Let’s face it. In their natural form, straight out of the birth canal, newborn babies are, more or less, creepy-bordering-on-ugly looking. Brand new music, on the other hand, has no messy wipe-off-the-blood-and-mucus transitional period. A great new song captivates and enthralls from the very first time it’s heard, straight from the natal canal of musical harmony.
WPGU 107.1, the student-run radio station, procreates such musical bundles of joy to the world of Champaign-Urbana through its on-air programs. Shrink Wrap, one such program, hosted by music director Chris Faron, has aired every Tuesday from 9 to 10 p.m. for the past couple of years and features an hour of the best new music releases. Most recently the show has featured new material from Built to Spill, Mogwai, and Belle and Sebastian.
“It’s first and foremost about the latest and greatest new music,” Faron explained. “I work really hard every week to pull together a diverse group of great-sounding songs that have yet to impact anywhere. I hope that when people tune in they … discover something they’ve never heard before and might wind up really liking.”
Along with having a delightfully clever title and delivering the newest, noncommercial tunes, Shrink Wrap, according to Faron, also serves as a test ground “to see what works and what doesn’t before we fully unleash it on the public.” A lot of the show’s songs eventually go on to become a part of the regular rotation of other WPGU programs.
Faron emphasized exactly how new the songs that appear on his show are: “The only way you’re going to get fresher new music is if you sit in the recording studio as the band plays a song they just wrote.”
More novel than the recorded on-air portion of Shrink Wrap is its newest complementary component – live performances. Every Tuesday from 10 p.m. to midnight, WPGU puts on a concert showcasing the best new local talent at Joe’s Brewery in the heart of campus town.
“You can hop in your car at 9:55 p.m., listen to the last five minutes of Shrink Wrap on WPGU as you drive to Joe’s, then stop your car, walk into Joe’s and catch the first local band starting their set. It’s pretty amazing really,” Faron said.
The live portion of Shrink Wrap is, believe it or not, brand new. Fill in appropriate pun involving packaging here. Since January, the WPGU crew has been going to Joe’s to introduce some of the great local bands Champaign-Urbana has to offer while DJing in between with new local and national music.
“You really can’t go wrong with free live music, and the bands that play Shrink Wrap Live are really good and really diverse as well,” explained Faron.
In the upcoming weeks, bands such as Triple Whip (March 14), Shipwreck (March 28), and The Lonely Hearts (April 11) will perform at the WPGU event.
Shrink Wrap Live is looking to increase student attendance at local artists’ shows. Generally, area bands play at venues at more distant, downtown Champaign-Urbana locations such as the Highdive and Cowboy Monkey, which take some extra effort to get to. Shrink Wrap Live, on the other hand, brings music to the students right in campustown.
“All people have to do is show up,” Faron said. “[And] with a great location like Joe’s in the middle of campus town, that just gives students even more of a reason to go check it out.”
However, students are not the only targeted audience. According to Faron, WPGU is reaching out to “anybody and everybody … from senior citizens to soccer moms”. Faron commends Green St. Records and Openingbands.com for getting a larger student audience involved in the scene. Shrink Wrap Live at Joe’s attempt to boost this awareness of local talent even more.
“There are some great local bands out there that have a whole lot to be proud of … I’m surprised that more of them haven’t gotten more national recognition,” commented Faron.
However, some local bands, such as the Headlights and the Living Blue, have recently returned from national tours, receiving positive press from near and far. Additionally, the Headlights were featured on a February episode of Grey’s Anatomy. With some national exposure, however minimal, it is no wonder attendance at local shows has been on the rise recently. Nevertheless, it can still be better.
With all these great area bands, WPGU and buzz are hosting the 2006 Local Music Awards on April 6 at the Highdive to honor them all. Although people can go online to vote at www.cumusicawards.com/2006, they can also head over to Joe’s on Tuesdays to watch live performances by some of the nominees and cast their votes in the flesh. Since voting ends at the end of the month, the station urges as many people as possible to come out and give their favorite CU bands their dues.
WPGU’s Shrink Wrap Tuesdays hopes to bring awareness to all the great non-Nickelback music out there in the world, a whole lot of which is coming from right under the collective campus’ nose.
As Faron said: “Hopefully even more people will start paying attention to our local music scene … I have a feeling that in the next couple of years something great is going to happen.”
Come out to Joe’s this Tuesday March 14 at 10 p.m. for a live performance by Triple Whip.