From talking to prospective students, I’ve found that one of the most common concerns is whether or not Shimer students have the ability to enjoy Chicago outside of the tiny Shimer community. My answer, is of course, “Absolutely.” Personally, most of my time away from Shimer is spend playing music with either one of my bands or just any one of my musically-inclined friends – coincidentally none of them being Shimer students – or going to shows, of which there are plenty. I frequently spend weekend nights playing shows all over Chicago. But I’d like to share a more extreme example of going beyond the bubble: my band’s recent trip to Carbondale, Illinois.
Carbondale is a tiny farm-town – much like any other non-Chicago town in Illinois – located all the way down near the Southern tip of the state. However, it is the home of Southern Illinois University and happens to have quite a music scene, so I’ve always been told it’s a great place to play shows. When a friend’s band asked us to join them for a show, we didn’t hesitate to start planning for the trip.
It takes about 6 hours to trek all the way down to Carbondale, but no need to take the trip yourself. Here’s everything that you’ll see:
Farms, farms, and more farms.
The countryside loves the lord Jesus Christ.
Nothin’ like some roadside-diner slop.
Despite missing all the wonderful farm-related scenery, I spent most of the 6 hours each way reading John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government, and even though I’m not in Ann’s class (all of the faculty here go by first name), I borrowed and read a book from the curriculum of her Gender Studies tutorial called Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity. Both were interesting reads, though I’m inclined to say that the book about the social implications of pornography made for a much more entertaining road-trip-book than Locke’s political philosophy. I may have needed something particularly interesting to offset the boredom of the road.
The show itself was a lot of fun. Even though it was cold in Chicago, it was around 60 degrees in Carbondale and sunny, allowing us to play outside. We played on a bar/restaurant’s patio, surrounded by enthusiastic music fans who loudly cheered after every song, keeping cool with a pleasant summer breeze. Sometimes playing music in Chicago can be a drag – audiences can be too pretentious to show enthusiasm for any of the bands other than the one they came for – but this wasn’t the case in Carbondale. No one had heard of us and everyone loved us.
I spent the rest of the trip catching up with a good high-school friend of mine who attends SIU. The trip back was relaxing, but at each rest stop we felt it getting colder. My bass player, Nick, shows his unwillingness to accept his imminent return to cold weather:
Wah! I don’t wanna go back to Chicago!
Though I was glad to return to Shimer, it was refreshing to be in a totally different environment for a day and a night.