Public Steals the Show: First Friday at The Hi-Fi


Last weekend, The Hi-Fi in Fountain Square waved the admission fee in honor of the first Friday of the month. Lots of venues around Fountain Square and the larger Indy area do this as well. It’s a great way to get the locals out for a communal evening, and I’m sure it also encourages them to buy a few more drinks.

It was a little after 7:30 pm when I walked through the doors, and I was more than a little surprised to find the place nearly empty.

Opening Act: Matthew Aaron

I got a drink at the bar and sat down at one of the round corner tables near the back. The man sitting alone on stage strumming an acoustic guitar was Matthew Aaron, a solo acoustic artist. He played simple blues, with minimal strumming compensated by Aaron’s boisterous vocals. I was a bit disappointed at the turnout, but knew that it was still early, and more would show up for the main acts.

Still, it was a nice way to start off the evening. Aaron showed whimsy and humor with lyrics like, “Another Saturday night in this shithole town”, and “I know you want me to kiss your ass”. It was a shame there weren’t more people there to hear him. If you ever get the opportunity, don’t pass it up.


After Matthew Aaron left the stage, he was replaced by Public, the first band of the night. Already the room was growing louder, as more patrons filtered in. Public kicked things off with a gut-punching beat with a catchy guitar riff, and vocals laced with reverb. They played mostly ’80’s-inspired pop, but threw in some blues and rock later in their set. It was clear they were trying to get people moving and excited, but the crowd wasn’t quite there yet.

In an effort to win the crowd over, Public’s charismatic frontman launched the band into a few covers. The first was a punky-pop version of “Since You’ve Been Gone” by Avril Lavigne, which got more than a few singing along. The second was “Toxic” by Britney Spears, which was one of the better songs of the night, in my opinion. It was also the one that got a lot of heads nodding, and feet inching closer to the dance floor.

Public’s greatest asset was their lead singer and guitarist, who put in a lot of work to make sure that the crowd was having a good time. At one point he even got down on the floor and started jumping to the beat with the audience. They gave the crowd an intimate and interactive show, and they were my favorite band of the night.


By the time Hembree took the stage, The Hi-Fi was about half-full. It was still a smaller turnout than I expected, but it was also substantially larger than the meager few who showed up to listen to Matthew Aaron.

Hembree was a five-piece band that played a mixture of indie pop and rock. They played some of their new material from their EP, which they released that very day. That was pretty exciting, but probably something more for true fans of the band.

It was curious how little energy the crowd seemed to have. Although it’s size had doubled since Public’s performance, it seemed like the show had half the energy. Hembree didn’t carry the same charisma, and their playing seemed a little stiff. I left before they finished, as I still had to get down to The Pioneer for their free concert.



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