The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Kangaroo Court, Diet Lite, Venus Overdrive perform at Rose Bowl Tavern, discuss music industry

Matt Stepp
Venus Overdrive performs before Kangaroo Court at the Rose Bowl Tavern on Saturday night.

Kangaroo Court, Diet Lite and Venus Overdrive performed at Rose Bowl Tavern on Nov. 4 from 8:30-11 p.m.. Local band Venus Overdrive kicked off the show with a tantalizing performance. 

The band has an eclectic sound spanning genres ranging from alternative rock to indie garage put together by lead vocalist Marieli Lopez, drummer Ava Stanhope and guitarist Alexander Ishmael.

The band recently performed at the Polyvinyl Records pop-up event on Oct. 28. Ishmael spoke fondly about the experience.

“It was a really surreal opportunity,” Ishmael said. “Ava and I have listened to their music since high school, so it’s been very fun.”

Diet Lite, a band who describe themselves as a “Milwaukee rock and roll company,” was up next, playing songs from their latest album, “Into the Pudding.” Their sound can be best characterized as a mix of country and post-punk. 

Diet Lite consists of lead vocalist Max Niemann, guitarist Kelson Kuzdas and drummer Evan Marsalli. The band is currently on tour, with this being the last stop on the Midwest leg. It was their second time playing in Champaign-Urbana, and Niemann recounted a positive experience playing at an Urbana house show last year.

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    “That was a blast,” Niemann said. “Coming here is a great mix of DIY shows and venues like Rose Bowl.”

    Diet Lite’s chaotic and spirited performance fired up the crowd, getting audience members to move with the music.

    The night ended with Kangaroo Court. The local darlings were met with raucous energy from the crowd, which moshed for nearly the whole set.

    Kangaroo Court is made up of lead vocalist Jake Luce, lead guitarist Garrett Frank, drummer Cody Spiezio and bassist Noah Tennison.

    The band performed tracks from their first album, “This is Kangaroo Court,” which was released last month. This included fan favorites like “Order!,” “Something’s Gotta Give” and “Grandpa Ted’s Big Adventure.” 

    Kangaroo Court and Venus Overdrive started off as local bands in C-U but have recently started touring other cities. Luce said the band loves playing in Urbana but needs to expand its horizons.

    “It’s better to play a city once every three months and have like 10 to 15 cities you can play than it is to keep on playing your hometown over and over again,” Luce said.

    Venus Overdrive has a heavier focus on starting small, as they are still students.

    “We’ve played, like, two shows in West Lafayette, Indiana, and one show in Chicago, so we’re pretty much keeping it Midwest,” Lopez said.

    When asked how recent events like Songtradr acquiring artist-first music store Bandcamp and Spotify reportedly paying smaller artists less would affect them moving forward, the bands had a wide range of responses.

    Diet Lite was nonchalant about the Spotify issue, explaining that small artists were already not getting paid through Spotify directly and were reliant on third-party distributors like CD Baby and DistroKid.

    “This money is not going to the artist anyway because they’re not making enough to like cash out, so it’s just like these piles of money that no one’s using,” Niemann said.

    Frank expressed that it’s more important than ever for fans to support artists by going to shows.

    “Having people come to the shows in person and support you through merch sales and stuff has been the biggest source of revenue,” Garrett Frank said.

    All three bands lamented Songtradr’s acquisition of Bandcamp and the subsequent layoffs, saying it is “tough for the music community.”


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