Hey campustown — wake up!

Alright, so it’s time for finals and then, for many of you, a trip home for warm, snuggly-time with the family. And while many townies would love to tell you not to let the door hit you in the ass on your way out, as it means a few weeks of unmolested trips to Rentertainment and Chipotle, you still have some nights here that might take you out into the smelly world of campus bars. Or, you could venture off campus (shocking) or at least off the beaten campus path for a change. Don’t get me wrong, memories of trying to breathe through my mouth for an entire night at Kam’s when I was nineteen, or of playing douchebag slalom at Joe’s — these are fun to think about every so often. But most of my best college memories are from venturing to music venues and finding out about awesome local bands like Absinthe Blind and Temple of Low Men. Of course, this was back when Campustown actually had a record store, and when students actually seemed to give a shit about music that wasn’t on the pop charts. This current crop of students is blowing it. This town used to attract ridiculous shows. It still does, but it is happening less and less because people just aren’t showing up anymore. The current CU music scene is as diverse and full of talent as it has maybe ever been, with several bands making national waves, and yet shows by even the biggest hitters are seeing smaller numbers than in the past. What’s keeping you from attending? Not willing to give something new (that isn’t “Crank Dat”) a shot? Too expensive? I wish I knew. Luckily, there are still some students who attend shows religiously. We just need to increase those numbers by luring kids out and getting them hooked.
This weekend’s “Fall Semester Showdown” at the Canopy Club is the perfect time to finally check out some of the best that the scene has to offer (or to drag your friends out to discover what you’ve already found). From Thursday to Saturday, the club will offer four of the best bands (each night) that the scene has to offer, starting at 9 p.m., with a cover at $5 before 10 p.m., $7 after. Yes, that’s correct — get there early and you get to see more bands for less money. On Thursday the show will open with Books Died On, followed by Darling Disarm, The Chemicals, and finally The Beauty Shop. Friday will offer headliners elsinore and The Living Blue, along with Common Loon and Curb Service. Saturday’s lineup features Headlights with Shipwreck, New Ruins, and Tunnels. That’s a list of some of the absolute best bands in the area, and they’re all playing on campus this weekend. It’s a bold experiment. Check out canopyclub.com for more info, or track the bands down on Myspace, where you can preview songs and look at pretty pictures.
For alternative listening on Thursday, the Iron Post is offering a very solid night of jazz. An early show at 4:30 p.m. will feature the Parkland Big Band ($4 cover), while the later crowd will be pleased to find Jazz Sandwich playing at 8 p.m. I’ve lauded Jazz Sandwich many times in this column, as they’ve blown me away every single time I’ve seen them. The band is made up of some of CU’s best musicians, and they go on new journeys at every show. Check them out. Saturday offers some other great shows apart from the Canopy shindig. At Cowboy Monkey, female-fronted punk-rockers Boots and Bracelets will play a farewell show with Squared Off, Total Rejekts and Slow Gun Shogun. Opening the show will be metal-ites Tritone, who return to the stage with a new drummer (former Triple Whip drummer Jane Boxall) and new evil shenanigans. Boots and Bracelets built quite a following in their two years together, which included national touring, so it will be sad to see them go. 9 p.m., $5.
Mhondoro, the Zimbabwean band that will make you dance uncontrollably for hours at a time, will play the Iron Post on Saturday (9 p.m., $4), while another great show happens at the new High Anxiety Music Center (302 S. State St. in Champaign). The space, which doubles as a rehearsal space for bands needing to practice, will host Chicago bands Grinner and Sequoia, along with Madison band Sleepcomesdown, in a living room style show starting at 9 p.m. ($5). An afterparty will also commence after the bars close. Check out highanxietymusic.com for more info on the space and the record label.
On Tuesday, Cowboy Monkey will host a show featuring a collaboration between marimba player Jane Boxall and songstress Lynn O’Brien. The show also features elsinore lead singer Ryan Groff. It starts at 8 p.m., and will cost you $5.

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