Broad Ripple Music Fest: the second half 

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Continued from Broad Ripple Music Fest: the first half.

The ES Jungle - Indian City Weather, KDe!
I made my way to The ES Jungle around 8 o’clock, a venue often overlooked in Indianapolis. The large church basement serves as one of the few places in Indy where the under 21 crowd can experience live music. Yes- it smells like hot, sweaty teenagers. Yes- they’re taking advantage of the freedom of a social environment without parental supervision (which means running around acting like fools and/or public groping of their boyfriends and girlfriends). And yes- they’re moving about the dance floor in all their awkward teenage glory. But all downsides to seeing live music with adolescents aside- it’s both exciting and inspiring to see youth so enthusiastic about live music. I’m glad The Broad Ripple Music Fest recognizes this as they continue to include the best under-21 venue as part of their official lineup.

I went to the ES Jungle to see Indian City Weather, one of Indy’s most diverse up-and-coming bands. With two vocalists coming from seemingly opposite ends of the singing spectrum, the band finds its sweet spot in a hybrid of indie rock, hip hop, and punk. Be on the lookout for their EP release on November 13th at Luna.

KDe! was up next- an Indianapolis hip hop trio with too much swag for their own good. I experienced mixed emotions watching the baby-faced boys rap their dirty lyrics over auto-tuned beats. The clever raps called out to obvious Weezy inspiration and although some beats were tiring, others were shamefully invigorating.

The closing act for the ES Jungle showcase, Dr. Manhattan, was running behind (en route from their home of Chicago) and necessitated a late start. Furthermore, the band called ahead of time to let The ES Jungle know they had forgotten to bring the key that unlocked their trailer of instruments. “We’ve got a locksmith waiting on them to get here,” the guy at the ticket table told me. “What are you going to do in the meantime, until they get here?” I asked. He shrugged his shoulders and replied, “Have a dance party?”

The Jazz Kitchen - Mystikos Quintet & Kyle Long
Around 11 p.m. I stopped briefly at The Jazz Kitchen for the debut performance by Mystikos Quintet as a live band, the opening act for ZapTown’s showcase. Upon my entry, I received a free mixtape by Kyle Long, who would later close the Jazz Kitchen. The CD, complete with a heavy dubstep section, was by far the best piece of free swag I picked up all night. The Jazz Kitchen (which is, for the most part, sitting-room only) was packed from front to back, making it nearly impossible to snag a table. Rather than holding up the wall in the small, non-occupied section of the club I had carved out for myself, I left to grab dinner with West Coast Tacos and then headed back to The ES Jungle.

The ES Jungle - Dr. Manhattan
Once again entering The ES Jungle, the teeny boppers were no longer haphazardly scattered about the room; they had all gathered in a rambunctious group in front of the stage for the night’s headliner, Dr. Manhattan. The kids knew the words to all the songs, they bounced and jumped into each other in true punk rock fashion, and they even found a bunch of Styrofoam pool noodles to beat each other up with in the process.

Locals Only & The Mousetrap - Serengeti, Ladymoon, and TJ Reynolds & The Freehand Orchestra
Outside of the village at 56th and Keystone, two neighboring venues were both hosting BRMF events in alignment with their respective genres. Although Locals Only is known for its eclectic taste in homegrown music, it has recently become the home for a weekly hip hop event organized by Audio Recon. Appropriately enough, the Indianapolis-based, digital-only label started festivities at Locals just as the Heavy Gun Beat Battle came to a close at Savvy Salon. I arrived around midnight to see Serengeti. The solo artist (accompanied only by a DJ at the back of the stage) maintained a unique relationship with the microphone; his face was pressed into to the device while he held the mic stand with much compassion and performed with closed eyes. The beats were challenging- even for the listener, let alone the emcee rapping over them. Serengeti’s mistake came when he called his own self out for struggles at the mic. “It’s been a rough week,” he said as he asked the DJ to cut one song off early. Just a few minutes later, he all but gave up as he turned away from the stage and declared, “This shit ain’t workin'.”

Next door at The Mousetrap, faithful weekend warriors who frequent the hippie hangout were present in large quantities. Ladymoon was the headlining act for the evening, bestowing their fragmented, progressive rock onto jam band fanatics until early in the morning. Ladymoon’s music embodies a variety of moods and feelings; each song often morphs into a completely different melody and tempo many times before its conclusion. In the same way that a symphony movement played against an animated cartoon can enhance emotion and create eagerness, Ladymoon paints a picture in its listener’s mind and then tells a story with vibrant music.

After a brief jaunt with Ladymoon, I slipped back into Locals Only as the clock approached 1 a.m. to find TJ Reynolds and the Freehand Orchestra already waist deep in their performance. I considered myself fortunate to receive a second helping of Sarah Grain in one day (see Broad Ripple Music Fest: the first half); she plays guitar in the Freehand Orchestra and sings backup. The rest of the FHO (including the horn section, which Reynolds so affectionately refers to as “The Crusty Bumpkins”) pleased the audience with their earthy, jazzy sound. A special treat was in order when Reynold’s sister Teresa (visiting from New York) stepped on stage to perform “Anthem” with the band. TJ graciously gave away 6 copies of his most recent release, Sugar on the Tongue, and put on one of the liveliest acts I’ve ever seen from the local hip hop poet. During the last song, he jumped from the stage, ran through the audience, and hopped on top of booths. For the encore, Reynolds assumed his role as maestro of the Freehand Orchestra and guided them through the final measures of the song, falling to the floor in convulsions of musical passion before signaling the end.

Tru Nightclub - Kodama vs. Brian Summers
The final stop on my BRMF expedition was at Tru Nightclub. The showcase of electronic music, hosted by Ontrack and IndyMojo.com, saw its attendance level max out at 461 people earlier in the night for Chicago-based house DJ Lady Foursquare, giving the showcase bragging rights for highest number of attendees at the festival. I opted to come later for the closing set in the lounge. Around 2 o’clock in the morning, I was seeking a womp-wobble fix from dubstep DJ Kodama. His set (shared with funky electro/house DJ Brian Summers) was a much-need and restorative bout of hype music. Finding the beat on the dance floor, I caught a second wind of energy and hung around a while longer before finally calling it a night.

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After 14 hours of live, local music in Broad Ripple from more than 15 bands and artists, I commend the organizers of Broad Ripple Music Fest for their continual effort to put the spotlight on local musicians. The festival offers something for everyone and gives consideration to all ages and all musical tastes. Well, almost all musical tastes.

Congratulations on another successful year of turning on ears and gaining support for the vast amount of talent lying right here in our own city and state. See you in 2011, BRMF!

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