The Midwest Music Summit, now in its fourth year, presents an odd conundrum for Indy’s music fans: too many good shows going on at the same time to see every band you want to see. How often in the pages of this publication and on the virtual pages of discussion boards have we seen phrases like “Light week for shows” or “Why aren’t there any good bands playing this weekend?” Well, buck up, Mr. and Ms. Curmudgeonly Scenester, because there are fantastic bands playing at all times at venues all over Broad Ripple and beyond.
This is the single best weekend of the year to be a music fan in this city. Keep seeing some of the same local band names on fliers and marquees but never bothered to check them out? Wondered about the up-and-coming national band but local commercial radio ignores them? Ever wanted to wake up Sunday morning face down in a puddle outside the Alley Cat and not know how you got there?
Then gosh, are you in for a treat.
Some 250 bands and dozens of independent and bloodsucking corporate, er, national music industry professionals will descend upon Indianapolis like so many cicadas with guitar cases and hangovers in what is quickly coming to rival the likes of South by Southwest and the Putnam County Fair. Replace animal husbandry and 4-H quilting competitions with fascinating panel discussions on topics like breaking unknown artists to radio, the advantages of independent record labels, and licensing your music to video games, and more musical performances than you could hope to see in three days, and you’ve got yourself the MMS.
There are two ways to participate as a fan: either on a show-by-show basis, picking your ideal one or two destinations for an evening and paying standard cover as you go, or by springing for an official badge. If you find yourself with the time, someone to watch the kids, and maybe a spare vacation day to use on Friday, a badge is definitely the way to go as it grants you access to all of the parties (except for the really awesome super-private industry know-it-all schmoozing orgies), all of the shows you can manage to attend, and the panel discussions and trade show. But either way, you’re sure to get your money’s worth as-at the very least-you can’t say there isn’t anything interesting going on all weekend.
An added benefit of the MMS is that you get the chance to see some of your favorite locals playing alongside some of the most promising independent and newly-signed national bands. How will your buddies stack up against the established touring acts? Who’s ready for prime time and who needs to hit the practice room? Besides, how many times are the likes of Slim Moon, Calvin Johnson, Archer Prewitt, BR549, VHS or Beta, Ambulance LTD, The Sights, and The Explosion all going to be wandering around one small area of town?
Truly the best thing about this weekend is that you can walk into almost any club in Broad Ripple-plus Birdy’s, The Melody Inn, The House, The Emerson and more-and hear something new and different. And if you’re not wild about what you’re hearing, much like the old cliche about Indiana weather, wait five minutes and it will change. Now if only they’ll sell deep fried candy bars on sticks.