Dahlia Celebrates Four Years with Anniversary Show at The Hi-Fi
It is undeniable that Dahlia Presents has been a positive force to the music scene of Indianapolis. Like warriors, the concert promoter has turned the Circle City back into a major rock and metal stomping ground. For the last four years, Dahlia has helped bring massive national acts like Motorhead, Ghost, Slayer, Rob Zombie, Ozzy, Sabbath, and more. They also do a hell of a job supporting the local scene, as well. Dahlia works with Live Nation to see if there is an opportunity to put a local act on the bill. And not just local talent, they also focus on the smaller venues that house them. In the past year, they have also teamed up with groups like Punk Rock Night to strengthen their artistic cause. Recent shows like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and The Descendents showed a tag team ferocity.
On February 2, Dahlia Presents celebrates their four year anniversary with a hand picked selection of Indy’s finest talent. The lineup includes (Descriptions below come from the band’s Facebook pages):
“Unfiltered, raw, uncompromising. These words all come to mind when watching American Bombshell. Since 2014, This Indianapolis based five piece has been leaving stages in sweat and beer soaked shambles, shattering any glass ceilings that stand in their way. They have one mission and it is simple: MAKE ROCK AND ROLL GREAT AGAIN.”
“Iron Diamond is Indy’s hardest hitting Heavy Metal tribute band. From NWOBHM to LA sleaze to power metal and beyond- bang your head with Iron Diamond!”
“A particular strain, a dense and measured hybrid of doom, hesher and prog that sedates and bludgeons with equal abandon. In a musical environment where attention spans are null, Drude make music that grates directly against that simple fact. “We call it post-toke metal”…The instructions are pretty clear.”
“Sounds from a wood paneled basement, fueled by cheap beer, and driven to adventure. Dungeon crawling Heavy Metal.”
Kiddo [Photo not available]
We talked to founder RJ Wall as he looks back at four years of devotion and hard work. With bands like Iron Maiden and Kiss taking over Ruoff Home Mortgage Center this summer and Tesla and Dorothy coming to Old National in February, it exemplifies Dahlia’s momentum. Every show is an experience for Wall, and his love of the concert experience is a gift to fans who find euphoria in seeing their favorite bands on stage.
Going back to the beginning, what made you want to start up Dahlia Presents? What prepared you best for being a concert promoter?
Way back in the Vollrath days I had to do it to get people to come into my bar and drink so I could make a living. Fast forward 10 years, and I was running the bar at HiFi. At the time metal still had a stigma attached to it and the owner wasn’t very into the idea. I was able to link up with Dave Britts, and he helped me put together a few shows with Iron Diamond, Sacred Leather, We Are Hex and Coffinworm. I then linked up with Sun King and 3 Floyds to do a tap takeover which is something we do almost yearly at HiFi.
Was there a specific show where you realized Dahlia’s validity in the Indianapolis scene? What was that show like?
Walking up to Old National Centre and seeing “Dahlia Presents: Motorhead”. That was it!
There is a balance between an event being the result of a cause (i.e., audience need) and personal ideological value and preference that a promotions company involves themselves in. For you, did one go hand in hand and how do you strike that balance?
Man, I’ve lost so much money booking shows I wanted because I was personally in love with the band. It’s a terrible move that I try not to make any longer.
What struggles did you face growing Dahlia?
Acknowledging there is a ceiling. Dahlia can only get so big and you have to consciously grow the market in tandem with your brand. Also, there are so many different genres. Stoner/Doom is on the rise while Numetal seems to be on its way out.
What are some of your favorite shows you have put on and why?
The Demiricous reunion was a killer one for me. Pelican, Bongripper and Goatsnake was a fun show. Mighty Mighty Bosstones was one Rich from Punk Rock Night and I did and it was a fucking hell of a great time! Sevendust, Bombshell and Catalytic! Anytime Iron Reagan/Municipal Waste is around is a good one. I have a major love for John 5 also. Rob Zombie. I mean….Black Sabbath, Woooooo!
You blend a philosophy of putting on the grandiose shows (Iron Maiden and Kiss this year, for example) and smaller venue shows (Lucifer at Black Circle or teaming up with Punk Rock Night for shows like the Mr. T Experience at the Melody). Why do both and why is that important to you?
Firstly, I started doing small shows so I intend to always do the smaller shows. I have a “grow the base” philosophy in all aspects of life and if you do not have the underground and all ages shows then you’ll never have your big shows. As for partnering with Rich? Why the fuck wouldn’t I? That guy rules and we really work well together! We have the same vision for the scene. Also, I grew up on punk rock and have a deep love for it. We have some great promoters in town doing smaller shows too. Kyle Shaw, Jenny Bledsoe, Dustin Boltjes, Melissa Collins, Drew Smith, Hoosier Dome, Elle 2.0, etc etc etc. All of those people work tirelessly and often times fruitlessly at booking shows they love.
Dahlia also gives support to local bands and musicians as much as you can. How is that a part of Dahlia’s mission?
I ask Live Nation if there is an opportunity to put locals on every show I book. I have a success rate of about 10% but fuck, sometimes local bands carry a show. My Sevendust show was struggling a bit. I was able to get American Bombshell and Catalytic on it and sold that bitch out!
Speaking of local bands, tell me more about the fourth anniversary show coming to the Hi-Fi? What led to the event and the lineup?
I wanted to go back to where I started, the Hi-Fi will always be a special room for me. I wanted to curate what I believe to be one of the best local lineups made and add two lesser known bands on the bill. Tucker’s project Throne of Iron is fucking sick! So fucking good and I think he’s going to do great things with this project and Kiddo…no clue how the fuck they stayed off my radar for so long but I happened to walk into one of their sets at Hi-Fi and Kenton left my face on the floor!
Did you ever think you would be at this level of concert promotion four years now? What do you do differently now?
No, I never set out do this in the capacity that I do. Everything is different now. I have to treat it as a business and not a crime of passion.
What plans do you have in the coming years? How is Dahlia growing and what are you doing to help the music culture of Indianapolis?
I don’t see Dahlia getting much larger over than what it is now. I’d like to expand into country or classic rock a bit. As for the music culture, I sit on the board of several music festivals here in town. All of us promoters in town work well together. You can often find me at an IndyMojo gig or a Crush show or MOKB show. We’ve all known each other for 20 years and for the most part, stay in our own lanes.