I have been going to music festivals all summer – huge, overwhelming affairs held in the great outdoors with multiple stages and thousands of people, dozens of bands. They’re great. I love them. Going to one after another of these extravaganzas, it is easy to forget that there are other ways to enjoy music. Like in a club, or a bar. I was really happy, then, to go to the Monkey House tonight in Winooski, Vermont to see Horseburner and get a refresher course on how a small venue can, in many ways, be a bigger experience.
Horseburner is a doom band from West Virginia. They are gearing up for a US tour in November and made a stopover in the North Country supporting their newest release, The Thief (out now on Ripple Music). Horseburner was the middle act on the Tuesday night show between the opener, Sachem, and the headliner, Wolfhand, both these other bands being Vermont products. The Monkey House is a great little bar in a small town that is adjacent to Burlington, the largest place in Vermont (but it is still not very big). There are not a lot of places to hear heavy music in the Burlington area, so metal fans are lucky to have the Monkey House which DOES sometimes feature loud rock – the Sunday lineup this week, for example, includes Scaphism, Callous, Crypitus, Hell Priest, and Shitangel. It is a small bar, so bands like Horseburner have a sound that is sometimes a little too much for the space. But that is one of the things that is so great about seeing bands in bars and small places because it is a whole different experience. Hearing a song in a tight room late on a Tuesday night is a whole other thing than hearing the same song by the same band on a Saturday afternoon standing outdoors in a parking lot in front of a giant stage.
Horseburner only had 35 minutes and they made the most of it, featuring new material and cracking the whip from the small stage in the back. During the heavy driving movements, the four-piece creates a full sound, giving the impression that the room is being surrounded by an advancing army. The bridges are dramatic, and lead you right off the cliff. Quiet, even soft moments don’t last long, and the occasional lead break, when it comes, is blistering. It was an excellent set.
Check out Horseburner while they are out on the road next month rolling all over the US. And listen to The Thief, too – it is on Spotify or you could always buy it at Bandcamp and other places. Having seen them play at a bar, now I’ll be looking for Horseburner on the festival circuit. They have made my list.