America Owns the Moon
The Melody Inn
Friday, Sept. 1
Indianapolis celebrated the dissolution of one of its favorite sons on Friday night, with the final show of America Owns The Moon. The longtime darlings of the Indy pop-punk circuit said farewell to a packed house at the Melody Inn (as well as a few lonely souls kept outdoors due to fire code restrictions). The gig was the culmination of nearly a decade on the scene for AOTM, and the band is now parting ways due to bass player and founding member Ben Messer’s move to California.
“They were one of the few bands to gather fans from many different scenes: punk, rock, hardcore and just music lovers,” said Jeb Banner, operator of the Musical Family Tree Web site, a documentary project of Indiana rock music. “I think a Beatles or Elvis Costello fan could appreciate them as much as a Sex Pistols or Iron Maiden fan; they had real crossover appeal, catchy without being commercial in any way. Almost everyone who heard them realized they were special, the songwriting, playing, the stage presence.”
If AOTM was milking its last stage appearance, the crowd certainly didn’t seem to mind. Playing 28 songs, apparently its entire catalog, the group’s set approached the two-hour mark. While some rustiness was evident, the boys in the band chose to plow through the problems by working out the kinks in a stop and start fashion.
The sound was sometimes as delicate and whimsical as a Big Star power ballad at one moment, only to let out a guttural punk growl the next. AOTM demonstrated its unmistakable gift for nabbing melodies, as well as a musicianship that reflected a disparate body of influences.
The night also seemed to be a cultural and social event of the highest priority. Local musicians, producers and promoters mingled amongst old fans and newcomers, gelling into a heart-warming panorama of dramatic facial hair and obscure punk rock T-shirts.
“It was a huge success,” commented Banner after the show. “I talked to Chris [Taylor, AOTM’s singer/guitarist] afterwards and he is definitely continuing on with music. I mean how can he not? Maybe they’ll just get a new bass player and keep AOTM together, or maybe he’ll start a whole new thing. I would love to hear him do a quiet acoustic album. I think that would be really cool. Really, the guy could do spoken word and I would come see it.”