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12th annual Kalamashoegazer brings genre fans to their feet

The 12th annual Kalamashoegazer took place Saturday Nov. 10. The event hosted a variety of Shoegaze and Dream Pop bands from across the country including Ringo Deathstarr, Spring House, Tears Run Rings, Seashine, Brief Candles, Tambourina, Soft Science and Airiel. All of these acts showcased their deep and intricate soundscapes as they performed at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe. The entire event was organized by April Zimont, who doubles as the lead vocalist for Tambourina.

“This was my 12th year of putting together the fest,” Zimont said. “When I started it in 2007, it was my dream to see Shoegaze and Dream Pop bands and fans of the genre all traveling from all over the United States to meet and play in my hometown of Kalamazoo.”

As of late, that dream has been realized for Zimont, as she has watched the fan base grow as the festival keeps coming back.

“In the last few years, we have expanded far beyond the Midwest and people are coming here from the east coast, west coast, and even further,” Zimont said. “We had people who came from as far as Quebec, Canada this year. And a few years ago we had a band come from Italy, so we’ve even expanded outside of the U.S.. My goal has always been to bring the right people together and have a big party with all of the bands we mutually love.”

The highlight of the evening for Zimont was seeing the fans rush the front row of performing act Ringo’s last song. “Everyone started pulling the balloons and everything down until we all got kicked off stage,” Zimont said. “A real rock n’ roll moment.”

Jeremy Wrenn, guitarist and vocalist of the Chicago-based band Airiel, felt great to be back at the festival.

“It’s the scene that celebrates itself, after all,” Wrenn said. “Nice big crowd. I was worried about my singing since I had been sick all week. We didn’t get to see all of the bands play, unfortunately. It’s always nice to play that event as we always have lots of friends there. The organizers have a true passion for putting on the event and it just gets better and better each year.”

In addition, the fan interaction Wrenn goets to have at Kalamashoegaze continued to be a high point.

“I usually sell our merch myself as a way to connect with fans and it’s always great to meet new people each time,” said Wrenn. “(The fans are) friendly, and utterly deserving of more attention and money.”

Wrenn was also pleased to see support not just from fans, but from the music industry as well.

“I was very surprised that the founders of Clairecords were in attendance. Not only was Shelflife there, our current label and members of Tears Run Rings, but so was the label that released the Winks and Kisses EPs. It’s becoming a regular thing to see the DJs from DKFM and that’s always a good thing,” Wrenn said.

Laura Mazzucco, bassist and vocalist of the band Tears Run Rings, was eager to get to perform at the festival for the first time.

“While we don’t have anything to compare it to since this was our first Kalamashoegazer, it was definitely everything we had hoped it would be! It wasn’t just a show; it was like a huge party with a bunch of close friends, even though we didn’t even really know everyone. It didn’t matter because our common love of the music just pulled everyone together,” Mazzucco said.

Getting to represent the genre they know and love gave Mazzuco a reason to do right by her fans.

“This was a really special event for us,” Mazzuco said. “We pretty much planned our whole year around it and spent so much time preparing for it. I think in terms of actually playing it, we were most looking forward to hopefully making some of our fans happy with a live performance, which many people have asked for over the years. This seemed to be the perfect venue for that.”

Mazzuco hopes that the festival helped fans cope with the sometimes-treacherous world around them, and that the melodies helped connect them with one and other.

“I feel a real camaraderie exists between Shoegaze fans. Our world is a pretty scary place and I think most of us really rely on music to cope and to find brightness amidst the darkness. It isn’t just something we listen to in passing - there’s a deep connection with the sounds and the melodies and I think that then translates to the scene as a whole,” said Mazzucco.

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