The Great Cover Up to fundraise for Girls Rock! C-U, other local charities


Photo courtesy of Ward Gollings

A band performs for The Great Cover Up in 2018. This year the event will be happening at the Rose Bowl Tavern from Sept. 15–18 with majority of of the its proceeds going to Girls Rock! C-U.

By Kylie Corral, Assistant buzz Editor

The Great Cover Up will return to Champaign-Urbana next month.

The three-decade-old charity event will host various artists and bands at downtown Urbana’s Rose Bowl Tavern from Sept. 15–18. Every year, The Great Cover Up raises money for all kinds of local charities. This year, a large amount of the proceeds will go to Girls Rock! C-U.

Ward Gollings, curator, producer and promoter of The Great Cover Up, said he’s been planning bands, shows and events in C-U since 1990 at a variety of different venues. He listed the following as band he has booked around the area are: Smashing Pumpkins, Queens of the Stone Age, The White Stripes, St. Vincent and Machine Gun Kelly.

Gollings said he still tries to promote the occasional show while putting on the occasional show, like The Great Cover Up.

“A friend of mine created and curated the inaugural event in the winter of 1991,” he said. “I was working at The (original) Blind Pig where it was held and helped with the production. We did this together for two years, and then he moved away. The event was very very successful and popular even way back then, so I took the torch and have been running with it ever since.”

The Great Cover Up lets bands choose an artist to become for one night only.

“Essentially, each band becomes a mini-tribute act for one night only, performing a 15–25 minute set of an artist of their choosing,” Gollings said. “This might be an artist that heavily influenced them musically speaking or perhaps something far outside of their normal musical genre that is done very much tongue-in-cheek.”

This year, The Great Cover Up will be hosted at the Rose Bowl Tavern, which will be the first time in three decades that the Rose Bowl will host the charitable event.

Gollings added that the owners and staff at the Rose Bowl have been super helpful in planning the September event.

“There will be 18 acts over three nights this year, and attendees can look forward to excellent musicianship and top-notch theatrical presentation,” Gollings added.

While Gollings organizes the event, he also happens to be in it this year too.

“Not to toot my own horn, but … I have assembled a band and will be performing a set myself this year,” he said. “I am the lead singer and front person for the group listed as Wardbeast.”

Although 18 acts over three nights is still a lot, Gollings said that this year will be a little bit like a reboot year, especially since previous years have had five days full of 30 or more acts over two weekends. As a result, fewer student-based performances will be headlined this year, he said.

“I’m not trying to avoid them, more so I am simply going with an overly healthy dose of GCUP’s veteran players,” Gollings said. “I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew in a new venue after a 2.5-year hiatus. Students are most certainly still welcome and strongly encouraged to attend.”

A lineup for the weekend of music is as follows:

On Thursday, Sept. 15, 90’s Daughter, AllNighter, Dew Eye, Kayla & Jill and The Falbonauts will play at The Great Cover Up. On Friday, Brother Embassy, Chase Baby, Curb Service, Los Guapos featuring Brandon T. Washington, Modern Drugs and Whiskey Shadows will take the stage. On Saturday, Airacobra, Decadents, New Souls, Sandman Slimm and Wardbeast will close out the charity event.

For those interested in attending The Great Cover Up, tickets can be found at:


[email protected]