It wasn't supposed to be like this.
Tuesday's show at the 5th Quarter was expected to be just another great chance to see a national band in an intimate setting, and Bulletwolf was the planned opening act. When I'd purchased my ticket a few weeks ago, my plan was to see the band perform and then interview them afterward.
But Bulletwolf frontman Jeremy “Worm” Dreher's death this weekend made the night different, and in the hearts and minds of his friends and fans, vastly more important.
“If you knew Jeremy, do everyone a favor and talk to each other about him,” Jason Kindred told the crowd, dedicating the show to him before they played the first song of the night. “Make this room filled with his life.”
And the fans who packed the venue did just that. As first Void King, then Kvlthammer and finally New Orleans' own Crowbar took the stage, the audience aborbed the music while talking to each other about a fallen friend. The overwhelming message was that life is short — you need to live it while you can with the people you care about, something that Dreher himself did with relish.
“When I first met him it was like 2003 when he played with Eyes of Jade in Muncie, and it was just straight energy the whole fucking time ” Void King lead guitarist Tommy Miller*** told me after the show. “He wasn't [necessarily] the best bass player, but he always took it straight up your ass.”
The bands on the bill Tuesday night all brought that same consistent level of energy to their performances. Void King, added to the show on a day's notice, played a blistering seven-song set which showcased deep riffs and strong vocals, including material off their upcoming album.
Then Kvlthammer took the stage, Nate Olp invoking Dreher's memory. “When someone dies, all you can do is take all the positive shit you got from him — feel every good feeling you got from him — take from that and tell everyone about it. Teach everyone the good shit. Keep that going, that's how you keep him going.” Their thundering performance which followed clearly showcased how they've earned a reputation for being among Indianapolis' metal elite, opening with the scorching “Don't Try” and never letting up.
Crowbar finished out the night by playing for 90 minutes, including the entirety of their legendary album Broken Glass, the title track of which they hadn't played on a live tour in 20 years. By the time they closed out their encore with an appropriately sludgy cover of Led Zeppelin's “No Quarter,” the energy was palpable. And those in attendance came away with new memories to tie to the old ones they had of Dreher and Bulletwolf, as 5th Quarter owner Mona DeMaggio summed up in a Facebook post this morning.
“The best thing was I saw everyone in the room hugging, showing love in a big kind of way,” she wrote. “Many people were telling everyone that they loved each other. I hate that it takes an incident to make people come together like this but it was all there last night.”
That's what sets Indianapolis' music scene apart from others I've experienced — no matter what genre you listen to or play, on a regular basis, this city's music fans care about each other, and the musicians build on that to create a sense of competition and collaboration which is all too rare. Take the challenge to embrace that, as fans, by choosing to attend more local shows and support what Dreher and so many others stand for.
***The original version of this review mistakenly attributed Tommy Miller's quote to singer Jason Kindred.