Smile Politely

Bring your own festival

Man were there a lot of things going on this weekend! It’s too bad it was condensed into one big hodgepodge of art, music, movies and community collaboration, because it was impossible to take in everything.

As fun as it would be to do this every week, I don’t think my body or senses have the stamina. That being said, I had a great time, and once again in this slowly awakening spring, I am grateful to live in a town where so many things are possible.

IMC Fest in quiet downtown Urbana was the epicenter of musical mayhem. It is hard to remember another time in recent memory where virtually every local band (and some out-of-towners) all got their crack at performing in a three-day span. Volunteer event organizer Dan Blah pulled it off though, so kudos to him. There were 30 bands, three days, and one excellent venue.

There is just something special about a place when you can:

  • walk into an old post office (now auxiliary post office)
  • bring your own beer
  • walk past a public radio station booth
  • see kids running around sliding on the floor
  • pet a friendly dog with a neon green handkerchief
  • see community art displayed on the walls
  • and watch some great bands

It was also UIUC’s annual Mom’s weekend as well. So I was tickled pink to see daughter with mom in tow carrying the New Ruins vinyl she just picked up from the merch table. Being split in two would have served me well this weekend. Since this wasn’t possible, I did what I could to catch a nice swath of bands over the three-day festival.

When I arrived on Friday, I caught the last two songs of the brother/sister duo Hathaways. They were newly returned from their three-month adventure in South America that I hope to hear more about for a future episode. This was quickly followed by Headlights’ touring mates, and pleasant Chapel Hill surprise, The Love Language. They exhibited a balance between the dreamy pop elements of ’50s rock and roll and the sieved elements of “indie rock”. Some very nice dreamy vocal harmony interplay was on display between the troubadourian lead singer and their two female keyboardists.

Headlights put on a powerfully loud set that gave me more of an indie-punk feel rather than their usual bubble gum indie-pop. The two bands back to back presented insight into their lives on the road, with IMC Fest being a stepping stone to the beginning of an east coast tour.

For me, Friday night ended with two local groups: college outfit Sunset Stallion and their quirky piano driven folk rock, followed by the always enjoyable tremolo-tremor (on the verge of feedback) men about town, Common Loon.

Saturday was a busy day and evening for this writer as I was only able to catch the last two bands of the evening. The female-fronted We Landed on the Moon’s take on female fronted guitar pop groups such as Blondie sounded very much their own while still paying great homage.

Elsinore presented an energy-rich set that seemed to purge them of the rigors of the road. It was quite refreshing and loud for that matter, but none the less entertaining to see a few out-of-place subtle slam dancers swooned by Ryan Groff in the front row.

Sunday night was a bit mellower, with chairs brought out replacing the standing room from the previous two nights. With the ambience in place, I bore witness to Yossarian (who get my vote for greatest band name). They are a local outfit with fellow Smile Politely writer Collin Bullock on lead guitar. Good dynamics dictated their set swaying from loud to mellow numbers rather effortlessly.

Post Historic played a broken down set of new material that reminded me of a cross between the Shins and, of course, Neil Young. Finally, band-name-in-crisis local chamber-folk group Casados was the end point of my three day musical marathon. Their always rich, pristine, harmony-laden songs capped off a brilliant weekend of music.

It really would be nice if we could get more shows booked at the IMC. It is a fun place to see shows that really puts you in the middle of it all. There is more a feeling of being a part of something when seeing shows in that room, rather than just attending. Again, BYOB says it all.

(Ed. note: The top photo above of Sunset Stallion is by Stef Postula. Cody Bralts took the next two pictures of Headlights. If you have IMC Fest pictures you’d like to share, feel free to send them to the SPlog.)

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