I don’t really like “Year in Review” articles, mostly because it’s so hard to recap an entire year in 700 words. Instead, I spent some time reflecting and reviewing my work from the past year and came up with this list of things that I thought made 2012 memorable and monumental in the local music scene.
Indianapolis’ Most Important Musical Event of 2012: The Super Bowl
When I learned that The 2012 Super Bowl would be hosted in Indianapolis, my immediate thought was to make myself scarce during the weeklong festivities leading up to the main event. I despise the game of football and loathed the idea of Indianapolis being invaded by pigskin-loving sports fanatics, but as Indianapolis transformed into the world class city that it was during the Super Bowl, I realized how wrong I was in the beginning.
Indiana weather abandoned its reputation for being uncooperative and instead made outdoor conditions perfect for strolling up and down Georgia Street to take in all of the free concerts. Well-known artists of every genre performed numerous shows every day in Super Bowl Village leading up to the big game. Local bands were just as prominent in Super Bowl Village as national headliners, which made the festivities something to really be proud of. Indianapolis had a lot of out-of-town visitors in February of 2012 and our city’s finest talent was downtown and on stage to entertain them.
Best Non-Local Midwestern Music Festival of 2012: Forecastle
Entering my fourth year of music festival reporting, I began to develop a sour taste in my mouth after returning home from a second pilgrimage to Electric Forest in Rothbury, Michigan. It’s a festival that’s built around bass music set to stunning visuals displayed in a wooded playground that’s practically built for the sole purpose of tripping on drugs. It’s a neat concept when it’s used as a gathering place for strangers to experience live music together in fundamentally new ways; alas, it’s developed into a massive camp-out for chemical substance abuse where the wandering bodies found throughout the festival grounds are so far out of their gourds that there’s no way any of them could possibly be there to enjoy music and community.
One music festival that’s not following suit with this unfortunate trend is Forecastle in Louisville, Kentucky. Forecastle does a lot of things differently that all factor into the quality of the event’s execution. Perhaps most obvious is the location (in the middle of a city) and absence of a massive campground. That missing element- a standard amenity included with the purchase of a ticket to most major festivals- singlehandedly changes the environment of the entire event. Forecastle attendees actually go to see live music and actually remember the weekend’s performances. The venue’s small footprint bound by the Ohio River and Louisville’s skyscrapers means quick and easy access to all of the festival’s stages. Forecastle’s musical versatility also makes it a great festival, offering rock, hip hop, electronic, indie, folk and everything in between. Forecastle is close to home and offers the cleanest vibes in the Midwestern festival circuit. I hope to go back in 2013.
Indy’s 2012 Breakout Artist: Sirius Blvck
2012 was the year of Sirius Blvck in Indianapolis music. It was the year the young emcee realized his full potential and spun off in his own direction to pursue independent projects, yet remained fully devoted to Indian City Weather, the band that introduced him to the Indianapolis music scene over two years ago. It was the year he debuted Ghost Town Gang- Naptown hip hop’s newest artist collective. It was the year he released two mixtapes of his own and made appearances on countless others, including J Brookinz’ renowned Gat3way project.
Impressive and relentless as his work is, Blvck remains humble and consistently strives to shine the spotlight on his fellow Ghost Town Gang members and propel their success in tune with his own. He’s a creative mind with sharp rap skills and selfless goals aimed at bettering the local hip hop scene as a whole, which makes him the perfect role model for aspiring artists young and old alike in 2013.
Local Music’s Biggest WTF Moment in 2012: Brad Real Disappears from the Social Web
Nobody really knows what happened and it’s probably not our business anyways. But, when you’re the “red headed stepchild” of the local hip hop scene and you start Twitter beef with prominent figures by degrading their work in favor of your own, you’re bound to rile up a few bodies. As quickly as the series of bizarre, confrontational tweets appeared on Real’s timeline, they were deleted. Soon after, his entire online social presence had vanished with no explanation as to why or what really happened. I can only hope that Brad Real is safe and sound, and that he bounces back in 2013 with something great to overshadow his mysterious, destructive meltdown of 2012.
Saddest local musical moment in 2012: The Death of Slothpop
When the announcement came in late March that freak folk rockers Slothpop were calling it quits, the greater Indianapolis music scene mourned. Out of all the great talent that our fine city harbors, Slothpop was one of those bands that everyone just assumed was going to make it big. Fans were supportive of the decision and wished the members of Slothpop the best of luck in their individual endeavors… but I think we all still secretly believe that they had the formula right the first time around.
While 2012 was certainly a memorable year in local music, it has also left a lot of room for betterment in 2013. We may not see The Super Bowl again in our city for a long while, but our beautiful Georgia Street could easily make the perfect backdrop for local talent to entertain the spectators of the other high-profile sporting events we host throughout the year. Local music festivals like Mojostock and Hyperion could easily follow Forecastle’s lead by putting in extra effort to ensure their events are less of a drug-induced trip and more of a pure, wholesome experience. And the greater local music scene could probably also benefit by taking cues from Sirius Blvck and working to get better as a whole, not as individuals.
Happy New Year, Indy. Cheers to making 2013 even more memorable and monumental than 2012!
Oreo Jones’ new album, Betty, is for the erratic listener in all of us. In this collection of swift-moving tracks, milks’ favorite emcee runs through 12 songs in 30 minutes and welcomes guests to the microphone no fewer than four times. Just like a Jimmy John’s sandwich-maker, Oreo employs freaky-fast delivery and has something to offer everyone- no matter what they’ve got a hankering for.
On Betty, his first full-length album following two EP’s and a mixtape, Oreo turned to long-time friend and collaborator 90 Lbs to produce the beats that would create the album’s framework. Drenched in the same distinctive, futuristic synths as The Delicious EP, opening track “House Nigga” launches listeners into shock right out the gate. Rookies to the gospel of Oreo Jones should take note of his iconic articulation showcased in the lines of this song’s chorus; the flawless finesse that sets him apart from other emcees is showcased perfectly here. Just three tracks into the album, Oreo expands his skillset on the hazy, trudging song “Burnt Circles” to take credit for both vocals and production.
Producer and Heavy Gun Blog co-founder J. Brookinz leaves his soulful imprint on three Betty tracks: “Frankie”, “Needy” and “Randy Savage”- the latter bearing resemblance in production style to standout track “Rebel Music” from the southern rock-inspired Gat3way.
J-Hex (front woman for We Are Hex) haunts Oreo’s verses twice on Betty. Her bizarre vocals and eerie chants mix with Oreo’s windy rhymes and 90 Lbs’ rhythmic bleep-bloops to give “No Coast” an awesome, witchy vibe. Six tracks later, on “Option Control”, the emcee-and-crooner duo return- this time with playful vocals that seem to dance and intertwine around a radiant, levitating beat.
KO (former leading lady of Slothpop) shines brightly on “Rotate” and helps close the album on an elegant note of optimism. Written in honor of Oreo’s grandmother (the woman who the album is titled after and whose photo graces the cover), Betty’s final track veers slightly from Oreo’s traditional beat-driven, rapid style of groovy rap. Instead, his delicate lyrics are articulate and unhurried, assuring the listener takes heed to every word of his message.
And just like that, it’s over in the blink of an eye- switching up moods and tempos only half as often as the second hand rotating the clock. If you feel like you went all-in for a high-five with Betty and she left you hanging mid-air, don’t fret; when you purchase a physical or digital version of the album, you’ll be rewarded with 15 extra minutes of bonus material that I promise will leave you feeling more than satisfied (including the ever-popular Cordon Bleu and a special appearance from Andy D on “Play Place”).
Support local and put some dough in Oreo’s pocket by picking up a copy of the capricious Betty today; it’s a delectable smorgasbord of single-serving hip hop songs- sort of like one plate at the china buffet.