Thursday, August 22

What: Casino Night
Where: University Center Down Under
When: 7-10 p.m.
Price: Free
Cortney's Take: It's the first weekend of the fall semester. With college budgets, Vegas is out of the question; however, that does not mean the casino cannot come to UT. The University Center Down Under will hold Casino Night, complete with Texas hold'em poker and blackjack tournaments, with prizes. Start your Thursday night at the tables and join Casino Night.

What: Downlink and Foam Party w/ DJ
Where: Old City Courtyard When: 6-11 p.m.
Price: $15 in advance, $20 at the door
Cortney's Take: Getting covered in foam and dancing with your friends is a good idea every weekend, but this weekend it's time to celebrate going back to school at the official Back to School Foam Party. Rapture Productions and Carleo Entertainment present Downlink, who is influenced by everything from heavy metal to astrophysics. This bass technician is sure to be a hit, especially in the midst of foam.

Friday, August 23

What: Vol Night Long
Where: HSS Amphitheatre and Pedestrian Walkway
When: 10 p.m.-1 a.m.
Price: Free
Cortney's Take: What's the one thing college student's never say no to? Free food. The first Vol Night Long of the year will have this, as well as contests and games. Following Super Art Fight, Vol Night Long is part of Welcome Week and all you need is a student ID.

Who: Yak Strangler with guests, Sin
What: Video Premiere Party
When: 10 p.m.
Where: The Pilot Light
Price: $5
Cortney's Take: A local band releasing not one, but two original songs plus a video has to be the start of a good night. Yak Strangler claims their "A Tight Squeeze" premiere party features a video "that will leave you so hungry you buy three hotdogs on the way back to your car." The duo plays semi-Himalayan themed blues-metal music and will be joined by rock band, Sin.

Saturday, August 24

What: Gamenight w/ Madre at Pilot Light
When: 10 p.m.
Where: The Pilot Light
Price: $5Claire's Take: What is a better way to enjoy the first weekend of the school year than with some local indie rock? Gamenight's Saturday show is also the band's release show for their second full-length album, Pets Pets. Take a listen to the track on their page "Tequila and Fake Eyelashes" – it's lyrically honest and open with that rock undertone to toughen it up. Think Barcelona and Jimmy Eat World. Also, Madre and Rales will be solid openers.

What: Steve Earle and the Dukes with the Mastersons
When: 8 p.m.
Where: The Bijou Theatre
Price: $29.50
Claire's Take: Steve Earle is a master storyteller and country music royalty. The musical variety apparent in his songwriting is evidence that it will be a legendary night of highly skilled craft. C'mon, the guy has a giant beard and sings about redemption. You won't want to miss it.

Sunday, August 25

What: Free Play at the UC Down Under When: 3 p.m.
Where: UC Down UnderPrice: Free
Claire's Take: The best way to de-stress from the first week and prepare for the next is with an afternoon of free games with your friends provided by UT. This afternoon will include free bowling, billiards, table tennis and Xbox 360 play. You will also be able to sign up for fall leagues and tournaments. It's a great way to meet people and bond over your common love of Halo.

What: Upstairs Underground Comedy Open-Mic
When: 8 p.m.; 7:30 to sign up
Where: Preservation Pub (21+)
Price: Free
Claire's Take: This show offers the perfect chance to see some great local comedy, or if you're brave, to share some of your own comedic talents. According to the MetroPulse, "The Upstairs Underground is the home of alternative and underground stand-up comedy in Knoxville." If you've never been to a comedy show, it's such an audience-focused interactive event that you're sure to have a good time.