by Ben Shine
Since I was 14 years old, I've been going to see live music, booking shows and playing music around Indy. Based on that experience, I have some thoughts on our local music scene - some ideas about what makes it great,and some things that I think would make it better. In the spirit of a seventh grade compare-and-contrast essay, I'd like to present my two-part pro & con list, or, my State of Indianapolis' Live Local Music Scene in 2013. I'm going to kick it off with the pros, because, well, they're the pros.
1. Creative Spaces
Indianapolis has long had a plethora of traditional music venues, a subculture of alternative,small spaces and smattering of house concerts. But lately, shows have been popping up in non-traditional and creative spaces. (Perhaps like art shows in alternative spaces?) With Listen Local and The White River Arts & Music Festival (WARMfest) in Broad Ripple Park, shows on the grounds of the lovely Eiteljorg,shows at Joyful Noise and Do317 in the Murphy Building, the Cataracts Music Festival on the streets of Fountain Square neighborhood, and classical-ish music in the catacombs of the City Market to name a few, Indy's really embraced getting creative with performance and setting.
2. Collaboration with Art
I think the cultural identity of a city can be measured by how its arts and creative groups collaborate, and Indianapolis's cultural organizations are cross-pollinating music, art, dance, food and more.The IMA has DJ's in their galleries on Final Fridays. IMOCA's "We Buy White Albums" exhibit explored the Beatles' White Album as a cultural product - and Indiana Humanities' amazing lunchtime conversation with IU rock n' roll professor Glenn Gass and Vess Rhutenberg dived deeper into the topic. Having visuals and sound - and other cultural elements, too - makes experiences richer and somehow more welcoming. The Eiteljorg did a great service to music lovers with their Guitars! Roundups to Rockers exhibition, which closes this week. (So, go! if you haven't)
Concerts for a cause have always seemed kind of corny and contrived, like neighborhood kids in a 70's TV show throwing a concert to save the community center. These days when I think of the benefit concerts in Indianapolis, they're actually some of the coolest shows I can think of. Indy has elevated the benefit concert to art, with events that stand alone as great performance AND support cool causes. This year, the Tonic Ball will celebrate 12 years of music to fight hunger, with dozens of bands paying homage to some of rock's greatest heroes. Such a Night: Recreating the Music of The Band's Last Waltz pays tribute to one of rock's notable films to raise money for Down Syndrome Indiana. AudioMask: We are the Robots is pairing local music with masks and robots to raise money for after-school programs for AYS. (Full disclosure - I am an organizer of the Tonic Ball, though that concert was amazing before I came along.)
For all the good, there is the bad, and I'll get to it in my next post. But let's use the time in between to talk more about who and what is great about the state of music in Indianapolis in 2013.