Photography by Rich Barker and Forgotten Aesthetics Photography, Article by Syd Innovaria
Coverboy singer Morgan prostrates himself before the audience.
Have you been to Punk Rock Night at the historic Melody Inn? Chances are if you live in Indianapolis, anywhere near 38th and Illinois, you’ve probably been there at some point or another. It’s a real lively little place with people and music of all sorts, and the staff are some of the coolest individuals you’ll ever meet.
Several years ago, a couple of them got together and founded Punk Rock Night, which currently happens every Saturday and there’s always a different lineup of really cool artists. The photos you see here are from the recent PRN: Joey Ramone Bash, which was a themed night where each band came and played covers of Ramones songs. There are various themed Punk Rock Nights throughout the year which are all really cool and bring out some great acts. It feels like you’re being thrown back in time in this place, and especially on this particular night, it brings you back to a time you might not have even been alive for. It opened with Joey 74, followed by The Reppertons from Tennessee, Coverboy, and finally The Enders.
Joey 74. Photo by Rich Barker.
Joey 74 was fun. A bit more reserved, a tad less excitement than the rest of the groups- but still super good and their Ramones covers were well done. They also talked with the audience a lot. It was a great start to the evening! The sonic flow throughout the night was very good which is very important for creating a good show that keeps people coming back for more.
The Reppertons amped up the volume when they went on. At this point lots of people were crowded around the stage, and it began to be very hard to photograph considering the human bodies everywhere. They didn’t do as much engaging, but the songs were super good and everyone seemed really into it.
Bassist Chris with drummer Troy during The Reppertons set.
Coverboy in particular seemed to be the most enthusiastic and most exciting band in attendance. They’re from Kentucky, and their presence was just overwhelming. From the beginning the crowd was really into it, and as their set wore on the singer Morgan came out into the crowd repeatedly, one time climbing up on one of the booth seatbacks and crouching in a rather intriguing pose.
We didn’t get a photo of that stance, unfortunately. You’ll have to go see them in person. Which is a better idea anyways, we promise.
What was really cool is they came on set wearing wigs similar to the Ramones, and not even a few minutes later the crowd had intensified and was in a circle around the stage. They really brought such a badass look and attitude that has been kinda lost in the punk scene for many years and it was overly impressive.
Coverboy singer Morgan with the mic cord around his neck.
Morgan was like a true punk icon from the 70s, or the 80s. At some point shortly into the set he removed his shirt and sweat was pouring. He sat down, he flailed about and prostrated himself on the stage. If you’re looking for stuff that will make you feel like you did a time warp (and perhaps the actual time warp, sometimes) then this is where you need to be.
The Enders finalized everything, akin to their name, and it was amazing. They got a little over an hour to play, unlike the other bands and also, they played only Ramones covers the entire set. The previous bands mixed in their originals with the covers and that was fun as well, some of them were really good actually.
We got a chance to get some answers about the founding of Punk Rock Night and what the future plans for it are, and they go as follows.
S: How did PRN get founded? What was the idea behind it?
Greg: In the late 90’s the Indianapolis music scene was in sad shape. After an extensive search for something resembling a punk club I had resigned myself to Goth events. A Goth night was going on every Sunday at the Melody Inn. A couple friends and I use to go weekly. The night began to become sparsely attended and ended in the summer of 2000. I was distressed because the only thing happening that represented a big city feel was just cancelled. I approached the Melody Inn with an idea for Punk Rock Night every Sunday. The night went surprisingly well. I wanted the night to be hosted and be consistent and it was. Come spring Radio Radio was opening and was rumored to be the Punk club in Indianapolis. They started a punk night every Sunday that was directly in conflict with my PRN. I figured that Indy was not ready for 2 punk nights on the same night so the operation moved over to Radio Radio and was quickly cancelled. We did various nights and shows for a few months when Dave and Rob bought the Melody Inn. I approached them with the idea to move the night to Saturday. They were agreeable and I booked a month of shows. I told Melody Inn this but they thought it was only 1 Saturday but I countered that I had the whole month booked and said lets see how it goes. Hence now, almost 18 years later, every Saturday Night is Punk Rock Night at the here at the Melody Inn.S: How long have you guys been doing PRN?
Rich: Punk Rock Night’s first show was the first week in October, 2000 – so 18 years now!S: This past Saturday in particular was the Ramones tribute night. How do you feel it turned out?
Rich: The Joey Ramone Birthday Bash is always a great time, we’ve been putting that annual show on for quite a few years now. The crowd turn out was solid, the numbers were right in our average attendance and many stayed late and sang along to Ramones songs throughout night. All of the bands brought a good game, The Enders play the Ramones Bash about every year so we knew they’d kill it but the other three bands were performing at Punk Rock Night for their first time ever – luckily they were all fantastic, we’ll have them back for original sets at PRN for sure.S: What’s your favorite thing about having PRN at the Melody Inn?
Rich: The Melody Inn always feels like home, on and off the stage. It’s like our very own CBGB, and that’s quite appropriate since punk rock became legendary at CBGB. We’re keeping the punk rock spirit alive at The Melody Inn – in fact we’re the longest running weekly punk rock showcase on the planet! We do have shows at other venues from time to time, but every Saturday Night at The Melody Inn is Punk Rock Night!
Greg: My favorite thing is the variety of people that come to the night. Everyone is very friendly and it is an open and welcoming environment. Oh… and the awesome bands that come through.S: What are some other special PRN events we should all look out for this year?
Rich: We have a lot of national acts coming through as well as some specialty shows of note, here’s a few: NYC ska legends The Toasters The Melody Inn on Monday, June 11. The Coathangers at The Hi-Fi on Friday, June 15. GG Allin’s band The Murder Junkies at The Melody Inn on Monday, June 18. The Dead Boys at Black Circle Brewing on Tuesday, July 3… and that’s just the next month and a half! We will have our annual Awards Show on Saturday, October 6th at The Melody Inn – a red carpet and black tie affair where we hand out hand-sculpted award statuettes and have performances by some of the most impressive bands of the past year.S: How do you guys usually build a lineup for PRN? Do you think it works out usually?
Rich: We usually try to have two local bands and two out of town bands on each show; we love giving touring bands or regional bands a place to play and adding the locals make sure they have a decent audience. It’s usually good to match up bands with a similar sound but a little variety can help widen the show’s appeal. It’s hard to have a solid booking formula, we have to evolve with the music scene and adapt accordingly. It seems to be working out quite well, we have a lot of regulars and we see a lot of new faces in the crowd too.S: Who do you think did the best Ramones covers at this past show?
Rich: It’s hard to pick a favorite, all of the bands showed their love for The Ramones in their own way.
So, if you’re in Indianapolis on a Saturday night, you know where you should be. The crowd is always enthusiastic. Dave and Rob and Rich are amazing guys and the place always feels like a home. Every single person who is a part of Punk Rock Night at the Melody Inn is just beautiful- bartenders Lisa and Hubert and the sound guy Dave are just wonderful at their jobs and really kind to everyone, and then the actual behind the scenes PRN staff, who can forget them? For a detailed list on who takes part in the fun and helps create the magic, go to their website’s About PRN page.
What Greg and Rich and everyone are doing for the music scene in Indianapolis is just amazing. As he said in the interview, it very much reminds of a CBGB feel from many years ago. It’s so welcoming and the bands they recruit for Punk Rock Night are so kickass. Too many people talk about how the scene has died, or how real punk rock isn’t alive anymore, or how the old times were so much better- but if you come to Punk Rock Night, your faith will be restored. It will make you never want to leave. Make sure you check out the bathroom in the Melody Inn, too, there is so much writing on the walls from over the years. It’s amazing and lets you in on some stuff people have felt at other shows over the years, or even just quirky thoughts, feel free to add your own after you attend a PRN. Punk is NOT dead!
Go to their page and look for the upcoming shows and events there! The next one is June 9th with the Big Gay Revue, don’t miss it!
Shows are available on their facebook page which is linked above, or on their website www.punkrocknight.com !