Like last year’s inaugural Seattle Weekly Music Awards, the 2004 edition featured plenty of close calls. With more than 2,400 ballots total, you might think the tallies would have been more decisive. But in the Singer-Songwriter category, for instance, Brandi Carlile bested Damien Jurado by a mere four votes—the same margin by which the Blood Brothers made it past the Spits in the Punk/Hardcore race. In Indie Rock/Garage, the Ruby Doe could have tied XXX Audio with only seven more nods; Bebop & Destruction edged PK and What Army? by a mere two in the Jazz/Avant-Garde competition. And in Jam/Groove, Das Rut slipped by Phat Sidy Smokehouse by a single vote. Compared to those races, the margin of victory of 2004 MVPs Three Imaginary Girls over last year’s cover star, Reggie Watts, was relatively decisive—and they took it with less than 30 votes.
Like Watts, the Imaginary Girls—Dana Weissman, Liz Riley, and Char Davidson—are seemingly everywhere. Their two-year-old Web site (www.threeimaginarygirls.com, named after the Cure album Three Imaginary Boys) offers thorough, regularly updated club and show listings, proffers interviews with local and sometimes national movers and shakers, and features plenty of concert reviews, written by Wiessman, Riley, and Davidson in an informal, chatty style. If the Girls aren’t exactly the strenuous critical voice of the Seattle music scene, they’re not trying to be, either. “We’re not really hard-core critics,” Weissman says. “There’s enough good bands out there that if we don’t like something, we just ignore it.”
By itself, the Web site, which draws some 8,000 hits per week, has attracted plenty of Seattle music fans—not to mention Seattle-music fans; at a Death Cab for Cutie show last year, Weissman and Riley met readers from Pittsburgh and Manchester, England, respectively. But it’s TIG’s club showcases that have boosted their local celebrity. They’ve put on three memorable, thematic, star-studded karaoke nights: February’s Silly Love Songs event featured performances by Robb Benson (dressed as Richie Tenenbaum, complete with tennis racket), the Catch’s Jenny Jiminez, and Lesli Wood (who killed on Olivia Newton-John’s “Hopelessly Devoted to You”)— and a fourth is scheduled for June 10 at the Crocodile Cafe. Even more frequent are the multiband bills TIG have arranged. “It’s our selfish endeavor to have a night of bands we want to see playing together,” says Riley.
(Also, as Weissman notes, “The Mangles have only played one show ever— ours.” No wonder the all-male Bangles doppelgängers finished dead last in the Cover/Tribute category.)
Like Watts, the Girls are instantly recognizable, even somewhat iconic, thanks to the cartoon renderings of the trio by local artist Randy Wood that dot their Web site. “Our writing is conversational,” says Weissman, “so we thought, ‘Why not put little heads there so you know who’s talking?'”
The site began when Weissman, who grew up in southern Florida and had spent time in Nashville and Atlanta before relocating to Seattle in 1996, and Riley, a Delaware native who’d tried Phoenix and New York before settling here in 1999, began volunteering at KEXP-FM. “It had to do with going to different shows,” says Riley. “We were writing mini-reviews to each other in instant-messenger. And we thought, ‘Our six friends and our moms find these e-mails entertaining. So should everyone else.'” Davidson, who’d come to Seattle in 2000 from St. Louis via Grand Rapids, was added after meeting Weissman at a Visqueen show. “We got shit-faced drunk together,” says Weissman, “and I knew she was the one.”
Now that the trio has been voted MVP by Music Awards voters, what’s next on the TIG agenda? “We all work carpal tunnel syndrome IM jobs,” says Weissman. “We dream of going to an imaginary office and actually returning all our e-mail.”