Loud, boisterous and incredibly successful, “the world's greatest rock ’n’ roll dueling piano show" — Howl at the Moon — is set to open in Indianapolis Wednesday, June 23 at 7 p.m. The 11th location in a chain that spans the country, from Hollywood to Baltimore, the Indianapolis Howl hopes to continue a tradition of rampant fanaticism among its patrons. Last Wednesday, at a special premiere, Howl unveiled its new location, situated behind Jillian's at 20 E. Georgia St.
The entire club, from the tables to the bar itself, is focused around a pair of baby grand pianos played by an entertainingly bizarre combination of musicians and comedians. These entertainers are chosen from around the country and specially trained to work in Howl's unique environment. While the dueling pianos are center stage, it's easy to forget that the top 40, classic rock and rap hits filling the air are just covers. Impeccably performed and undeniably catchy, the music had the audience dancing and singing along — which was exactly the point.
Far from a spectator's bar, Howl encourages audience participation in every part of the show, from song requests to the actual singing. They even pull the bartenders and servers away from their duties once an hour for “showtime,” a choreographed dance routine on the stage and the bar. While the irrational exuberance of it all seemed silly at first, like being trapped in the middle of a Barney sing-along, the contagious enthusiasm of the hosts soon had even the stodgiest patrons on their feet.
Getting the audience loosened up was sped along by the Howl's dangerous drinks. One of their specialties — which they refer to as “getting boned” — is 5 ounces of premium liquor in a single drink, which is sold just one to a customer. Another favorite is the “bucket of booze,” an 86 ounce bucket filled with 8 to 10 ounces of liquor in different flavors of sweet, fruity mixers. Jay Silberman, marketing and promotions director for Howl, said that these sweet, liquor-based “girly drinks” as well as the casual environment appeals to a female demographic. At many locations, there can be as many as seven women for every one man, and bachelorette parties can account for nearly 50 percent of the crowd.
Howl's biggest drawback was the size of the crowd, which was not unusual, according to Silberman, who said that they expect to reach capacity every weekend within 45 days of opening. There was little room for standing, less for walking and almost no possibility of reaching the bar, even with bartenders working blindingly fast to fill orders. So if you like your bars loud, busy, irrefutably entertaining and packed with women, Howl at the Moon is a truly wild time.