Photography and Article by Syd Innovaria
Caleb and Doug present Tommy, the man of many CDs.
So this weekend was like any other. My friend Doug Sauter (of Sarah Grain and the Billions of Stars, Midwest Rhythm Exchange and Tommy) and I were hanging out up in Indianapolis and he informed me he had a gig that night at the local White Rabbit Cabaret. Playing with two other acts, Awake the Wilde and Moxxie (whom I have seen before). I was unfamiliar but intrigued by Awake the Wilde, so I decided to stay the whole show and watch everyone.
We arrived early, got a drink, tested our cameras (as we both do photography) and then it was time to rock-n-roll, as they say.
The venue was beautiful. Is beautiful, rather. The lighting was so low, but there were colored blue greenish, white and orange/red ones on stage. Fog machines made for an amazing look as the first band took the stage, Awake The Wilde. They are Alex “Blu” Roth (vocals and guitar), Bill “Wild Billy” (lead guitar), Brock “Cheese” on bass and Daniel on drums.
I was nearly on the floor. Jaw, forsure.
Alex “Blu” of Awake the Wilde doing some signature moves on set.
The sound had me on some other level of enjoyment- a beautiful mix of some funk, rock, and something altogether new. The singer (Alex/Blu) was already captivating enough with his blue moonboots and decorative attire. The way he would dance, gyrate and move along with every word he sang made me think of Prince, maybe some Mick Jagger, those moves! Originally I was just going to take a few pictures and go hang out with Doug, but I couldn’t leave. They reeled me in like a fish on a hook as I stood there open-mouthed, watching Blu use his charismatic ways to charm his audience during the entire set. One thing I loved that I never see with other great musicians was the amount of calm interaction with the crowd. He would talk to us as if we were just pals hanging out in his room. None of that “I can’t hear you! Are you having fun tonight?” bullshit, but a relaxed good vibe when he would say things like “How we feelin’ tonight?” Then he would introduce band members occasionally, also calmly- but all with enough volume that you knew he was confident. The confidence is where it’s at, and by the 3rd song I knew I had to see them again.
Blu doing a beautiful hair flip during the show.
At the end of their set I ran back in haste to find Doug before the beginning of his set with Tommy. I had never heard Tommy before either and I was really excited because I had heard Doug play with other people and he is always very talented. Between sets while Tommy was getting ready, I stood out back conversing with the guys from Awake the Wilde. They informed me their next show was at Union 50, and they were some of the coolest people I had met- super down-to-earth and passionate about the music. Blu was such a unique character and I think everyone around was just taken aback by his “cool” personality and funky attitude.
Blu belts into the microphone as drummer Daniel looks on from the background.
Back inside I was at the front of the stage again and Tommy was once again not what I expected at all. I was even more excited than before, if that could be possible. Tommy is a self-titled group- he is sometimes solo, sometimes with 2 members, sometimes with 3. This this he had the full band which was himself, Tommy (vocals and lead guitar) Doug on rhythm guitar, Caleb on bass, and Brad on drums.
Tommy and Doug getting into the groove.
Tommy has a very unique sound as well. I would say that everyone there that night was unlike any of your typical “midwest music” as I like to call it- the neo-alternative nu-metal type of stuff I find a lot of local bands like to put on and therefore they all blend together instead of standing out. It’s certainly much easier, and doesn’t provoke an audience to think about much, but we need something better and this is where it is. We need to be thinking and feeling different things, and this music is the kind that does just that.
Caleb sporting his Moxxie tanktop and sporting a pleasurable smile.
One thing that caught me especially was the amount that Tommy sang about emotions that evening. I find that in a good amount of music, men have a hard time talking about raw emotion because of the stigmas surrounding it. Tommy wasn’t having any of that, but instead dove right into talking about real feelings, accompanied by some of the most intricate beautiful guitar-work and allusions in the lyrics. There is some beautiful talent in this individual.
A closeup of Tommy showing off his guitar work during their set.
The headlining group was Moxxie. I had seen Moxxie previously, and it is always good to see them again. Moxxie is Jessie (vocals and lead guitar), Ryan (bass), Joe (guitar) and Johnny (drums). They’re very grunge, but in a new more captivating way. Not the Alice In Chains style grunge, so to speak, a more modern punk twinge to it.
Fun fact: Jessie is a southpaw.
Jessie always has some kind of fancy pants on, as myself and some other audience members remarked. To bring it around, every singer that night looked unusual. Each one stood out not only by their vocal patterns and word choices, but their chosen attire and trademark look. This is another thing I don’t see in a lot of “typical” music groups; there’s no trademark look. Nothing that makes the individual stand out, therefore unless their musical abilities are completely out of this world, it will be hard to commit them to memory. The best part about this show is everyone had a unique trademark look AND were incredibly talented at their instruments/ lyrics.
Moxxie is also headed by a female, and she has a phenomenal voice and great stage presence. She’s so passionate with her voice and I would say everyone there was the same- super passionate. That’s real musicians.
Ryan lost in the music during their set.
I should mention that as well: the stage presence is one of the most important things when being a performer. If you don’t have natural charisma, and the ability to connect with your audience, then you really don’t have anything. Everyone on this beautiful evening has a positive charismatic vibe and the crowd absolutely loved every one of them.
Jessie takes a moment to adjust her mic stand.
I was absolutely floored by how much talent was in this beautiful little venue this evening. It’s rare to see such a perfect lineup- but I have also noticed the Indianapolis music scene is getting more unique and more interesting all the time. I am also blown away that these individuals aren’t famous yet- they are better than 90% of the music I have ever heard in my life.
If you would like to hear some true talent and some well-worded songs, you should check these bands out right away. All of them have a CD that you can buy at least, or even a t-shirt. It’s worth your time more than you’ll ever know.
Also if you are a musician, I recommend booking a show at the White Rabbit Cabaret, the sound is amazing and the venue is beautiful.
Until next time!
Jessie and Johnny of Moxxie at the end of their set, being photographed by a second photographer.