Dead Sara’s Emily Armstrong. The band will be playing Birdy’s Live tomorrow night!

Another week gone, another great show coming up at Birdy’s Live! This time it’s the inimitable Dead Sara, whose song “Weatherman” I cannot get out of my head! “Go for the kill, ’cause no one else cares!” Emily Armstrong howls by the song’s end, and it’s impossible not to want to find as much more to hear as possible. The band’s latest, “Mona Lisa,” fits in more of the blues sound of bands like Delta Rae into their harder edged sound. If you want to get in on the ground floor and hear them before the band blows up nationally, you’re not going to want to miss tomorrow night’s Birdy’s set. The band’s fresh off a tour with Muse and they’ve been touted by Dave Grohl as one of the bands you simply have to hear. Once their sophomore album Pleasure To Meet You takes off there’s no limit to how far this sound can take them.

Tickets are still available for the show — check out their live performance of “Something Good” on Seth Meyers’ show, and then guarantee your spot up against the stage, only $10 in advance!

THE LIVE WIRE: Stackhouse

Stackhouse at the Birdy's Battle Royale (Credit: Jonathan Sanders)

Stackhouse at the Birdy’s Battle Royale (Credit: Jonathan Sanders)

If you happened to make it to last week’s Battle Royale edition at Birdy’s, you caught Indianapolis’ best 80s hair metal act in their element. Stackhouse brought a ton of fans and won over the rest of us, easily earning themselves a spot in the next round. Their unabashed enthusiasm for all-things metal was contagious, as you can hear and see for yourselves via their song “Two Is Better Than One,” which I have included below. Scroll down for great photos, and then make plans to attend the Battle’s second round on April 17th when they’ll again compete for a chance at the $5,000 grand prize.

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INTERVIEW: Good Guy Bad Guy


Good Guy Bad Guy at Birdy’s Battle Royale (credit: Jonathan Sanders)


If you missed your chance to check out Indianapolis punk band Good Guy Bad Guy when they played during week five of Birdy’s Battle Royale, tomorrow will be your perfect chance to hear them and twenty more locals ready to win you over to Naptown’s punk dark side. 5th Quarter Lounge is sponsoring Punk Fest 2015, starting tonight and continuing all day and night tomorrow with more than thirty regional bands all competing for your attention.

I had the chance to talk with Stephen Ajamie, lead singer for Good Guy Bad Guy earlier this week, and he had plenty to say about the band’s past and future, the difficulties in drawing large crowds to last-minute gigs, and why you should make sure to get to 5th Quarter as early as possible for their noon performance.

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First of all, what’s the story behind the band? How did you guys get started?

It’s an interesting story, I guess. Back a year or so ago I was trying to get a band together so I put a posting on Facebook. And then Shane, who is actually our bass player we had for a little bit, messaged me and said “hey, I’m starting this thing out, do you want to come play with us and see what you like?” So I went that route — it was Shane and Amir, and then they also had a singer named Kevin. So we played for a couple months and then unfortunately Kevin couldn’t show up to practice for six weeks in a row, which was awesome. [Laughs.]

But we kept practicing and eventually we did hook up with Phil, our drummer now. I came in not knowing what the music was going to be, but Phil came in looking for a pop punk type band, which obviously we don’t play. We haven’t yet truly established a sound, which is funny. But it was the four of us … me and Shane took the vocal duties because we kept looking for a singer. We’d both sang with a band before and figured we might as well just do it. He left the band last year in April, so we’ve been rolling as a threesome ever since.

We’ve looked for a bass player here and there, but the three of us have good chemistry so I’m honestly not that worried about having a bass player. Having two guitars, me and Amir don’t really play a lot of the same stuff. We’ll do a lot of the same chord stuff together but then we’ll switch it up, alternating the lead. It’d be nice to have a bass player to fill out the sound, but then again when you’re playing with the same guys for long enough, the chemistry we have is so good that a lot of the stuff we’ve written so far just came out of jamming. Amir might start playing something at the beginning of practice, or I play something, and once Phil comes in then we go back and organize it. But I think that’s the best thing I love about playing with these guys.

You said you haven’t really pinned down your sound yet. What influences were you guys bringing to the table?

Oh man … I know Amir’s really metalesque, it seems. And I’m into that pop punk genre, while Phil’s all over the place with his interests. It’s interesting that I think the influences we listen to don’t really end up coming out, if that makes sense. I’ve always said a couple of our songs — “Hello Cleveland” and “We Got Phil” — they almost have an AC/DC thing, which is straight-up rock. And I never really think about them as an influence. But I listen and there it is.

My own musical taste is all over the place. One week I’ll want to listen to Stevie Wonder all week and the next I’ll want to listen to nothing but Michael Jackson. Even though I always joke “I hope they don’t take my punk rock card away,” because the scene can be so “you better listen to this or you’re not punk enough!” Every day though there’s a different influence on my mind, and that should be the punk rock attitude anyway. The whole idea behind punk is to be accepting of variety, non-conformity.

Do you ever find yourself re-writing or arranging your songs on stage?

Only when we’re practicing. On stage maybe by chance we might decide to extend something out, but I don’t think it’s ever by design, honestly. Usually right before practice we’ll get there, and we practice every Saturday so there’s consistency. We don’t have a lot of songs, so we’ll play through our set every week and then we shoot out ideas and just run with it. I think when we’re done with Punk Fest we’re really gonna get the gears going writing new stuff, because we have been playing these same songs for probably the last year. And I’m ready to add a couple new songs to that.

Have you had the chance to do much in the studio yet?

Nope. All the stuff we’ve recorded was recorded by ourselves in Amir’s basement. We’d mic up the drums first, then our guitars, using my iPad which has GarageBand on it. I’d rather go into the studio though because it’s a lot of work doing the mixing and mastering on our own.

But you got good demos out of it.

Yeah and the thing is these days your home studio, you can almost make that into as good quality, with the right microphones and the right setup, as a studio. I’d like to get back into a studio though — I’ve done it once, because when I interned at a studio their reward was that I got studio time. So with my last band we went in for like six hours and I played and did all the mixing and the recording, which would never happen again. It’s just too much, but a good experience to have. At least I kind of know what to do, and even Amir and Phil, we know what we want to hear. So we might as well do it ourselves. Maybe when we hit the big time we can go into a studio.

You played Battle of the Bands at Birdy’s, and you’ve got Punk Fest coming up. Have you had a whole lot of big shows yet in Indy?

We did Melody Inn’s punk rock night in October, and last June we did Morristown’s Summer Music Festival out in Morristown, Indiana. We did Sabbatical once, but that was a last minute gig. That’s the thing too — we keep getting stuck with these “Oh! We need a band now!” gigs. The Battle of the Bands was unfortunate, because we didn’t know until that Tuesday that we were in. So while we didn’t bring many people out, we really couldn’t. Our fan-base is a lot of married couples with kids, so you can’t just tell them on a Tuesday to come out on Friday last minute.

I’m really curious about the Punk Fest because we’re playing at 12:15 in the afternoon. Hopefully people do show up, but you can only tell so many people, you can only throw it out there so much. But from the looks of it there’s not that much else going on this weekend so that might help.

It’s funny that you’re playing just after noon. Any earlier than that and you should probably just say it’s not early but late, an extension of the night before.

Exactly! And I think Punk Fest actually keeps going from there until early the next morning. If someone survives all the Friday night bands, then stays the whole day Saturday, they’re a true fan!

What are you guys wanting to do in the future? What do you want to push yourselves to do — would you rather tour more or write more?

It’s funny because we never talk about it, we just kind of go. So I hate to say there are no plans, but we just keep saying we want to play more. Even if it’s just every couple months, we just want there to be some consistency so people know of us. Honestly, we don’t have plans. As long as we’re enjoying it, that seems to be the goal. When it feels like work we’ll probably be OK calling it a day. But right now we have fun practicing and when we play shows, even if there’s just two people there I feel like we get a good response. Battle of the Bands was a tough crowd for whatever reason, but hopefully that was just a blip in the road. Because I thought we played the best we’d played in a while.

What do you want to say to people who haven’t heard you before but are thinking of checking you out at Punk Fest? What would make them want to get there early?

I think our music is the best thing we offer. It’s simple, you can sing along, and the personality we bring with our music really fits. We don’t try to be something that we’re not. I’d say just come out to the show, see how much fun we’re having while playing. You look at some bands and it’s like they’re just up there going through the motions. That may be their gimmick, but even if you are going through the motions, at least act like you’re interested in it. We’ll definitely interact with you and keep the crowd engaged. If you want to come get heckled, heckle us! We’ll throw it right back. But just coming out, seeing all the different bands too. There’s going to be a good variety. I’ve got a couple bands I’ve kept tabs on because I do want to talk to them after their sets, if I can find them in the crowd.

THE LIVE WIRE: Paul Thorn at Birdy’s Live

Listen, laugh, love. Paul Thorn coming to Birdy’s Live on March 28th.

If you’re looking for something to do on a Saturday night and you enjoy bluesy music with a twist of humor, Paul Thorn is your man and Birdy’s Live is your venue of choice. Thorn, who has been performing his brand of acoustic blues for nearly two decades, will hit the Birdy’s stage on March 28th at 8:00, and it’s not too late to score advance tickets at just $25! (Price goes up to $30 at the door). From the Birdy’s website:

Paul Thorn’s new album Too Blessed To Be Stressed stakes out new territory for the popular roots-rock songwriter and performer. “In the past, I’ve told stories that were mostly inspired by my own life,” the former prizefighter and literal son of a preacher man offers. “This time, I’ve written 10 songs that express more universal truths, and I’ve done it with a purpose: to make people feel good.”

It’s that feel-good purpose that really sets him apart from the crowd. “That’s Life” showcases his more serious-minded side, a heartfelt ode to a life well lived and the pain in having to say goodbye, but then he can segue into something darkly comic as “I Don’t Like Half The Folks I Love” (below) with its tale of family love-hate that even James McMurtry could get behind: “Me and my former best friend had a big falling out — I caught him with my wife so I punched him in the mouth. We just can’t hang out anymore, but I still wish them luck … I don’t like half the folks I love.” It’s “Choctaw Bingo” without the meth … what more could you ask for?


With songs that cross paths with Flobots, Chris Merritt and the poppier moments of Chris Thile’s solo work at equal measure, I have to call out Sean Fournier for being among my favorite pop discoveries. “Break My Heart” is a perfect example of his Flobots-oriented bent, the Connecticut songwriter bringing all the hooks great pop music demands while layering in dense lyrics Jason Mraz would appreciate. Having heard most of his last two albums via his page on Tradiio, I can say this song is just an example of what he can do. “Broken-Heart Red” fits in with the best of Chris Merritt’s synth-based originals, and “Origami” brings the two influences together even when it relies on lyrics flirting with cliche (“all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put you together again”). He’s been recording for most of the last decade, touring colleges and honing his craft. His latest, Brace Yourself, is available on iTunes.

ARTISTS TO WATCH: Marcus Valance

If you’re a fan of Damien Rice, David Gray or David Ford, there’s plenty about Marcus Valance worth cheering about. I heard him thanks to Tradiio, a music discovery site based in Europe where you literally can “invest” in artists you find there, in the form of a virtual musician stock-market. I was immediately hooked by the London-based songwriter’s “Stood In The Way of the Son,” which featured a stuttery snare-line layered under piano and bass and a bare, sincere vocal and hints of trumpet. If Bebo Norman hadn’t recently chosen to retire from music, this is what I could hear him performing in a stripped-down form.

If you enjoyed the song as much as I did, you can sign up for Tradiio’s beta via this link and then visit his page on the site. I like the concept of investing in musicians and then seeing that payoff when others discover the music you enjoy, giving “sharing” a tangible result. You can follow my investments via my profile on the site.

I REALLY (REALLY) WANT YOU TO LIKE ME: Carly Rae Jepsen returns with earbender “I Really Like You”

If you thought Carly Rae Jepsen had her only moment in the spotlight with “Call Me Maybe,” you may want to give her latest a listen. The blisteringly catchy “I Really Like You” was co-written by Peter Svensson, who wrote “Lovefool” with his band the Cardigans, and Jepsen really captures that pop sound that crosses the boundaries of 80s and early 90s. “Lyrically, it’s about that time in a relationship when it’s too soon to say ‘I love you,’ but you’re well past, ‘I like you’ and you’re at the ‘I really, really like you’ stage,” Jepsen says of the song, which really really really really really really wants you to sing along by the time she gets to the chorus. I know you don’t think it is cool to fall hook, line and sinker for a song like this, but get out of your head and go full Taylor Swift on this one. I really really think you’ll be happy with the decision, at least until radio gets hold of the song and plays it into oblivion. And they will.