Naptown Juke Stomp
The Dockers, Cocaine Wolves, Action Strasse, Zero Boys, Mandy Marie and the Cool Hand Lukes
After playing a few numbers for the opening set of the Naptown Juke Stomp alongside his fellow Zero Boys, Paul Mahern exhorted the crowd to get a little more passionate, telling us that 90 percent of the energy of a rock show comes from the audience. Mahern and the rest of the guys were clearly giving above and beyond their 10 percent, but too many people were standing in the wings with their hands in their pockets. It took Mahern a few turns around the floor to get a proper mosh pit going, before jumping back up on stage for a burn-it-up rendition of “Tryin’ Harder.” It was classic stuff, exactly the kind of rock and roll theatrics that Indy sorely needs more of.
Now, the inclusion of an early Zero Boys set last Friday at Radio Radio — a secret (yeah, right) set tacked on to the Juke Stomp — should’ve spelled doom for the four bands that had to follow. But actually, it turned into a gloriously rip-roaring showcase of all that is good and healthy in Indy rock right now. It was gratifying to see so many people crammed into the club, a who’s who of Indianapolis taste makers and glitterati who stuck with it to the very end, which was a drunkenly out of control set by Mandy Marie and the Cool Hand Lukes.
While across town the Margots were rocking for Riley, in Fountain Square Radio Radio was rocking for Indy, demonstrating why the suckitude of the local scene is way exaggerated.
The Cocaine Wolves came on after the Zero Boys, and just put their noses down and rocked the house. Jim Sizemore and Mike Schull are a glorious guitar duo flinging fantastic Gibson goodness in the crowd while plowing through some of the best hard rock anthems anybody is doing around these parts. “Balls City” is destined for classic status, and should have a place on everybody’s iPod before summer gets here. Bassist Steve Haynes is a sexy MF who, even though nearly hidden by his Big Ol' Thunderbird, has almost every signature rock move down, seducing the crowd with his ass-shaking badness.
The Dockers, who mine a punk-rock vein between the Dead Milkmen and Dead Kennedys, made for a killer-diller palate cleanser. They cleared the way for Vess Ruhtenberg and Action Strasse to engage in a bit of metropolitan pop-rock. It’s some of the best stuff that Vess has done since the demise of United States Three. As an added bonus, it’s always a joy to see him and John Zeps duel on the guitar.
In the back smoking lot just before her set, Mandy Marie was holding court. Surrounded by band members, fans and well-wishers, she looked and acted like Indy’s own Queen of the Honky-Tonk. Playing last on a five-band bill, they had plenty of time for heavy alcohol consumption. But like true drunken hillbillies, they came on and rocked out harder than all the bands that preceded them. Mandy was giving it hard to the crowd, while Mo Foster just keeps proving why he’s probably the finest stand-up bass player Indy’s seen in forever.
The fact that Mandy Marie can come on in the wee hours after incredible, top-of-their-game sets by four of Indianapolis’ finest and not only rock, but completely own the night, is a testament to how good this band is. Naptown Juke Stomp is a great idea that should keep on keepin’ on, providing the best one-stop cross sampler of all the best we got here in this cornpatch. More, please.