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This Year | The Fifth Business Album Release Party at Monkey House | April 2011

By J.M. Powell & Wylla Skye
Photography by Katie Warren

Dean Calcagni of The Fifth Business

It’s early. Ted Calcagni, lead guitarist, his brother, lead singer Dean, and guitarist Derek Freeburn, a new addition to the band, sit at the bar at the Monkey House in Winooski. Deane remarks about his pleather pants- how rock star. He has a girl on each arm and his swagger outdoes his shabby dress. There aren’t too many people in the building yet, but Ted tips back his drink and then says, “People are coming,” with a grin. Drummer Mike Healy and bassist John Wallis saunter up. There are a few more girls hanging around. Some pool players make noise in the back. Altogether, The Fifth Business seem at ease tonight, as if they’ve already succeeded.

In the corner, a table displays their first EP, T-shirts, and their newest album This Year, the reason for this album release party. The band greets everyone as they come in. Some are friends and some are fans, and the band plays a great host.

The Isleys are also hanging around. The four-piece outfit takes the stage promptly. There’s a synth drum, rhythmic guitars, and driving bass. With their certain melody choices they have a slightly 80’s sound, fueled by grunge undercurrents. As their set continues, people keep coming in from the relatively warm night. Smiles seem contagious. Dancing begins.

After a quick set change, the Dirty Watts take over, blending SoCal beach bum rock with Beach Boys guitar play. They fly through their set with ease, trading solos, singing wholeheartedly. Even the pool players have taken a break to listen in. The vibe is really setting in. This is a fun night and The Fifth Business know it, walking around hugging and high-fiving.

A few women are dressed to impress, ready to cut a rug. Others sport classic Vermont flannel in the hipster-grunge fashion. Fog fills the windows, creating a surreal stormy night feel, although it’s just the heat from inside growing too quickly for the glass to compensate.

The Fifth Business

Then The Fifth Business get on stage. “We’re just going to play our album all the way through,” Deane says, his shaggy hair swinging behind him. Being a part of the garage punk-ish scene, Dean has a genuine voice, confident and panting conscious lyrics, but he’s no Robert Plant. Still, he closes his eyes, plucks his guitar, and starts into “Time of Year”. The band around him waits for “No Cure For Curiosity”, when they enter like thunder after a short rain, swimming in their bubble of hooks and riffs. Live, they don’t drift too far from what their album sounds like, but because their album is laced with lead guitar movement, sliding and precise bass, and a good sense for melody, it’s safer to say that their LP suits their live sound well.

The Fifth Business

“This is a dance song,” Deane announces, leaping into “I Could Be Wrong”, and his assessment is partially right; it’s more of a head swinging, fist pumping song, deserving of the intense fun-loving stare on John’s face as he hammers at his bass. Both Derek and Ted look across the stage at one another grinning, their guitars both generating fuzzy licks behind the vocals, which have been cleared in the speakers from their muddle during the two openers. Dean’s easily understood. Mike, behind the other four, is lost in his kit.

Each song flies by. They crack jokes, dance around the stage, make eye contact with the audience, claim every song is a dance song, Deane jumps off the stage, running through the audience, and soon it’s the end. “Pompeii”, their last song, is a slowly building introspection and ends the set on a sweet note. The crowd hasn’t had enough. It’s one of the clearest forms of a true need for an encore that I’ve seen in some time.

Derek Freeburn of The Fifth Business

For an encore, they pull out one from their EP. Derek takes a blistering solo and the group indulges, jamming out for once. Clearly, this is a celebration of successfully keeping the audience’s attention the whole time. It was like when they were sitting at the bar. They had already won. It was just a matter of time.

Rarely can a band look to be having more fun on stage, and rarely is an audience so respectful, listening, laughing in all the right places, dancing, sweating, and by the time the three bands have packed up, the crowd has filtered out, leaving the musicians to stand in the night, shaking hands, being thankful, and then driving away, having swooped in to teach a crowd how easy it can be to make music powerful without being overbearing. The Fifth Business make it look easy because for them, doing what they love is easy, and sharing it is pure fun.


+1 # Arnold 2011-04-05 09:26
Excellent write-up and photography. Was at the show as well and had a blast. You're right - they make it sound fun and easy...


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