Greg O’Neill, current Butler MFA candidate in fiction is the program’s resident music scene guy. He knows music: Who to watch and where and with whom (hint: with him, if you’re buying). He shares his thoughts on Indy’s music scene.
As a music fan and musician, Indy has always been good to me. There are venues all over the city for both local and touring acts. Places like the Melody Inn which is next to Butler’s campus and books acts as disparate as Japanese punks Peelander-Z and surf-rock god Dick Dale; shockingly legit jazz clubs like the Chatterbox and the Jazz Kitchen; a trio of clubs in Fountain Square — White Rabbit, Radio, Radio and Hi-fi — specializing in everything from burlesque shows to bearded folkies; not to mention your standard outdoor amphitheaters and sporting arenas (I saw both Taylor Swift and Nine Inch Nails under the Pacers banner at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse).
And because Indy inhabits this weird limbo of sometimes-medium-sometimes-major market, national touring acts like Animal Collective, Kurt Vile or Savages will often play more intimate spaces than up in Chicago. Here’s how close you can get:
I’m also constantly surprised by all the MCs who just keep spawning in nearby Fountain Square’s hip hop scene, each year culminating in the hip hop block party, Chreece — sold out in its first two years.
I could go on.
And I will.
Only to mention the two stellar record stores in town, Luna Music and Indy CD & Vinyl. They both sell a great selection of old records and host incredible events like in-store performances from artists playing in town.
I like Indy. It’s a tidy little secret with lots of cool people, cheap housing and zero pretense. Find a local and prepare to spend a single digit number of dollars on drinks.
Often misunderstood, Indianapolis is a diverse and politically blue city in a red state which has been earning national attention: Most Affordable Cities(#2), Forbes’ America’s 20 Best Cities For Young Professionals (#10), Top 10 Best Downtowns (#3), World’s Most Livable Cities. Restaurants like Bluebeard and Milktooth (both featured in Gourmet magazine) have elevated the Indianapolis food scene to make it one of Zagat’s Top 26 Food Cities. The serious food and drink culture combined with a “100-acre sculpture park, a scenic downtown canal rowed by kayaks and gondolas, an authentic duckpin bowling alley, and the largest children’s museum in the world” earn Indy a spot on Conde Nast’s Most Underrated Cities.
Many of our students and faculty have moved from other cities and have good things to say about it:
- Mike Pence is no longer in Indianapolis, but John Green is, and he’s “a real fan” of Indianapolis. “There’s a vibrant culture here and a lot of value placed on hard work and innovation. This makes it a useful place for me to live, because I am surrounded by the kind of experience I want to write about.” John Green has a slew of other reasons for loving Indy you can read in this essay.
- “You get to be a Hoosier. Like, what even is that?” – Bailey Merlin, Fiction candidate, moved from Florida
- More than $5 billion has been invested into the downtown Indianapolis area since 1990. It boasts unique shops, local restaurants, ever-changing exhibits, a 250-acre urban park, sports, festivals, concerts, and an 8-mile cultural trail connecting distinct neighborhoods and displaying outdoor art. Even the New York Times noted Indianapolis’ improvements as a bike-friendly city.
- “I love riding my bike canal-side to Holcomb gardens to read beneath the willow trees, getting my favorite pick-me-up — the “White Zombie” at Monon Coffee — and Sunday brunch at Milktooth followed by an afternoon at Tapper’s arcade bar. Broad Ripple is an artsy neighborhood in walkable distance to thrift shops, restaurants & live music. I’ve met awesome people here — students, professors, neighbors alike — who have given my poetry a Midwest home.” – Natalie Tombasco, Poetry candidate, moved from Staten Island
- 60,000 fans of board games, comics, and nerd culture attended Indy’s Gen Con in 2016 — the longest-running, best-attended gaming event in North America.
- “The counter-culture here is supercharged: it has to be. And we have more breweries per person than any other state.” – Hilene Flanzbaum, MFA director, moved from Philadelphia
- Indianapolis is the most sexually satisfied city in the country according to Men’s Health magazine.
- “We have six different species of turtle living in the White River Canal, which is insane to me. That seems like a lot.” – John Eckerd, Fiction candidate, moved from Texas
- “Indy’s a tidy little secret with lots of cool people, cheap housing, and zero pretense. Cozy up with one of our cheerfully sardonic locals and prepare to spend a single-digit number of dollars on drinks.” – Greg O’Neill, Fiction candidate, from Indianapolis
- Neighborhood bar, Red Key Tavern, is a perennial Best Bar in America in Esquire, not to mention one of Buzzfeed’s 12 Historic Bars Every Book Nerd Needs To Visit joining a list that includes Oxford, Madrid, and Paris. If you go to the Red Key to write, you will not be alone … but you will be “alone.”