A couple weeks ago, we visited Mike ‘n Molly’s and got a chance to talk with owner Mike Murphy on what exactly made his pub such an awesome place for summer music. With the beer garden still scheduled to rock downtown Champaign until late September, Mike ‘n Molly’s will continue to be the place to go to for live music throughout the fall. With big names such as Krukid, Larry Gates, and Brandon Washington booked for the beer garden for August 23 and up and coming band The Number One Sons for August 30, be sure to stop by M ‘n M’s before it’s too late to enjoy the vines and sky of the beer garden. Considered by buzz as the venue of the summer, let’s go back and revisit some of the best shows hosted by the bar throughout the past couple months.
June 26 — Elsinore, Light Pollution, Tall Tale
Elsinore’s last show in town before their leave to the West Coast was definitely one of the best in a while. The beer garden was packed with an enthusiastic, eager crowd and the weather was perfect. Tall Tale opened with their piano-driven pop, playing favorites “Pirate Ship” and “Apology.” Elsinore took the stage with Ryan Groff bantering an unusual amount throughout the night, making it obvious that they felt at home in Mike ‘n Molly’s backyard. Playing Postal Service covers, discussing Fievel Goes West and telling bad jokes throughout the night established the casual, intimate mood that makes Mike ‘n Molly’s what it is. Finishing the night with a powerful rendition of “Landlocked,” it was clear that the band was ready to bring their music out of Champaign, but not without giving us their best before their departure.
July 1 — Bellcaster, Andy V., Jane Boxall, Jonathon Childers
One of the more interesting shows of the summer, Bellcaster returned to the CU scene for a benefit concert to help bail their friend out of jail. Free tattoos, piercing, one-man bands, and Cakes on Walnuts made the show an eventful one. Jonathon Childers started the night off simple, giving the crowd a good taste of his raw and honest folk tunes. Andy V. then came on stage, another solo act, impressed the audience with his multi-tasking and dexterity, playing guitar, drums, and harmonica simultaneously. While his tricks did get trite, Andy V. did well in warming the crowd up for Bellcaster who, in all their modesty, boasted a strong set of shoegazed, sonically-drenched trance pop, sounding larger than the group itself.
July 2 — Living Blue, Mordechai in the Mirror, Tina Sparkle
While the stage was moved inside last minute due to rain and the set was delayed a good half hour, Mordechai in the Mirror made sure to put all of that behind them as Dave Samuel’s new project tranced the cramped second floor of Mike ‘n Molly’s with their loops, strings, and samples. A unique trio for sure, siblings Rachel and Aaron Wittrig provided the delicacy of live and looped cello and violin, establishing a trademark soundscape behind Samuel’s angular sampling. Peoria based Tina Sparkle then came on stage with their prog-punk reminiscent of Sleater-Kinney and the Pixies.The Living Blue headlined the show, proving the second floor stage wasn’t as confining as people thought.
July 9 — Lovers in Arms and Common Loon
The weather was ideal, the crowd pleasant, the mood laid-back, and the music enjoyable. Common Loon played a great set, drenching the beer garden with atmospheric and soothing sounds. The duo, capitalizing on their use of drums, guitar, and iPod, revealed great songwriting and pop sensibilities on stage. Lovers in Arms took pop one step further, with Caroline Yohanan and Armando Perez performing their terribly interesting and catchy compositions of soul, jazz, pop rock.