Act You Most Want to See @ a Local Bar
The Living Blue
What differentiates the first tier of talented independent acts located in Champaign-Urbana from the horde of openers? In the case of The Living Blue, I’d attribute it to stage presence. Lead fashionista Steve Ucherek’s “James Mercer in a ’60s rundown garage” howl and the muscular support from the band never disappoints a bar crowd. Despite their relative success this year, releasing their powerful sophomore LP Fire, Blood, Water with Minty Fresh Records to positive reviews and playing Austin, Texas, music industry festival SXSW, they’ve remained extremely accessible to fans. There is still plenty of opportunity to see them locally and affordably, which underlies the fact that The Living Blue are really just grateful, talented local yokels at heart.
Best Concert Venue and Best Open Mic
The Canopy Club
708 Goodwin St., Urbana
On one level, the Canopy is a smoky, dirty remnant of a derelict theatre; on another it’s a flexible, diverse, and spacious venue to see Atmosphere, Sufjan Stevens and Les Claypool. The club has recently kicked it up
a notch by introducing two additional stages (including The Void, an initiate performance space located in the lobby) and promotions from Seth Fein, who has helped to mix local and independent rock with Mike Armitrout’s jam, blues and hip-hop. Canopy Club stands out as the one venue solely dedicated to music (over bar life or, as in the case of another close call, Foellinger Auditorium, economics lectures), located where students live, and impervious to pretension and irony. Even shiny and large
runner-up Assembly Hall can’t quite hold that torch.
Artist You’d Most Like to See at Assembly Hall
American singer, songwriter, and guitarist Bruce Frederick Springsteen is the man of choice when it comes to acts coming to Assembly Hall. Known for his patriotic and rock ‘n’ roll ethic, Springsteen is remembered for hits like “Streets of Philadelphia,” “Born in the U.S.A.” and “Dancing in the Dark.” Springsteen has a close and massive following and Assembly Hall would certainly be filled to the brim if this potential fantasy of fans would be fulfilled. Other close winners included Jack Johnson, Radiohead, and U2 Opening for U2. Slayer came in a close last with one vote.
Best Place to Buy a Car
O’Brien Auto Park
104 E University Ave, Urbana
O’Brien Auto Park of Champaign edges out Worden-Martin of Savoy in a close one. The two dominated the competition while only a handful of others received a vote apiece, including Target, which I personally would not recommend if you’re looking for transportation. So if you have the funds and don’t feel safe walking to class anymore (and who does),
or just want to treat yourself to a new ride, O’Brien is the place if you’re in the market for an automobile. Too bad we can’t really park anywhere.
Best Place to Pawn Stuff to Pay the Rent
29 E Marketview Dr, Champaign
Plato’s Closet, 29 East Market View Dr., will give you cash for your old clothes. Not that you didn’t love those smiley face shirts your mom bought you in 6th grade and that you won’t love those flappy gaucho pants that make your ass look like a flat molehill covered with gravel. Let’s be realistic: if you don’t pay the rent next month, it’s likely that you’ll be out on the street, wearing all your gauchos and all your shirts in order to
prevent from freezing. Plato’s Closet will help you out with that rent problem – by selling your gently used, still somewhat fashionable clothing, you’ll get money. Easy as that.
Best Place to Buy Music
606 W Anthony Dr, Champaign
The winner of this category is no surprise. Best Buy is massive! Lots o’ people fit in there. More people shopping = more people voting and, cha-ching, a victory. I always thought they should rope half of that sucker off, dim the lights, bring in a fog machine and hook up the bomb-ass laser tag tournament. And what’s up with the cash-only lines? It’s a shame Exile On Main Street doesn’t have 30 registers and 100,000 sq. ft. They would have destroyed Best Buy instead of getting second place. Exile’s got the most potent selection of music, movies, and games in town. I even get my vinyl and mixtapes there. Yizzer.
Best Place to Get Stuff to Decorate Your Apartment/House/Dorm
2102 N Prospect Ave, Champaign
Before Target got cool again, it was the place where you bought your Cherokee thermal long underwear, your Xhiliration chunky black boots and flowery shapeless Easter sacks. Sometimes, for a friend’s eleventh birthday, you’d buy her a glittery, puffy picture frame from Target with a Bath and Body Works basket of powerfully-scented pear stuff. Luckily enough, with recent efforts to revamp its image, the department-store chain has gotten itself hip to the times by hiring designers like Izaac Mizrahi and Michael Graves. Now you can buy cool digs from these designers for cheap. Tar-zhay, indeed.