Saturday, September 17, 2005

Soma - VIP For A Night

I had the opportunity to check out Soma for the first time last night because a close friend of mine who is a well-known former local media personality had their going-away party there. When I strolled up to go inside, I was turned away for wearing a ball cap. No big deal... I call my buddy, and next thing I know, I'm ushered in to the club where I see a handful of other people wearing hats, which I thought was pretty funny. I understand dress-codes and all that, and since I never go there anyways, it's not a big deal, but I always get kick out of how the rules are broken for people the doorman knows.

The first impression of the place was pretty positive, otherwise. Lots of interesting people milling in the front lounge... or people trying really hard to look interesting, anyways. The seating area is raised from the floor across from the bar, and the place was so packed that I had to walk on it just to get to the back lounge/dance area. The dance floor is set between booths on both sides of the room, and a half row of booths in the middle of the room. The private party room that I went to was upstairs, and looked out over the whole of this second lounge. The DJ was right across from us on a perch on the other side of the room. There were four comfortable black leather couches and two large black leather ottomans, and a weird lamp that was full of liquid that essentially looked like a large undrinkable Cosmopolitan. Each couch had wood end-tables with a natural finish, and a coffee tables to match. there were speakers in the rear of the room that were pumping music to the whole club, so it was a bit of a challenge to talk, but it could have been worse. The DJ was spinning a mix of nineties rap and dance classics that definitely appealed to all of us 20-somethings. There was bonding over Wrex-n-Effect's "Rump Shaker," if that tells you anything. I even heard Biggie's "Hypnotize." Now if only they spun "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems"... it would have been like freshman year of college all over again!

The service was great, as one would hope, and the waitress was kind and quick. The guy working the entrance to the private room, however, kept hassling my friend and was being a bit of a prick. It didn't ruin the vibe, though, thankfully.

The funniest part of the night for most of us was when a bunch of people we didn't know came strolling up and sat down. It wasn't a big deal, except they were all a bunch of under-age looking girls. They got up and left eventually because they said we were too boring! Hey, for a bunch of people who never hit the dance clubs, it was definitely a crazier night out than most of us have had since college. It was great to see people's reactions to local media personalities wild'n out and waving their hands to Naughty By Nature's "Hip Hop Hooray." Memories are made of this.

If only this celebration was not involving one of my best friends leaving town for good. I may not be a frequent goer of Soma, but the party there was a fitting finale. Just make sure you do your hair before you leave the house.

Illinois vs. California - Who Will Improve To 3-0?

The "Fighting Ron Zook's," as they're called on the ESPN, will be taking on the Cal Bears tonight, and most people don't even thing Illinois will cover the spread. I think this game will be closer than expected. The Illinois defense has to hold the fort down and just not make mistakes that will put pressure on the offense. The Illini are 4-0 at Cal, and I'm going to give them the win tonight in a 30 -24 thriller.

Any other predictions?

Friday, September 16, 2005

Sufjan Stevens - An Excellent Performance!

It didn't look like Sufjan Stevens realized just how happy we'd all be to see him and the Illinoisemakers come play for us last night. He (and 'noisemaker/opener Liz Janes) were both seemingly surprised at the crowd's vastly appreciative responses. Urbana was the first of three Illinois stops for Stevens (two days in Chicago, tonight and Saturday) and a very satisfying performance for crowd and performer alike.

The live performace definitely helped to excite the more laid back tone that the music takes on record. There were cheerleader calls set to towns across the state, a human pyramid, and a lot of mutual appreciation between the fans and the band. One fan even started the I-L-L chant, often heard at U of I sporting events... definitely a nice touch. Sufjan even took notice and said, "That's certainly not something we hear at every show."

The crowd was chanting for more as the set ended (full of numbers from the "Illinois" album) and was rewarded with the centerpiece of that album, "Chicago." However, he was not prepared to deliver the audience with a second encore, even though most of the crowd stayed behind well after the final note was played, in hopes of hearing the song that was written about the U of I super-computer which was not included on the album. Perhaps there will be an iTunes release or a free download for fans seeking more "Illinoise." Let's hope for more beautiful storytelling through song from this great American artist.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Smoke 'em If You Got 'em... so says Champaign!

So all that hub-bub from the CU Smoke-Free Alliance was for naught. Defeated 5 to 4 by the Champaign City Council, the smoking ban for the city was denied. On the table was a comprehensive ban for all public places, and it just couldn't gain enough support.

I, for one, think that smoking should be banned in restaurants, but ok for bars. Basically, if you have to be "of age" to enter the place, and they sell smokes there, you should be able to light up.

At any rate, you can read the full account of the News-Gazette article here.

Xiu Xiu @ The Courtyard Tommorrow

OK so there are three scenarios for Thursday's Xiu Xiu show at The Courtyard:

1. You are lucky enough to have tickets to go see the Sufjan Stevens gig and need to kill time til the big show. Bailey and Yellow Swans open, and are a different vibe than Liz Janes. Score!


2. You whiffed on the Sufjan tix and are not yet willing to give up on a night out with great music. You get lucky, because Xiu Xiu is in town, and you can fill everyone in on what they missed.


3. You could give three rats' asses about Sufjan, and are sold on the brilliance of Xiu Xiu. The Courtyard saves the day with more of their brilliant booking. We should be so lucky to have this kind of variety.

Whatever the case may be, as Bailey is telling the world (or... perhaps just the part of the world between Neil St. and Goodwin) that the "End Is Near!" and you should really enjoy what's left of your time. Although, I imagine the gas mask is a little warm these days... the guy's got a hell of a way of getting his point across.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Any Spare Tickets For Sufjan?

UPDATE: I've got my in for the Sufjan show! Thanks to the person who made it happen for me! You know who you are ;-)

Does anyone have a spare ticket for the Sufjan Stevens show at The Canopy? I'll pay $15-20 bucks for it. Just email me. The link's to your right.

Broken Flowers @ The Art Theatre, Sept. 23

To follow up on a previous post, the new Jim Jarmusch/Bill Murray film Broken Flowers is coming to Boardman's Art Theater on Friday, September 23rd. Here's a snapshot of the film's plot via the official website:

In the new film from acclaimed writer/director Jim Jarmusch, winner of the Grand Prix at the 2005 Cannes International Film Festival, Bill Murray stars as Don Johnston.

The resolutely single Don has just been dumped by his latest lover, Sherry (Julie Delpy). Don yet again resigns himself to being alone and left to his own devices. Instead, he is compelled to reflect on his past when he receives by mail a mysterious pink letter. It is from an anonymous former lover and informs him that he has a 19-year-old son who may now be looking for his father.

Don is urged to investigate this "mystery" by his closest friend and neighbor, Winston (Jeffrey Wright), an amateur sleuth and family man. Hesitant to travel at all, Don nonetheless embarks on a cross-country trek in search of clues from four former flames (Frances Conroy, Jessica Lange, Sharon Stone, and Tilda Swinton). Unannounced visits to each of these unique women hold new surprises for Don as he haphazardly confronts both his past and, consequently, his present.

So there you have it! Oh, and if you can't get enough of the film, just drive to Bloomington's Castle Theater, where it opens September 30th.

Pitchfork-Approved Rock @ The Courtyard on Wed.

There's plenty of hype for Sufjan, but this show deserves some major props as well. It's a great night for indie rock at The Courtyard tomorrow, featuring City on Film (ex Hey Mercedes), Thunderbirds are Now!, These Arms are Snakes, and Minus the Bear.

Tickets are $5 for UofI students and $7 for the public, and the gig kicks off at 7PM.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Kanye West @ The Assembly Hall, October 19th

Kanye West may be late registering for classes, but kids in CU will grade to see if he passes. The class of hip-hop is gonna come to Champaign, and we can watch his fly rhymes drive the crowd insane. Coming with Common and Fantasia in tow, they'll be rockin't the A'Hall to the very last row.

Ha. Grandmaster Grey in the heezy. Only one cup of coffee consumed prior to writing that.

Tickets go on sale Saturday, Sept. 17th. Ummm I'm guessing this sells out.

Love him for his rhymes, or hate him for his barbs against the Prez, he's the biggest star in music right now, and I will not miss this one.

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