The first few weeks in September tend to be the busiest of Indianapolis’ arts and social calendar. Penrod. French Market. Greek Fest. Irish Fest. Jazz Fest. Art vs. Art. The list goes on. September is possibly the only month that Hoosiers can rely upon consistent, pleasant weather. The humidity of Indiana’s swampy summer is usually behind us. But enough warmth remains for scantily clad nights on the town.
The unfortunate part about jamming some of the city’s most well attended artistic events together is that sacrifices must be made. This year, as I have for the last several, my Saturday night was spent at Oranje. The evening marked the tenth anniversary for the event that bills itself as “Indiana’s Premier Arts & Music Explosion.” Explosion proves an adequate description.
Oranje can be overwhelming. More than 30 musicians and 40 artists fill and surround a warehouse at 23rd and Illinois for a veritable feast of the senses. A whirlwind of sights, sounds and tastes combine for one of Indianapolis’ can’t miss parties. At its best, my memories of the evening wind up a blur of experiences that I rarely separate into individual performances. They all merge together into a single, enjoyable mind fuck.
From an outsider’s perspective, Oranje seems like our city’s ill-fated attempt at trendy, artistic expression. And to some extent all the necessary clichés are in place—half-naked hipsters, experimental music, interactive exhibits. Non-natives may wonder what original thought Hoosiers could offer such a scene. Those who have attended know better.
I always leave Oranje motivated and inspired. This city is home to so many talented, interesting minds. In a state that prides itself on our small government, public funding of the arts is scarce. But the relative low cost of living allows artists to thrive for a fraction of the cost that larger cities, like New York and Los Angeles, demand. What Indianapolis needs to improve upon is providing these artists with a voice. Oranje accomplishes this in spades, but it’s not enough.
Indy’s residents should not wait until the second weekend in September to take in the arts. Terrific, worthwhile events take place all over this city every week of the year. Indianapolis’ greatest strength is arguably its accessibility. We can get almost anywhere in twenty minutes. We can park. With such opportunities all within arm’s reach, there is no excuse for failing to take advantage of all that Indy has to offer.
I thank the Oranje crew for the massive amount of planning and hard work that goes into this annual bash. Their contribution to the Indianapolis art scene over the last decade has opened a lot of local eyes. Now we’ve got to keep those eyes open and get them out of the house before next September. Let’s face it, folks. The Colts are not getting any better. Luckily for us, there’s more than football in Indiana.
Written by Rob Peoni
Photos by Katie Kirkhoff
Embracing a music venue is no small task. In my career I have noticed that it takes many positive experiences in a row to earn my loyalty. Sure, a good promoter and solid booking always helps the cause, but there is also a myriad of variables that need to align to in order to swoon me.
- Intimate without the coffee shop chairs
- It has character
- ATP (Average Ticket Price) is around 12 USD
- A sound system that is clear. Lyrics sound crisp and understood.
- 5 minutes or less to get another drink
- Pit stop crew speed on the band changes
- Clean Toilets
- Nice to have: Local beer on tap
Fountain Square’s indie rock lair Radio Radio strongly embraces these attributes while contributing to the culture of Indianapolis. Every time I step foot in Radio Radio I feel like I am surrounded by a group of like-minded strangers who are contributing to the cultural advancement of a city we all own. Before I was old enough to go to places like Radio Radio I felt very similar to Matthew Lillard’s character Steveo in the 1998 film SLC Punk! Steveo was struggling with seeing cultural progression in dreary conservative Salt Lake City, Utah. As a young punker looking for a release, Steveo’s surroundings attempted to limit his identity progression.
It is amazing how a new venue can not only bring you happiness, but also enable distinctiveness. It is these 2 ½ hour long moments of unity I get on a weekly basis that keep me level. I want to thank Radio Radio for contributing to my musical growth and serving as the projector of live experiences with some really radical bands. Sleigh Bells, Andy D, We are Hex, Free Energy, Beta Male, Rural Alberta Advantage all stand out in recent memory. With bands like Yuck, Bear Hands, Tapes N’ Tapes, and legendary Sebadoh on the upcoming calendar, Radio Radio allows for many more opportunities to contribute to building out my character, but also blazing a new cultural path for Indianapolis.
Written by Brett McGrath
This Saturday, Radio Radio will host Marmoset’s record release party.
1119 E. Prospect Street
Indianapolis, IN 46203
Check out this hilarious video from Naptown rapper Oreo Jones and the lovely ladies of White Rabbit Cabaret. There will be more from Oreo in the coming days as he and DJ Action Jackson release their mixtape Black Fabio tomorrow. The release will be the first from new label Rad Summer.
The debut single from Black Fabio can be heard here