Were you at the Canopy last week?

The Fein-Bursoni Anti-Rehearsal Dinner Show Friday ended up as a cluster of different causes and events happening simultaneously under the roof of the Canopy. Not only did the evening boast an unusually ambitious lineup of local CU music, it also celebrated the marriage of Justine Bursoni and local music patron and booking agent, Seth Fein. Oh yeah, it was a Hepatitis C benefit concert as well.
Although a certain sense of local intimacy should be expected from such a collaborative and multi-purposed music-lover’s get-together, the event still stood out with its strong sense of community and love for local music. With the courtyard outside of the Canopy oddly packed for once, it was clear that Fein seized the opportunity to fully indulge in the fluidity and richness of the CU culture that he has played such an integral role in.
Headlights, Corey Chisel & The Wandering Sons, The Beauty Shop, The Sugargliders, Shipwreck, Grampall Jookabox and Kristov’s Agenda were all scheduled to play at the show, but Hathaways replaced Kristov’s Agenda and Elsinore filled in for Shipwreck without notice. The shows themselves all had their own special sparks: Hathaways with their awesome, sultry blend of Illinois guitar, and the Andes charango and Grampall Jookabox with their strangely hypnotic electronic pulses. Headlights gave a cute performance with a new fifth “Shipwrecked” member with Erin Fein giving her brother lots of love and praise for helping cultivate the local scene despite his controversial notoriety.
Corey Chisel & The Wandering Sons gave a laid back set, playing songs they hadn’t rehearsed (hence “anti-rehearsal dinner”). The Beauty Shop gave Champaign a taste of their indie-country/rock blend before taking their talents to Chicago, and last minute headliner Elsinore rounded the set out with some unexpected, heartfelt screams out of front man Ryan Groff.
While the music tasted just right all night long, there was something else about the concert that nagged for a reassessment of our near-and-dear CU music scene. It was hard not to notice how easily these all-star acts were thrown together for the event and how fluid the community seemed confined within the walls of The Canopy Club. Surely, CU music is too vibrant and unruly for it all to be wrapped up in one neat and tidy package at the Canopy? The concert was pulled off too perfectly, in a way that made the local culture seem too definitive, safe, and catalog-oriented to cultivate such sporadic creativity.
But if that’s the case, why was Fein’s Anti-Rehearsal Dinner Show so good? When it comes down to it, there’s no arguing the unusual amount of culture in such a middle-of-nowhere town. Maybe what really seemed strange about Fein’s event was that not only did it showcase the great local music, it also emphasized the strong sense of community that is necessary for such local culture to exist. Either way, people in this town listen to our music no matter how “anti-rehearsed” it is.

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