Smile Politely

The Overture: May 18–24

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

When: Monday May 18

What: Jazz Jam hosted by the MRS Trio

Where: The Iron Post, 7 p.m., free

Residents of C-U—be thankful that we’ve got folks with the chops to keep our music scene thriving in the absence of practically every young person for the next three weeks. The Iron Post should be on your list of regular stops to catch any number of great bands from all different genres of music. Each Monday night, MRS Trio hosts a jazz jam to help you get through that first shitty day back to work. And with little else happening around town in the ways of live music, it makes it that much more attractive.

When: Thursday, May 21 through Sunday, May 24

What: Summer Camp Music Festival

Where: Three Sisters Park; Chillicothe, Ill.; $155 in advance and $170 at the gate

Tips for enjoying Summer Camp Festival: First, grab a bag of mushrooms. Next, pack your dugout tight with heady nugs. Stuff them into your crotch, nice and tight. Drive to Peoria and head north on Rt. 29 to Chillicothe, Ill. and wait for the smell of patchouli to hit your nostrils. You’ll know you are there. Eat one cap and one stem every six hours, followed by a hitter of tweed and wait for Willie Nelson to hit the stage on Sunday. Don’t have sex with anyone — no matter what. Enjoy!

When: Friday May 22


Where: Mike N’ Molly’s, 11:00 p.m., $TBD

The name Doug Evans might sound vaguely familiar to the 35+ set in Champaign. In case it doesn’t, he was the front man and songwriter for the seminal Champaign indie-punk band The Didjits, in the late ’80s and early ’90s. He now lives in Austin, where so many other fantastic artists who never “made it” currently reside as well. But with age, that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. His new band, BLÖWER, (umlaut and all) will be rolling through town this Friday night as part of the Play or Pose Reunion taking place all weekend at various spots around downtown Champaign. We highly recommend checking out these shows, as it’s a great glimpse into where the scene was just 20 years ago.

When: Saturday May 23

What: Common Loon with My Werewolf Diary and Constant Velocity

Where: Bentley’s, 10:00 p.m., $3

Of the newer bands performing regularly in Champaign-Urbana these days, not many seem to pack as much punch as Common Loon, who drench their guitar–drums sound in layer of reverb. Perfect pitch melodies combine with clean guitars and backing tracks to make some of the finest pop music since Headlights first started strumming. Both Matt and Robert write, record, sing, produce, perform, and refine these songs to the point where, when you close your eyes, you’d swear there were at least five people on stage. But it’s just a duo. They perform at Bentley’s, one of the more intimate rooms in Champaign, with My Werewolf Diary and Constant Velocity. Cover is so cheap you’d think it was 1989. My Werewolf diary is pretty much New Ruins’ acoustic alter ego, and William Gillespie interviewed Alex from Consant Velocity last November.

When: Saturday, May 23

What: Eske with We Must Dismantle All This! and Augmentor

Where: McKinley Foundation; 7:00 p.m.; $5

Hardcore punk fans will want to gravitate toward campus this Saturday for Chicago-based Eske and local folks We Must Dismantle All This and Augmentor. Check out our profile with the concert organizers from last week, and their MySpace as well.

They’ve figured out how to promote their house shows without getting busted beforehand, for which I have a newfound respect, so check them out on campus.

When: Sunday, May 24

What: Play or Pose Reunion: Poster Children, Cowboy X, Lonely Trailer, The Outnumbered

Where: The Highdive; 7:30 p.m.; $15

Check back later this week for a unique podcast from Poster Kids Rose and Rick (pictured in the center in the early ’90s, right) as they remember the good old days circa the late 1980s, when each of these four bands were the shit in C-U. This reunion show will be a really good time and a reminder that the scene here has been thriving for decades — regardless of whether the major labels have been sniffing around or not. You’ll also learn a thing or two about a man named Josh Gottheil, who was a promoter that was an essential part of the C-U music scene. Gottheil booked a young Flaming Lips in C-U, and that was just the tip of the iceberg. The guy was a teenager booking phenomenal acts like the Pixies, Throwing Muses, and Billy Bragg, and his influence was felt by many. He died far too young due to cancer.

The Outnumbered features Jon Ginoli (of Pansy Division). Stop by Parasol this week and Geoff or Jim can talk your ear off about Lonely Trailer. This is a truly amazing bill, all things considered. Don’t let the price of admission scare you away. Be there!

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