Here in the beginnings of summer 2020, nearly no musician is sitting content with the abrupt and severe changes made to the live music industry. However, for a band like Oklahoma’s The Imaginaries (Shane Henry vocals, guitar; Maggie McClure vocals, keys), who only released their debut single “Revival” a little under a two weeks ago – after already dealing with many consecutive personal hurdles that set back the launch of their music – the timing of COVID-19 lands at an especially delicate moment.
It’s difficult enough for musicians as is to break through the present day swaths of band pages, social media feeds, and playlist algorithms. Add a travel and tour-halting crisis to the mix and the odds only stack that much higher against a new band trying to be seen and heard. Not wanting to sit on their heels after the energizing release of their short film music video hybrid for “Revival,” The Imaginaries took to finding a way to best channel the emotional intangibles gained from playing in a living setting with other people. The result is the duo’s newly dubbed “Porch Sessions,” which launched with a five person performance of “Revival” on the lengthy front porch of a cabin at The Cedar Gate retreat center in Kingfisher, OK.
“Leading up to the release of “Revival” we wanted to film some live footage of us playing as a band in a setting that fits The Imaginaries’ brand,” Henry and McClure said.
“We had the idea to set up on a porch of a log cabin – hence the Porch Sessions – and it took a while to find the right location. After searching ourselves and then asking fans and friends [over social media], someone suggested we check out The Cedar Gate in Kingfisher, OK. We looked it up online and instantly knew it was the perfect location. As it turns out, many feature films and other projects have been shot there as well. The staff at The Cedar Gate were very excited for us to film there and we rented a cabin for a night in exchange for permission to film,” they said.
Those who have watched The Imaginaries’ debut video from front to back will already be equipped to sing along with the outdoor performance. All the same, even though the song has plenty of added support from Isaac Stalling on dobro slide guitar, Jordan Oliver on drums, and Ryan Miller on bass, the music itself offers a different emotive impact than the precisely assembled studio recording. While the swagger of the melody remains, the pivot to lean on acoustic instrumentation and lighter brush sticks for the drums gives the initially dynamic-heavy hook a more intimate sonic aesthetic geared toward smaller, private, community-based shows. Add to that the soft yellow lightning of the cabin’s glow and the whole scene is a reminder of why warm summer nights are great for playing music.
Though The Imaginaries’ budding fanbase is going to have to sit tight waiting for new material and even likely longer for the duo to present a bustling, uninhibited live performance, the band’s inaugural “Porch Session” only serves to heighten anticipation in the meantime. It shows the duo can not only adjust their bold sound to a gentler set but do so without losing performative engagement. The narrative and attitude of “Revival” doesn’t lose its edge just because the volume is turned down. “We wanted to capture the energy of a live acoustic band performance,” said McClure and Henry. “Music videos are their own thing. They provide an opportunity to tell a narrative story visually with a song. Live performance videos reveal the raw talent and chemistry of musicians. The video [was] directed, shot, and edited by Reagan Elkins who also directed [“Revival’s”] music video/short film.”