Next weekend, WARMfest invades Broad Ripple Park for four days of arts, music and a celebration of the White River that runs alongside it. For year two, WARMfest organizer Dan Ripley decided to place an emphasis on Indy. "I decided to regroup and make it more local this year," Ripley says. "Let's make it great locally, and then people are going to want to come from around the region."
In this spirit, WARMfest tapped local label Joyful Noise Recordings to curate its main stage on Saturday. The label's owner, Karl Hofstetter, lives directly across the street from the festival and JNR had previously curated stages at Broad Ripple Music Fest, which was incorporated by WARMfest last year. (Broad Ripple Music Fest continues this year by curating the local line-up at WARMfest and is currently planning more stand-alone programming in 2015.)
"I think it's important for the city," Hofstetter says. "There are so many great festivals around, and it seems to be a good model to actually get people excited about music and get bands paid. I like that. The bands are driving through this city anyway to get to the next festival, so it makes total sense for Indianapolis to have a festival on that caliber and hopefully WARMfest is it."
The stage will feature the bulk of JNR's roster, including heavy-hitters Half Japanese, of Montreal and Sebadoh. Half Japanese band members recently reunited to release Overjoyed, its their first album in more than a decade. Coincidentally, the release date is scheduled for the week following WARMfest, so the festival will serve as a sort of gigantic album release party. "All five of those guys are coming from different cities on three continents to fly into Indianapolis just to play that show," Hofstetter says. "It costs $4,000 in flights just to get those guys in the same room, and we want to make the most of it."
Hofstetter's house will double as a green room/recording space for the acts on his roster. The idea was sparked when several of the bands expressed an interest in rehearsing prior to the show. Hofstetter immediately saw the potential and convinced them to record stripped-down sets, which JNR will release as singles, exclusive to WARMfest. Mike Dixon, who runs his own label People in a Position to Know, will handle the lathe-cutting process. He's based out of Arizona, but travels to several festivals each summer to cut limited-run vinyl for fans to watch in person.
"We're going to have a tent next to the main stage where the records are being cut," Hofstetter says. "They're all going to be signed, and hand-numbered. There will only be 75 copies of this recording that will ever exist."
The seven bands releasing limited-edition singles at WARMfest are:
On Friday WARMfest will host a screening of a new film about JNR's own of Montreal. The documentary, entitled The Past is a Grotesque Animal, focuses on the band's enigmatic frontman Kevin Barnes. The screening is part of WARMfest's community day, which also features a performance from local punk icons Zero Boys and Indy super group The Last IV. At a single-day price point of just $10, Friday should prove an attractive option for families. Although, kids under the age of 10 have free access all weekend long.
When asked what it meant to him personally to see the label that he built featured as the centerpiece of a burgeoning music festival in his own front yard, Hofstetter says, "Hopefully, it's a sign that people like what we do here?" he questioned rhetorically. "Honestly, like 90 percent of our records are sold in cities other than Indianapolis. Probably, more like 99 percent. That's not because we don't want to sell records to people here ... Hopefully that shifts a little bit. Even if it doesn't, it's OK. We're happy, but this is our home. It would be nice if people liked what we did here."
Joyful Noise's stage will kick off at noon on Saturday with a set from Bloomington's Sleeping Bag. The trio recently released its third full-length LP Deep Sleep. Listen to the album's lead-off single "Riff Randle" below.