Punk Rock Roundup, March 2009 

Earlier this month, Indy.com ran a cover story called "A Minor Setback" about the demise of the Music Mill and the current state of the local all-ages scene. As usual, the paper missed the mark, and here's why.

"I Hope This is Goodbye ... "

In theory, the Music Mill (which closed its doors for good at the close of February) had a good thing going: They were one of the few venues in the city to have an 18-and-up policy regarding their concerts. With Indiana's strict Protestant drinking laws, I can only imagine all the legal hoops they needed to jump through in order to reach the 18-plus status.

As with most good things, however, the Music Mill was too good to be true. Whoever did most of the booking at the 750-plus capacity venue did not utilize the 18-plus status at all. A glance at the roster for any given month would yield only lame, washed-up acts from the mid '90s or tepid jazz acts, none of which would attract anyone under the age of 30, let alone any 18 year olds.

Honestly, do you know any 18 year olds willing to drive to the far-Northside to see Shawn Mullins? I didn't think so. The only up-and-coming band that ever seemed to play there were local Christian screamo act Haste The Day. I'm sure the Music Mill could have been a great venue, if they hadn't squandered what they had going. The Music Mill is dead and no one cares.

"If the Kids are United ... "

The Indy.com story rightly praised Stephen Zumbrun and his Piradical Productions for running the Central Space (aka ES Jungle) in Broad Ripple.

The fact that the ES Jungle is in Broad Ripple is a huge boon to the local scene, which has suffered from being in a decentralized, sprawling city. Places like the Sanctuary in Fishers are nice for people who live in suburbs, but suburban venues do no favors for the local scene. Theaters like the Emerson, Irving and Egyptian Room are fine for huge shows that draw 400 people or more, but many up-and-coming bands wouldn't draw well enough to cover the cost of renting those spaces.

The ES Jungle is perfect for shows that will draw 100-200 people, like the epic Zero Boys show last month. Also, Zumbrun is easy to work with, so if you feel so inclined, you could easily book a show through him at the ES Jungle. At the very least, check out their Web site at myspace.com/piradicalproductions.

"I Got a Basement Full of Booze ... "

Maybe it's for the best, but the Indy.com piece failed to mention the most fundamental of all-ages spaces: basements. Those who know me know that I have a bias towards basements: I run Moria, which is housed in one half of a basement that actually contains two venues (the other being the recently relocated Halloween House).

I cannot stress enough the sense of community that a basement venue engenders. While basement venues are risky in their own right, they offer opportunities to local and touring bands that even smaller venues cannot. Low costs put more money in the hands of the bands, even for shows with a low turnout.

The wide creative diversity of house venues in Indianapolis means that a wide range of bands that would otherwise drive right from Chicago to Ohio now have a place to play (and sometimes stay). 1511 and Casa Del Kotex cater to mostly hard-core and metal bands, The Ferguson House and The Empty Bucket do mostly indie rock shows and the Halloween House and Moria host punk and ska shows.

So while some people are sobbing over the fact that they can't watch Shawn Mullins at the Music Mill anymore, I'll be moshing in some basement or at the ES Jungle to Sorely Trying Days or Bolth. Perhaps changes in state law will open up bar shows to kids in the future, but until then, I'm going to enjoy the scene that we have.

CD review

Good Luck

Into Lake Griffy


Four stars

If you haven't heard these Bloomington rockers then you need to head to your local basement venue and catch them before they get huge! GL mixes the subtle sweetness of The Weakerthans with a raw, organic, punk rock mentality. Each song is structured in a very natural way that jumps out at the listener but without being contrived or showy. Lake Griffy is definitely one of the best albums to come out of Indiana in a while.

Sounds like: The Anniversary, The Promise Ring

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