It’s just like any other Friday night on Goucher’s campus: calm, quiet, and sparsely populated. Take a walk around the Loop, and you’ll probably run into all of Goucher’s usual suspects–handfuls of other students also wandering, perhaps some deer, maybe even that fox who hangs around the athletics field. But walk by the Chapel, and you’ll surely notice something different. From a distance, a yellow light spills out onto the street behind the Chapel, scattered figures loitering around it. Walk a little closer, and a certain energy becomes palpable. The thudding of drum and bass becomes ever apparent as you approach; walk inside, and as though you stepped through a portal, you are transported into a world foreign to Goucher’s typical quiet nature.
Inside the Chapel, in the Undercroft, is perhaps Goucher’s foremost cultural event: an underground concert put on by the Independent Music Club (IMC). Packed tightly together in the intimate venue are Goucher students and non-Goucher students alike– many come from off-campus to enjoy the live music.
The night’s setlist is an eclectic but complementary one: acoustic outfit Es, headed by Goucher alum John Eng-Wong, energetic indie band Fetcher, folk fusion group Plastic Owl, with Goucher student and lead-singer Emma Flanagan, and one-man experimental ambient project, Human Host. It’s a show teeming with energy, excitement, and passion. You’ll see bands going their hardest and the crowd reciprocating with constant dancing and the occasional moshpit.
I sat down the day after this October’s show with veteran IMC members Jandro Clemente (‘23) and Elie Siegal (‘23), former IMC president and current treasurer, respectively, to discuss the club and its ever-essential role on Goucher’s campus. Both Jandro and Elie joined IMC shortly preceding the Covid-19 pandemic, in an effort to rekindle the organization after it died out in early 2019. As one would expect, Covid hitting the same semester made rebuilding significantly more difficult.
Luke: Tell me about how the pandemic affected [IMC]– you said that the club came back in 2019 right before the pandemic, so how did Covid right after impact that, and how was rebuilding?
Jandro: I mean, rebuilding has been hard. It felt like we were blindfolded, crawling in the dark.
Elie: We were also kind of starting over.
Jandro: I know. I think we did have to start over. Not saying bad on anyone else that came before us, but we really did have to start over, because it was like a year-and-a-half of nothing. Because it’s not one of the things you can really do virtually.
Luke: Right. Was there an effort to do virtual shows at all?
Jandro: Not really. But, to be fair, I’m not blaming anybody right at the start, I mean, [COVID-19] was kind of crazy.
Jandro and Elie credit the return of IMC post-pandemic to Goucher alum and fellow musician Nick Jackson, who originally had the idea to bring it back to campus.
Jandro: When we came back, nobody was restarting [IMC] or anything like that. We kind of waited for something to happen, because we thought someone would start it back up again.
When it seemed like no one was going to start the club up upon returning to campus, Nick expressed his desire to have IMC back. Even if it would be difficult, at the very least, the club coming back would be an excuse for friends to meet up every week to jam out together, something Jandro felt like they didn’t have the chance to do enough.
It’s important to note that IMC is not just about booking and presenting concerts, although that is a central part of the organization. It’s also a community of musicians who meet every Friday afternoon in the Trustees Glass Studio, spending time teaching each other different instruments, casually jamming out, and even forming bands, some of which go on to perform at IMC shows.
IMC does not just export music and culture out to the Goucher community and beyond, but also has formed a community within itself, where student musicians can exercise their creative impulses in ways which have become harder to come by at Goucher over the years. The club is one of the few enduring artistic outlets at the school, one that Jandro and Elie feel could be much bigger if there was more support from the college.
Jandro: If we want to keep music alive on the campus, IMC is one of the best places to do that. I think, honestly, it could be a pretty big club for Goucher. If Goucher really wanted to work hand-in-hand with us, I think we could pull some pretty big stuff off.
Elie: Yeah. Unfortunately, they don’t really seem to care enough about the arts. It’s not just the IMC, it’s [The Rocky Horror Picture Show] and theater stuff that are suffering, too.
Virtually all of IMC’s budget goes towards booking artists, leaving them incapable of improving their currently outdated equipment. They have good reason to argue for more money, too. They saw a record number of outsiders attend on Friday, as well as many students coming out to support.
Jandro: I think the shows are one of my favorite things about Goucher, honestly.
Elie: Me too. I might be biased as a musician, but I feel like– I don’t know, everyone always seems to have a good time at the shows. The vibes are great.
Jandro: I’ve met so many cool people, I’ve danced with so many cool people that I’ve never even met before. It’s just nice.
IMC seems to bring out the best in Goucher.
Jandro: It’s a very loving community.
Elie: Very supportive. No one’s ever going to be like “you suck at music,” or whatever (chuckles).
Jandro: Anytime anyone makes a mistake or anything, everybody’s out there cheering.
Elie: People will clap, yeah.
Jandro: Everybody’s like, “you got this!” Stuff like that. There’s no dead silences, there’s no awkwardness. It reminds me of why I chose Goucher, but I feel like it’s been getting harder and harder for me to remember times like that again. That’s why I like IMC so much: it’s one of the few places left that does make me be like, “this is why I came here. The people.”
Elie: It’s definitely a good reminder of the community that does exist here.
Elie and Jandro feel as though that sense of community is dwindling at Goucher, for a host of reasons.
Jandro: I just think that a lot of choices have been made recently to cut the arts, but there’s a lot of art heavy students here.
Elie: We’re doing this interview in the woods, I mean, come on.
Jandro: I know so many people who left because of that lack [of arts].
Elie: [Goucher] “lost its mojo,” like they said in Austin Powers.
Luke: With that, how do you see IMC bringing that culture back? What do you feel is its importance on campus?
Elie: I feel like a large majority of people enjoy live music. Especially when they don’t have to pay to get in; the shows are free for Goucher students. It’s like a ten minute walk, max, from any dorm. I feel like people will always come together for live music.
Advertising is a huge part in getting people to come together for these shows, another area where Elie and Jandro feel a lack of support from the college. Nevertheless, the promotion on social media has been successful this year, despite the club’s wishes for more school-oriented support, like being included in the “What’s Happening at Goucher” newsletters.
Further support from the school is essential for IMC to expand and do bigger and better things throughout the year. They’re not afraid to be ambitious, either.
Elie: If we got more funding, then we can do bigger spaces, and maybe outside and all that stuff. I’d like to do an outdoor show before we graduate.
Jandro: I have a dream… that one day soon, there will be a Goucher music festival.
Even though Elie and Jandro are graduating after the spring semester, they’re confident in IMC’s future at Goucher.
Elie: David Einhorn, who’s young, I think will eventually become the president. He’s been very very helpful with the club, and did most of the work setting up last night.
Jandro: There’s a lot of people involved.
Elie: Yeah. It’s not gonna die with us.
Goucher’s Independent Music Club is not only bringing much-needed culture to Goucher, but it’s also fostering a deeper community, as well. It serves as a reminder to us all of the great things we do have at Goucher, and the endless potential for furthering these cultural beacons with enhanced school support.
Luke: Okay, I have a bonus question: if you could have anyone come perform, dead or alive, big or small, who would it be, tailoring it towards Goucher?
Elie: Oh, that’s a good question. I want to say Prince, but he needs a big stage to perform… so I’m gonna pick someone else.
Jandro: Oh, ABBA? That would slap, goddamn.
Elie: If we had ABBA in the Undercroft, it would explode… also D’Angelo. Big fan of D’Angelo. D’Angelo, with maybe Questlove on drums, would be incredible.
Jandro: God, it’d be so good to see MF DOOM… I don’t know if I can give a definite answer, because I think it’s always going to change, but right now, I’m thinking a DOOM show in the Undercroft, with the lights, I think that would be amazing.
The Independent Music Club meets every Friday at 4:30 in the Trustees Glass Studio. This semester’s upcoming concerts are on November 4th, featuring performances from Fleece Eater, Human Host, and Precious Little Life, and December 2nd, where Elie and Jandro will be performing together, among others. If there’s something on campus that you really shouldn’t miss out on, it’s these shows. Make sure to come and show your support not only for IMC, but for Goucher’s overall artistic and cultural movements.
By Luke Macannuco ’26
Feature image courtesy of @goucherindependentmusicclub on Instagram