Our reporters scoured the area for Central Indiana’s latest and greatest. Below, see the best in arts & culture from our 2019 Best of Indy December issue.
Held at beautiful Garfield Park on the city’s south side, Holler on the Hill (2345 Pagoda Dr.) is equal parts music festival and community picnic. Families spread their blankets out on the grass and kids blow bubbles while bands jam on multiple stages nearby. Curated by local concert-promotion company MOKB Presents, the late-September festival focuses on Americana, folk, and country music. Since its first iteration last fall, Holler has featured such acts as Citizen Cope, Justin Townes Earle, and St. Paul and the Broken Bones. Watch the website for the date of next year’s event.
New Record Shop
Located where Bookmamas and Irvington Vinyl once were, Irvington Vinyl & Books (9 Johnson Ave., 317-375-3715) opened late last year, combining the best of both places. Owned by local writer Elysia Smith, the shop focuses on used LPs, leaving new-records sales to places like Luna Music. Smith encourages customers to dig for gems (such as Jr. and His Soulettes’ rare 1971 album Psychodelic Sounds, a recent find), rather than coming into the store with a specific album in mind. As for its book selection, the store carries a wide array of works by women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, and local authors. Throughout the year, poets and singer-songwriters perform, too.
Place to Discover New Music
Tucked away on the second floor of Fountain Square’s Murphy Arts Center, the Lo-Fi (1043 Virginia Ave., 317-602-6641) is a little brother of sorts to the larger Hi-Fi venue located one story below it. The room has a capacity of just 100, making it a more intimate concert venue for singer-songwriters. From hosting noteworthy local acts such as Joshua Powell to up-and-coming touring ones such as Katie Pruitt, the Lo-Fi serves as a great hub for music discovery. In addition to shows throughout the month, the venue regularly hosts free First Friday concerts.
In July 2017, friends Fabian Rodriguez and Jared Byzko decided to start a podcast discussing two things they both loved: beer and bourbon. After four or five episodes, though, the two hosts realized they needed to widen their scope if they were going to reach a large audience. Having now brought Hayley Brown into the mix, the Drink Culture podcast aims to inspire and strengthen the Indy community through storytelling. Every Wednesday, the hosts chat with local business owners (such as Bluebeard’s Tom Battista), thought leaders (the Cultural Trail’s Kären Haley), and creators (musician Sean “Oreo” Jones) on the podcast, sharing a drink with them during the show. Earlier this year, Indianapolis mayor Joe Hogsett recognized the crew’s hard work, proclaiming July 19 Drink Culture Day in honor of its two-year anniversary. In our humble opinion, the coolest thing the group is working on right now is its podcast collaboration with IM: The Monthly, Weekly.
Stand-Up Comedy Collective
In a year that saw a revival of Indy’s comedy scene (welcome, Helium Comedy Club), no group of comedians made a better impression than DIY Jokers. Co-founded by local comics Brad Scott, Brent Terhune, and Ryan Niemiller, the collective enjoyed a great 2019. Scott released his first full-length album. Terhune, who writes for The Bob & Tom Show, watched his “Redneck Hoosier” character rack up more than 10 million views on Facebook. And then there’s Niemiller, who took home third place in America’s Got Talent this past summer. You can find him on stage at Red Curb Comedy in Avon on January 17.
New Theater Space
After directing in Chicago’s theater scene for many years, Ronan Marra moved to Indianapolis with his family in 2017 and started Storefront Theatre of Indianapolis (717 Broad Ripple Ave., 317-643-0329), a professional company focused on works by female and minority playwrights. In its early days, Marra’s operation put on a pair of celebrated shows at IndyFringe’s Indy Eleven Theatre. But this spring, it opened a versatile new 7,500-square-foot location of its own on Broad Ripple Avenue, complete with a 50-seat main stage space, a multipurpose gallery, and a rehearsal room that are all available to the community for rent. In April, Storefront will produce Patricia Cotter’s 1980 (Or Why I’m Voting For John Anderson).
Bar Trivia Night
In the city’s taverns, trivia nights have become as common as craft beer, so it takes something special to stand out. Tappers Arcade Bar (501 Virginia Ave., 317-602-6411) levels up by focusing on pop culture. The Fletcher Place destination initially hosted a Simpsons-themed trivia contest in 2016, and it was such a hit, they decided to make a themed competition a weekly feature on Wednesday nights. The subject matter is usually a single movie or television show. To date, topics have included The Office, Star Wars, and Seinfeld. About 50 contestants take part in two rounds of 20 questions, competing for a prize pack that fits the evening’s theme (typically, toys, prints, hats, and books). Who knew all those hours in front of the TV would finally pay off?
New Museum Exhibit
On the quiet third floor of the new Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library location (543 Indiana Ave.), the book that made more noise than any other by a Hoosier finally gets a permanent tribute. Unstuck in Time: Slaughterhouse-Five Then and Now sheds new light on a novel many of us thought we were familiar with. A series of 50 paintings by veteran Lance Miccio depicts lesser-known passages of the story. A wall-size image of the book’s many covers, plus translated copies on display, recall its global impact. A fabricated, crumbling tunnel invites visitors to walk through and learn about Vonnegut’s experiences as a prisoner of war in firebombed Dresden. There’s a lot to see and enjoy in this museum, including Edward Battista’s playful cafe Mr. Rosewater, still taking shape. But the thoroughly considered Slaughterhouse-Five exhibit is its magnum opus.
Red Line Stop
Located at the southernmost end of IndyGo’s new Red Line route, the University Station stop (Hanna Avenue and Shelby Street) saves the best for last. In addition to its proximity to all UIndy offers (concerts at Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center, the campus sculpture walk, football games at Key Stadium), this station is also conveniently close to a few local watering holes.