If you followed our coverage of Chaos Fest and Mutant Fest earlier this summer, it should come as no surprise that Bloomington is a DIY mecca in the summer. This time around, the festival of choice is Monon Day, a one-day, three-house extravaganza filled with local favorites like Follies, Eric Ayotte, KP and Me and Caligula’s Birthday Party.
Monon Day takes place on the Southside of town at Crush Grove (1404 S. Walnut St.), The Cram (1316 S. Walnut St.) and The Switchyard (1417 S. Monon St.). This annual event takes place at the very beginning of the school year, bringing together students and townies alike. This free, all-ages fest is being held this Saturday, August 22, and you’ll be hearing good tunes from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m.
We spoke with Alex Molica, one of the festival organizers and residents at Crush Grove, about the logistics, history and secrets behind Monon Day.
NUVO: Tell me the history of Monon Day. How many years has it been a thing? What are some notable bands that have played? How did it come about?
Alex: It's been a thing since the beginning of time. Since I can remember anyway. Some notable bands from the previous years were Sweatermeat, Chives, Raw McCartney, the Icks and John Flannelly. It became a thing because Jared Coyle and I run Crush Grove and John Flannelly, who runs The Cram (at the time was called the Cream), and Tim Baker, who runs the Switchyard, all wanted to do something together because we all run house show venues, and we thought it would be neat to have a collaborative festival of house venues.
We are in a area that has at least 10 house venues in a three or four block radius and we thought it would be neat to have a festival that showed Bloomington that these venues are out there if you just look out your own back door. We think of it as creating our own scene because we want to go to shows where we would feel welcome and go to shows that we would want to go to.
NUVO: What are some things you guys do to keep it fresh every year (like what’re you doing to switch things up this year)?
Alex: Well, last year, a good majority of the bands last year were from out of town like Indianapolis, Louisville and Kalamazoo. But this year, other than Doubting Thomas Cruize Control (Brooklyn) and Ground Water Mafia (Nashville), all the bands are 100 percent local. That's how we changed it up this year. Also, we changed the times from 4 p.m. to midnight to 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. with the addition of a 7-8 p.m. dinner break.
NUVO: What kinds of bands can you expect to find at Monon Day this year?
Alex: You can expect everything from acoustic folk to sludge metal to weirdo electronica to garage punk.
NUVO: Tell me the logistics of Monon Day. How do you guys stay organized? What sort of planning/promotion happens prior to the event? Basically, how do you guys keep such a festival from getting out of hand?
Alex: Planning starts in May and is kept through monthly meetings. These meetings cover everything from who is playing to who is printing flyers and what kind of flavor of popcorn to get.
The idea is we would like the bands/acts playing to play the venue they would least likely play. That way, the people that usually attend the Cram or the Switchyard or Crush Grove would get a taste of music they'd never seen. While the event is happening, the hosts of each venue make periodic checks to make sure the schedule is running smoothly. We set it up in 15-minute start times at the top, quarter and bottom of the hour with half-hour sets, so that a person attending the fest would be able to see every band for at least 15 minutes.
NUVO: How do you guys choose which bands you want to play each year?
Alex: Each house gets seven to eight artists of their choosing with the approval of the others, and the idea is to try to not put them at the venue they were booked by. With Switchyard being mostly acoustic with exception, it proves difficult, but that's how we do it. It’s basically a free-for-all.
NUVO: What are you most excited for and most worried for this year?
Alex: Most excited for the excitement. Most worried for the draw, but both of these things were what I was worried about for the last 12 Monon Days.