Smile Politely

Trio of label mates set for sugar pop bliss at Courtyard Cafe

Listen up:  Thursday night is your chance to catch the Spinto Band with two of their Park the Van label mates, Pepi Ginsberg and the Generationals, at the Courtyard Café.  While indie darlings the Spinto Band alone will be worth coming out for, come early to catch the bright, lively sounds of Brooklyn-based opener Pepi Ginsberg.  

pgGinsberg is promoting the release of her EP, Shake This, which came out in early October.  She is a songwriter with stories both whimsical and haunting, some introspective and subdued, others jubilant in their celebration of the everyday.  Her songs are carried by her lilting, floating vocals, layered at times with simplistic acoustic guitar and drumbeats, others with the rattling percussion of cookie sheets and maracas.  Creating this textured landscape is an equally talented trio: guitarist Amnon Freidlin, bassist Jon Guez, and drummer Pete Angevine.

spintoThe Spinto Band is up next, bringing their wry, youthful energy to the Courtyard stage.  The Spinto Band broke into the indie scene with 2005’s “Oh Mandy,” off Nice and Nicely Done, an album packed with catchy, playful pop songs about love, lust and Atari.  Their most recent album, Moonwink, got blasted by many critics as a typical “sophomore slump” (although technically it was their fifth or ninth LP, depending on who you ask, but it was their second to catch the public eye), but its giddy, buoyant songwriting perfectly plays to the energies of a live crowd.  With glockenspiels, falsetto, ever-changing rhythms and a flair for the dramatic, the Spinto Band promises a dizzying, high-energy set.  

Expect dancing.  Expect handclaps.  Expect a slew of rotating instruments and a crowd who wants to sing along. 

genRounding out the night is the Generationals, consisting of New Orleans duo Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer.  Their 2008 single, “When They Fight, They Fight,” is an anthem for warring lovers, its cynicisms brought out in flirtatious whistles and brassy percussion.  It sets the stage for the rest of their debut album, last year’s Con Law: bold, jangly tunes played through ancient speakers, broadcast from a stage where nothing is serious.  Joyner and Widmer seem to, first and foremost, have fun with their music.  They pull from whatever genre floats by, from pop to bossa nova, and the result is a surprisingly classic-sounding blend of bass guitars and trumpets, hazy harmonies and sugary beats. 

The show will bring these three distinct sounds together for the Park the Van fall tour, the recently-returned-to New Orleans independent label that plays home to Dr. Dog as well as the recently split the Teeth.  

Doors open at 8:00 p.m. and you can grab your tickets early at the Courtyard Café booth in the Illini Union or at the door Thursday night.  Either way, come out to scope out the show, and make sure to say hello.  Remember, we new kids in town need music-loving friends, too.

More from our newest writer, Annie Weisner:

Hello, strangers.  I’m a brand new voice for Smile Politely, and will be joining your fantastic staff of music writers to fill you in on shows you should check out, shows you shouldn’t have missed, or new musical releases, and I hope to turn you on to some of the bands I know and love in the process.  

First off, a bit about me.  I was a Nashvillian for seventeen years before packing up and moving to Urbana to begin my graduate career in neuroscience.  In addition to turning me into a science nerd, Nashville made me a music junkie.  It started in the suburbs, where I grew up listening to the Ataris and the Who on cassette tape and begging my parents to drive me to the local hardcore and punk shows every weekend. I bought Built to Spill’s There’s Nothing Wrong With Love for twelve dollars at a Border’s because I recognized it from a poster on my European History teacher’s wall.  I found a crowd of kids who thought about life the way I did and we spent two weeks mourning Elliott Smith’s death and watching Wes Anderson films after school.  We tricked the DJ into playing “Idioteque” and “Deceptacon” at our junior year prom.  I spent a hundred dollars on Fugazi albums after learning I had gotten an A in my impossible calculus AP class.  

Music marked us.  It measured our successes and failures.  It judged the strength of our loves.  We made out to Beulah and Portishead.  We danced to Muse and Le Tigre.  We drove around with the windows down and In the Aeroplane Over the Sea on repeat.   

I stayed in Nashville for college and joined WRVU, a college radio station playing everything from hipbilly to Persian, from club to reggae, and all that’s in between.  I got completely immersed in the music scene in Nashville, met people who were as eager as I was to devour all our city had to offer.  It was that immersion that made the city home for me, and it is that immersion that I hope to find here.   As I get to know all the musical offerings in Champaign-Urbana, I’ll be sharing them here with you and probably learning a hell of a lot from all of you in the process. 

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