Bands play this weekend at NIU

By Greg Dunlap

While NIU was visited by its share of major label acts last semester, many were disheartened by the lack of opportunities to see smaller bands play in a more intimate setting. This was primarily due to two things.

First, the closing of the Eagle’s Club downtown left a gaping hole in the local music scene’s main venue for this type of concert. More importantly however, was CAB concert committee’s seeming refusal to use Diversions to its fullest potential. The opportunities to have low-cost bands play there are always plentiful yet only Otis Ball and Poi Dog Pondering pulled through last semester (discounting the Wednseday night Coffeehouse series.)

Thankfully, both of these problems seem to be solved. Several local promoters have been using The Wesley Foundation, at the corner of Carroll and Locust, to take up some of the slack for shows which used to be put on at Eagle’s Club. No Empathy, Sludgeworth, and Narcissism play there Friday night. And CAB concerts begins a new series of shows in Diversions with The Pursuit of Happiness on Sunday night.

No Empathy and Sludgeworth both hail from Chicago, where they have extremely loyal followings spurned on by the promotional machine at their record label, Roadkill Records. The label, run by David Best, deals mainly with local punk bands and has also released records by Rattail Grenadier, Screeching Weasel and The Effigies.

Sludgeworth’s sound runs along a funk oriented path, bringing to mind bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Big Boys. Then with that influence firmly under their belt, the band proceeds to write catchy powerful pop songs that would make Pete Shelley jealous. The combination becomes absolutely explosive live, with extended audience sing-a-longs being a mainstay as well as a fun frantic attitude.

No Empathy shares the bill Friday. They’ve been around for a while longer than Sludgeworth, with two full length LP’s and a single out. While the band has gone through several lineup changes throughout the years, the current lineup features Marc Ruvolo, who is also in Chia Pet and Doubt, and ex-Defoliant Chuck Uchida. Their sound has changed through the years as well, moving from staright hardcore to a more modern postpunk sound conjuring up images of bands like the Moving targets or Husker Du.

Local stalwarts Narcissism round out the bill with their unique slant on the rock sound.

As if that wasn’t enough, The Pursuit of Happiness travel all the way from Canada to play at Diversions Sunday night at 8 p.m.

TPOH have released two Todd Rundgren produced albums, “Love Junk” and “One-Sided Story,” for Chrysalis records. Lead singer and songwriter Moe Berg describes the band’s sound like this, “If two vans crashed, one carrying the members of AC/DC and the other, ABBA, you’d end up with The Pursuit of Happiness.” This is actually pretty accurate, as long as you add the condition that Todd Rundgren has to sing for one band or the other.

EVERYONE who is interested in music should go to one or BOTH of these shows this weekend. The only way that loud music in small rooms can continue is if it gets YOUR support. All you have to do is think about last semester. The rest is easy.