Located in the heart of Burlington, Vermont, and about the same size as my bedroom, Radio Bean is the smallest venue I have ever been to. Officially dubbed a coffeehouse, the 3-foot by 3-foot stage shares floor space with a small bar and several mismatched sets of tables and chairs. It’s dimly lit by the many strands of multicolored lights that hang from the ceiling, eliminating any illusion of space overhead. Its sister restaurant, Duino Duende, is just through the velvet curtain hanging next to the bar. A Burlington original, Radio Bean is cramped and quirky: perhaps the best possible place to showcase the quirky Brooklyn-based group Superhuman Happiness.
Based out of Brooklyn, New York, the band was formed in 2008 by frontman Stuart Bogie. Accompanied by a long and dynamic list of rotating musicians, Bogie created a project that took a exciting and unique approach to fun. A refreshing mix of electronic sounds, danceable beats, a variety of instruments, and multiple singers, Superhuman Happiness is unlike anything else. Their sound is eccentric and intricately entertaining, with a variety of tempos, vocals, and bubbly melodies. Their four studio albums to date are impressive, but their live shows are where Superhuman Happiness really shines.
In a venue as small as Radio Bean, Superhuman Happiness produced enough energy to fill the room ten times over. The peppy horns, fast-paced drums and keyboard sounds reverberated off the low ceilings, pumping the room full of excitement. The room was packed; people of all ages flooded the small dance floor, busting moves with grins all around. Bogie and vocalist Andrea Diaz delivered their eccentric lyrics flawlessly, but never too serious with no shortage of jokes and anecdotes mixed in. It was impossible not to be swept up in the positive energy of the show; not a single person was able to stand still – including the bouncer – and the joy was infectious.
Several hours of crazy fun later, less than a hundred sweaty audience members spilled out into the benches outside the venue for several more hours of decompressing and sharing drinks and stories with the band itself. If nothing else, Burlington is wonderful for its sense of community and the lack of distance between artists and fans that exists in other cities. In few other places would it be possible to see a killer show in such an intimate venue and be able to hang out with the musicians afterwards. Superhuman Happiness played like they were made for Radio Bean, and the experience was absolutely enchanting.