Smile Politely

The Overture: Sept. 28 – Oct. 05, 2008

With work, family and “Rock Band 2”, 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:

Monday Sept. 29: The Pink Spiders – Independent Media Center, 6 p.m., $10

Music doesn’t have to be serious to be taken seriously and the Nashville group, The Pink Spiders may be proof of that. Having garnered quite a bit of acclaim from every publication from Rolling Stone to Teen People, the band’s clean cut, power-pop style has been validated. Their song constructions scream Weezer their Moog lines suggest a more contained Motion City Soundtrack. The most accurate mainstream comparison could be Hot Hot Heat without being annoying. If you want to sing-a-long to songs you’ve never heard before, check out The Pink Spiders. JigGsaw, The Signal and Trash City Rockers are also playing.

Friday Oct. 3: Hopewell – Cowboy Monkey, 10p.m., $5

I don’t know if dark-psychedelia is a genre but that’s what comes to mind when listening to Brooklyn’s Hopewell. Heavy, brimming with rock riffs and rolls, the group’s music is complex, eerie and epic. Seeing that Jason Russo (vocals, guitar) played with Mercury Rev, their spacey odysseys aren’t a complete surprise. These guys just played with My Bloody Valentine in Chicago. I think that’s proof enough that you should check them out.

Saturday Oct. 4: Southern Culture on the Skids – The Highdive, 7:30 p.m., $15

North Carolina’s Southern Culture on the Skids formed in 1985 and since then have been a cult hit. Their irreverent songs span across genres including rockabilly, country, swamp rock and surf rock and mock as much as they embrace the capitalized notion of “Southern Culture.” Playing songs entitled “Fried Chicken and Gasoline,” “I Learned to Dance in Mississippi” and “Too Much Pork For Just One Fork,” SCOTS is known for putting on a sweaty, rollicking, chicken leg-throwing (seriously) live show.

Saturday Oct. 4:The Life and Times, Sleepy Sleepy Octopus – Courtyard Café, 9 p.m., $3 student/ $5

Clean country guitar riffs over strummed major chords set the tone for Sleepy Sleepy Octopus’ music. A faithful rhythm section rounds out the sound. Jacek Kolacz’s John Darnielle-esque voice make the band stand out from the pack. Sure, it’s because it’s very reminiscent of The Mountain Goats but imagery and tone of the lyrics and sound push the quartet in a different direction. Twee-country seems appropriate, but genre-inventing is a bad habit. Headlining is Kansas City’s The Life and Times. Having toured with The Appleseed Cast and Murder by Death, The Life and Times have been around the block – now they’ll be at the Illini Union.

Saturday Oct. 4: Agent Mos, Cornbread – Cowboy Monkey, 10 p.m., $5

A collection of local artists are teaching Hip-Hop 101 at Cowboy Monkey. Saturday classes aren’t much fun, but I think this weekend will be the exception. Agent Mos, also known as AMS, also known as “King of the Nerds,” also known as Edward Moses, has put out some original and engaging tracks with a smooth delivery and a distinct sound. Cornbread, who made his way to Champaign by way of Springfield, raps about Guitar Hero, stereotypes, gas prices, The Spice Girls and everything in between. Both artists represent the high caliber hip-hop that C-U houses.

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