Hey-o spaghetti-o’s!! Welcome back! Or just welcome! Hope everyone enjoyed their summers and is now enjoying the second day of classes. Hope everyone listened to some super rockin’ music. Hope the freshmen have figured out how to get from North Campus to Mann Library (hint: it’s not as long a walk as you think) and that the sophomores haven’t collapsed getting up Libe Slope (hint: umm …. I got nothing, it just sucks) and that the juniors have as yet avoided heinous noise violations, which unfortunately cannot be said for the house across the street from me. Or perhaps fortunately considering the lack of actually falling asleep that went down in my room the last two nights.
In any case, all this talk of freshmen and sophomores and juniors brings me to a very important point. I am a senior. This is terrifying. If you see me, please refrain from mentioning my soon-to-be thrust-out-into-the-world, unemployed state. Talk about the weather (it’s always a subject of interest in Ithaca). Or, better yet, talk about music. Because, on the positive side, I have some very good musical news. Wait for it ... there are good shows coming to I-town this year. No, this is not a joke, test, sound check, or the Pussycat Dolls. It is verifiable fact. Unless you prefer country music.
Let me illuminate a few of my favorites for you. But first, allow me a quick digression to thank the man behind the magic. Dan Smalls ’92 and his company Dan Smalls Presents, Inc., sniff out fantastic peeps who just might have a day or two off from touring to spend in Ithaca, and they make it happen. They of course do many awesome other things as well, but, this being “76 Trombones,” we’re all about the music. But I digress.
First up: Sept. 6 at Stewart Park in downtown Ithaca, The Hold Steady will rock your socks off as they did for a sold-out show at Castaways earlier this summer. Although Stewart Park is technically, well, a park, The Hold Steady has been called “America’s Best Bar Band,” so we at “76 Trombones” highly suggest you get downtown and break it down. Keystone sold separately. With The Hold Steady will be a number of other incredible groups including a band known as Deer Tick, who won’t give you Lyme disease, but will give you some fantabulously unique folk-rock ballads.
Just a few days later, the unusually folksy and danceable punk-rock rockers Ra Ra Riot will return to Ithaca. Ra Ra Riot was here three years ago with the Fanclub Collective (and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve given kudos to Fanclub in this column, but they once again deserve it), and it was undoubtedly one of my favorite Fanclub shows from my time here on the hill. This six-piece sensation (wow, is that a cheesy line) hails from nearby Syracuse, New York, so you know they’ll be violin-in like villains. Definitely give it a look-see.
To continue the run, The Mountain Goats (a uniquely weird guitar and crazy lyrics duo) will be at Ithaca College Sep. 18, They Might be Giants will be at the State Theatre on Oct. 1, Lyle Lovett also at the State on Nov. 11 and Ani DiFranco back for her second round at the State on Nov. 13. So, can it get much better than that?
Oh wait, yes it can, because I have saved the best for last. Actually the best two. Sufjan Stevens will be playing an intimate special show for only $15.00 at Castaways on Sep. 13. Now, among my music collection, Sufjan leans much closer to the mainstream than a lot of groups, so I’m assuming you know about him and his wonderful, fuzzy, lyrical, happy-but-actually-quite-depressing music. If you do, get excited. If you don’t, get excited. Unfortunately, you will have to promptly get un-excited once again because it sold out within the first half an hour. Those 400 of you who have tickets (and if I find you, I will beat you up), get excited, damn it!!!
The second is less well-known but if you do a you-tube search for “Letterman, St. Vincent, marrow” I guarantee you will be hooked. And I do have tickets to this one (aaaahhhhhh!!!). St. Vincent will also play up-close and personal at Castaways for only $12.00. 12 dollars people! So mark Oct. 22 on your calendars because St. Vincent sings angelically but rocks hard, and writes indie-ly (I’m just inventing words all over the place today), so you’ll most definitely want to be there. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can catch her in Maine two days later with touring-mate Andrew Bird.
Whether you’re a freshman, a transfer or the most jaded senior out there, I’m guessing you haven’t discovered all that there is to know and love about the Ithaca music scene, and I suggest you do so right away. Dan Smalls may be a god among music-fetchers but Ithaca is always humming (get it?) with awesome music. Local venues like Castaways, The Haunt, as well as Collegetown’s own Chapter House and The Nines, have great local music acts all the time (and, in keeping with CALS, locally grown is always better, eh?). So, venture out every once in a while. And not just to DU or Chi Phi. (Hint: for info about any and all shows in Ithaca, check out WICB’s ‘concert connection’ at 8:30, 1:30, 5:30, and 8:30 on 92.7FM). Love!