Step back in time to 1993. What are you listening to? On a national level, the “Seattle sound” reigns supreme — Kurt Cobain hasn’t committed suicide, yet. But what about Champaign-Urbana’s musical niche? What was the local scene like 15 years ago? Are you curious to know which bands dominated CU the year Bill Clinton became our 42nd President and Toni Morrison received the Nobel Prize in literature?
Fortunately, a time machine isn’t necessary to re-experience the life of a 1993 Champaign-Urbana “scenester.” Simply stop by the Highdive on Sunday for a musical potpourri of early ’90s local talent. Six bands will be in attendance: Driver Has No Cash, Corndolly, dick justice, The Moon Seven Times, Mother/Menthol, and Honcho Overload. Aptly named “1993 Revisited,” the show will be a true reunion of musical souls. It will be a “reuniting of the artists and fans and friends … who made the local scene so awesome 15 years ago,” said Ward Gollings, booking agent for the Highdive.
“1993 Revisited” was “just a fun idea that actually came to fruition,” Gollings said. Rob Arrol, bass player for dick justice, can be credited for the original idea. Arrol explained how he contacted his fellow “clown-princes of Champaign” to see “if we could get it together to play one last show in our old stomping grounds before I turned 40 and should start thinking about being more responsible.”
Once Arrol’s band mates agreed to participate, dick justice started recruiting other “vintage” CU bands in the hopes of forming a cohesive set of performers. With musicians and fans flying in from California, New York, Canada and England, the show will indeed be, as Arrol said, “as much of a reunion off stage as … on.”
Bill Johnson, lead vocalist of Honcho Overload, agrees. “While playing music after a long hiatus has been fun, it is a distinct second or third to reconnecting with friends,” he said.
Gollings, Arrol, and Johnson agree that the show’s lineup truly exemplifies the diversity of the 1993 CU scene. Arrol praises the “raw power” and “beauty” that remains forever preserved in the music from that time. An homage to the past, Arrol notes that the show “will also underscore the fact that even though we’ve all moved on, and are well into the next phase of our lives, we’ve not settled down.”
An exemplar of such vitality, headliner Honcho Overload will presumably “rock the joint” with their anthemic “Miserable,” a frequent player on WPGU. According to Gollings, Honcho Overload’s “all-out sonic assault” will cause each audience member to “embrace their neighbor and pump their fists gleefully.”
From 1993 to 2008, the local CU music scene has witnessed some significant changes. There existed a myriad of live venues for bands at which to perform 15 years ago, such as The Blind Pig, Tritos Uptown, Chins, and Trenos. Over the years, however, such venues have changed ownership, and local performers have become dependent on a few select places, such as the Canopy Club. An additional difference includes the “vintage” band’s limitations in terms of networking capabilities. “The music we made was confined to a tiny subculture of students and townies with similar musical tastes,” Johnson said. Nowadays however, up and coming bands can rely on Internet resources such as MySpace for communication. Gollings noted, however, that local bands still face difficulties “branching out of central Illinois” due to financial constraints.
To experience a musical “flashback” to CU’s 1993 scene, be sure to attend Highdive’s “mega-reunion show to beat all reunion shows.” Tickets are available for $10 in advance at The Highdive, local stores, and online, or for $12 at the door, which will open at 7:00 p.m. For more information, visit www.thehighdive.com.

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