MUSIC REVIEW- Summer slump: Local venues miss the Hoos
The University of Virginia is both a blessing and a curse for the local music scene. Charlottesville is in many ways a college town. The locals and the nonuniversity-affiliated transplants, Im sure, would argue there's just as much, if not more, identity beyond the grounds of Thomas Jeffersons academical village.
Local clubs have come to depend on the influx of money-spending customers from UVA. I wonder if Charlottesville could sustain three 500+-person off-campus venues if there were no students. For that I would like to personally thank every student who spent his or her money on shows at Satellite, Starr Hill, or The Pavilion. You contribute to me having larger places to prowl. Without you, I would be confined to intimate bars and small constricting spaces. (Not that Im complaining, but I do have long legs)
I hear locals complain about how homogeneous the student population is. But in my experience there's a great deal of diversity. It can be seen in the variety of shows that make sellout numbers. Indie-rock, country, Christian rock, alt-country, hip-hop, and even G. Love pull massive crowds of locals supplemented with just as many college kids looking to show their support for something that isnt the standard run-o-the-mill bar, frat, and jam band scene.
So heres to you UVA kids who dont live to sport salmon-colored polo shirts, khaki pants, flip-flops, Gap chinos, and blonde hair (not that there's anything wrong with that). You're not alone. There are many others who enjoy the same things you do. I believe the recent shift in successful shows is proof.
But now what? The summer has arrived and thousands of thirsting eager learners who came for enlightenment have dispersed to the various corners of wherever they came from. The traffic has let up (it takes only five minutes to get from Barracks Road to the Downtown Mall again), the Corner bars have emptied, and the Corner restaurants are beginning to count their pennies.
It's that time of year when the locals breathe the fresh air and begin to enjoy Charlottesville as their own. But what happens to the music? How many places that offer live music can survive the drought? How many droughts can they survive?
The number of national acts booked in town decreases when the students decamp. What then of the local musician who barely gets by, relying on whatever scraps the national acts leave behind?
What do they do during the slow period? There's not much that can be done, except a whole lot of waiting– waiting to see what will happen, waiting to see whether the recent population boom outside the University can sustain the musical growth without the aid of student dollars.
This is the transition period, a time between phases, a time for the locals and transplants to prove that if they love the music this town provides, they must help sustain it. There's no other way to explain it. This is the time to show whether Charlottesville is a town with a college or a college with a town. If the students helped make it possible for the various touring acts to come here, then we as a town should make sure we can keep it.
I, for one, dont want the shows to stop when the students run away.