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By Emily Belton
Born out of the sounds of the late 1980′s, ImSoc (The Oxford Indie Music Society) formed to bring together students who love indie music and sharing their latest discoveries. Just in case the word “indie” makes you feel queasy, the first thing you need to know about this society is that while it might sound like a social version of the Macbook-and-moustache-only area of the Rad Cam, it is in fact a welcoming community with a massively varied music taste. It’s great to be able to introduce someone else to an album you’ve had on repeat, and at every event I’ve found a new band to dominate my playlists for the next week or two.
But it’s not just conversation and mix CDs. Entering its 22nd year, ImSoc has an impressive history of live music events, having hosted the likes of Mumford and Sons, Noah and the Whale and even Radiohead. Even if you think you’re not a fan of indie music, you probably want to either be or marry anyone from that lineup. Jeremy Warmsley and Johnny Flynn joined us for our 20th birthday all dayer at the Jericho Tavern, and last year brought Scottish indie pop quartet Copy Haho to a packed Cellar crowd.
The real highlight of the ImSoc calendar though, is the annual battle of the bands, a competition which sees both local and university talent battle it out in front of a panel of judges to claim a cash prize. Last year’s final featured four of Oxford’s finest acts playing brilliant pop, indie and folk tunes at the Wheatsheaf, and a fiercely close vote from the judges to decide the winners. The “fastest loser” was also invited to play again to a much larger crowd which proved to be a surprisingly fun addition. Having advanced from the heats, each band seemed to return full of confidence and all four played their sets flawlessly, particularly winners Scarlett In The Wilderness whose unique style of Eastern European influenced folk continues to bring them success both in Oxford and further afield. Applications for this year’s battle of the bands are now open (Thom Yorke, take note), so if you’re in a band looking to take part (don’t forget, there’s prize money!), email firstname.lastname@example.org. Bands of all genres are encouraged to apply, it’s the variety of performances that make this competition an unmissable event every year.
If you’re not already plucking your guitar strings in excitement about that, or you just don’t have a guitar, this year’s big news for ImSoc is a potential collaboration with Oxford based record label Big Scary Monsters to bring a monthly showcase of the best UK indie talent to Oxford with a club night following each show. It’s probably time to put on your red shoes and dance the blues.
As well as pub meets and mix swaps, a £10 life membership to ImSoc and will get you discounts on entry to all our gigs and club nights, with the added benefit of finding the soundtrack to your next bedroom disco. We can’t offer you a free plaid shirt, but we do provide a mailing list (email email@example.com) where you can receive details of all these events plus comprehensive Oxford gig listings. As The Smiths say, shyness can stop you from doing all the things in life you’d like to. But don’t let it put you off ImSoc.