Although tomes have been written about punk in Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Chicago, no widely-available documentaries or books chronicle the national impact of the Indianapolis scene. But if anyone set about writing the history of Indianapolis punk, promoter and manager Marvin P. Goldstein would surely be included among the non-musicians who supported the scene in its early years.
The name Marvin P. Goldstein is associated with the first and second waves of punk music in Indianapolis. If a punk band came through Indianapolis in the late '70s or '80s, chances are Goldstein was responsible.
"I began sneaking into the Jewish Community Center's 'Teenville' nights and seeing local garage bands play," Goldstein says. "I first heard about punk from reading Creem magazine while still in high school around 1975. As soon as I heard about the Ramones in 1976, I never looked back."
After being infected with Ramones-mania, Goldstein began to manage The Latex Novelties, the first punk band to call Indianapolis home. Shortly after, he began managing bands, setting up shows for bands like The Repellents, Zero Boys and Sloppy Seconds.
"In the beginning," Goldstein says, "the punk scene in Indianapolis was very small. It was focused around a handful of bands, clubs and scenesters. We had to make it happen for ourselves if we were to develop a scene here. I first saw the Ramones play at the Vogue in 1979, and that kind of cemented the chances of a scene developing."
Goldstein took time off from promoting and managing in the '90s so that he could raise his family. The scene moved on without him, but it never took off like it should have. Through the punk rebirth of 1994, the Indianapolis punk scene struggled to stay afloat despite the mainstream popularity of bands such as Rancid, Nirvana and Green Day. Two years ago, after a divorce, Goldstein decided to get back into the punk rock ring. But he's found that the rules have changed.
"Back then, we didn't work with big time agents," Goldstein says. "It was bands contacting each other and other promoters, doing grassroots promotion." These days, most bands tour exclusively through tour managers who tend to bog down the touring experience just as much as they help out. But technology has changed the scene, too, as far as Goldstein sees it. "I feel with the proliferation of the Internet, things have become considerably easier. MySpace is a wonderful way of networking on an international level."
As for the specifics of the local scene, Goldstein has a few concerns and ideas: "I feel that there are too many promoters, and not enough communication between them. There is more focus on quantity of shows being booked and too much competition between promoters and clubs. An independent promoters' coalition of sorts would be a great idea for this city to improve communications, and would help with more organized events."
Now that he's back in the game, Goldstein plans to soldier on. He has a cell phone now and a MySpace (myspace.com/zerompg) page. While he is selective about which bands he books, he is planning to increase the number of shows he does in the near future to perhaps a monthly or bi-monthly level. A few newer bands, namely Flamingo Nosebleed and Lockstep, have caught his attention since he restarted his career, so look out for newer bands on his bills in addition to the classics. His next show, hosted in cahoots with Punk Rock Night, is The Latex Novelties' now-annual New Year's Eve Bash at the Historic Melody Inn with Atomic Bombay and the DownFi.