Welcome to Indianapolis!
Indianapolis, IN – Not long after stopping off in Indianapolis, I meet “Bonnie”, a 30-something jam band scenester, at a cafe on the city’s east side. Thirty-three hours into a 50-hour bender, Bonnie is mushy brained from the ecstasy she ate at a show the night before. At the show, she met some kids with a bunch of nitrous tanks and ended up at their hotel instead of her bed. One of the guys, she tells me between sips of her latte with a double espresso shot, is at her house. “We raged hard,” she explains. “Sorry if I’m not making sense.”
After chatting for a while, Bonnie asks if I’m cool, if I have an open mind. “You’re a journalist,” she answers for me. “You have to have an open mind.”
I’m invited over. After I shower, I’m introduced to several people, none of whom have slept a wink. They, too, had “raged hard” the night before. At two-in-the-afternoon, they were still raging it, preparation, if you will, for another night of non-stop raging. I’m led to a room where, among others, is “Gas Man,” the nitrous purveyor, and “E-Dawg,” who, with jittery hands, is weighing out half-gram bags of brown sugar sass, a form of ecstasy. Gas Man and E-Dawg earn a living traveling the country, from show-to-show, selling snacks to fans. This weekend they’re in Indianapolis. Gas Man is giving balloons to anyone who wants one. He’s made the money he wanted to off the tank. Now he’s spreading the love freely.
“It’s about the wa-wa’s, not greed,” he imparts, referring to the profound ear-ringing a proper nitrous buzz induces. He then demonstrates to one of the girls how to roll-the-balloon, by exhaling through the nose what’s been inhaled through the mouth. Bowls are packed, passed and cashed. Several growlers of beer arrive. Once the nitrous tank is cashed, Gas Man snorts a bump of Special K and falls into a K-Hole. Everyone else ventures to the porch for fresh air and cigarettes.
Outside, the discussion centers around Summercamp, an upcoming jam band fest in Illinois, which everyone is attending. “We’re going to rage it,” Bonnie tells me, rattling off a litany of other shows and festivals she plans on attending this summer. “Tonight’s show is going to be off-the-chain, too.” She tells me about all the bands I need to check out. I’ve been out of the jam band scene for many years, I tell her. She, too, left the scene, for a minute, after being busted selling pot-brownies at a concert in Wisconsin, but it left a void in her life. “It just didn’t feel right,” she says. “I love live music. I love doing drugs. This is who I am and I’m happy with that.”
A gaggle of people drop in throughout the afternoon. Some have come to buy snacks or drink beer or to just hang out.
One guy, “Chip”, is new to the scene. A recent schizophrenia diagnosis forced him out of college and unable to work. Clean cut and donning a Docker’s sailor’s hat, which he cocks to the side, he tells me about how the medicine has made his conversations with the demons manageable. He knew for a while he was sick, and assures me he’s not homicidal (I didn’t ask), but worries he might one day be. “The only people I ever think of killing are child molesters, people like that,” he continues. Chip is looking forward to the show this evening, explaining, “It’s almost like group therapy for me, being around these people.”
As the afternoon wears on, everyone looks worse-for-the-wear, fighting their eyes, refusing to nap. Bonnie is sleepy, so she hits the phone in search of an Adderall. Unsuccessful, she finger-dips some of that brown sugar sass. A couple of hours later, she and others drop acid. It’s insurance against falling asleep. No one wants to miss the show.
Gas man emerges from his K-hole and comes downstairs. It’s now dusk. He lights a cigarette. “What a great day,” he says, cheerfully. “It’s going to be an impeccable evening.”
By 9:45 p.m., everyone is sufficiently hopped up, alert and ready to rage. Eleven of us pile into two vehicles and make the 15-minute drive to the bar, safely. In the parking lot, a vendor is slinging glow tubes and light wands. People gather outside, waiting for the band to begin. While most are there to dance and have fun, Gas Man and E-Dawg must work, so to speak. “So, this is it. This is what I do,” E-Dawg tells me, shrugging his shoulders, his speech disrganized. “I roam. I started going to shows with my older brother. It’s like a business.”
Gas Man, with beer in hand, later tells me about his young son who lives near the Gulf Coast. “I do miss him,” he says, wistfully. But, working the shows is more than just unloading inventory, it also requires a lot networking. It’s at shows where important connections can be made. Both remain outside for most of the show, working the lot, making moves. Both know I’m writing an article. Though leery of it, neither makes any special requests. I don’t ask many questions, either.
Inside, the bar swells quickly with people. Many are buying bottled water instead of drinks to fend off the severe dehydration effect of ecstasy and LSD. Earlier in the day, Gas Man explained the importance of health maintenance during long periods of unfettered drug use. “You need to eat at least once a day,” he told his audience. “If you’re up for two days, you need to eat at least twice. It’s something you can’t forget to do, no matter how fucked up you get.”
At the bar, Bonnie seems to know everyone. She makes the rounds, spreading word of the after bar to be held at her house. Others in the crew we came with are scattered about. At last, the band takes the stage, blasting into the opening chords. The crowd falls into an inspired fit of wild dancing, which continues for the next four-and-a-half hours.
When the bar closes at 3 a.m., a large caravan of at least 50 kids ensure the raging goes on well into the morning. Back at the house, some of the girls hula-hoop out front. Steadily, the fridge is re-stocked with beer. Someone has brought booze. Another nitrous tank makes its way over. Everywhere inside the house people are dancing, conversing, laughing, smoking and toasting themselves and their stamina. The jam room, where all the instruments are housed, erupts in an impromptu jam session. Gas Man and E-Dwag retire to the room with the nitrous tank and others, and aren’t seen for the rest of the night.
This is how you rage in Indianapolis.
An hour or so goes by before the police arrive. They never get out of the car, but tell Bonnie to wind things down. But trying to herd dozens of wasted, tripping and rolling people into the balmy house is impossible. The sober ones help out, but the girls can’t stop hula-hooping while others promise they’ll go in when they’re done smoking, which they never are. Frustrated, Bonnie gives up and goes to bed, well before her self-imposed 7 a.m. bedtime. Eventually, the the booze and drugs run out, and the party winds down naturally. Revelers stumble toward their vehicles. The birds are already chirping and the first hints of daylight have begun diluting the dark.
By 7 a.m., everyone I met earlier in the day had passed out. All who are left standing are holdouts from the bar and have a little rage left in them. In a corner, a Kid snoozes soundly in a chair. With nothing better to do, the holdouts decide to bury him under a pile of random items. Later, it’s described as a consequence for passing out with his shoes on. After achieving this goal, they learn that “T,” asleep upstairs, had been the first to pass out, another no-no begging for consequence. This phase of my 24-hours in Indianapolis can be viewed in the slideshow below.
After the punishments were meted out, some of the holdouts went home, while others held on, retiring to the bar, since alcohol sales in Indiana aren’t permitted on Sundays. I stay at the house. I don’t remember falling asleep, but I wake around 3 p.m., just as Bonnie is leaving for work. I thank her for letting The Feral Scribe tag along, that it really wasn’t what I was expecting when I turned off the Interstate the day before. “Come down anytime,” she says. “We rage almost every weekend.”
By 3:30 p.m., I was on my way to Madison.
Early Sunday morning, a rogue band of revelers delivered justice to two young men for the crimes of passing out with shoes on and being the first of the evening to pass out. The Feral Scribe captured the spectacle.