If you’re looking to celebrate the 4th in one of the surrounding communities, check out the News-Gazette‘s listing of area activities for the Independence Day weekend.
FRIDAY, JULY 1
Hairspray at the Station Theatre, Fri/Sat/Sun @ 8 p.m.
The Summer Season at the Station Theater opened with a bang this year, as one of the finest local ensembles around have put together a pretty damn fine version of John Waters’ “Hairspray,” a wacky comedy with “crazy characters, toe tapping rock and roll and Motown flavored music with an infectious energy.” It seems to be garnering rave reviews across the board; last we checked, this weekend was sold out, but Station has a reputation for being able to squeeze waiting list folks in last minute, so see about that if you want to go.
Tone Cluster Concert with Hi-Ho Buffalo, Barry Morse, Bill Denkov, Jason Finkelman at the IMC ($5), 7:30 p.m.
This night of experimental music features local staple Jason Finkelman along with some new faces in Barry Morse and Bill Denkov. Bizzarely enough, local country group Hi-Ho Buffalo will also perform, and all of the artists will collaborate with each other. Show up with an open mind, as the IMC is one of the best venues in town for experimental music. (BV)
The Tree of Life at the Art Theater (4:30 & 7:30 p.m. on Friday, 1:30, 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sat/Sun/Mon): See A.B. Koontz’s review here, but honestly, I just didn’t feel like it was all that it was hyped up to be. I mean, it was beautifully shot, and in retrospect, I wish that my perspective going in (not knowing a damn thing) was different, so that I might have understood what it was I was trying to watch. The beginning of the film, which features a half hour vignette on the beginning of the earth, is probably the perfect material to watch on a gram or two of mushrooms, though, and that’s likely worth the admission price alone. (SF)
SATURDAY, JULY 2
OMG kittens! You can check out the Humane Society’s stock of furry little friends, as well as donate items that they need. (JG)
Double Features on both screens at Harvest Moon Drive In, dusk, $6, Gibson City — Transformers and Super 8 or Cars 2 and Mr. Popper’s Penguins
I haven’t seen any of these movies, nor have I been to the Harvest Moon, but hey, somebody had to write something here, OK? I’m confident that Mr. Popper’s Penguins sucks, but the rest of them are at least mildly intriguing to me. (JG)
The Fresh Kills, Cain & Abels, Forgottonia Secedes at Mike ‘N Molly’s, $5, 9:00 p.m.
You can’t say this show doesn’t have local relevance: Forgottonia Secedes is a new project from Take Care’s Kyle Scott, and the Fresh Kills play what may be their last show under that name. Also on the bill is Chicago acoustic group Cain & Abels. (BV)
Sounds Like Purple at the Iron Post. $3, 6:00 p.m.
A jazz combo with all four members still in high school. Come see the future, or something, (BV)
SUNDAY, JULY 3
Delta Kings at Mike ‘N Molly’s, $5, 9:00 p.m.
Well, it isn’t Peace Beach (or Hum) this year, but Delta Kings guitarist Matt Stewart was still in Starcastle, damnit. For real though, the weather is probably going to be gorgeous, and the Delta Kings are a great band.
Smoked Chicken dinner at Lil’ Porgy’s is on special: With the talk these days about where to get great barbecue in town pointed firmly on Black Dog (which is, actually, the best place in town to get great barbecue), our old C-U standby, Lil’ Porgy’s has taken a backseat. It’s unfortunate really, because on the scale of BBQ joints, Porgy’s which has been in business going on over twenty years, still puts out a great product, and has a really great Kansas City-style sauce: tangy, rich, sweet, and HOT, if you choose it. Each day features a different special, and you can generally score a really inexpensive, and delicious meal for under $7. But Sunday is the real gem, with a full half a bird, slow cooked on wood, drowned in sauce, served with steak fries and white bread — PLUS, a large Lemon Shake-up, for under $6. That’s right. It’s silly good, and silly cheap, and as hard as it is to go out to eat BBQ anywhere but on Broadway, Lil’ Porgy’s still owns a piece of my heart. And you should totally give them a second look. (SF)
MONDAY, JULY 4
Champaign County Freedom Parade (1:05 p.m. starting at 1st and Florida):
The thing about parades is they’re not really all that fun to watch — even the best ones get boring after three or four floats of pseudo celebrities throwing generic Smarties at you. On the other hand, being in a parade is awesome!
Having never been in marching band or anything, the only parade I’ve ever been in was the C-U 4th of July parade in 1999. I was hanging out with some friends who lived at the corner of Green and Busey, and we just kind of snuck in by pulling out of the driveway in a Jeep. It was doubly awesome because we were right behind the Garcia’s float. At that time, the Garcia’s brothers used to have a float that was a hot air balloon without the balloon, just the basket and the burner. They would just pull a cord and a huge propane flame would jet skyward. The heat was kind of annoying, but well worth the fun of being in a parade. There’s just nothing like the thrill of getting random strangers to chant “USA, A-OK”.
Near the end of the parade, there was a woman in a lawn chair with her son that had a bag full of water balloons. It was odd because we could see her just kind of sitting there ignoring everything going on around her. That all changed when the Garcia’s float passed by — she started pelting (and I mean pelting) the Garcia’s brothers with water balloons and yelling all kinds of obscenities at them. As she yelled, the anger/joy in her eyes was infectious. It was clear that this was absolutely the best moment of her year. When we drove by, she gave us the rest of her balloons to us with instructions to soak the living hell out of them. We obliged.
So my point is, parades are fun if you can be in them and/or you have a vendetta. So try to get into this year’s parade if it’s not too late. And if it is, I’m sure you find someone in town you’d like to nail with a few water balloons, though the person you most want to peg will probably not be there. They will be at the country club, or at their Florida home, or in Africa. (JStein)
Champaign County Freedom Celebration (Fireworks at 9:15 p.m.): I wish to God that I loved fireworks, or the 4th of July, or any of the radical Americana celebrations that come along with the beginning of the Dog Days each year. But I don’t. In fact, I can’t fucking stand it. But it’s not for anything political, or even philisophical. No, I just really don’t like the idea of humans feeling entertained by blowing shit up. Honestly, outside of the realm of the big HUGE fireworks display, we get a ton of little, stupid fireworks being set off for days on end, generally with no light show, just the distant noise of a quick, piercing streak of powder that’s been flash-fried, followed by a loud POP! that doesn’t give me, or anyone even remotely intelligent, any sort of real satisfaction. Plus, the dog goes ape, and tries to hide under the couch, which doesn’t work well, considering she weighs 40 lbs, and the space between the couch and the floor is maybe an inch at most. It’s no good for anyone. (SF)