The Ins and Outs of Burlington’s Music Venues
by Ruby LaBrusciano-Carris
Despite Burlington being such a small city, we are lucky to have an extremely large amount of music happening in and around the area. On a typical Saturday night, it is easy to peruse the BORED calendar and find everything from bluegrass, to hip-hop, to classical piano. If you’re new to the area though, or haven’t quite gotten your foot in the door of our robust music scene yet though, here is a rundown of what’s going on downtown musically.
The Radio Bean
With its laid-back, funky atmosphere, The Radio Bean is the ultimate hipster hangout. Though the space itself is small, it is always packed with Burlingtonites from all walks of life, grooving to the latest local celebrity. The interior is decorated in a deliberately off-beat and artistic style, which corresponds well to the eclectic and interesting artists that come through. There is almost definitely music going on every night (although you might want to check their calendar to make sure it’s something you’d like), and even by day, when it operates as a trendy little café.
Higher Ground is one of the most well known venues in Vermont, and is able to attract far more popular bands than anywhere else in the state, both because of it’s size, and the fact that it is conveniently situation directly between Boston and Montreal. If you’re hoping to hear some big-name artists, Higher Ground is the place to go. Indoors, they have two big spaces, one called the Ballroom and another called the Showcase Lounge. On busy nights, they are both hopping, but typically the Ballroom is the most used space. The Ballroom is an enormous industrial space, with a bar and a few chandeliers dangling over the crowds. It can hold quite a few people, but be sure to get your tickets early because Higher Ground is known to sell out. Check out their calendar to see if you’ve heard of any of the upcoming acts!
Signal Kitchen is a relatively recent addition to the Burlington music scene, but has quickly become a local favorite. They bring a lot of smaller, travelling indie and alternative bands to the area, as well as hosting some of the better-known local bands, and curate a gallery of impressive local artists in the space as well. It is intimate and cozy, and a great place to hear someone that you’ve never heard of or your newest “underground” favorite. Although I admit that I haven’t made it there yet, this venue is definitely penciled into my calendar for this semester.
The Skinny Pancake
Although you’ve probably heard of their delicious crepes filled with nutella, whipped cream, fruit, and all good things imaginable, don’t forget that the Skinny Pancake is also a music venue at night. Their stage space transforms the waterfront restaurant into a relaxed hangout for dancing, eating, and drinking. Most of the artists that frequent the Skinny Pancake are local, and tend to be more acoustic or country-focused than anywhere else in Burlington—although that certainly doesn’t apply to everyone who plays there. It is the perfect combo for a night out on the town.
This venue is probably one of the most classic in Burlington, and since they’ve been playing music since the 70’s, even they describe themselves as a “long-standing Burlington landmark”. Over the weeks, months, and years, Nectar’s has attracted all kinds of eclectic acts, and you really never know what you’re going to get at a night at Nectar’s. In the past, they have hosted big names such as Phish and Grace Potter, but you are also just as likely to find a local comedy or trivia show.
*Club Metronome: This venue is Nectar’s DJ-centric, electronic upstairs venue. Most of the events are 18+ or 21+, but if you’re of-age they are always a fun time.
Although this list by no means covers everywhere, hopefully it can give you a taste of what is out there in Burlington. Take a peek at some calendars before you go out this weekend and try something new! There is no shortage of good beats, good vibes, and great music here, so have fun!