Empty Space full of vitamins

By Teale Phelps-Bondaroff

When you think of “empty space”, images of vast desert lands usually fill your mind, punctuated by the odd roving coyote or brittle tumbleweed. But who would have thought “empty space” could be full of sweet music, liquor and plain old good times? This is exactly what Students’ Union Vice-President Events Alex Vyskocil has created.

“Five years ago there was something called the Blue Banana Lounge, which had live music every Friday in what used to be Max’s Cafe,” recalls Alex. “After redevelopment, the space was lost and so begun the search for a new location.” Sounds a little like the introduction to a kung-fu B-movie.

So enters our hero Alex, experience gained from his involvement with CJSW and gumption in the gut, set out to realize a simple dream. “I want live music to come back to campus and it’s why I set about creating Empty Space.”

The old copy centre space was the perfect location, not only having the perfect atmosphere but, as Alex puts it, “The room just plain sounds good.” An unsuspecting art student was commissioned to decorate the room and fulfilled this task admirably. Alex stares at the mural and muses, “It’s a funky graphic design that’s painted on the wall and it’s pretty cool.”

Cool indeed, since the room is also licensed. The idea is people will come for cheap drinks and stay for great music on vintage couches. Speaking of vintage, patrons can also enjoy retro board games, the kind you’d play in the family bomb shelter while you were all waiting for the Ruskies to attack.

So what’s the point of creating this haven of goodness in the first place? Alex explains, “The mandate of the room is to bring the best music from around the city, and Canadian talent to the university.” These artists have included Chad Van Gaalen, Lisa and Pat, Daniel Heff, Carolyn Mark (host of the summer’s folk festival this year) and Geoff Berner. The line of talented musicians doesn’t stop there, with artist like singer songwriter Chantell Vitalis, Kris Demeanor, Cape May, and Matt Masters to look forward to. It goes to show the wide range of genres the Empty Space will be covering.

“It’s all different, but it tends to be stuff that you can hear in a coffee shop, so your ears don’t bleed or anything. It’ll be anything from folk to rock and even some hip hop and stuff,” says Alex about the music.

The Empty Space is for anybody who likes music, but for those of you without souls, at the very least can agree with the goals of the project. These include raising awareness for live music, showcasing some local talent and as Alex puts it, “profiling great local artists and artists within Calgary and Canada, but most of all, do the best talent around.”

“People are catching on to this weekly feature of live bands. It’s getting bigger, [but] it’s going to take time to grow, more people need to know about it and check it out,” Alex says. “People will come to Empty Space to check out wicked live music on Fridays when they finish class, it’s a reason to stay on campus longer without having to study.”

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