TIG's Buttrock Rockstar Karaoke Contest Featuring members of the Divorce, Visqueen, Dorkweed, Dear John Letters, Minus the Bear, Yeek Yak Air Force, Ms. Led, and more

Sat Aug 30, Chop Suey, 9 pm, $5.

"Somebody once told me, 'It's not that there are bad bands, it's just that they need to get in front of the right people,'" says Liz Riley, co-founder of the local website Three Imaginary Girls (threeimaginarygirls.com). "My favorite band is definitely not somebody else's, and it's a terrible feeling when I read reviews of some of my favorite bands and they're getting torn apart."

That's the positive philosophy fueling the minds of Seattle's Three Imaginary Girls--AKA Liz, Dana, and Char--a trio of local music fans dedicated to attending as many shows as possible, and writing all about 'em on their website.

Three Imaginary Girls isn't a zine, and it isn't really an online journal (or weblog) either. It's a documentation of their take on what's happening in Seattle's indie rock/pop scene, spiced up with a lot of sass, wit, and enthusiasm.

Months ago I visited the sight after meeting Liz and Dana at a concert. I was hooked immediately and spent hours reading through all the archived articles. It was refreshing to read band write-ups that didn't focus so much on making a final decision about the music, not choosing right then and there whether it was bad or good. The Girls' cutesy personalities bleed into every write-up, making TIG a fun, conversational site to read, even if you're not familiar with the bands being reviewed.

In a recent write-up for a Downpilot show at the Sunset, Dana gushed, "Their music embodies that longing, lingering-way-too-late-after-a-good-date-because-you-don't-wanna-go-home-just-yet-but-you-don't-want-to-play-music-that's-TOO-obvious (for fear of scaring date away) or-too-mellow (for fear of lulling him to sleep)."

Even if they're not huge fans of the bands, the Girls try to find something positive to focus on in their write-ups.

"Instead of saying this is really good or this is really bad, we focus more on being descriptive than being critical," says Dana Weissmaan about the trio's writing style.

With their apparent love of music, it only makes sense that the project was created while Liz and Dana were at a concert.

"The idea for the site was born at a Long Winters show," says Dana, "when Liz and I thought, 'Why don't we start writing about this stuff?' I do web stuff for work, so we just started writing and created a website for it. After about four weeks, we made it public."

It didn't take long for word about the new website to spread.

"When you're at a show with a notepad, and you stand there writing, people will come up to you and ask what you're doing," says Dana. "We'd tell them about the site, they'd check it out, we'd write about their band, then they'd want to link to us, then their friends who are in bands would see it and they'd invite us to their shows..." and so it goes.

Thanks to the quick-moving age of the Internet, what started as a "just for kicks" project continues to blossom into something more than the trio ever imagined (which requires an average of 30 hours of work a week). The Girls caught the eye of Visqueen frontwoman Rachel Flotard, and she offered to write her own advice column for them, "Love Is Hard by Rachel Flotard." A number of others have also offered their services--calendar guru Sera(tone)n keeps the listings up to date, Chilly C writes a regular CD review/horoscope column, and Imaginary Boy Embracey reviews local theater and film.

But no one involved makes any money. In fact, they all have time-demanding day jobs. So why do they do it?

"We ask ourselves that question a lot, like at three in the morning on work nights when we're all feverishly trying to get everything done on time," laughs Liz. "It's a great creative outlet. It's a great way to chronicle the stuff that we get to do together. And we've met so many great people too."

The Girls are constantly thinking of new ideas for the site. Everything from an actual magazine to the idea of a Three Imaginary Girls sitcom has been toyed with, but right now they're pretty happy with how things are. Although, there is that one thing....

"Our favorite drink, collectively, is an Absolut Mandarin with soda water and a lime," says Dana. "We're trying to get people to call it a TIG. It hasn't caught on yet."

megan@thestranger.com

Support The Stranger