Article by Syd Innovaria, Photography by Forgotten Aesthetics Photography
Have you ever been to the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis? It’s one of the few places where people of all ages can come out and enjoy local (and touring) music acts without having to sneak someone in the back because they’re only 14. Everywhere needs more all ages venues. The Hoosier Dome doesn’t serve alcohol- but I’m sure you could bring your own.
It’s a bit grungy, and “hole in the wall”, and there’s only one room. There’s a bathroom that has no mirrors and the walls are completely covered in graffiti and writing from thousands of musicians and fans who have come and gone over the years. If you’re a performer, you’ll like the sound. The acoustics are lovely and the stage is wide enough for probably a 5 piece band to fit comfortably on without stepping on each other. The lighting is wonderful, you can see everyone on stage really well and they rotate between colors- sometimes.
There is even room for merch tables, which is awesome for the acts that have it. However, there’s not much room for music equipment. Everything gets loaded in to the side of the stage, lining the wall and spilling out into the audience floor on the right side of the room. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still room for the crowd, at the size it is now.
It’s a place with a confusing reputation. Over the years it has changed promoters several times, and sound. My band played a gig there in 2018 and it was under a different promoter, and most of the bands on the show dropped off. It wasn’t promoted too well, so not many fans were out, and lots of people were disappointed in the state of the building. However, many other people loved it and still do. They find it like home, and I can’t stress enough how much Indianapolis needs more all ages venues and that is one huge reason I support this place. There is a new promoter now that put together the show I am about to tell you about, and it went very well. I was impressed and I hope it continues to look up from here.
I got a short interview with the promoter, Tom Morrison of Stone Tree Entertainment.
SI: When did you start booking shows for the Hoosier Dome?
TM: About 3 years ago through my son’s business, StoneTree Studios.
One year ago, we separated Stone Tree Entertainment, LLC out and started booking full time.
SI: How long have you been a promoter? Tell me a bit about how you run your business, Stone Tree Entertainment.
TM: One year as an official “Promoter”, prior to that I booked shows more as a networking event for the artists that were recording at StoneTree Studios.
I still try to keep Networking as a main focus for the events. When I book touring bands, I try to find local bands who I think would benefit the most meeting the tour bands. I also try to mix genre so the attendees will also be exposed to fans and artists that they normally would not see on a regular basis.
The second focus is to try to find local bands and artists that are just starting out and are over looked by the other promoters because they do not have a proven “draw” or large fan base yet.
How it works:
I reach out to booking agents and bands around the country looking for potential head liners. We also receive requests from bands and booking agents putting together tours that are coming through Indianapolis.
In order to find local support bands, I go to a lot of shows. I also watch social media closely, they share each other’s music. I watch a lot of videos and listen to a lot of music on the various streaming sites.
Promoting the events is the hard part. I use physical flyers and post them where I can. I also use social media. I depend on the local bands to invite their friends, family, and fans. To incentivize them to sell tickets I let them keep $3 from every ticket they sell but do not ever have a minimum requirement or make them “buy out” their unsold tickets.
SI: You got some seriously good acts on this show. How did you manage to put it all together?
TM: I spend a large part of my day on social media looking for new artists. On this particular show I discovered “Lung” because the lead singer for “Sonora”, Tara Nova posted one of their videos. I reached out to the band and asked them if they would be interested in playing a show at the Hoosier Dome on their next tour. So obviously “Sonora” was the first band I invited to play as a thank you for the introduction. The second band was “Robots and Magic Powers” due to the Cello being part of their show. I have been talking to them for a while trying to find the right fit to get them into the Hoosier Dome. They usually do not play All Ages venues. “White Oak” was a last minute add due to the cancellation of another band due to a car accident that left them without a van. “White Oak” turned out to be the perfect fit. So sometimes I just get lucky.
SI: Tell us how you felt about the performers overall. What were some highlights of the show?
TM: I enjoy the events and love watching the performances. More importantly, I get to watch people network and create new bonds, which fills me with pride and feeling of accomplishment.
Recently two bands that met on a different show and became fast friends went on tour together. That reassures me that I am doing something right.
Overall the show was perfect in my mind. It was my first time seeing “Lung” and “Robots and Magic Powers”, I was mind blown by both bands.
SI: How do you feel about the response to the show? Was it what you anticipated?
TM: I was a little surprised by the low turnout for the show. I got a lot of really good feedback when I first announced the event but people are really busy these days. The other drawback for this event was the fact that it was an all-ages venue and the fan base for this genre usually likes to go to venues that serve alcohol.
SI: Are you going to continue booking acts at this venue- and if so, do you have anything lined up right now we should know about?
TM: The DIY, all ages venues are closing all over the country. I will continue to support the Hoosier Dome because I think it is important to have all ages venues for the young bands and fans. The Hoosier Dome keeps their rental rates low so we can keep our ticket prices low for the fans of the music and art scene, who typically do not have a lot of money. The Hoosier Dome is also a place the scene can call home. We work hard to keep the events safe. I look at all the young people as my own children and want to provide an environment free of judgment and fear for safety. The Hoosier Dome tag line is “The Dome is Home” and I take that very seriously.
4/6/19 at the Hoosier Dome ~ Artica (Louisville based Alt. Rock) with support from For the Fire, Divine Martyr, Four Fates, and Above a Whisper
4/12/19 at the Hoosier Dome ~ Deadculture (Heavy Metal based in Cincinnati) & Betrayer (Deathcore based in Winchester, VA) with local support from Aforethought, To My Dismay, and Mask of Sanity. *This event is a collaboration with Sleeper Music.
5/2/19 at the Grove Haus ~ Anna Nalick (Triple Platinum singer/songwriter) with local support from Wolfi (Emerson Vernon)
5/18/19 at the Hoosier Dome ~ FoxBat ( Metal based in Louisville) with local support from, These Fine Gentlemen, The Green Leaves, A Burden to Bear
When I arrived on the scene that cool December evening, the show had already begun.
Tara (Sonora) playing something beautiful.
Sonora was three-quarters through their set, with singer/guitarist Tara intensely dominating the stage. She was fierce, loud and energetic. I had never heard of this band before but I was immediately regretting not being there to catch the entire set. With absolutely amazing guitar playing combined with vocals that really brought you in, I felt drawn to the stage. I was fascinated by her stage presence and attire and there was an element of angst that I felt I related to.
Tara’s vocals are something to be reckoned with.
They finished before I could get many photos, of course. The crowd dispersed; some went outside to smoke, some left, some went to talk to the band, some went to mingle with each other.
Robots and Magic Powers came to the stage. I had seen them before, they have a bit of a following currently in the Indy music scene. They really put a lot into their entire band’s theme and stage attire- and as they began to play, Sietch Ramshackle (probably their biggest fan in the world) waved their flag around as he moved around the sides of the stage.
Davina (RAMP) rocking out while Sietch waves their flag.
RAMP (as we shall abbreviate here) is really an interesting band. Their keyboardist, Ceres, wears a helmet while she is playing until she switches to the cello later on in the set. Check out their shirts, too. And their flag? The bass player Davina also has a necklace with the same symbol on it. The singer Jeremiah also plays the tambourine during their set, and his vocals are super powerful and impactive with the “otherworldly” effect he has on them. It sounds almost sci-fi as you are listening to it, as if he is announcing the arrival of robots taking over the world. Is he? You’ll have to check out our album review of their album Gateways that just came out- which is already published on the site here. And go pick up a copy or go see them live. It’s a beautiful intense experience. Davina is a stellar bass player with such intense groovy riffs that align perfectly with the way J.J. plays the drums.
Jeremiah (RAMP) in a quirky moment.
I felt really overwhelmed by their power and intensity. They have such a great dynamic as they play together. “Be one with all of us,” is the lyric that I think resonated in my head and I hear it over and over- don’t know why, but that lyric is sang and then comes a driving beat from the drums and the bass that really pulls you in and doesn’t let go. Again, go check out our review of their album and pick up a copy of it so you can hear the song. I won’t even tell you which one it is- you’ll have to discover that yourself.
When they ended, there was a pause in the air, and many went around to merch tables to check out what the bands had to offer.
Lung took the stage. If you have never heard of them, you’re probably not from Cincinatti anyways. They’ve been around for several years, a two-piece that sounds more powerful than most 5 piece bands. I was so excited that they got on this show because they don’t get around here much, and it’s beyond worth it to see them live.
Kate (Lung). Her eyes hold so much emotion.
The singer and cellist Kate is the most expressive human with her face that I’ve ever known. The way she moves her eyes, her head and her mouth conveys more emotion than any amount of words could possibly do alone. Ever since that night her face and her words have been engraved into my head, repeating themselves. I feel like this band needs to be famous and I’m surprised they aren’t bigger than they are. She has such a unique presence that I feel belongs on a much bigger stage reaching a much larger audience.
Her lyrics also really hit home for me. In the wake of the #metoo movement, many people have came out talking about their personal experiences with sexual harassment or assault. Not every song was related to anything like that, but the opening song has the line “she didn’t wanna go out that night with you, she didn’t wanna go out that night with anyone darlin'” which immediately sent chills down my spine and I was sold for the rest of the show. It’s not just the words, it’s HOW she said the words. It was the facial expressions, the eyes, and the tone of her voice. The intensity and almost creepiness behind it really drove the whole thing home and I spent the whole time center stage trying to capture all of her expressions.
Daisy (Lung) going to town with those sticks
There was great audience appreciation, and then the pause while the bands switched. I went over and bought their vinyl and some buttons. I also picked up a copy of RAMP‘s cd with their neat little comic. You gotta check it out, it’s SO cool. There’s gonna be several of them.
White Oak came on. I had seen them once before at a different venue in Indianapolis and they were really good. They had a lot of intensity as well, which I think blended well with the other artists in the lineup. They’re a 3-piece, local. I don’t really know much about them, though. They’re very interesting and really passionate.
Ben (White Oak) screaming real hard.
The singer and guitarist Ben has a good stage presence. They appear at first like just your average dudes, but they get up there and create something amazing. The singer is so intense with his performance that he ripped out his guitar cord one time. And it’s not the normal kind of intensity, but more a jerky, frustrated, emotion-filled intensity.
Joe (White Oak) is a really good drummer.
I don’t mean to have less to say about the last band, everyone was very good at this show. The coolest thing about this venue, though, is the all ages factor. This is one of the best shows they’ve ever had, even with the low turnout. It was a decent amount of people, but it’s hard to get a huge crowd any night in Indianapolis because there’s always at least 2-3 other venues with shows to compete with that same night. It frustrates me as a photojournalist too, because I would like to check out more shows, but it’s not possible to be in two places at once. While it is nice to offer the town multiple places to check out on the same night, I hope it will eventually be done in such a way that there are less choices for everyone and therefore larger crowds at each event.
Go check out their upcoming shows at the Hoosier Dome!