Since the opening of the Empty Garage Showspace in February of 2005, the venue has become a beacon for the burgeoning Isla Vista local music scene. The Empty Garage sits behind an apartment complex at 6587 Cordoba Road, conveniently located one block from Pardall Road near the heart of downtown Isla Vista, and is a venue for music of the rock and roll persuasion. Local bands, including Isla Vista’s indie darlings the Kissing Tigers and crazed carnival music musketeers the Hairbrain Scheme. Likewise, out-of-state bands have found booking space at The Empty Garage, placing it on par with other local venues such as the BIKO show space and Menehunes. The Empty Garage is just that, a garage that is emptied for the express purpose of blasting live music, with twinkling lights (and the occasional performing band member) hanging from its rafters. “The environment is very welcoming, and it’s a great place to see live music,” said Jorden Mingle, The Garage’s Building Manager.
The Empty Garage is managed by UCSB students and likeminded Isla Vistians Mingle, Lauren Linn and Jen Thompson. The Garage, which started booking shows in February, has fast become a means of expressing the group’s collected appreciation of music, as well as place that supports the local scene and helps smaller bands to network and meet one another. The Empty Garage utilizes myspace.com, (an online networking tool for independent and up-and-coming bands) to help book shows and get artists connected. The Garage also depends on the cooperation of the Isla Vista residents living adjacent to the show space. “We get a lot of cooperation from the building’s tenants. They’re all really cool about it,” said Mingle.
What started as a monthly party has turned into a bi-weekly undertaking; the increased interest that local bands have had in playing the venue is a testament to growingly successful turnouts. Shows generally spill out of the garage and into the parking lot behind the apartment complexes of Cordoba’s 6500 block. The Empty Garage has two shows slated for October; this Saturday, October 8th at 9:30 p.m., Los Webelos and the Valley Arena will be playing with another band that has yet to be announced. On Saturday, October 22nd, Los Angeles band the Adored, Teenage Talking Cars and Your Mother’s Lover are slated to take the stage. While the Empty Garage maintains its status as a free venue, they do accept and encourage donations to help out traveling bands. “All the money goes to pay for the bands’ gas,” said Mingle.