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Reflections: A love letter to The Union

“Friday nights are for The Union” has become my unofficial slogan this semester. More often than not, I find myself making the short walk in shoes made for jumping and dancing, dressed for a usually unplanned night at my favorite music joint.

For those of us who have sorely missed concerts, comedy clubs and performances, The Union is a great way to fill the void. For those of us who have recently discovered the joy of local, live bands, it’s a godsend. Being new to the Athens area myself, I never really know what I’m walking into; there are unfamiliar names headlining the posters and, as someone raised an Orchestra kid, electric instruments are a bit foreign to me.

But every single time I’ve gone to see a show, The Union has delivered. This past weekend, armed with a few friends and a bottle of water for hydration’s sake, I returned to see a show featuring In Flow, GirlFox and Radattack. I’d only seen In Flow once before at, yes, The Union.

This performance proved to me, once again, why The Union is such an essential part of Athens nightlife. 

Its main attraction is the space it provides to local musicians. All three bands playing were composed of young people, looking around college age. Their instagrams don’t have a large following. GirlFox and Radattack are on tour together, and they travel to small music joints across Ohio. They are obscure to us.

And yet, I was captivated by each band’s sound. I was impressed by In Flow the first time I watched them play, but my friends and I unambiguously agreed they had approved since the last time. GirlFox gave a groovy intermediate set to two hard rock groups. Radattack, oh, where to start? I fell in love with their sound. I played a single from their album from my father, who was raised in the ‘90s, when he came to visit the next day. 

The Union provides a space for lesser known artists to showcase their stuff, yes, but these artists also provide great content. Based on what I heard, I was more than happy to shell out a measly $10 to support three fantastic bands that entertained me for over three hours. 

Additionally, it’s a spectacular space for those who wish not to drink. It’s a wry, well-known joke that if you don’t drink, Ohio University doesn’t have much to offer students. With The Union here, that’s a plain lie. The atmosphere, normally lacking rowdy drunk students, is one of passion and appreciation for the musicians on stage. Students don’t have to be 21 to enjoy the live music. And, if things get too rambunctious or hot inside, The Union has a deck right out the back for music-lovers to catch a breath — essential for the high-energy shows many put on.

Overall, I love the sense of community and energy a night at The Union brings. The artists who come to visit bring their all, no matter the crowd size and no matter their pay. They are there for love of the craft, not to make a big break. It’s vital that Athens invest and protect this fine business — should it ever need protecting — to give both music lovers and sober Bobcats a special place to take their friends and family, just as I did this weekend. 

Colleen McLafferty is a sophomore studying history at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Colleen by tweeting her at @colleenbealem.

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