2 Days, 3 Blocks, 5 Stages: FSMF 2017 Brings Countless Live Music to a Rainy Fountain Square

(Photos courtesy of Grace Crume for Sliced Photography. All rights reserved.)

What happens when talent is brought in from all over the country and concentrated into just a few blocks of an Indianapolis neighborhood, minutes away from downtown? I’ll tell you what happens: Fountain Square Music Festival, one of the region’s premier up and coming indie music festivals. FSMF, as it is known for short, gets its namesake from the neighborhood in which it takes place. FSMF 2017’s five different stages within three blocks of each other helped keep the awesome music coming all weekend long, from before many folks are even off work on Friday all the way up through the wee hours of Sunday morning.

There was a consistent stream of great acts performing on the Nucleus Main Stage, from local up and comers the wldlfe and Dream Chief helping to get the party started on Friday and Saturday, respectively, to late afternoon highlights keeping the energy going, and of course the back-to-back headlining sets as the sun went down on both nights, but particularly on the rain-dampered Saturday with Bishop Briggs and Phantogram. The stage presence of Nashville indie pop rockers COIN was on-point, making them the highlight of Friday afternoon, even if a substantial crowd hadn’t quite gotten the chance to congregate to the mainstage at that point. The miscellaneous percussion and tight synths of Why? combined with the swaggering nature of their successors, Chicago hip-hop duo The Cool Kids, made for an interesting soundtrack to the rainy Saturday afternoon.

Some of the best performances of the weekend, however, came on the side stages, particularly the Hi-Fi and White Rabbit Cabaret. For example, the talent kept coming on Friday evening at the Hi-Fi, whether that came from the bluesy, almost-psychedelic rock of Liz Cooper & The Stampede early, the electrifying indie rock of Shiny Penny later on, or the infectiously groovy rock ‘n’ roll of Welshly Arms to close out the club’s live music. The sunset and subsequent closing of the mainstage after Dr. Dog’s set also brought many to White Rabbit, where the bass- and synth-heavy sounds of Biyo and the contagious nature of Flint Eastwood kept festival-goers raving well into day two, long after both had left the stage late on Friday evening (or early Saturday morning in the case of Flint Eastwood). The side stages didn’t feel nearly as stacked on Saturday, but I will say that I was intrigued by Dan Luke and the Raid, where frontman Daniel Shultz’s gruff folksy voice paired strangely with the headier rock sound. Day two’s true highlight away from the Nucleus came towards the end of the evening at the Cabaret, where TUNED UP favorite PUBLIC played an incredibly fun set to an eager and formidably-sized crowd.

At times weather felt like it hindered an already-great festival from being even better, and the bar scene nature of the Fountain Square neighborhood forced many of the side stages to be restricted to those of drinking age, which is a shame because that meant the “under 21” crowd had to miss out on some of the weekend’s best acts. That said, the Indianapolis neighborhood felt like the prime location to play home to such an event, especially considering its overall atmosphere. I would certainly count it as a successful weekend, and I can only hope that the community will bring in even more fantastic acts when FSMF returns in 2018.

(Important side note: due to being under 21, Grace Crume, the photographer I teamed up with for this festival, was restricted from entering the second side stage at White Rabbit Cabaret both Friday and Saturday, as well as the HiFi’s stage on Saturday. As a result, there are unfortunately no shots from some of the performances I have noted, including Biyo, Flint Eastwood, Dan Luke and the Raid, and PUBLIC.)