I feel like Indy has had some bad luck with music festivals. There was WARMfest, which touted Of Montreal as its headliner...promising but last held in 2014. Then there was the apparently tragic and bankrupt Evermore Fest that occured in 2016. Let's just say Indy's best music festivals have always been grassroots and local (Chreece, Rocky Ripple Fest, and Indy Folk Fest to name a few that rule and benefit Indy a ton.)
Fountain Square Music Fest has felt to me like it's been on the cusp of really being a festival that could appeal to those not just looking for local music or things with a Hoosier twist. Now in it's fifth(?) year, FSMF looks poised as hell to take the throne as the most far reaching and widely appealing music festival that Indianapolis has ever seen. 2017 has been a huge year for Indy and those like myself who are lucky enough to live in the Fountain Square area. Other than the fucking yuppie apartments in the Dollar General parking lot, the neighborhood just keeps getting better and better every year...and the music has a lot to do with it.
Gates opened at 4pm Friday, but seeing Real Estate on the main stage at 7 was the first show that we all wanted to catch. This was my first FSMF so I'm not sure how it was done in the past, but the stage set up on Virginia right around La Marg was fucking amazing. A good portion of the heart of Fountain Square was blocke off, and it made for a pretty badass experience. Definitely cool for the neighborhood.
Both Real Esate and Dr. Dog sounded and looked phenomenal. Once again the set up on Virginia was too fucking awesome, especially once it got dark and the lights came out. We ducked over to check out some of the other shows at The White Rabbit and HIFI after checking Dr. Dog out for a bit. One of my good buddie from high school was playing at the HIFI, as well as another friend over at The White Rabbit. Like any good music fest, it was hard to fit time in to see everybody you had an interest in checking out. Definitely not a bad problem to have, though...
I know FSMF had been touting the "neighborhood experience" as a integral part of the fest's appeal. I think they really nailed this aspect of it. We were lucky enough to have a home base to bike to at our house in the neighborhood for free food and drinks, but even if you don't live in the area, Fountain Square has plenty of food options, some directly inside the venue...I really felt like the whole area was participating in some way or another. I could see being able to duck in somewhere for some food and then immediately be submersed back into the music afterwards to be a great feeling...not just overpriced food trucks. Fountain Square is built for shit like this.
I will say, it felt a little out of place, and dumb for that matter to be buying beer/alcohol at the tents. Beers were $7 (and only bleh Sun King)...just go into Pure next year and slam some $2 PBRs, or one of the many other local establishments in the area. Or even just go slam
Hoops was the biggest band to come out of Indiana performing at FSMF. The Bloomington based band started off a great performance to what seemed like a small crowd on day two. I'm not sure if 3pm was still too early for people to be out or what. Regardless, they played a great show and cemented why they're one of Indiana's best musical exports. Was hoping for a Smashing Pumpkins cover after they started riffing "Cherub Rock" as the show started but no dice.
The Cool Kids brought a very much needed break of the indie acts before to hopefully wake some people up...the crowd so far at the main stage couldn't have been more than 100 people actually paying attention. A group I was a fan of in high school, but hadn't heard much from the past, what feels like, 10 years. Their latest album, Special Edition Grandmaster Deluxe I am a huge fan of, and they as a group did not disappoint at the 5:30PM slot on day two. I thought the crowd was picking up at this point and Mikey and Chuck brought a lot of energy, too bad they didn't get a later time slot.
I didn't get too see Phantogram, as I got a little too turnt and passed out at home during one of my "breaks" after The Cool Kids. My girlfriend stole my pass though and said it was an awesome show, and if it was anything like the night before I'm sure it was.
Note to self: take it easy on the Svedka in 2018.↑