This past weekend was the opening weekend for The Accord, which occupies the space that was formerly known as The Highdive. The opening weekend featured some incredible acts including Creed Bratton from The Office, and a reunion show of one of the best bands to ever come out of C-U, The Beauty Shop. Things don’t stop there, a wide array of talented acts are coming this way starting with The Great Cover Up this weekend and followed by Hey Marseilles, Diane Coffee, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, and El Ten Eleven, over the next few weeks and months.
Rebecca Rego & The Trainmen, photo by Sam Logan
The Accord came into being late last fall when CMT Ventures, the owners of The Highdive, long time talent buyer Ward Gollings, and The Nicodemus Agency, which operates The Pygmalion Festival, came together in a partnership in order to rebrand The Highdive, hence the name for The Accord, the word accord is defined as “an official agreement or treaty”. There was a six-week period over the holidays that allowed staff to thoroughly clean out the venue and make some cosmetic changes going for a “cleaner” look including repainting the interior as well as incorporating some stained wood in various parts of the bar. The physical changes to the venue are overall fairly minor, the primary change from The Highdive seems to be a more focused attempt to bring in high quality national and touring acts, and with the same people behind this that put on The Pygmalion Festival every year, I am expecting to see that same level of talent brought to The Accord.
However, the focus for The Accord will not entirely be on national and touring acts, I spoke with Ward Gollings who is a talent buyer for The Accord about this: “We will concentrate on national acts and touring acts but we certainly want to have local bands at the front end of some of those bigger concerts or having a local showcase themselves”. A great example of this is The Great Cover Up that begins this weekend and continues next weekend, this event will feature local and regional bands exclusively. Another great local showcase on the horizon is on February 3rd when local band Take Care will take the stage along with Lume and Resinator. I also asked Ward how The Accord fits in with other downtown live music venues: “It is a nice medium-sized venue that complements the other two venues that are within a couple of blocks of here, Mike N Molly’s and Cowboy Monkey, which creates a great variety of places downtown for local bands and touring bands to play”.
Live music will certainly be a staple of this new venue but The Accord has more to offer than just music, Ward elaborates, “It will primarily be a live music venue, but in addition to concerts there is also going to be comedy shows. We are going to try to build up the comedy scene here by bringing in some national comedy acts like we did with Nick Thune and Creed Bratton this past weekend. We are also at some point hoping to do author readings and other things that are little bit more outside the box than your typical rock concert”.
The Accord is just another piece of an ever-changing downtown scene that includes future development of the block just to the northwest of The Accord, as well as the expansion of Common Ground to a second location that will also be nearby. I asked Ward how The Accord fits into the greater picture of downtown as a whole, “I think it fits in well in how downtown has continued to evolved with the new Black Dog (the best BBQ joint in Central IL), just to the east of us and the Hyatt being located just down the street is a great resource for big name touring acts”. Here is a quote from the website for The Accord: “The Accord is an opportunity. As our community continues to expand, we find that Downtown Champaign needs a center for live entertainment. Whether it’s music, comedy, discussions, dancing, drama, or the like – we want to host it, and bring it to you; curated, developed, presented in the best possible way”.
Check out a full listing of upcoming events here.
Full disclosure: The Nicodemus Agency is owned by the same parent company that operates Smile Politely.