Sistas In The Pit, Rough Francis And Death At The Flynn Theater, Burlington VT February 13 2015
Words by Tim Lewis.
I had a great time seeing music last night at the Flynn Theatre. I got out of work a little early, took a bus to Shelburne and hung out with Mom, Dad and my brother Ken for a bit. Soon enough it was time to head out, so I drove Ken and I to Burlington, and found a parking space just around the corner from the Flynn. We walked in around 20 of 7, and I was surprised how few people were milling around the lobby. We got a beer and chatted with Gordon Glover and Adam Rabin and soon it was time to head in.
The theater was maybe a third full as the lights wend down and Sistas in the Pit hit the stage with a solid rocking Black Girl. The followed with Scream and everyone was having a good time. They played as a four piece with two electric guitars, bass and drums, with everyone except the drummer taking turns singing lead. The first two songs rocked hard and were fun, but something happened in the third song and the whole show stepped up a notch. Shelly’s lead guitar playing stepped out a bit and added an extra dimension to the songs and they just went over the top from there. After that stellar solo, they eased back into the groove with Revolutionary Rock and Roll (song titles approximate) and then rocked out with Revolution. Shelly got the growing audience to shout when she asked if we had any Bad Habits and the band kept the high energy rock going. The bass player had a couple of fun chats with the audience. They are from the Oakland area in California and were not used to the sub zero Vermont temperatures. She said something like, we’re driving around and see all these people walking in the cold and we’re like come into our car and get warm. It was quite endearing. The next song, Come On Baby (??) was long and had a nice build and rocked hard. Diane Sullivan ran to the front of the stage and started dancing. Several people from the front rows joined her then more of us headed up. We did not have a critical mass, and the ushers shut us down quick and sent us back to our seats. The band took it in stride and rocked the heck out of the end of the song. It seemed like that was going to be it, but after a moment or two, they put the guitars back on and kicked out Such A Little Liar. It was a great show and everyone who showed up early was rewarded with super-fun music.
Instead of doing a break, a screen dropped down and Jeff Howlett and Mark Covino came out and showed three scenes that never made it to the movie A Band Called Death and didn’t make it to the extra scenes on the DVD. The first was a chat with Gus Ziesing from Low Tech studios talking about his first encounter with the band. The second was a couple of the guys from Lambsbread and the third was Bobby and Dannis going back to the home that once was Philo studio where they recorded. All three were a mix of touching and fun.
After that the screen rose and ROUGH FRANCIS hit the stage. With the no dancing rule firmly established by the ushers, the show had a bit more of a showcase vibe than the usual throw yourself at the music as hard as you can vibe, but the band were brilliant as ever. They opened with the one they’ve been opening most shows with lately. I think it’s called Every Day. It has a solid rock vibe and set a nice tone for the songs to come. I was not familiar with the next couple (I Wanna Run and something about Shoot Em Down-Circle Of Love) but they both sounded great. Not A Nice Guy followed and I rocked as hard as I could while trapped in a seat. The bottom of my chair and the back of the seat in front of me took the energy the floor and my feet should have. They eased back a tiny amount with Staring Out The Window then brought the energy back to full throttle with Black And Red. Musically the whole night was great. Steve kept the low end locked in. Julian played some sweet and nicely articulated leads, Bobby Hackney Jr. mixed excellent singing with hair raising extended screams, Paul ripped out some killer leads and did lots of leg bending jumps that reminded me of a young Pete Townshend, and Urian, well he is so fast and precise on the drums, it’s almost too much to handle. Almost. From there they played another new currently untitled one they are calling Grease. It’s a great fast rocker and tons of fun. They followed with another new one, then something I did not recognize either, maybe I Was Young? The crowd was loving it and they kicked into full gear with I-90 East. They followed with a nicely drawn out Comm To Space, complete with epic ending and that was it.
During the set break, after ROUGH FRANCIS wrapped up their killer set, I headed straight for Sistas in the Pit‘s merch table. They mentioned something about $5 download cards and I had to get one. What a great set they played. I also snagged a copy of A Band Called Death on DVD.
We went back to our seats as a red curtain covered the stage. Soon enough, Jeff and Mark came back out and talked about Death’s new video. The curtain parted and the screen was back and they showed a video for the new song Playtime, from the forthcoming album N.E.W.. It was pretty cool and had a nice shot of someone skateboarding at Champlain college, among other images.
When finished the screen rose, and I did not catch the name of the man and kid who introduced the band, but the kid had a great scream of “Death”. Death World Wide hit the stage. There was a picture of the band on the left side of the wall behind the drum kit and a picture of David on the right. They were hung on the stark brick wall. Aside from the kit and a stack of amps, the stage was completely open. They lit into the rhythmic surging set with Views. The half to 2/3 full theater had a great time and many of us were bopping in our seats for the whole show. Keep On Knocking followed and the party was in full swing. Dannis wasn’t flashy on the drums, but kept every rhythm. Bobby’s voice sounded great and his bass drove all of the songs. Bobbie Duncan played some intense leads in an oh so cool sort of way. They followed with Rock N Roll Victim, then slowed things down for an epic Let The World Turn. I love the tone of the slow part and love the build better. The drum solo in the middle was extended a little and they rocked out a killer ending. Bobby talked about David and he talked about their love for the Lord and I think the next song was a Marvin Gaye song I did not know. They kicked up the pace with Freakin’ Out, then one I did not catch a name for. Where Do We Go From Here??? followed then they started playing new songs. They did Relief and The Times, then told the story of a 45 from a long time ago suddenly creating buzz and ended the set with a killer Politicians In My Eyes. They left the stage but were quickly back for a real version of Playtime. They played another cool new one then wrapped the night with Can You Give Me A Thrill? As they were jamming out the Judas Priest style ending people stood up and began clapping. The band slid from the ending jam back into the song, and for the first time the entire night people were standing up and dancing. They let it run for a bit then jammed out the end a bit more.
After the set Ken and I hung out in the lobby and chatted with Matt Hastings and Caroline Marie, and Peg Tassey. Ken went into the crowd around the merch table and got autographs from the band and got a hat and a shirt.
After a bit we headed out. I drove him back to Shelburne then drove home to Burlington. It was a wonderful night for nostalgia and a wonderful night for family, but most of all, it was a wonderful night of music from bands who are giving it their all here in 2015.
This post was originally published by Tim Lewis at his personal blog, https://timstriangletribune.wordpress.com.