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Mass Ave Festivall: A Jam Band Fest for All

Summer in Indianapolis is slowly waning. The days are getting shorter and shorter; the sun is losing potency, and each day the wind blows harder and the temperature dips just a little bit more. Soon the leaves will be changing colors, and before too long the first snow will put Central Indiana in a deep freeze. But for now, the sun is still shining and it doesn’t get dark until 8:00, plenty of time to get out and experience some Indianapolis nightlife. Stuck at the tail end of the good weather is an Indianapolis music festival that looks to take full advantage of the dregs of the dying season: the Mass Ave Festivall.

Video of Brainchild covering “Jessica” live; Brainchild will be playing at the Mass Ave Festivall in Indianapolis

 

And yes, that is the Mass Ave Festivall, as in an Indianapolis festival for all. This low key, casual outdoor event will take place this coming Saturday, September 25 at 748 N Massachusetts Avenue (close to the Survive Alive Village and the Indy Fringe Festival‘s music tent); the Mass Ave Festivall will be a showcase of some of the coolest jam/rock/jazz bands from around Central Indiana. Sponsored by NUVO Newsweekly, the Mass Ave Festivall provides a cheaper, homegrown alternative to bigger music festivals like Lollapalooza, Coachella, and South by Southwest. The first Mass Ave Festivall comes on the heels of big name Indianapolis events like the 2010 Indy Jazz Fest, but it should provide a totally different atmosphere and lineup from anything else in Indianapolis.

Video of The Twin Cats performing live at The Vogue in Indianapolis; The Twin Cats will be playing at the Mass Ave Festivall

 

This is the first year for the Mass Ave Festivall, and the success of this year’s event will influence future Mass Ave Festivalls. The Indianapolis event is the brainchild of Michael Koslow; in an interview with NUVO, Koslow cites Mass Ave as “prominent in the art and performing arts scene,” but a little lacking in the local music department, with “giant exceptions of the Chatterbox Jazz Club and the Rathskeller Restaurant;” the Mass Ave Festivall looks to change all that. The Indianapolis music festival is intended to “make it possible to check out 10 hours of continuous music, or take a break and check out an [Indianapolis park].” The Mass Ave Festivall will provide plenty of opportunities for visitors to break out and explore the Circle City; it’s located in one of the central Indianapolis cultural districts, not too far from downtown Indianapolis.

Video of Ladymoon covering “Folsom Prison Blues” live; Ladymoon will be playing at the Mass Ave Festivall in Indianapolis

 

There are eight bands on the lineup of the first Mass Ave Festivall, most of them from Indianapolis or elsewhere in the Hoosier state. Indianapolis jazz/funk band Twin Cats, guitar rock trio Snake Oil Syndicate, rootsy jam band Namaste, Chesterton based cover/jam band Chester Brown, goofy Indianapolis lounge act The Leisure Kings, jazz shredders Brainchild, classic rock channelers Ultraviolet Hippopotamus, and psychedelic pop group Ladymoon will all be performing at the Mass Ave Festivall. Most of the groups are jam bands, but the good thing about jam bands is that you never know what’s going to pour out of their amps next. Bands will be performing from 1:00 to 11:00, plenty of time to pick and choose which performances you want to see.

Video of The Leisure Kings covering “Song Bird” live; The Leisure Kings will be playing at the Mass Ave Festivall in Indianapolis

 

Kicking things off is Snake Oil Syndicate, a three man band comprised of ex-members of Shaggy Wanda, Heavyfinger, and Jonasty. Their sound draws heavily on classic jam bands like Phish and the Allman Brothers, but Snake Oil Syndicate adds their own catchy riffage to the mix. At two, Chester Brown takes the stage. The band is definitely experienced; they’ve played over 1400 hundred shows and know hundreds of covers. If cover bands aren’t your thing, don’t worry:  Chester Brown has more than a few originals up their sleeve too. Indianapolis’ own Twin Cats play at 3:00. The Indianapolis band is a staple at Indianapolis music venues like The Mousetrap and Radio Radio, where they never fail to get a crowd going with their proggy breed of funky jazz. Then there’s Ladymoon, roaring out of the gates at 4:15. The band just finished recording their first official release, Resurface, so look for the power trio to be pretty amped up for the festival.

Video of Snake Oil Syndicate performing “Cheap Threads” live; Snake Oil Syndicate will be playing at the Mass Ave Festivall in Indianapolis

 

At 5:30, Ladymoon exits stage left and a group that’s a bit more laid back will take the stage. Namaste has been playing the Southern Indiana music scene for over ten years, and they’ve released two albums: 2001’s Catalyst and 2006’s Homecoming Kings. Their jammy take on roots rock and bluegrass should be a nice departure from the rest of the bands playing at the Mass Ave Festivall. Then there’s Brainchild, a four piece that melds the technicality of metal with the passion and improvisation of jazz and soul. The band is no stranger to music festivals: they’ve played at Wuhnurth, the Elandorf Music Festival, MelonKamp, and many more. In the second to last slot is The Leisure Kings, an Indianapolis band that’s always hilarious to watch. Fog machines, supreme showmanship, and fire breathing are all common sights at a Leisure Kings show. Wrapping up the night is Ultraviolet Hippopotamus, a many man band composed almost entirely of professional musicians and luthiers. The band’s diverse set of influences–reggae, funk, classic rock–should be the perfect way to close out a night of noodling solos.

Video of Ultraviolet Hippopotamus performing live; Ultraviolet Hippopotamus will be playing at the Mass Ave Festivall in Indianapolis

 

If you’d like to see the burgeoning days of a sure to be repeated Indianapolis festival, head out to the middle of Mass Ave on Saturday, September 25 for the first ever Mass Ave Festivall, a music festival for everyone. Tickets are on sale at LUNA Music or through the Mass Ave Festivall website. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the gate; Indianapolis children under 12 get in free, a bonus for parents who might otherwise not be able to attend. In addition to the music, there will also be face painting, three beers by Sun King Brewery on tap, a real time mural drawn during the festival, and food vendors. If you want to take a break, there’s plenty of Indianapolis restaurants, Indianapolis bars, and Indianapolis things to do nearby, so take full advantage of one of the most active Indianapolis cultural districts while you’re there. Don’t miss this chance to celebrate the sounds of the city with the Mass Ave Festivall on Saturday, September 25!

Mass Ave Festivall
748 N Massachusetts Ave
Indianapolis, IN 46204
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