If you've made it this far in our Year in Review you'll notice a couple of themes: RFRA, Pence, doom, destruction, etc. Well, you'll not entirely escape that in the music section, but I do have several other subjects to touch on: locally released music, cats, secrets, pot roast. Yup, it's been another predictably wacky and wild year in the land of local music.
Continue flipping pages and you'll find Kyle Long's meditation on a year in artistic dissent in Indy and a look at the year in local hip-hop by Adam Lukach, plus some of our favorite shots from the year in live local music.
Best fundraising effort by tiniest being
She was already my favorite tiny space creature, but Lil Bub and her owner Mike Bridavsky (Russian Recording, Memory Map) did more than just look adorable in 2015. She 1) made an album (thanks to a major assist from Matt Tobey of Matty Pop Chart/Good Luck) and 2) raised several hundred thousand dollars for special needs pets. The album came out on Joyful Noise Recordings and was celebrated at Landlocked Music in Bloomington, basically sealing the deal as the most adorable uber-Hoosier album of all time.
Best big beautiful box
Holding the box containing The Margot and The Nuclear So and So's rarities collection The Bride on The Boxcar is holding a piece of Indianapolis music history in your hands. Thanks to Joyful Noise Recordings for the loving salute to 10 years of Margot.
Best long anniversary
Every time I darken LUNA's doorstep, I can feel my heart grow three sizes inside my chest, and this year was one of the SoBro shop's best, with a full year of 20th anniversary programming, special releases and other goodies threaded throughout their calendar. Highlights: Low in-store performance and the Live at LUNA Lathe-Cut 7" box set. The 20th anniversary celebrations started in October of 2014 and continued through the year. Now, on to year 21! Congrats to the little record store at 52nd and College: Now I can buy you a beer in one of those fancy new pint glasses you've got on hand.
Best big venue with promise
Lest we forget, The Freaking Rolling Stones played at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the Fourth of July and — even though the show had its issues (exorbitant ticket prices, an angled field that made seeing the stage difficult) — it was pretty glorious. I spent last Wednesday talking the ear off a new friend (after I found out he works at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway) with my wishlist for 2016 concerts. Bruce Springsteen? Elton John? The Flaming Lips and Miley Cyrus, together? It's all possible at the best new big venue for shows that's actually really super historic.
Best place to spend a Monday night
It's not exactly a secret that the DoItIndy Radio Hour is a fun way to spend your Monday nights enjoying local tunes. It might be a secret that a lot of times you can attend these broadcasts, which are live from Fountain Square's Grove Haus every Monday. I stopped in a few times in 2015 and absolutely luxuriated in the beautiful space and beautiful tunes. Congrats on 100 shows, MP and Scott.
Best album to keep in the car
S.M. Wolf's Neon Debris. Game over.
Most fun had reporting
I spent several days in January with the Big Damn Band as they prepared for the release of So Delicious, the first contemporary project out on Yazoo Records, well, ever. That time included sitting in at the video premiere for "Pot Roast and Kisses" at the Melody Inn; the vid featured a host of local music and burlesque characters from Indy, many of whom attended the vid's premiere party.
Best new fest
I've written a ton about the run-up to and success of Oreo Jones' hip-hop fest Chreece, which went down in one perfect day in Fountain Square this August. (There's more about that on page 17 by Adam Lukach.) I posted up on the rocky fountain in the middle of the Square for almost two hours watching the DJ sets on the plaza and the huge masses of humanity ping-pong from White Rabbit to Hi-Fi to Joyful Noise to Pizza King to GPC and back again. It was bliss.
Worst day to be a local music fan
As things shook down post-RFRA, bands and performers began canceling their Indy shows in protest of Hoosier buffoonery, I remember sitting at my desk looking at the Wilco cancellation emails roll in with a pit in my stomach. It's already notoriously hard to get big name artists to stop in Indy because of the proximity of Chicago, Louisville and Cincy. Would our state's human rights' issues make experiencing culture harder? Damn.
Best day to be a local music fan
Corollary to the last point: RFRA was met with strong, loud opposition in Indianapolis, including a statement signed by 60 local music labels, studios, artists and other music entities that said, in part:
"Some businesses and individuals have taken action to suspend or reduce participation in Indiana's economy. While this sort of action is well-intended to place pressure on government leaders to repeal or fix this law, we feel an isolationist approach can sometimes be misguided. As music companies, we cherish the power which music and art can have in promoting social progress. We believe cultural events can be a great opportunity to put a glaring spotlight on injustice. We will continue to proudly call Indiana home, and we call on others in the arts community to address this issue constructively. To musicians with events scheduled in Indiana — please follow through and perform. While canceling shows is one way to protest, a greater statement can be made by coming here and using your art to influence the policy debate that is occurring locally. You can insist that the venue you play publicly states that they will not discriminate under any circumstances. If the venue won't do that, rebook your show with another venue that will. Your performance can be a rally. We need your support locally."
I was — and am — proud. Hear, hear!
On to a better, brighter, 2016.