What's Indianapolis music sound like?
To Patrick Roberts, it's simple.
"Not a lot of frill, but a hell of a lot of passion," he says.
He'd know - his band, Indy-based five piece Veseria is on the front lines of a throwback rock sound that's dominating a significant chunk of the city's scene right now. They'll be one of nine groups performing Thursday as part of the inaugural Fountain Square Music Festival. The event, which will take place in the parking lot behind the former Deano's Vino, features groups with a link to the Hoosier state.
"Everyone has worked very hard to pull this together. It's been such a great team," Fountain Square Music Fest board member Lindsay Manfredi says. She'll perform at the event with her band, Kaleidostars.
Organizers of the fest include event coordinator Laura Schlafer and board members Elvis Mires, Eric Klee Johnson, Tad Aschliman, Jerry Keys, Rex Fisher, Denise Martin, Jon Martin, Dan McNeal and Manfredi. Planning started in the winter.
"If you ever want six months to fly by in a blink of an eye, just put a music fest together," Mires says.
They picked the Fourth of July for the first fest for a few reasons.
"It worked around everyone's schedule," Mires says. "We also knew that almost everybody would be off of work that day. And, the next year, [the fest will] fall on First Friday."
When it came to picking the music for the fest, the organizers had a plan. They wanted to celebrate music with Hoosier ties. This year's lineup includes Truth and Salvage Company (formerly of Indianapolis), Modoc (formerly of Muncie) Kaleidostars (Indianapolis), Kansas Bible Company (formerly of Goshen), Shelby County Sinners (Indianapolis), Red Light Driver (Indianapolis), Goliathon (Indianapolis) and The Jeremy Vogt Band (Indianapolis).
And Veseria, of course, who just last week released a new single, "Reach a Little Further," from an upcoming album due to be tracked at Grizzly Music Co. in late summer.
"We were approached back in September to do a single for the Oranje 2012 compilation album they will be releasing later this summer," Roberts says. "We recorded a new song, 'The Dastardly,' and the vibes we got from the studio were just too good to pass up [recording again]."
Their single is brand new, but in it Veseria pays tribute to an older sound in the fuzzed out, low-fi intro.
"The intro is more or less a tribute to my beginnings as a songwriter," Roberts says. "Just before I met Jen [Roberts, Patrick's wife and co-vocalist], I had been using an old cassette tape recorder to capture my work. I'd hit record, play all the songs all the way through, take out the tape and start all over again with a new one. It felt a little weird recording it in the studio on a $5,000 microphone then asking the engineer to make it sound as cheap as he possibly could."
Veseria is the first significant project for Patrick Roberts (guitar, vocals), Jen Roberts (guitar, vocals) and Corey Lusk (bass). Jake Strakis (piano, organ, accordion, vocals) has played with the Innocent Boys, Tilford Sellers and The Wagon Burners, and he's just finished some work on the new Harley Poe album due this Halloween. David Bailey (drums) has previously played with The Breakdown Kings, Dead Man's Grill and Rowco.
Veseria released their first full-length, Cities Made of Gin, last year. The album is full of folk flourishes, with rumbling percussion and sing-along choruses. All in all? It's a delight, and a refreshing first effort. Although Patrick mentions that Veseria was Jen's project initially, Cities Made of Gin showcases a well-rounded outfit who play to each others' strengths. This is a band whose hearts are all in.
That heart is a shared characteristic of a chunk of Indy's rock scene. Heart, and a return to the simpler days of rock.
"Within our core group of bands, there is a significant throwback to solid, rock and roll fundamentals right now," Roberts says. That core group includes bands they've played with recently, including Hero Jr., Phoenix on The Fault Line and Verdant Vera, among others.