- Stephen Horning
Last Saturday’s Frosty Moon Midwest Summit was less about an eye-catching lineup and more about nurturing the support of homegrown bands while giving back to the local community that follows them. All of the talent booked for Frosty Moon came from right here in Indiana or, at most, a neighboring state. The bill was comprised of the same bands and artists we’ve seen all summer long at local festivals such as Springfest, Mojostock, Knollfest, and Wuhnurth. As the unofficial send-off to this year’s summer music festivals, it felt appropriate to close the season with music from bands that the attendees know personally and consider themselves to be real-life friends with.
The massive space known as Emens Auditorium was transformed into a legitimate hippie haven for Frosty Moon. Utilizing the balcony as a beer garden and the basement as the second stage/shakedown street provided adequate alternatives to the colossal main stage in the auditorium- an amenity that was vital in making the event a success. When confined to an indoor venue for a show lasting more than a few hours, having the option to wander and change scenery at one’s own will prevents the concert experience from getting stale.
The Waldemere Revival played one of their most triumphant shows to date, basking in the glory of a prime time slot at 10 p.m., right between Midwest Hype and Twin Cats. They began with a tranquil, but psychedelic, tune that felt like a modernized, cultured rendition of classic rock from the early 70’s. The band swiftly moved through a spectrum of familiar Waldemere favorites and newer, lesser-known compositions that eventually led to a rare sighting: lead vocalist Steve Martin removed his hat in a moment of passion during their folkdafied cover of “Boyz in The Hood”. A neighbor in the crowd asked for the name of the band performing; a few minutes later he turned again and calmly proclaimed, “I like this band. They tear it up.”
The other standout performance (or rather, series of performances) last Saturday came from lively jamgrass band The New Old Calvary. The humble five-piece from Bloomington kept patrons entertained with 30-minute sets on the downstairs second stage during tear-down and setup in the auditorium. With the aid of a small (but effective) portable light show and a rustic, earthy piece of iron work for a backdrop, the New Old Calvary offered a friendly and intimate environment for playtime in between the headlining sets. Livetronica duo Embryonic Fluid was scheduled to provide side stage entertainment while Indy’s Twin Cats set up for their 11 p.m. set, but the time slot was ultimately filled by The New Old Calvary instead, with a special guest appearance by Fresh Hops fiddle player Stephan Cook.
One of the most interesting aspects of Frosty Moon was the small open area in front of the stage. Although the space can be pitted to house an orchestra for live theater, last Saturday it was filled in to be transformed into a dance floor. Though I don’t understand the mechanical inter-workings of the hardware itself, I do know that the structures used to create said dance floor had a noticeable amount of give. I first noticed the floor moving during MC Sparkplug’s performance early in the evening and wondered if I’d had a few too many beverages upstairs in the balcony; I soon realized I wasn’t the only one who suddenly had sea legs. Later during The Twin Cats’ face-melting set (easily the hardest rocking show of the night), I had serious internal conflicts about whether or not I should find a different place to rage. While I contemplated the possibility of the floor literally crumbling below us, I couldn’t help but laugh and jump around harder when the crowd moved in unity, causing the floor to sway perfectly in sync with the music.
It’s hard to gauge exactly how many people showed up for Frosty Moon, due in large part to the mammoth size of the venue. While some could complain that Emens has too much room to occupy for an event of this caliber, others would argue that the abundant space provides the same level of freedom achieved at a spread out festival held outdoors. Either way, Frosty Moon achieved what it set out to do: showcase the Midwest's most talented musicians to expand their local support and following.
And remember- just because the summer is gone, doesn't mean it's time for you to go into hibernation. Bands and musicians continue playing shows in the winter and need your support through those months to keep going. Even when it's cold outside and there's snow on the ground, make a point to get out and see your favorite local bands as often as you can. After all, they do it all for you- the fans.