For the life of me, I can’t explain why it took me so long to finally get down to The Melody Inn for a show, but I’m glad that I did.
Upon entering The Melody Inn, you at first notice two things. One: that there’s a small stage to your immediate left with speakers stacked around it, and a spinning disco ball above. And two: that there’s a big projector on your right facing out toward the bar with a nice view of the stage on screen. Without these two things, it’s hard to believe that the cramped space of The Melody Inn is a venue for live music.
The opening act for the night was a local, three-piece pop-punk-rock band called Swingset. They kicked off the show with a collection of driving, grunge-laced tunes as more people trickled into The Melody Inn. While most of their songs were composed of simple power chords and arrangements, “Stress” stood out to me as an outlier. The song started off with a nice arpeggio progression that gradually built to a heavier, distorted chorus. It showed that Swingset’s a band that knows what it’s doing, and are capable of more range than you may at first be inclined to think.
After their set, I got a chance to speak with drummer Davey Farmer, who let me in on their history. “We played throughout high school. Six or seven years after that we all got back together, played our songs, and reworked them with all that we’ve learned since then.” One more note worth considering is that this was Swingset’s first live show. I couldn’t tell, but it makes more sense when you consider how long these guys have known each other. Farmer noted how easy it was to slip back into the groove, “It was like we played yesterday. It was so cool.”
So keep an eye out for Swingset in the future. While The Melody Inn may have been their first show, I’m sure it won’t be their last.
Up next was the four-piece, indie rock band The Trees, another local Indianapolis band. By the time they took the stage, The Melody Inn had a comfortably-full house. Coming on after Swingset, The Trees wasted no time in bringing the energy down a notch from the driving pop-punk before them. Their sound is a little cleaner, less distorted and more atmospheric, with a hint of western flair in the reverb-laced guitar melodies.
The Trees opened with a nice instrumental piece that helped to set the tone for their set. They’re a bit more of a jam band, which works well for them, as their songs tend to focus more on instrumental melodies and a solid groove. In the songs including lyrics, the melody trades off between the vocals and the lead guitar to a nice effect.
The Trees consists of Dan Stempky (rhythm guitar, vocals), Riley Castellano (lead guitar), Will Bright (bassist for The Trees, as well as Swingset), and Luke Farrow (drums). To learn more about The Trees, you can find them on Facebook. You can also listen to some of their songs for free on Bandcamp.
The last band and headlining act for the night was the local five-piece band Shady Mayor. By this time, the Melody Inn was at its fullest, and with good reason. Much like The Trees, Shady Mayor is no stranger to the jam as a method to craft a strong atmosphere. They restrain themselves from launching into ten-minute jam sessions, however, in favor of tighter and shorter songs with more consistent vocals.
One of the aspects of Shady Mayor’s sound that stands out the most is the saxophone, which adds a smooth, jazzy feel to their sound. That, along with their interesting musical arrangements, makes them a pleasure to listen to.
Shady Mayor consists of Matt Hoagland (vocals, guitar), Javier Alejandro Perez Serra (saxophone), Owen Welch (guitar), Adam Skinner (bass), and Paul Uhrina (drums). You can find Shady Mayor on Facebook, and listen to them on Bandcamp.
All things considered, I had a great time at The Melody Inn last Thursday night. For my first time covering the venue, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of music on display. For anyone who missed out, be sure to keep an eye on Shady Mayor and The Trees, who will be playing again at The Hi-Fi in a couple weeks. I’ll make sure I’m there to hear them both again, and you should too.