Russell books the Emerson Theater, an all-ages club on Indy’s Eastside. Q:You mostly deal in Gatorade and Blow Pops while other bars are able to do live shows only because of bar sales. What keeps the Emerson alive?
Kids having nothing better to do in Indiana. Local bands really, they essentially keep the doors open. Without them, the place would have closed 10 years ago.
Q:How symbiotic would you say the Emerson and the around-the-corner watering hole J Clyde’s are to each other?
J Clyde’s doesn’t depend on our customers to stay open but they appreciate it. When we have a big crowd so do they, and everyone is happy. Having a bar with cheap drinks helps me out tremendously when I am trying to get over 21 people out to shows, too.
Q:Along the lines of the chicken/egg contention, do you book harder shows because that’s what the kids are into or are the kids into the harder stuff because that’s what you book?
I book whatever kids will come out to see. No country music.
Q:Because the Emerson is an all-ages club, have you ever felt that it’s unfairly scrutinized, even predating last year’s episode of unfairly ticketing concert-goers for loitering in front of the club?
It’s always the same with anything kids like to do. The authorities despise it.
Q:Have you experienced any further scrutiny or even harassment from the fallout of your vocal opposition to the ticketing?
Actually, the “heat” was on from East District (particularly just a few officers) for about four months afterwards. Parking tickets, threats, just anything they could think of to give me hell. An officer even got so mad that he literally had to search for something he could give me a ticket for, eventually he points to my truck, says he’s going to write me a ticket for being parked more than 12 inches from the curb (I’m not the greatest at parking in a hurry). We changed a few rules and eventually it fizzled out.
Q:Is there really anything about the crowds that would necessitate extra supervision?
No, the only people who ever give me problems are drunk people.
Q:Best and worst experiences with a visiting national act?
I almost got in a fistfight with Trapt. That was fun … umm. I caught the WHOLE band Dope and a female member of the audience (she had a mullet!) in the men’s restroom after the show — let your imagination run wild on that one. It’s usually pretty hard for me to have a good time when a national act is playing. Essentially as the promoter I end up being a babysitter for grown-up people who don’t know how to act.