WTTS and Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza have teamed up once again to present a WTTSRock To Read benefit at Old National Centre. Benefiting children’s reading programs at the Indianapolis Public Library the WTTS Rock To Read series features three concerts this year and Spoon performed the final and possibly most unforgettable of those shows. Below you can see a few shots of the show courtesy of Rhythm In Focus Photography.
Tuesday night, February 16th, Vance Joy played for Indianapolis fans and WTTS listeners at the Murat Theatre at Old National Centre. It was a chilly evening, the crowd was diverse, and the theatre was full of movement. While openers Armstrong Leigh and Jamie Lawson got the crowd ready for Vance Joy, he spent a few moments with some lucky WTTS listeners. Winners of “Lyrically Speaking” with Laura Duncan got to take part in a meet and greet backstage, which is just another perk of listening to WTTS.
Armstrong Leigh is a duo based in both Austin and Los Angeles. Jamie Lawson is a British, acoustic singer-songwriter who Ed Sheeran signed as the first artist on his label, Gingerbread Man Records. The audience very much enjoyed both bands, but was very anxious to see Vance Joy. Vance Joy (James Gabriel Keogh) is an Australian singer-songwriter whose 2013 single “Riptide” brought him into public focus. In fact, “Riptide” was WTTS’ song of the year in 2014. His album “Dream Your Life Away” was released in September 2014 and WTTS listeners were so fortunate that he stopped in town on his Fire And The Flood Tour.
The back of the stage held a giant canvas that almost looked like an abstract watercolor painting with all kinds of bright colors. In front of the color stood the letters of Vance Joy in white bulbs. The stage was set for the 6-piece band including drums, keys, bass, trumpet, saxophone/percussion, and Vance Joy himself. Four huge can lights shined toward the crowd with a warm yellow light even in the darkness between songs. It may have been freezing outside, but the theatre was cozy. When the theater lights went down, the crowd began to scream before he was even seen. The band took the stage and played beautiful atmospheric sounds for around a minute before the drums picked up and became more aggressive. Then, Vance Joy entered the stage, tall and statuesque (he’s 6’4”), with the letters of his name shining behind him. Wearing a simple black shirt and jeans, he let the music speak for him.
He opened the show with “Mess Is Mine” to a screaming, diverse crowd of young women, middle-aged couples, and everything in between. After he had played a few songs, something subtly striking happened. He finished a song, the crowd cheered, and the cheers lulled, as expected, before the next song. Then, however, this crowd felt they needed more. Vance Joy did not do anything from stage to warrant the next wave of cheers that came from the crowd; His audience just loves him that much and wanted him to know. Throughout the night, the audience clapped along or even sang along to Vance Joy’s music, but none of it was prompted. These Indianapolis fans knew and loved the music, and everyone in the room could feel it.
Highlights of the night included “From Afar,” “Wasted Time,” “Georgia,” and “Riptide.” When he brought out his ukulele for a few songs (including “Riptide”), he even paused to take a “selfie” of himself with the crowd on an audience member’s phone. The shock of the night was when Vance Joy and the band suddenly broke out into a cover of Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” mashed up with OMI’s “Cheerleader.” It was the perfect mix of songs to get all members of the crowd dancing, young and old. He closed with it and exited the stage. When he re-entered for his encore, he played “My Kind Of Man” and “Fire And The Flood.”
Vance Joy was happy to be in Indianapolis that night. He was delightful during the WTTS meet and greet. He smirked, during some songs, out of pure joy in playing them. He gave an anecdote for every single song before he played it, telling the song’s story of where it came from or what it made him think of. He thanked Indianapolis for having a blue sky that day because he hadn’t seen one in a while. Vance Joy has an exciting future ahead of him, evidenced by the way he left his Indianapolis audience beaming. WTTS will be anxiously awaiting his return, and you won’t want to miss Vance Joy next time he’s around.
On Monday, November 16th Ben Folds teamed up with yMusic to perform at the Old National Centre. WTTS was given an opportunity to give away passes for listeners to attend the sound check and meet Ben Folds. Below are photos from Monday evening.
Friday night, November 13th, WTTS presented the third installment in the annual Rock to Read benefit concert series. Alternative rock band and long-time WTTS favorites, Guster, performed at the Egyptian Room at Old National Centre and proceeds benefited children’s reading programs all over Indianapolis. They also stopped by Sun King Studio 92 earlier in the day. Look for our posting of the interview and photos soon.
Guster began its story in 1991 and have seen much success throughout their career. The band originated in Boston, Massachusetts while attending Tufts University. On this tour for their latest album, Evermotion, the band decided to give high school/college bands the opportunity to open for them at various cities across the U.S. Porky’s Groove Machine opened up in Indianapolis and captivated the crowd with their many members, wacky costumes, and contagious funk grooves. Guster has a dedicated and ever-growing fan base that proved to be present in Indianapolis Friday night.
After WTTS DJ Paul Mendenhall thanked WTTS listeners and Guster fans alike for coming out to the show, the band took the stage. The four members took their places and began playing in front of a black curtain. The stage setup was unassuming and simple, as if to highlight the music. Only lighting changed the mood of the song outside of pure musicianship itself.
The band opened with “Diane” to a crowd who knew exactly what song it was from the first two chords and roared with delight. After the first song, lead singer Ryan Miller told the audience they looked beautiful and followed with, “It’s like Burning Man in Indianapolis…and I like it.” We do what we can, Ryan!
Brian Rosenworcel, who is nicknamed “Thundergod” alternated throughout the show between a traditional drum kit on the right side of the stage and a different set for hand drumming on bongos, congas, djembes, and other percussion instruments. “Thundergod” has to have broken a finger or two over the years of Guster recording and performing. He plays with such enthusiasm and passion that he even strikes the cymbals with his hands and gets great sound out of them. Organ, marimba sounds, brass instruments, synthesizer, and various other percussion instruments were featured alongside the guitars, bass, and keys.
Guster’s members are all blaringly obviously multi-talented and humble. They switch instruments throughout the show, they provide their own backing vocals on stage, and they seem to just enjoy playing together no matter where on stage they may be located for a certain song. It leaves the audience feeling that they’re getting a well-rounded show from men who are all on an even playing field. It makes for some magical tunes.
At one point in the evening, Guster announced that they would be collaborating with Porky’s Groove Machine for a song. Three band members joined them on Trombone, trumpet, and saxophone. Miller announced that they’d play a song they hadn’t played in a year and probably wouldn’t for another year. As soon as the song begins, the fans know it to be “Fa Fa.” The electricity from the stage was infectious from the faces of all those on stage and the crowd went insane. Later in the show, Miller explained that he saw an audience member playing the bongos on his girlfriend’s back along to an entire song. So, in Guster fashion, Miller invited them to the stage to play bongos on an impromptu song about bongos. It was hilarious and so refreshing in a concert of that size.
Highlights of the evening included “Happier,” “Simple Machine,” “Satellite,” “Do You Love Me,” “One Man Wrecking Machine,” and “Barrel of a Gun.” Guster closed with “This Could All Be Yours” before coming back on stage for a 3.5 song encore. They played “Long Night,” Red Oyster Cult,” and “Demons.” The half-song was another improvised song about a crazy cat lady in the audience who wanted them to sign a plastic cat from the stage. It was hilarious. A second encore performance included “Jesus On The Radio” to leave the crowd in musical bliss at the end of the evening.
Between the guests on stage, the simple stage setup, and the overall electricity from the band members who have been playing together (and enjoying it) for over twenty years, the final WTTS Rock to Read concert was a success. Ryan Miller coined it best when he proclaimed from the stage that this was “The night the Egyptian Room turned into a bunch of drunk babies.”
Thank you to all WTTS listeners who attended any of our Rock to Read shows this year! Don’t be sad it’s over, though, as our WTTS Christmas Can Concerts are right around the corner. At the beginning of December we’ll be bringing you Houndmouth (Dec. 3rd) and Leon Bridges (Dec. 6th) with proceeds from the shows benefiting Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard in Bloomington.
Saturday night, October 3rd, Mark Knopfler played a sold-out show at the Murat Theatre in the Old National Centre in Indianapolis. He was joined on stage by his band of eight other people to play a two-hour concert filled with classics from his former band, Dire Straits, and solo tracks, too. Knopfler is a musicians’ musician after having worked with and even producing records for the likes of Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Tina Turner, and Randy Newman. Rolling Stone ranked Knopfler the 27th greatest guitarist of all time and that title rang true on Saturday night in Indianapolis.
As the crowd sat in anticipation, a man appeared on stage wearing a bright, bold Union Jack jacket and introduced the one and only Mark Knopfler. The entire band then entered the stage and led the crowd in a clapping rhythm to warm up the room. In fact, Knopfler warmed the entire evening with his quick little jokes and asides. He even told his band “good luck” a handful of times. The entire crowd was giggling from his dry British humor and he kept it understated and consistent all evening.
The stage was set up with appropriate but discrete lighting and three blocks of instruments. Almost every instrument the band used throughout the evening (and there were many) was housed right there on stage. This gave the show a sort of living room or studio feeling. If you add in the fact that Knopfler hinted at the show being whimsical with a loose set list and the lack of large monitors at the front of the stage blocking the band, you can understand how this show may have felt personal in a way.
At one point in the evening, Knopfler took a moment to introduce his band members. Not only did he introduce them to an energetic, cheering crowd, but he had the most genuine and heartfelt things to say about them. The audience could feel the shared admiration between band members and this made for a special evening. These band members played more instruments than most other rock concerts ever have. Multiple guitars, electric bass, double bass used with and without a bow, keys, organs, accordion, fiddle, Uilleann pipes (the national bagpipe of Ireland), mandolin, saxophone, and others all made appearances on stage. This band is wickedly talented.
Highlights of the night included “Privateering,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Postcards From Paraguay,” and the Dire Straits classic, “Sultans of Swing.” The show closed with
“Speedway at Nazareth” before an encore of “So Far Away” and “Going Home: theme from Local Hero.” During “Sultans of Swing” Knopfler played his signature Mark Knopfler Stratocaster guitar. He had the amazing ability to be able to play that song’s incredible guitar solo and have the rest of his body be as relaxed as can be. It was awe-inspiring.
In fact, the entire audience was awe-struck all evening. Knopfler himself used the term “Transatlantic Blues” at some point in the evening and that perfectly describes this classic bluesy rock with inspired hints of Celtic instruments and melody patterns. Mark Knopfler and his band left the audience in a unique kind of sensory overload with so many instruments doing so many things. One can’t help but try to watch them all at once, and that kind of musical overload is the best kind of musical overload.
From start to finish the crowd was dancing the night away as Rob Thomas played the Old National Centre. Find photos of the rockin’ performance below and check out WTTS’ Instagram to see Rob Thomas display his own dance moves.
Two great shows took place in Indianapolis over the weekend. Thanks to all the listeners who attended either Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals at the Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn Or Pixies at Old National Centre Presented by WTTS. Photos of both performances are courtesy of Rhythm In Focus Photography.