Saturday nights in Broad Ripple usually consist of dinner, a few drinks, and hanging out with friends. You might start somewhere like La Jolla Mexican Restaurant for some chips and salsa, maybe a margarita. Then you might head over to Brother’s Bar & Grill for a couple of beers. Perhaps then off to a dance club like Landsharks or The Vogue. While this might be fun, I decided to spend my Saturday night this week at Birdy’s Bar & Grill. As you know, Birdy’s is a great place to see live music and you can see a band here every night of the week. Just check the calendar when you first walk in to see when your favorite band is playing next.
Birdy’s is actually known for playing host to a ton of great local and Midwest bands. But there have been a fair share of regional and national acts as well. On this very stage I have seen the likes of Daughtry, The Fray, Mat Kearney, the Detroit Cobras, and many more. But on Saturday, July 24th, 2010, there were four bands taking the stage. For one low price—only $8—you could get your face melted by Kramus, Alter Ego, Glass Halo, and Fred Shafer. The bill promised to rock the house. When we got there, maybe fifteen minutes after the doors had opened, there were already about fifteen or twenty people sitting around just chatting. We grabbed a table and got ready to have a great night of music.
Kramus Kicks Things Off
It was just after 9:00 when Kramus took the stage. These guys have been playing the Indianapolis scene for quite some time and have made some major changes over the last few years. Sadly, their former lead singer passed away early in 2008, but they have managed to come back from that and in all honesty, are better than ever. Their old sound was too close to Breaking Benjamin to impress. But now, they are on a whole new level. These guys play with heart, emotion, and are a true rock band. They played first, which surprised me, as they had double booked the night. I disagree with bands playing more than one or two shows a month in Indianapolis (or the surrounding area), let alone on the same night. But they were there. They rocked the stage and managed to get me to hum along for a few minutes.
Fred Shafer Brings the Noise
Fred Shafer, who I felt should have been the headliner for the evening, actually took the stage second. Fred, a guy that travels all over the world playing his songs for anyone ready to listen, has so much heart and passion in his voice and his stage presence. His disc, Resistor, is nothing like what you see on stage. And there is a reason for that. You will like the disc, that’s not the issue. He wants you to like, even love, the album, and then see him perform those tunes live. He wants to take you to the next level. And I have seen him play for ten people before, and it’s the same show as when he plays for 10,000.
Fred is actually a good buddy of mine, and I have been following his work for quite some time. It is neat following his tour schedule and seeing all the places that he plays. It makes shows like this, in smaller and more intimate venues, that much better. You can feel the music here, and he will shake every hand in the venue if he has to. Fred is just a nice guy.
He kicked things off and before the first song is over, he is dripping in sweat. But you see past that almost immediately. Driving all the way from Nashville, Tennessee, he played to a room with about fifty to sixty people in it. But that didn’t stop him from playing like it was the last show he would ever play. His songs are rock, that’s for sure. But he adds, in some of the tunes, an almost country feel. He is wearing flannel (I am not sure I have ever seen him in anything else) and he wears cowboy boots well, but he still throws the hard rock front at you. Regardless, listening to tunes from his album, new songs he has never played before, and some older tunes that you can find floating around the Internet, we got a huge taste of who Fred Shafer really is. He is coming back to Birdy’s Bar & Grill in October, so if you have not seen him, or even if you have, come see him perform this fall.
Alter Ego Rocks the House
I was first introduced to the band Alter Ego by one of their band members. Myles Berry, on bass, asked me to take a listen to his new band. They have been tearing up Facebook and Twitter and are on their way to something big. They all still hold day jobs, but they are playing all over the Midwest and getting their names in front of people. Here in town you can catch a show every few weeks, and getting the chance to share the stage with Fred Shafer is an honor. Myles and Fred have been friends for a long time, and this was a neat show to see live.
I had not seen Alter Ego play live before. But as soon as they started singing, the dance floor filled up. Girls (some intoxicated, of course) began dancing and singing along to the lyrics. It was tough keeping up, though. I was not sure if they did that many originals. They did a handful of covers, some from Godsmack and other popular rock bands, offering a mixture for the fans. It was nice hearing some tunes that I was used to, especially since I had not seen these guys before. And I have to admit, they did pretty good covering Godsmack.
The guys in Alter Ego fit the rock band persona perfectly. They were all wearing black shirts, tight jeans, and boots. They had tattoos and wrist bands and were just playing good old fashioned rock music. I loved watching Myles play. He has so much energy and his facial expressions crack me up. He is not only having fun up there, he knows deep inside that is where he is supposed to be. The lead singer didn’t play an instrument, which I enjoy seeing. There are too many bands out there that focus too much on the instruments rather than the vocals. Alter Ego, however, put a ton of emphasis into their vocals. Their lyrics are just as good, and they match the vocals well. Regardless, I am glad I got to see them perform and they are a true Indianapolis rock band.
Glass Halo Sends Us Home
I have not seen these guys either, and came to this show excited to watch them play. These guys, fresh off of a Battle of Birdy’s win last year, they are $10,000 richer and ready to make something of themselves. They are a complete package too. They have merchandise, professional photography complements of Melissa Brewer Photography, and even a laptop allowing fans to sign up for their mailing list. But when you see their equipment, the way the guys all have that rock band (almost an adult alternative rock band) look about them, you start to see why they are so good.
They play a ton around the city, but they are also playing a lot around the Midwest. As a matter of fact, they recently just played a show with Fred Shafer at the Elbow Room up in Chicago. After winning the Battle of Birdy’s they have an excuse to get out and play more shows.
From the first song I was in love. The vocals are polished, and remind me of a harder Killers matched with a dash of Wilco. Their drummer, who is fairly new to the band, doesn’t get too into the songs, but doesn’t need to. His style, his ability to be heard yet not over the top, is just what this bands needs. No offense to the drummer, but the three guys up front are what we came to see. The lead guitar player was a blast to watch, too. He was dancing around, shaking his shaggy hair, and just having a blast on stage. And the bass player, sporting a similar and familiar faux hawk, was throwing vocals into the mic and just making himself welcome on stage. They were all comfortable up there, and it just makes sense they perform together.
Going on this late it is hard to keep a crowd in the room, but they did a good job of entertaining the crowd they had. I had no expectations coming into this, so I was curious to see what they could pull off. I was impressed, and had the chance to actually meet some of the guys throughout the night. The lead singer graduated from Rose Hulman. The guitar player I was talking about earlier has a degree in public relations. But yet they know how to make good rock music. (They gave me a copy of their latest disc, and I am excited to listen to that to say the least.) I can’t wait to know all the words to their songs.
This is just another night of great music in the books here at Birdy’s. This show was well put together, thanks to the likes of Myles Berry, and kept me entertained from the moment I walked in. if you have not seen these bands perform, at least do yourself a favor and listen to them on MySpace or on their official websites. Regardless, you will be treated with some original, raw, and healthy rock music. Throw those devil horns up and start rocking already!