The streets of Broad Ripple were filled with plastic people drunkenly stumbling toward their next breeding ground Friday evening. It was loud and chaotic — a real-life version of the Britney Spears VMA performance. Fortunately, few of these people dared to venture into Spin Nightclub, where 19Clark25 and Chevy Downs were performing, so it was a bit more comfortable there.
19Clark25 put on an enjoyable, if unremarkable set. Sure, they played their hearts out and looked like they were having a damn fine time, but none of their songs seemed to stick to the ribs. It was a bit too much by-the-numbers Americana, without much originality.
That, however, wasn’t a problem when Chevy Downs took the stage. John Byrne was a marvel to watch on the slide and electric guitar, a true rock star in his own right, who on almost every song added just the right amount of pizzazz to the proceedings. Seth Greathouse was also a treat, ripping up the stage and firing up the band with wicked banjo and mandolin picking. During a cover of Bob Dylan’s “The Man in Me,” the band showed off its true colors: a boozy, woozy bad-to-the-bone bar band with the skill to pull off anything.
But what really set Chevy Downs apart were its two leaders and the original songs they wrote. David Moore’s husky baritone was a joy throughout, and when Tim Jones joined in with his raspy harmony, it was as good as it gets. Think The Band or Uncle Tupelo at their peak. Although the members are scattered across the country, it’s hard not to think that with a little effort and a year or two on the road, Chevy Downs could be one of the bigger roots acts in the USA. For now, though, we should be grateful to have them as Indy’s little secret.