The gang from Circle City Ska started putting on all-ages ska-punk shows at the Harrison Underground in the last year. This weekend, they expand ever further with an all-day show, the Circle City Ska Fest, Saturday from 1 p.m.-1 a.m. Tickets are $10 at the door (which, the organizers would very much like you to know, also includes pizza courtesy of Hot Box).
The lineup includes national, regional and local acts, ranging from California’s Dun Bin Had to Chicago’s Shot Baker to Ann Arbor’s We Are the Union. Local performers include the Loser Broadcast, Lockstep, RedFlag, Coinslot, Young Til We Die, the Naptown Shockers and, as headliners, homegrown act gone national Bolth. (For full information, check out myspace.com/indyska.)
Lead organizer Jake Swiss says that the 12-hour festival is the logical outgrowth of CCS’ output over the last year.
“We’re trying to bring some of the best punk, ska and rockabilly bands to Indianapolis,” Swiss says. “Because there seems to be a lack of that all-ages kind of stuff. I think people are really appreciating it. There’s a small fanbase who finds out about this music through the Internet or older siblings or whatever, because it’s dropped off the mainstream.
“I feel like what we’re doing is expanding the scene,” Swiss continues. “It’s a pretty diverse crowd. It’s been such a wasteland for so long, and there’s finally local music happening, so people are wanting to be a part of it. What’s great about ska is that there’s so many different subgenres in it, and you get all these people who’d never be in a hundred foot radius of each other, and here they are all together, enjoying the music. It’s a really good feeling.”
RedFlag, based in Indianapolis, opens up the show; they’ve been playing together since last year. Here’s what guitar/vocalist Scotty Raychel had to say: “We’re not really ska; we’re more like a hardcore punk band. We take influence from bands like Rise Against and local bands like In Defense of War and Bolth. But since most people are coming there for ska music, we decided to do ska songs and some songs of our own. We see ourselves as the band that opens up the whole thing and gets everyone excited for the rest of the day. There’s two strong scenes going on right now, one with Circle City Ska and another with Piradical Productions. They’re really bringing the all-ages scene back to life in Indiana.”
We Are the Union hails from Ann Arbor, Mich. Here’s vocalist Reed Michael: “The thing about us is that we sort of ride the perimeter of a bunch of different styles of music. Depending on who the listener is, they may see us as a ska band, a skate punk band, a pop-punk band, a melodic hardcore band or any number of things. A big part of our writing is that we don’t like to tie ourselves down to a ‘central genre,’ so to speak, we just write what we know: fast, melodic, horn-driven music. I think there will always be room for ska. Our music has strong elements of both the ’90s ska/punk sound and the modern hardcore-influenced pop-punk. We’ve always believed that long-term success comes to bands who write honest music and don’t just try to follow ‘what’s in.’”
Dave Lockstep, frontman for Indy’s own Lockstep: “Our style blends together punk, ska, reggae and two-tone. We’ve been together about a year, though most of us have been in other punk bands around the city. There’s been a bigger national popularity with ska, and with that there’s bound to be some local bands that are going to follow suit, so we’re seeing a lot more around the city these days. We try not to sound necessarily like the standard third wave ska bands. We’re trying to do something that melds what the Clash did when they tried reggae.”
Bloomington’s Coinslot has been around six years. Here’s bassist Pete: “Well, for three-fifths of the band, ska has been a big part of our musical influences. It’s really the attitude that comes with this style of music that we are most attracted too. The happy-go-luckiness of it, combined with its ability to have both raw energy and a really awesome groove. And who doesn’t like horns? We like to take that attitude and work it into our own songs and shows.”