“Welcome to my $30,000 bath.” Rob Mason, promoter of the Indianapolis Metal Fest II, was not having a good night. “For the record, we did get the permit.” He holds it up as proof. The show was to have been held inside the cavernous Marquee Convention Center, a reclaimed, Wal-Mart-esque warehouse. But according to an announcement by Mason, code violations at the venue kept the event from being held as planned inside the venue. The Man did allow Mason to set-up in the parking lot. Thus, after a madcap scramble to move everything outside, metal ruled over a parking lot off of West 38th Street.
When I arrived at the show, there was mass chaos and confusion beyond what one would expect at a typical metal show — which means hysteria at pre-World War II levels. A flimsy caution tape separated those who had paid from those who hadn’t.
But the main performers battled through the chaos and gave the assembled parking lot crowd memorable performances. Level-C rocked mightily. Wykked Witch featured a singer that actually sounded like a wicked witch. Shadowside was a pleasant surprise: a Brazilian band with a decent stage show and a lead singer with fine operatic vocals.
LA’s Divine Heresy and Canada’s Kittie worked the crowd into a frenzy, but by the time the best band in the line-up arrived, Sweden’s Mustasch, many had left. Everything that could go wrong did for this band playing their very first American gig. The loaner instruments were inferior, particularly that given to frontman Ralf Gyllenhammar, whose guitar wouldn’t stay in tune. Professionals that they are, they didn’t let disappointment and frustration get the best of them, pulling out a roaring set of stoner-friendly anthems. “Thank you, Indianapolis,” Gyllenhammar said during the last number. “You have let me fulfill my dream of playing guitar in America!” It was a bittersweet ending to a dream gone wrong.
With a hip-hop festival already claiming the parking lot Saturday, the second day of the event was cancelled. Fest headliner Green Jelly was at least able to arrange a backup gig at Zanies Too. The bottom line is an enterprising young promoter is screwed six ways to Sunday, and he probably won’t get a satisfactory resolution to the whole mess.