Smile Politely

The Overture: June 22–28

With school, work, family, and picking up tree limbs, who has the time to find out about the best shows happening in Champaign-Urbana? No need to fear, because the editors at Smile Politely have taken care of it. Here are the must-see shows of the week:

When: Wednesday, June 24

What: Weird Paul Rock Band, Duke of Uke and His Novelty Orchestra, Paul Kotheimer

Where: Iron Post, 8 p.m., cover TBA, but promised to be reasonable

Promised to be one of the summer’s weirdest nights of live music, Pittsburgh’s Weird Paul Petroskey headlines with goofily-titled songs like “I Got Drunk at Chuck E. Cheese” and “May I Sit on Your Ice Chest.” His latest album features a hip-hop ode to wine coolers, so yeah, I hope that gives you an indication of his intentions for the evening.

When: Thursday, June 25

What: Ryan Groff, Them Damn Kids, and Sam Lowry

Where: Mike ‘n Molly’s, 9 p.m. $7

Another Thursday, another Shadowboxer show at Mike ‘n Molly’s, and this one should be a real peach. Chicago’s Them Damn Kids bring the lo-fi and are touring in support of their new album, Arm Yourself with Perspicacity. Sam Lowry has a little gothic country vibe thing going on, and he bursts out of Bloomington (the Indiana one) with a new CD in tow, as well. His is called With/Without. And if it weren’t for Sam Beam, he’d have the most impressive beard of anyone I’m aware of whose name is Sam (see above for evidence).

When: Thursday, June 25

What: Split Lip Rayfield, Roberta Sparrow

Where: The Highdive, 9 p.m., $12

I guess you’d call Split Lip Rayfield alt-country, as inadequate as the genre label may be. They certainly do feature a banjo and a one-string bass constructed from a gas tank of a 1978 Mercury Grand Marquis, so there is the opportunity to generalize. On second thought, alt-country probably covers it. They take songs and lyrics that would be more at home on a punk or metal album and they use traditional country music instruments in that service. So, alt-country it is. Sound good? OK.

When: Thursday June 25

What: My Dear Alan Andrews, Morgan Orion and The Constellations, PAWN, Bob and Pricilla

Where: The Canopy Club; 8 p.m.; $7

Colin Taylor likes to perform. He’s the man behind one of C-U’s newest bands, My Dear Alan Andrews. They’ve been making waves in the Urbana underground for a few months now, but this show will likely be a bit of a coming out party for them. They are raw and talented and everything that bands should be aspiring towards. Plus, they are already taking their show on the road, with plays lined up in Chicago, Iowa City, Eau Claire, Fargo, and Urbana’s upcoming Pygmalion Music Festival. Opening is Morgan Orion and his band of Constellations, another Pygmalion performer, as well as PAWN and Bob and Pricilla.

When: Saturday June 27

What: Common Loon, The Horse’s Ha, Angie Heaton

Where: Cowboy Monkey; 10 p.m.; $5

The Horse’s Ha just might be the finest of all Chicago “super groups” ever compiled. The band features Janet Bean (of Freakwater), Jim Elkington (of The Zincs), Nick Macri (of C-Clamp, Sunny Day Real Estate etc. etc.), as well as freak-out players Charles Rumback and Fred Lonberg-Holm. Their first LP was released just last week on Parasol imprint Hidden Agenda to rave reviews, and in early August, they head to NYC to meet up with legendary British rockers The Mekons for a few shows. This is one band that is truly like fine wine: aged perfectly.

When: Sunday June 28

What: Noah Harris sings Leonard Cohen

Where: Bentley’s; 7 p.m.; $2

Grossly under-priced, this show will feature the locally-raised, world-traveling member of The Wandering Sons, Noah Harris, performing the songs of Leonard Cohen.

Arguably the world’s finest composer of gothic-laden rock songs, Cohen has been touring lately, but not to the likes of little old Champaign, so we’ll have to suffice with this. But, take it from us, if anyone in town could pull this off, it’s Noah. And it’s $2. That’s bananas.





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