Imagine Fest takes place March 13- 19. 35 Bands, 5 bands a night for 7 nights.
“This is seriously one of my favorite places on Earth,” Phargo guitarist made it a point to explain before the band’s set. “You guys do whatever it takes to keep this place around forever.”
Imagine Book and Records has been a gem tucked away on the Northwest side that sells, you know it, eclectic eccentric books and records but also serves as a practice space for bands as well as a venue.
“As a whole, I feel great about Imagine as a venue. We try our best to keep it diverse and new to the people that come here. We don't plan on ever stopping the shows. That's how we've become so involved in our community. If we stopped doing them I don't think Imagine would be the place you saw: filled those wonderful, open-minded, and supportive people,” explained Ezra Hurd who books the shows under his father Don. “We've been doing shows since we opened in October 2011 and it has grown tremendously. This October will be four years and we don't plan on anything other than growing and expanding things. August is almost complete with some special stuff planned.”
This past Saturday, Ozona Records Summer Showcase breezed in and was held in the midst of pop up artisan vendors and regular Imagine Books hours.
Stepping through the threshold for the first time blew me away. The atmosphere is filled with young energy and dire appreciation for the music. It also answered a question that I had been asking myself, “Where do minors go to watch shows that aren’t all ages?”
Instead of maneuvering through lines at the bar or alcoholic fueled fun, there were free coffee and donuts and the fun was fueled by solely the music (and 20% off at the store).
The Ozona Records Show case opened up with Phoenix based indie pop band Emby Alexander that were added to the bill last minute after a mishap in Austin. They’re basically what Vampire Weekend wishes they sounded like, with their nifty bass lines and quirky B and e chords.
Newcomers Emma Stoned is a San Antonio based shoegaze band that is already making a dreamy synth pop wave. “We’re so new, we don’t even have names for our songs yet,” said the drummer during their set.
Houma, Louisiana band Blare was introduced by Don the owner as “better than the Beatles”, a bold statement made by a man whose shop shares a name with a Lennon song. However, that was a statement that held ground, Blare was Explosions in the Sky meets This Will Destroy You on a different shoegaze low frequency plane. The bouts of technical difficulties couldn’t sway the impact of this band and what their deep bass shakes loose deep within.
Band Phargo had that soul where there would be moments where a microphone wasn’t needed. For example, to shout the lyrics “Do you ever think about me? Well, I don't believe you.” during an epic riff with so much heart that reminded me of American Football.
Apart from the crowd brought in, the environment felt very house concert/DIY with the same type of wall projections I saw at Psychfest being replicated with oils, paints and an overhead projector. Overall, I don’t think there are many things cooler on this Earth than a bookstore doubled as a venue owned by some of the raddest people.
Shows are set to continue according to Hurd, “We have Camp Life from LA playing August 7th with locals Emma Stoned and Junkie. Locals Sioux & Fox and Gary Davenport with a band from Kansas City called Lost in The City along with a new acoustic duo, Sailing Ships from Austin on August 8th. I have a string quartet or two apart of our new series of shows ‘Sunday Sessions’ coming up. We have the Rosedale Highs coming August 15 with Rich Restanio from Austin. I'll be putting together art shows for August 22 with some very cool bands and good friends of ours. And September is also in the works for some new bands as well.”