Q: What big acts are coming to campus this fall?

Champaign-Urbana doesn’t mess around with its musical selection. With multiple in-town record labels, venues and shops, it seems only fitting that C-U would book an impressive spread of acts for the upcoming school year. Whether your thoughts are in tune with the trend-setters of the Internet, or you yearn for the music of years ago, you can and will find it in town. With dozens of shows already booked for the fall semester (and even more still in the process), you won’t have to travel beyond the boundaries of town to receive a thrilling experience.

Pygmalion Music Festival

In its fifth year, the annual Pygmalion Music Festival is gearing up for a strong start to the 2009-2010 season. A staple of the C-U music community, Pygmalion is known for its powerful combination of national, touring acts and local favorites. One of the first featured events of the school year, Pygmalion is a suitable introduction to the musical scenery of Champaign-Urbana, with individual concerts taking place across town from the world-renowned Krannert Center for the Performing Arts to the Canopy Club, Red Herring and Illini Union’s own Courtyard Café.

The four-day Festival will take place from September 16-19 and passes are presently only $50 for the entirety of the event. Current headliners include the epically-bearded folk rock singer-songwriter Sam Beam aka Iron and Wine, the alt-country-tinged punk of Lucero, and Pitchfork darlings (and recent-signees of local label Polyvinyl Records) Japandroids, as well as Ra Ra Riot, The Books, Low and Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos just to name a few.

On the local front, Pygmalion will also feature multi-instrument cacophony World’s First Flying Machine, brother-sister duo Hathaways and straight-up indie rockers Elsinore (with lead singer Ryan Groff flying solo as well), amongst literal dozens of others. Pygmalion is worth more than its ticket price for a combination of billboard-heading national acts and worthwhile local acts together for one, jam-packed weekend.

Ellnora Guitar Festival

September 10-12, one weekend prior to Pygmalion Music Festival, the third biennial Ellnora Guitar Festival will take place at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. A testament to the prestige of the Urbana venue, the 2009 Festival features a prominent list of guitar virtuosos from Dan Zanes and Alex de Grassi, to the Keb’ Mo’ Band, The National and Ani DiFranco.

Though a tad pricier than the following weekend’s events at $80 for a student pass, Ellnora also hosts a wealth of free (and inexpensive) events for the money-starved college student. From the $5 opening night party with Chicha Libre, Junior Brown, The Derek Trucks Band and Frank Vignola Trio, to free performances from the Brazilian Guitar Duo, Natalia Zukerman and Erin McKeown and the Laurie Morvan Band, Ellnora is not only cost-efficient, but also one-of-a-kind.

The Vertebrats

On October 2 and 3, the Vertebrats will return to Champaign venue Cowboy Monkey for two evenings of awe-inspiring garage-rock. Pioneers of the bustling rock scene in 1980s C-U, the Vertebrats are often cited as a leading influence on any number of current hometown rockers. At $12 a piece, the reunion shows are sure to bring a familiar face or two back to town, as well as introduce a new class of students to the C-U music legacy.

Representative of what September and October have in store thus far, time will only tell what Billboard-topping acts will be to come in the following months. Familiarize yourself with the local media outlets for a greater indication of past and future concert selection.