Gentleman Caller, Paleo,
These United States
The Irving Theatre
Saturday, July 22
This past Saturday was the third show for the reopened Irving Theatre. The red lights of the theater’s sign above the Irvington neighborhood are beginning to twinkle again after being dormant for over a decade.
Even though those lights only spell, “IR … I … G,” new owners Michael McAtee, 25, and Joe Wisner, 26, have set in motion a worthy project. The Irving is an Indianapolis landmark, with its retro sign looming over East Washington Street and its lengthy history.
The Irving was built in 1913 by the Idle Hour Amusement Company to show top notch Hollywood cinema, which it did until the ’70s when it became a porn theater known as the Festival. When the Festival closed, the Irving existed again, briefly, as a second-run screen until the doors shut in 1994. Last month, it re-opened as an indie-rock venue, with a stated goal of becoming a community center, studio space, art, music and theater venue. McAtee remarked that he wants his venue to be a place “where the Flaming Lips might play.”
Paleo and These United States, a pair of old friends and one-man bands from the D.C. area, played first. Playing a breezy sort of folk, which sounded like a neutered take on Dylan’s “From a Buick 6,” These United States (Jesse Elliot) was a handsome and affable talent, forgettable and magnetizing at the same time. Paleo (Dave Strackany) was a harsher permutation on Elliot’s sound and style.
Gentleman Caller, one of Indiana’s great bands, played its usual blend of alt-country and slowcore rock. Stripped down for the evening, Kenny Childers’ crew was sweetly evocative on this eve and displayed its distinguished Midwestern songcraft.
“I see this summer as an extended soundcheck,” McAtee said Saturday night. The soundcheck in the revamped Irving was good; here’s hoping for a little more action.