The night began with The Clutter, a Lafayette trio that plays music in the vein of Muse with a bit of Weezer thrown in for good measure. The band performed a solid set of rock music before handing the stage over to the night’s folk acts.
The first of those two acts was Cleveland folk punk artist Joshua Stephens, who immediately took to the floor with his acoustic guitar as soon as The Clutter wrapped up their set. This was an incredibly smart move, as doing so grabbed the crowd’s attention before they could wander out the door for fresh air. The chunk of the audience that remained gathered around Stephens, ready with wood blocks, cow bells and tambourines they had received from Stephens prior to the show. Stephens opted to play his set unplugged while encouraging those with the instruments to play along while he belted out his songs and soldiered on through the set of acoustic folk punk music after breaking several strings on two different guitars.
From breaking strings to breaking a nail, the second folk act, Brooklyn indie folk artist Nathan Leigh, carried on despite tiny amounts of blood seeping from his nail broken during the set. Armed with only an electric guitar and a harmonica, the kids in the crowd danced along to his upbeat music.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone skank to my music,” said Leigh from the stage after finishing his bouncy song “The Glamorous Life.”
However, the highlight of the set came during a much quieter song that Leigh wrote about a lyricist who rejected his songs after a series of back-and-forth emails. After Leigh explained the back story, the crowd cheered after the opening line of “You can take this job, Rob, and shove it.” Leigh tours frequently and often visits Indianapolis, but has so far only played to a small handful of people before the Flatfoot show. With a bigger crowd in attendance this time, Leigh soaked up the enthusiasm of the kids, evident from the smile on his face as he instructed everyone watching on how to sing along to the songs; later, he rode on a fan’s shoulders into the crowd during his last song.
The energy of the crowd remained consistent throughout the night, and part of the thanks goes to the girls in No Direction, who were one of those rare bands that will actually remain present for all the other bands they share a show with. Their live set is beginning to match that energy, as they come out of the shell morewith every set of pop punk they play. Now if only they can get their parents to buy the some better gear, they’ll be on the right path.
The politically charged punk set of The Gitmos was preluded by the presence of a red, white and blue podium set up on the stage and rumors of The Gitmos being a “tea party punk band.” Any worries caused by this rumor, however, were quickly forgotten once the older band ripped into the first song of their set of Dead Kennedys-inspired political punk rock. The lead singer stood behind the podium dressed like Uncle Sam while the rest of the band dressed like terrorists. Within the first couple songs of the set, the front man distributed picket signs with various slogans such as “Osama is still alive,” “marijuana is dangerous,” and “gun bands reduce crime.” Aside from political agendas being delivered to a crowd not completely old enough to vote yet, their blisteringly-paced set of punk rock decrying the government, Wall Street bankers, and more was well-received. The degree of parody in their set and stage presence is still rather questionable, but it made for a memorable and entertaining set.
Finally, Chicago Celtic punk rockers Flatfoot 56 took the stage on the first night of their six-week tour in support of the new album Toil. Bagpipes and mandolins accompanied waves of distorted guitars and aggressive drums on nearly every song of their energetic set. The crowd matched the band’s energy until it finally spilled onto the stage during crowd favorite “Courage.” Flatfoot debuted several new songs from their latest album during the show. The best song of the new batch, and one of the highlights of the set, was “Live or Die Trying,” which should definitely be on live set rotation for some time to come.
After ending the set with their cover of Americana classic “I’ll Fly Away” and an encore of “Surfin’ Bird,” fronted by the band’s jokester drummer, Flatfoot ended with their traditional closer of "Amazing Grace." Throughout the set, the enormously tall Bell Brothers towered over the ravenous crowd, above the stage divers, circle pits, crowd surfing and people hanging from the ceiling. When the night ends in circle pits, it’s safe to assume it was a satisfying show.
[Music] DJs + Dancing