiracy, Scrap Douglas, Soup Sandwich, The Stand GT, Goldfish, and Gladly


Burlingtonitus Four

Friday, April 24th, 1998 at 242 Main: Syrup USA, the Fan Modine, Sarge, the Wicked Farleys

Saturday, April 25th at Club Toast: the Stand GT, the Sin Eaters, the Four Color Manual, Pilot to Gunner, the Parcels

Sunday, April 26th at Club Metronome: My Own Sweet, Victory at Sea, the Swimmer, Stupid Club, Jumprope


To mark this little tenth anniversary, I’ve dusted off and digitized some old unreleased live recordings from the first two years. I tried to pick the best stuff, and though they vary quite a bit in quality, I hope some of the spirit behind them comes across. I had such a good time digging through ’em…

  • Blast Off Country StyleButtercup / Cutie Pie – Probably the only Burlingtonitus band with coordinated rock-wear, B.O.C.S. brought their Teenbeat bounce-pop all the way from D.C. just for us. Even though Cutie Pie is a little loose, I put it up here just for Colin. You’ll hear why.
  • Buddy SevarisMy Girlfriend is an Astronaut – Along with Driver UFO, these guys were Philly’s ambassadors to Burlingtonitus, part of the Proteen records crew. (note: unfortunately this song has some really nasty, super-loud digital fuzz in a bunch of spots, so i’ll spare you the ear damage… if i can find the original, i’ll post it later on.)
  • ChiselHip Straights – Wow, was I ever blown away by these guys. Ted Leo, Chris Norborg, & John Dugan. Colin would always say, about random bands he’d invite, “I’m friends with them and they’ll totally play and they’re great!”, but I’d take that last bit with a grain of rock-salt. Well, Colin was never more right than he was with Chisel. I’ve been a fan of Ted’s since the first time I saw him on stage, and this song is just one of the reasons why.
  • HuffyCarry – Tim, Jeff, & Nate. These guys, along with our own bands, happily played for free, hoping to help bring in more kids so we could pay the travellers. Not that we were huge draws, right? It’s the thought that counts.
  • Lindy PearI Could Say Anything – At least I think that’s the name of that song. I’d have to dig out my old tapes to be sure. For the ongoing adventures of singer Craig Gurwich, check out Summer at Shatter Creek.
  • MadelinesBlemishColin, Kurt, Pat, & Scott, batting cleanup at Burlingtonitus 2. Ah, the early days. “Wooden Lips with a Kickstand.” This recording is so damn good. Glad I found it.
  • New Radiant Storm KingPhone Call – What a great band. I’m really psyched to find out they got a singles/rarities collection coming out later this month. Peyton now plays with the Pernice Brothers.
  • Pest 5000Cold Feet – I’m such a sucker for violin in my pop-rock. Across the border from Montreal, Pest played the first and second Burlingtonitus fests. This recording is from the second one.
  • Radio to Saturn(We’re Sorry) – I actually don’t know the name of this one, but the made-up title fits once you get to the end. It’s ok, RtS, we forgive you.
  • the Stand GTMary’s Favorite Number – Straight outta Ontario, my Canadian pals, Chris, Doug, Colin, Wally, & eternal roadie Johnny McBean. Had some of the best times ever hangin’ with these genuinely great guys. Thankfully, Chris is still making music, so give a look and listen. We really have to get together one-a these days, Chris.
  • TizzyA-4 – Jen, Joel, and Teri, three of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and this was my favorite song of theirs. According to their website, Jen just brought a baby, little Josephine, into the world a couple weeks back. Congrats, Jen! She’s gonna be the best rock n’ roll mom.
  • Tugboat AnnieAdaptor – From Buffalo, then Boston. Singer Mike gave it all during this set, and by the time this song came around, his voice was a little wrecked. I’ll share the song anyway, ‘cuz it’s a good one.
  • TulipsCatch the Cradle – I don’t know what was more fun… watching Suzette prowl the stage, or watching fixated fanboys watch Suzette prowl the stage. Drummer Chris is the nicest guy to ever scare the hell outta me. One night, after a set was cut short and Chris hadn’t yet released all his pent up drumming agression, he just started chucking his set off the stage onto the floor, piece by piece. Tulips became the Daviess County Panthers, then Chris and Mike went on to be in the Takers.
  • TuscaderoMt. Pleasant – Long drive from D.C. up to Burlington, but I’m so glad they made it. I hadn’t heard them before, and was smitten by this then-new Teenbeat band.
  • the Van PeltTurning 20 into 2 – Chris Leo and Co. Such a great songwriter, I owe Colin muchly for turning me onto them. Chris eventually formed the Lapse, but I’m not quite sure what he’s up to now. Colin?
  • Yum Yum TreeGrey Day – Messy, snot-nosed girl-fronted punk outta NYC. There’s hardly any online evidence of their having existed, which would probably suit them just fine.I could ramble all day about the people I met, the bands I loved, the post-show parties, all the memories that came out of months of planning and weekends of payoff. I’ll spare you that, though.

    And yes, we made way too many t-shirts… ya want one?

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