Bluesy, Funky Midwest Rock

Blane Fonda at The Hideout in Chicago in Feb 2013

Blane Fonda at The Hideout in Chicago in Feb 2013

On the dark, snowy night of Friday December 13th, about 40 people young and old braved the elements to meet at Fountain Square’s tiny, all-age music venue, the Hoosier Dome, for one common purpose: To see a rock show.

This four-band lineup showcased several talented musicians, all from the Midwest. One of the groups, self-proclaimed “dance rock band”, Blane Fonda from Chicago, is a 5-piece outfit with trumpet and keyboard included. Blane Fonda brought in quite the rambunctious crowd, with their diverse sounds (Scorpians meets Dearestazazel meets The Matches, meets Glenn Danzig), and wild stage antics.

During their set, and every set afterwards, a giant paper airplane made its way over the tops of heads and, occasionally, hit the die-hard crowd surfers. When the paper airplane ended up on stage, and the band threw it back out to the crowd, the lead singer proposed a game.

“Whoever throws the paper airplane the farthest,” singer Mark Wetzel said, “gets whatever they want from our merch table!”

Three fans got up on stage and tried their luck at throwing the huge, awkward airplane. The winner managed to get the airplane all the way past the crowd, and to further celebrate his victory, commenced to crowd surf.

Blane Fonda at The Hideout in Chicago in Feb 2013

Blane Fonda at The Hideout in Chicago in Feb 2013

Blane Fonda played mostly original songs, but in the middle of the show, Wetzel asked if they should do a Christmas song.

“If we were to do a Christmas song,” he said, “What should we do?”

Christmas song titles billowed out and toward the stage.

“’You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch’, you say? Well, it just so happens that I have all seven verses of it right here!” He lifted up a piece of paper to show the crowd.

The cover was executed perfectly. Wetzel’s voice, deep and bluesy, meshed pristinely with the song and the character he was trying to portray.

“You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” prompted a Conga Line, circling and trapping the moshers. Other fans jumped up and grabbed onto the top of the sturdy wooden-framed stage, some of whom ended up falling from the platform.

Their last song of the night was “Opportunity Rocks!”, a song so popular that fans were fighting each other to get on stage to sing with the band.

The official music video for “Opportunity Rocks”:

At the end of their set, Blane Fonda sat in the back of the venue to talk to fans and sell t-shirts and CDs. They handed out download cards to everyone who stopped by their merch table.

“We made a new CD,” guitarist Daniel Leu said, “And we’re just giving it away for free to people who come to our shows!”

The band immediately following Blane Fonda, Cincinnati-based Automagik, brought in even more fans.

“Alright, this song is called ‘Boogieman’”, lead singer Zachary Evans said, and began singing in his funky, bluesy, higher-pitched voice (think Circa Survive meets Blood Brothers meets The Mars Volta).

Although Automagik’s genre on Facebook is listed as “Rocky Road Ice Cream”, Automagik plays energetic rock, funky and bluesy music that’s easy to dance to. The crowd did pseudo Irish jigs and moshed throughout Automagik’s set of songs from their self-titled 2010 album, Automagik, and their newest album, Black Sundae.

In keeping with the wild stage and audience interactions throughout the night, Evans looked at Devin Williams, lead guitarist, and said, “Devin’s a freak! This song’s about Devin!”, at which point a man in the audience yelled, “Take off your pants!” This incited a full chant of “Take off your pants!”

The band started playing their song “Freak”, and another man from the audience took his pants off and threw them on stage. Williams wore the pants on his head for almost the entire song before throwing them back to the crowd!

Photo by David Sorcher.

Photo by David Sorcher.

When “Freak” ended, Evans once again spoke into the mic, with a blank, serious face. There seemed to be something wrong.

After several seconds of silence, Evans spoke.

“Who likes pizza?” he asked.

The crowd laughed and screamed in excitement.

“How about this, when I yell ‘pizza’, you yell ‘pizza’”

The audience continued to yell “pizza”, and the percussion started for the song apparently called “Pizza”, in which Evans professes his love for the delicious Italian pie, stating that he “eats more pizza than the Ninja Turtles!”

The band wrapped up their set with a song called “Waterslide”, a song about how easier things are as a child, when you aren’t aware of all the evil in the world. Evans sings, “If I could do one thing easy, I’d go where nobody else could see me. Waterslide, take me away to a better time in my life, when life gets me down.”

At the end of their set, although they didn’t have a merch table, the band members were happy to talk to excited fans as they were loading out. Many got sweaty hugs and handshakes, before leaving with proud smiles.

For updates on Automagik:

For show dates and an opportunity to download their new CD for free by Blane Fonda: