Smile Politely

The Overture:  Nov. 9 — 15

With school, work, family and fighting off that H1N1, 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.

aceWhat: Ace Frehley, 16 Second Stare, Verdict

When:  Monday Nov. 9, 7:00 p.m.

Where:  Canopy Club, $20 in advance

What can be said about Ace that hasn’t already been said?  The dude is legendary.  Smile Politely was fortunate enough to get an interview with the Spaceman last week, so check it if you haven’t already.  His first solo record in 20 years, Anomaly, was released earlier this year and made an impressive debut at #17 on the Billboard Top 100 charts.  Expect flaming guitars, lots of fireworks from the flaming guitars and more fog machines than grandma has humidifiers.  Don’t expect anything less than a killer show.


okgoWhat:  OK Go, Princeton

When:  Wednesday Nov. 11, 7:00 p.m.

Where:  Canopy Club, $10 in advance

Once hailing from Chicago, but now predominantly on the west coast, OK Go made their first major splash with the video for “Here it Goes Again” which earned the boys a Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video in 2007.  Since then, they have continued to tour and were featured on a Pixies tribute record, Dig for Fire, and released the You’re Not Alone EP in early 2008.  Their newest record, Of the Blue Colour of the Sky, will be released January 2010, but you can catch their song “Shooting the Moon” on the, ahem, Twilight Saga New Moon soundtrack that drops later this month.

bohWhat:  Band of Heathens 

When:  Wednesday Nov. 11, 7:00 p.m.

Where:  The Highdive, $10 in advance and $12 at the door

Americana superstars Band of Heathens formed in 2006 when three principle songwriters, Colin Brooks, Ed Jurdi and Gordy Quist, decided to collaborate with mainly improvised and unrehearsed tunes.  They previously shared separate slots at the Austin, Texas club, Momo’s, but quickly realized their strength in numbers.  Since then, their infectious country and soul sounds have cultivated a large following that seems all too obvious in a band made of three strong independent songwriters.  They were recognized at the 2006/2007 Austin Music Awards as the Best New Band and have been touring almost relentlessly ever since.  

jayzWhat:  Jay Z, N.E.R.D., Wale, J. Cole

When:  Thursday Nov. 12, 8:00 p.m.

Where:  Assembly Hall, $35-$75

Jay Z is essentially undeniable in the world of hip hop.  His latest record, The Blueprint III, has dominated almost every pop Billboard chart in the U.S.  The first single, “Empire State of Mind,” was released as a digital download in September and marks Jay Z’s 16th Top Ten hit.  Not only is Alicia Keys’ guest vocal on the track one of the strongest hooks all year, but the song has almost become a rallying cry for New York City itself.  When it was used for the recent ING New York City Marathon was one thing, but when the two performed the single live at Yankee Stadium for game two of the Series, I’m sure the Phillies were left wishing they had a rallying cry of their own.  

mapsWhat:  Maps and Atlases, Withershins, Ruby Rodeo Love

When:  Friday Nov. 13

Where:  Courtyard Café

There are few mathy art rock bands that have a more appropriate moniker than Chicago’s Maps and Atlases. Not only are all four members of the band graduates of Chicago’s Columbia College of Arts, but all four members hail from different parts of the U.S., each bringing along their own distinct flavor to the band.  Some were into Jethro Tull, some were into jazz and some were into David Bowie.  The result is a pretty startling amalgamation of art rock that has been compared to groups like Yes and King Crimson, but we’d like to think throwing them in with the prog rock lot is a disservice to the strength of their innovative song structure and genre-melting style.  Check ’em out for yourself and let us know what you think.  

htWhat:  Heavy Trash, the Whiskey Daredevils

When:  Saturday Nov. 14, 10:00 p.m.

Where:  Cowboy Monkey, $12

The formation of Heavy Trash wasn’t quite intentional.  Jon Spencer (of Pussy Galore, Boss Hog and the Blues Explosion) was long time friends with guitarist Matt Verta-Ray (of Madder Rose and Speeball Baby).  The two shared a love for rockabilly, hammered a few songs and Heavy Trash’s first record was born.  Their latest, Midnight Soul Serenade, was released in October and marks a departure from Spencer’s previous efforts in a stunningly romantic way.  If you have never experienced this man’s fury in live action, you won’t want to miss this show.  Check back later this week for an interview with Spencer and more on the show at Cowboy Monkey.  

walkmenWhat:  Pygmalion Afterglow presents The Walkmen, The Dig

When:  Saturday Nov. 14, 9:30 p.m.

Where:  Krannert Center lobby, FREE

There might not be a more richly organic and vintage sound in indie rock today than in New York’s Walkmen.  Their most recent studio album, You & Me, was released in 2008 to the indie music website Amie Street for a whopping $5 with all proceeds donated to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.  Since then, they also released a live EP exclusively to iTunes and have recorded the principle tracking for their yet-to-be-titled (or finished for that matter) sixth full-length studio record, due out in spring 2010 on Fat Possum Records.  You don’t really have an excuse for missing this show.  And did we mention is it free?


Know about something we don’t? Want to promote your own gig? Peep the comment section below.

Looking ahead…

Canopy Club – Ace Frehley, 16 Second Stare, Verdict

Canopy Club – Ok Go, Princeton
The Highdive – Band of Heathens
Krannert Center – Tito Carrillo

Assembly Hall – Jay Z, N.E.R.D.
Canopy Club – 1079 Jay Z Jamz Afterparty
Krannert Center – Dena Vermette

Canopy Club – Family Groove Company, Mhondoro Rhythm Success, TBA
Courtyard Cafe – Maps & Atlases, Ruby Rodeo Love
Cowboy Monkey – Heyokas
Krannert Center – Dena Vermette
Mike N Molly’s – Aaron Williams Band, Jack Pine Savage
U-C IMC – Bossa Nuevo

Cowboy Monkey – Heavy Trash (Jon Spencer of JSBX)
Krannert Center – The Walkmen
Memphis on Main – Renegade

Memphis on Main – Charlie Shafter and the Gnomes, Mayhew the Traitor

Foellinger Auditorium – The Academy Is…
The Highdive – Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers

Canopy Club – Cross Canadian Ragweed, Seth James
Cowboy Monkey – Of a Native Vibe
Mike N Molly’s – On Again Off Again, Breaking Laces, Curb Service

Mike N Molly’s – Prussia, TBA

Cowboy Monkey – Dubstep Massacre
Po’ Boys – Thrash Zombie, TBA
Shady Nook Pub – Hot Club of Cowtown, Saybrook

Canopy Club – Laughing Prairie Dog Festival with The Hood Internet, Santah and more

Canopy Club – EOTO (featuring Michael Travis and Jason Hann of String Cheese Incident)
Mike N Molly’s – Laarks, My Dear Alan Andrews, and Zach May and the Maps

Foellinger Auditorium – Andrew Bird

Mike N Molly’s – White Elephant song exchange

Mike N Molly’s – Neoga Blacksmith

Assembly Hall – The Oak Ridge Boys

Mike N Molly’s – New Years Eve with New Ruins

Krannert Center – Maxwell Street Klezmer Band
Krannert Center – Kronos Quartet, Wu Man

Canopy Club – The Prairie Ensemble: The Soldier’s Tale

Krannert Center – The Band of the Irish Guards

Krannert Center – Frederica Von Stade

Krannert Center – Moscow State Radio Symphony Orchestra

Krannert Center – Abraham Inc.

Assembly Hall – Martina McBride, Trace Adkins

Krannert Center – Danu

Krannert Center – San Francisco Symphony

Krannert Center – What it Is! Featuring Mavis Staples, Booker T. JJ Grey

Krannert Center – Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra

Krannert Center – Joshua Bell

Krannert Center – James Farm


Krannert Center – Ozomatli

Related Articles