While music may be hard to find at first glance on campus, there are more than enough local groups and organizations attempting to bring CU’s great music to the forefront of the community. For everyone new to the area this school year, if you’re looking to get involved, want to introduce yourself to the scene or are just looking for some great music, make sure to check out these sources, all with promising agendas in the works for the upcoming year.
Since 1953, students and locals alike have been getting their music fix from WPGU. The student-run radio station that originally started as an engineering experiment has since become a staple to the UI campus.
“It’s just fun,” said on-air personality Erin Gaynor about the station. “I’ll turn off my iTunes to listen to PGU.”
The station features a variety of programs that appeal to a range of tastes. WPGU offers everything from punk to hip-hop to Illini hockey pre- and post-game coverage. Another program is “What the Frat?!,” which is hosted by three fraternity boys who provide the scoop on everything Greek while pumping tunes similar to what you’d hear at Joe’s or Kams.
The station also plays a lot of music from local bands. Every weekday at 4, WPGU features the Band of the Week, which spotlights a local artist.
The radio station has evolved a lot over the past. Having started with classical and jazz music and moving through phases of grunge and rock, the station is now considered “True Alternative.”
“It’s a student-run staff of people that honestly like music,” said Andy Jones, an on-air personality. “[WPGU] is people like you playing music you’ll like.”
Green Street Records
Stemming from a late-night conversation between rooms and growing into a highly desirable label, Green Street Records is a student-run record label that selects the best local talent CU has to offer, giving them a professional recording experience while promoting their music by distributing a compilation album to hundreds of students on campus.
“We work really hard in trying to find the best that Champaign has to offer in terms of local student bands,” said Brad Miller, president of Green Street Records.
The selection process is rigorous. Each year, Green Street Records receives upwards of 75 submissions from local artists. The staff of more than 30 students, all with diverse music taste, spends a week listening to entries, researching bands and really looking into every entry until they find exactly what they’re looking for.
In past years, the student-run label chose 12 bands to each record a song that would go on a compilation CD. This year, the label will choose four bands and record a three- or four-song EP for each.
When a band is selected, they receive free recording time at Pogo Studio in Champaign in exchange for total proceeds from one or two shows.
The label wants to provide people with the best of local music. The CDs are distributed around campus and given to students for free with hopes of getting them more interested in the music scene.
Green Street Records is more than a record label; it’s also a concert promoter and booking agent for local bands.
“We try to put the bands out everywhere we can,” Miller said. “Encourage [people] to listen to local music because there’s a lot of good in it and makes us a community.”
Star Course is one of hundreds of registered student organizations on campus. What set it apart are its benefits to members and nonmembers alike.
While members are gaining experience in the music business industry, nonmembers have the opportunity to see a variety of acts that are brought to campus through Star Course.
“It gives [students] hands-on experience; lots of people involved can give them information for any questions they have. It’s a good way to get an inside look,” said Julie Bierzychudek, senior manager at Star Course.
Star Course is funded through Assembly Hall and is responsible for putting on events around campus, primarily booking musical acts at Foellinger Auditorium. The organization allows students to become involved in the music industry and everything it takes to bring an act to campus.
The organization tries to bring a diverse selection of entertainment, ranging from college rock to hip-hop. This year, they’re hoping to bring a comedy group or stand-up act to Foellinger.
Although Star Course is generally not responsible for local acts, they do try to use CU bands when asked to find an opener for a bigger act. Such was the case when local hip-hop artist Krukid opened for Lupe Fiasco, and there are preliminary plans to try to get more local artists on show tickets.
“It’s a very easy way to be a part of something on the music scene and get a sneak peak into the larger music business world,” said Matt Fender, senior manager at Star Course.