Burlington City Arts

PUSHING BRAIN UPHILL: a festival of experimental music

April 22, 2017, 3:00PM

Pushing a Brain Uphill (PABU) is an experimental music project coordinated by local artists Harvey Bigman, Jack Braunstein and Caroline DeCunzo. The project, which has consisted of three festivals and a short series, aims to highlight and support marginal music and politics, both through booking underrepresented artists and genres in the Burlington music community, and intentionally pairing political education and advocacy with art events. The project culminates in Pushing a Brain Uphill III, to take place at Burlington City Arts Center and Speaking Volumes April 19-22, 2017. Throughout the duration of the project, Burlington City Arts has supported performances by dozens of local and out of town experimental musicians including Andrea Pensado, Bonnie Kane, Forbes Graham, Greg Davis, JB LeDoux, Gahlord Dewald, James Goddard, Ky Brooks, Sascha Ford, and many more.

Pushing a Brain Uphill captures the spirit of experimentation and impulse that propels the artists exhibiting in Ready. Fire! Aim. Photographer Matthew Peterson, an exhibiting artist in Ready. Fire! Aim. will be at Pushing a Brain Uphill on Saturday, April 22 selling and trading zines and posters.

Weekend passes for the festival ($25 for all three shows) are available at Because capacity is limited for the Wolf Eyes – Last World – Staples show, we especially recommend purchasing tickets in advance.
(Tickets at the door are: 4/19 - $12; 4/21 - $10; 4/22 - $15-20 sliding scale).

Pushing a Brain Uphill III Series Information: April 19-22, 2017

Wolf Eyes – Last World – Staples
April 19, 8:00 PM at Burlington City Arts

Wolf Eyes (Detroit, MI):
Wolf Eyes is perhaps the best known U.S. post-industrial noise group, currently comprised of John “Inzane” Olsen, Crazy Jim Baljo, and fronted by Nate Young, though past members include such notorious noise names as Aaron Dilloway and Mike Connolly (Hair Police). John I. Olsen’s skateboarding, though impressive, doesn’t hold a candle to his woodwind skills. Come for thick, fuzzy and grumbling drum beats produced by a drum machine strapped to Olsen’s waist, writhing stank face and whining vocals, and straight shredding from Jim. This crew last touched down in VT in 2005, and it would be a true shame for any trip metal fans to miss out this time around.

Last World (Burlington, VT):
Though perhaps better known for their more popular punk outfit Rough Francis, or their familial affiliation with Death, Last World provides yet another opportunity to witness the infamous Hackney brothers (Urian - guitar, Julian - vocals, Bobby - drums), with the added bonus of Scott McCormick on bass. Though Last World lacks the cult following of Rough Francis, long-time fans and new-comers can get down with the power-violence punk variation.

Staples (Burlington, VT):
Staples is the local noise duo of Caroline DeCunzo Jack Braunstein, coincidentally 2/3 of the Pushing a Brain organizing troupe. Inspired by body horror, enviro-medical violence and pollution, and Wolf Eyes, this partnership subsists on unconventionally arranged rock, rap and Broadway classics, free jazz mementos, sensual grand gestures, and “harsh noise walls.”

Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform
Organizers from Vermont Criminal Justice Reform will be tabling at the event and will speak about their current campaigns; 1) ending the policy of sending incarcerated Vermonters (Vermont prohibits private prisons) to private prisons in other states, and 2) ending the incarceration of elderly Vermonters. Petitions will also be available. More information about VCJR can be found at


with Valerie Martino – Maria Chavez (DJ) – Golden Poussey – DJ Organic Mommy
April 21, 8:00 PM at Speaking Volumes

Valerie Martino (Providence, RI)
Valerie Martino has been a staple in the industrial noise/techno scene for a really long time. FKA Unicorn Hard-On and former preeminent “leading official” Squelcher in the famed Laundry Room Squelchers (a wild noise ensemble coordinated by Miami’s Rat Bastard, also one of the many muscles behind the International Noise Conference…) Martino is widely heralded foremost as the pioneer we have to thank for “technoise.” Many credit Martino with leading the charge from the noise table to the dance floor, by incorporating sick beats into her noise sets at a time dominated by dudes and a-rhythmic harsh noise walls. What’s really cool, though, is that in an interview Martino says she knew beats were going to someday be central to noise, and that she was just trying to make music interesting. So she can also see the future? A press release for her last album as UHO (Dream Machine, untergang-institut, 2016) says that her influence on the “underground music landscape cannot be overstated.” Aside from all of this historical precedent/femme hero worship, her music is incredible. Gradually unfolding composites get more complex, messy and noisy as they mature; what you hear at first is decidedly not what you get.

Golden Poussey (Burlington, VT)
Golden Poussey is Caroline DeCunzo’s solo technoise project. Formerly known as Lou and Iams, GPuss is inspired by femme techno artists and the beautiful femme techno communities across the Northeast. Rudimentary recording and production practices make for white noise infused agro swells punctuated with enduring beats a la Wilted Woman.

Maria Chavez (New York, NY)
Maria Chavez is most widely known for her work as an “abstract turntableist;” you can see her in that zone on Saturday). As a DJ, her range is wide but circles around danceable 70s cuts. Burlington’s affinity for DJ Taka makes me think she’ll be a big hit. For more information about Maria see her bio for Saturday down below.

DJ Organic Mommy (Burlington, VT)
DJ Organic Mommy is Claire Macon, an absolute powerhouse and critical femme in the New England DIY booking and party scene. You may have seen her aux-cable spin at parties as Bong Witch, throwing down at BABE PARADISE 3, or most recently hosting legendary karaoke nights through Friends + Family VT. Her expertise is balancing deep 60s, 70s and 80s cuts from her weirdly vast knowledge of historical bangers, with classic club tracks from the 90s, 2000s and now. Come for ABBA, Lil Kim, Princess Nokia, and Donna Summer. This babe knows how to work a room.

This event is co-sponsored by BABE PARADISE, a loose collection of queer femmes that organize queer dance parties in Burlington. The ability to safely occupy space to congregate, celebrate and party is historically delineated across various identity lines; this show is a safe space to dance and party that prioritizes queers, femmes, and trans-folks. Alternative security versed in gendered, queer and racial politics will be provided by Green Mountain Anti-Fascist Action to ensure the safety of the space. This show is BYOB with a requested donation of $10 at the door. All proceeds following payment of the artists and the space will be donated. In the past, BABE PARADISE has raised money for Black Lives Matter VT, the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, the Family Room, and legal fees for activists arrested at the J-20 protests and along the border. If you or an institution you’re affiliated with are in need of funds, let us know by emailing


Maria Chavez, Bromp Treb, and more
April 22, 2:00 PM at Burlington City Arts

For those who have attended the Pushing a Brain festival in its past iterations, Saturday will feel the most familiar. Eight hours of noise and experimental performances, back to back, in the BCA Center’s Lorraine B. Good room will bring PABU III to a noisy close with an array of local and regional artists.

Maria Chavez (New York, NY)
As a performer, Maria Chavez’s work is as theoretical as it is tangible. Chavez is an “abstract turntablist,” which means she uses turntables, records in various degrees of intact, and other substances to create swarthy, jumbled, syncopated and disorienting soundscapes. Her technique is likely something you have never seen. Rumor has it she led a Girls Rock Philly workshop where she instructed participants to snap their records in half, throw some sand on them, and see what happens. The result crackles, chirps, scratches, and writhes. Theoretically she’s working with destruction, deterioration, failure, and “the unexpected.” Following these theoretical underpinnings, she doesn’t record her work, though curious might-be spectators can look at recordings attendees have taken at her live performances. In lieu of recordings, she wrote a book, TECHNIQUE: Chance Procedures on Turntable, that she described in an interview as a “fuck-you” to the agents and labels pressuring her to commodify her experiments and chance occurrences.

Bromp Treb (Montague, MA)
Bromp Treb is Neil Young Cloaca, probably better known as the drummer of the late Fat Worm of Error, though he’s been Bromp since ’02. Bromp Treb performances are joyous, confusing, energizing, and invigorating. This is, I think, equal parts due to Cloaca’s extreme commitment to following through on the performance. He performs with his whole body, and is blessed with one very expressive face. On-lookers may also be drawn in by the literal and figurative black boxes that comprise his set-up. You might ask, where are all these grotesque body sounds coming from? Neil’s recent work deconstructs technoise and randomly reassembles it into a picante mush of belches, grumbles, kick drums and truly un-place-able sounds you might associate with 1990s kids toys commercials on Cartoon Network.

Sam Hadge (Hadley, MA)
I once saw a meme of Sam Hadge that said “Don’t Claim to Know the Western MA Noise Scene if You Don’t Know Who This Is.” It was Sam Hadge. Sam “Punk-Rock Hobbit” Hadge is best known for their absolutely incredible documentation of noise and punk shows (more than 1,000) across the country, mostly in New England. For show voyeurs, a visit to their channel will be a real treat. Sam’s musical prowess is at times overshadowed by their dedication to being a viewer, and creating a world for those not present to participate in the weirdness and wonder of the western Massachusetts and southern Vermont music. Which is a shame, but thankfully they are also a conspirator in many nebulous projects and a tape label, Gray St. Sounds. For PABU, we asked Sam to pick someone to duet with. We knew it would be good. They’ll be performing with Jen Gelineau, the coolest orchestra teacher in the Northeast and member of Snow Pot, Eggs Eggs, Phurrrne, and MoNsTaRs.

Lydia Kern & Wren Kitz (Burlington, VT)
Two of Burlington’s most beloved and dear artists have been collaborating on a series of performance art pieces for over a year. Lydia Kern (New City Galerie) and Wren Kitz will be performing the second installation of a fiber-art performance piece featuring glitter, sheets, and a very large hoop. Their first performance was grounded by a Kitz noise composition and stark imagery of Kern cutting away small segments of fabric stretched around a suspended hoop, climaxing with Kern ripping the sheet to shreds to reveal herself behind it. Their PABU performance will incorporate sonic elements and the wire hoop; to know for sure, you’ll have to be there.

Piss Pony (Burlington, VT)
Piss Pony is the fully realized, soon to be actualized project of fiber artist Meara McGinniss and drummer JB LeDoux (The Leduo, Threes). The remaining details of this act are confidential and more information can’t be disclosed at this time, but if you’ve ever cried listening to Wild Horses by the Stones, I promise you will love this band.

Caring Babies (White River Junction, VT)
Caring Babies is Matt Mazur’s feel-good, uber-positive karaoke and puppet style pop outfit. Matt Mazur is a glowing beak of joy and hope in a gloomy world or dank and moldy basement show. Though Mazur is often the one behind the mic, true fans know that Reggie, Mazur’s puppet co-conspirator and friend, is the real musical genius behind this duo.

Ouzkxqlzn (Burlington, VT)
If you’re wondering how to pronounce Ouzkxqlzn, I’ve heard you should just spell it out. Lauren Costello, the projects creator and sole performer, however, knows how to pronounce it. Costello was once best known as the cellist and sometimes-percussionist of the Wren Kitz band, though she’s fast made her solo project known through devastating, moving, and intense performances in the niches of the Burlington experimental underground. Mixing found sounds, rocks, cello, chains, bowls, and vocals, Ouzkxqlzn will access a part of you left neglected in an “unexamined life.” Her song writing style is really interesting; Costello thoroughly researches topics, news bits and histories which, through the selection of moving or captivating words or phrases, are carefully woven into rooted compositions rich with nuance and texture.

These are selected write-ups of some of the Pushing a Brain World Ender. Other participating artists include Harvey Bigman, Throat of the Loon, State Vector Collapse, Jessie Owens, Snow Pot, Mason. More information about the showcase is available at


Burlington City Arts
135 Church St
Burlington, VT 05401