My first night at the Courtyard Café last fall was simultaneously rewarding and discouraging. I dropped by to catch Pepi Ginsberg, The Generationals, and The Spinto Band; I missed the first act, fell in love with the second, and enjoyed the third every bit as much as I had expected.
The problem? While the rest of the crowd seemed to enjoy themselves as well, there were a meager twenty or so of us taking advantage of the affordable show. The bands played on in good spirits, but with a venue that could easily hold a hundred or more playing host to three unique and exciting acts, I was surprised to see such a small showing.
The small crowds at the Courtyard Café aren’t so surprising when you take a look at their advertising efforts. I heard about the Spinto Band’s show from the band’s website, put in two phone calls to the staff at the Courtyard to find out the order of the lineup and the cost, and never heard back. Next week’s show just got posted on the venue’s website, and once again I found out about the show through a friend long before the Courtyard ever posted the information.
Yet while the Courtyard Café seems stubbornly determined to not promote their own shows, as long as they keep drawing indie acts worthy of a warm welcome, I’ll keep trying to draw more of you out to the Illini Union to enjoy the music with me. This Friday is no exception.
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin w/ Jumbling Towers, One for the Team at the Courtyard Café, January 29th, 8 p.m., $3 student/ $5 public
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, the quartet of indie darlings out of Springfield, Missouri, will be coming to the Courtyard’s humble stage to grace your ears with their brand of lighthearted, smooth-flowing indie pop.
SSLYBY’s most recent album, 2008’s Pershing, is loaded full of clean-cut hooks and bouncing melodies, songs about love, lust, and nothing in particular. The boys excel at these succinct, easy-on-the-ears tunes, overlapping horns and strings and their smooth crooning to create an entirely pleasant listening experience. The band has their third album planned for release on Polyvinyl sometime this year, and will likely be trying out some of their new stuff at Friday’s show.
Opening for SSLYBY will be One for the Team, another Midwestern (hailing from Minneapolis/Chicago, according to their MySpace) quartet with a more lo-fi, rough-edged take on love songs.
Their fuzzy, electric anthems are sung by both guitarist Ian Anderson and keyboardist Grace Fiddler, layering their voices into a loop of hazy iterations on broken relationships, failures, and the ongoing fight to put us back together.
Their third full-length, Ghosts, preserves much of the rough, questionable sound quality that was noted on One for the Team’s early releases, but polishes it up enough to keep it endearing and not annoying. Ghosts will be out March 16th on Afternoon Records, and you can stream it in its entirety on the band’s website.
The second band of the night is Jumbling Towers, the band I’m all in knots about and the one you’ll want to make it out for. Although I confess that I admittedly scoped them out only for this article, Jumbling Towers might be the band I’m most excited about seeing. Their recently released 7″, The Kanetown City Rips, is a darkly buoyant landscape echoing with clicks and whistles, eerie rattles and pounding beats.
Dramatic and severe, Jumbling Towers push and pull you in all directions, churning forward with an infectious energy that draws me into their fictitious city, inch by inch, song by song. There’s no discord in this chaos, however — instead, they glide, march, weave into their world of chants and ritual, of tension and release. If they can deliver on the promise of vigor and vivacity inherent in their songs during their live show, their performance alone will be worth coming to the Courtyard for.
In case you haven’t been to the Courtyard before, there are some key things you should realize before you go. 1) It’s cheap. $3 for students, $5 for the public. 2) No booze. Coffee shop drinks abound, but if you need a little alcohol with your indie acts, plan ahead. 3) They’re very, very punctual. When the Courtyard says 8 p.m., they mean 8 p.m., and should you come later, you’re going to miss the opening act. You’ll certainly still get your $5 worth, but you’ll miss out on some excellent music. Beyond that, just one thing: COME. Take advantage of the cheap tickets, grab a few beers before you arrive, then head back to the bars when the show wraps up around 11 p.m. and make a cheap night of it. Embrace the opportunity to get to know a few bands you may not yet love without shelling out much to do it. And maybe, just maybe, I won’t have to dance alone this time.