Volume 96, Issue 99
Friday, April 4, 2003

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Campus Music Explosion invades The Spoke

By Jeffrey Zon
Gazette Staff

Gazette file photo
IT ALL BEGAN WITH A SOFA AND A PORCH... and then it evolved into Sofa Porch Theatre, The Forest City's contenders in tonight's Campus Music Explosion.

Who says London gets boring come exam time? Ask Jay Duggan and he'll give you seven reasons to bear down and get your studying done early.

Reasons one through seven: the winners of seven local battles of the bands coming together at The Spoke tonight for the regional Campus Music Explosion.

Duggan is not just any indie music enthusiast. It was he who started the Campus Music Explosion project, and it's his dedication that managed to keep it running strong to this day.

The "Explosion" itself is three stages of musical competition that allow Canadian university youth to showcase their talents and gain valuable recognition. Produced by the Canadian Organization of Campus Activities COCA, the competition takes place once a year at each campus.

The second stage takes place at Western and features bands from five nearby universities. One Western band, Sofa Porch Theatre, will be showcasing their purple prowess onstage.

Sofa Porch Theatre's lead singer Shawn Chopra reflects on the good fortune that followed them into the winner's circle and to the regional competition.

"We applied to the Western rock-off in March, and surprised ourselves by walking away victorious among the 17 bands that entered," Chopra says.

The band combines different elements, and Chopra notes that their music "has been described as having a Canadian rock sound."

If Friday's judges see fit, Chopra could be taking his bandmates one step further to this year's CME finals in Montreal, which will take place in early June.

"We're really happy to be a part of this. It's a good opportunity for new bands to showcase their talent and get some exposure, and at the same time, it's a great chance for people to come check out some of the top university bands in the region," he says.

Last year's regional winner was a band called Grand Poobah from Fanshawe College, who played to a packed house at The Spoke earlier this year.

The University Students' Council's Entertainment Productions guru Josh Clark, who is a CME veteran, is responsible for the organization of the regional competition and has been working hard to ensure its success.

"We have hosted the regional battle in the past, and this is where you get to see the cream of the other schools, and generally a decent variety of music," Clark says.

Clark is no novice to the indie music scene. His brainchild, the "$50 and a Case of Beer" music series happens every Thursday at The Spoke.

In recognition of the competition and events like "$50 and a case of beer," Chopra said that Canada is starting to make a name for itself musically.

"A large part of that comes from the local independent scenes," Chopra added. "It's important that people start to realize there's a lot more to London's music scene than just Jim Bob's, GT's and The Drink."

Interested yet? Come to The Spoke tonight at 8:30 p.m. and grab a seat before they're all taken. Each band in the competition will play a half-hour set.

Fans of Sofa Porch Theatre can expect them to take the stage at 10:45 p.m., and for those unfamiliar with the band, you can check out their Web site at www.sofaporchtheatre.com.

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