Independent Media Center

I’m sure you can easily count the number of all ages venues you’ve been to in Champaign on one hand. Outside of Krannert Art Museum — Come to think of it, have you actually been to that one? — they are scarce. Breaking this trend, the Independent Media Center has provided CU with a unique place too see music and is open to any and all performers and audiences.
Stephen Fonzo and Tommy Griscom, volunteers of the Independent Media Center, or IMC, are enthusiastic about the venue. Fonzo, an audio engineer, and Griscom, a booker for the venue, value its accessibility for both the music and the audiences.
“IMC is atypical for a venue because it’s not run like a business,” says Griscom. “It’s run as a volunteer organization, we like to host shows and raise money, but money isn’t the main focus.”
This unique aspect of the organization has set itself apart from the other age restricted, business oriented venues around the college campus, and it has allowed room in the local scene for music that otherwise would have no place to be played. IMC has proven especially accessible, as a band of any age, style, and popularity can book a show and set up their own event at the venue. This “effectively makes the (music) ‘scene’ obsolete,” Griscom says, and has allowed for a large variety of shows ranging from dance parties, Irish cultural festivals, metal shows, and listening parties, some of which have gone as late as four in the morning.
With the exterior of an old post office and the heart of a concert hall, the fan-width capacity of IMC reaches over 800 people, according to Fonzo. The stage and concert room is especially cozy with couches facing the stages, fully packed bookcases lining the walls, and random, ornamental knick-knacks emphasizing a strong sense of community and “do-it-ourselves” philosophy.
“It all started as an all–encompassing venue for independent media. The full name is committed to allowing community access to producing media and events,” Griscom said. “Any event that someone in the community wants to hold can come to us to rent it the space, or plan it with IMC.”
The local IMC is currently the biggest venue in its company, and has been property of the IMC since 1999. The IMC also found ways to multi-task it’s media, like being a non-profit venue, an all ages-all genres concert arena, as well as the radio station, WRFU 104.5 FM, which airs concerts and events live at IMC in real time.
With shows booked throughout July, IMC remains in full force throughout the summer. Hosting large shows in the past with Kimya Dawson (featured in the Juno soundtrack) and indie rock act Islands, the venue can draw quite a crowd, but it is the small stuff that makes IMC what it is. Open to all ages and all genres, and all night partying, IMC is a great place to check out for summer shows.

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