I should preface this by saying I've never been to an Earth House event. But when I left last Thursday night, I couldn't wait to go back. Indy's innovative collective creates an atmosphere where all are welcome: soulful singers, zany improvisational experts, stage-hungry comedians and, perhaps most importantly, energetically engaged crowds.
Forget silent auctions or charity balls with tired hob-nobbing chit chat: The staff at the Earth House knows how to put on a good party, and proved it with 'In Revue,' a funds and awareness raiser with a relaxed vibe. Where else can you find four types of chili, including vegetarian and vegan, seemingly endless kegs of Upland beer, and a fill lineup of entertainment and dancing for the low, low price of $25?
Hosted by Earth House executive director, Jordan Updike, the evening kicked off with a soulful performance from Earth House regulars Joseph Fawcett on violin and Kayla Schaaf (guitar and vocals). When Schaaf entered the stage shoeless, sporting hot pink patterned socks, I understood what kind of place the Earth House is: a home away from home. The pair covered a few Indie rock songs, including a lilting and smoky version of Fleet Foxes' "Blue Ridge Mountain." When they left the stage, I swear I would have turned over all the money in my pockets to keep listening to Schaaf's voice.
Next, another first for me. Other than seeing Know No Stranger dub all the words to "Dumb and Dumber" on Mass Ave during IndyFringe, I'd never seen this uninhibited performance group in action. "I want to describe Know No Stranger to you," said Know No Stranger member Michael Runge with a sly smile. "And that is to say Know No Stranger is indescribable." Runge introduced "A Victorian Era Cautionary Tale for Young Children" from their October show Optical Popsicle, and took a moment to explain the operating tenants of KNS. "One, if you don't like something change it... Two, everybody has something to offer."
Their principles align with Earth House's own mission to promote arts, wellness and environmentally conscious living. As Updike explains, "The biggest change happens when all of us make small decisions. Global change begins locally." Staff members Sarah David, and Rebecca Craver joined Updike on stage throughout the night to talk about Earth House is accomplishing its mission. David spoke of the Green Space garden that sources vegetables to the organic café, making a plea for volunteers come Spring. Craver chimed in about the national and local acts that come through the Indianapolis on the Earth House stage. They even announced plans for construction on a permeable pavement parking lot that will keep 150,000 gallons of storm water out of the sewers. The collective also has plans to collaborate on separate events with Big Car and the Indianapolis International Film Fest.
After more performances from comedian Cam O'Connor and Updike himself, Know No Stranger took the stage one last time for a shocking and awesome performance of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." Brandon Schaaf's part sign-language, part lip-sync rendition paired with what I'm assuming was a technical malfunction of the speaker system lead to a Collectve wide sing-a-long to the classic 70s song. It was a perfect post-modern moment: everyone became part of the show.