Metal at the Mish

By: Josh Rivera

Mention Mishawaka to anyone around town and the immediate image that pops in their head is likely to be the amazing outdoor amphitheater surrounded by trees and mountains just a few short feet from the river. Ask them what their favorite Mishawaka experience has been and they might mention shows like Band of Horses, Built to Spill, or Béla Fleck. So when I first heard that Chieftain and Native Daughters would be closing out Mishawaka’s Spring Concert series, I was a little surprised. When I learned that it would be held at the Mish’s indoor venue, it was the first I had heard of its existence. Needless to say, I was excited to learn more about this show, so I caught up with Kris Hodgell (bass player and band manager for Chieftain) and Tim Massa (Marketing Director for Mishawaka) to get the inside details.

Chieftain is one of Fort Collins’ most-loved metal acts, regularly packing out rooms around town with their infectious stoner-rock infused metal, so it makes sense that they’d be involved in bringing metal to a new venue. The other band on this bill, Native Daughters, are from Denver. Since 2012, they have been pushing the boundaries of metal, due in part to their truly unique band setup; not only is Native Daughters a fully instrumental band, they also feature two drummers.  The two bands played back-to-back shows together in Fort Collins and Denver last fall as part of a show swap set up by Hodgell and Native Daughters’ guitar player, Justin Hackl.  “The overwhelming success of those two shows and the mutual admiration between both bands were both big factors in getting the upcoming show at Mishawaka in motion,” says Hodgell.  “Band love” like this is absolutely essential to a strong underground scene, and the collaboration on show swaps like these is a great indicator that our scene is thriving. It can be tough for a band to break into new markets, even ones that are as close to home as Denver.

Another great indicator that our underground music scene is doing well: access to venues who haven’t traditionally hosted “bands like these.” “The SpokesBUZZ Lounge” is the official name of the indoor venue at Mishawaka, and has been hosting live music in the offseason since 2011.  The venue holds around 200 people comfortably, according to Massa. Though it is a relatively new space for live music, the lounge was part of the original build 101 years ago when Mishawaka founder, Walter S. Thompson, built his dance hall. While the main stage at Mishawaka generally hosts national acts, The SpokesBUZZ Lounge offers local bands a chance to get up the canyon for some of the Mishawaka magic. The Chieftain/Native Daughters show will be the heaviest concert at the venue to date, but Massa hopes it will be the beginning of a new tradition that brings metal and hard rock up to the Mish more frequently. Let’s all ride up the canyon on May 6th to make sure that tradition gets off to a great start! Tickets are on sale now at themishawaka.com.