‘I Made Rock ‘N Roll’ festival is days away: Here’s what to expect

Meet Me @ the Altar, a three-member rock band formed over the internet in 2015, is one of the opening acts for the first I Made Rock ‘N Roll festival at the American Legion Mall on May 18, 2024. (Photo provided/GANGGANG)
Meet Me @ the Altar, a three-member rock band formed over the internet in 2015, is one of the opening acts for the first I Made Rock ‘N Roll festival at the American Legion Mall on May 18, 2024. (Photo provided/GANGGANG)

Indiana’s first Black rock music festival is about to make history.

Legendary artists such as Gary Clark Jr., Joy Oladokun and Robert Randolph Band will take the stage in Indianapolis during Ganggang’s inaugural I Made Rock ‘N Roll festival. In partnership with Forty5, the festival will pay homage to the history, legacy and artistry of Black rock musicians, at the American Legion Mall on May 18.

“I’m excited for downtown Indianapolis specifically to have a new all-day festival. I don’t know that I’ve experienced bringing my blanket, laying in the grass and hearing the world’s best artists all day,” said Mali Bacon, co-founder and creative director of Ganggang. “I’m actually looking forward to people having kind of a love-centered and safe space to both enjoy music but also learn.”

The day-long festival features a lineup of 12 musical artists, beginning with the national anthem by Malina Moye at 12:45 p.m. and running through the day until headlining artist Janelle Monáe takes the stage at 8 p.m., Bacon said.

I Made Rock ‘N Roll is meant to be an advocacy-based, multi-sensory experience, Mali Bacon and her husband and co-founder Alan both said. Attendees will have access to local business vendors and nine food trucks such as T Day’s Jerk, Black Leaf Vegan and Pronto Taco. They will also be able to design their own overalls and denim jackets and purchase custom guitar picks, vintage vinyl, jewelry and more.

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The festival will highlight activations of Black rock and roll artists past and present, as well as a rock history timeline giving credit to the “true creators of the sound.” People are also welcome to relax, recharge and play some games in the shade in The Backyard.

“This feels really similar to when we launched another thing for the very first time and we didn’t know how that would go,” Alan Bacon said. “We knew that we had put together what we thought was a really great asset for the community, and so now at this point … we really hope the community feels that and shows up and kind of experiences the love that we put into this.”

Meet Me @ the Altar, a three-piece rock band made up of Edith Victoria, Ada Juarez and Téa Campbell, got their start over the internet in 2015 before signing together. As one of many artists in the festival lineup, the band’s guitarist, Campbell, said they are honored to be part of “a historical moment in music.”

“We’re super grateful to be able to be a part of this because our people literally created rock and roll and a lot of people have forgotten that,” Campbell said. “It’s cool for our culture to be reclaiming the things that we started, and for us to be a part of that is really cool.”

It can be difficult to envision a dream — like being in a rock band — until you see someone else who looks like you doing it first, Campbell said. She thinks seeing and experiencing Black artists on stage and being successful in the music industry can be empowering for others, especially younger generations who draw inspiration from those who came before them.

When it comes to Black women in the rock ‘n roll space, Campbell said her band has not had many idols to look up to. However, powerful artists like Willow Smith and Janelle Monáe are leading the next generation.

“Events like the I Made Rock ‘N Roll Festival — that’s kind of what I like to think of as a super spreader event where you never know what these performances are or how these performances are going to impact someone’s life,” Campbell said. “There might be kids there who realize that they can be musicians in rock genres.”

A conversation about authorship and the history of music is taking place across the country, Alan Bacon said. With I Made Rock ‘N Roll being the first of its kind, Mali Bacon said it is “absolutely about the future and sustainability,” not just of Ganggang or programmatic efforts, but of the truth, the cause and the city of Indianapolis.

“We are doing things like this with a sense of urgency,” Mali Bacon said. “We have five teenagers, and so we’re trying to create a city that they want to live in, a city that they will choose after they’re no longer students.”

The I Made Rock ‘N Roll festival takes place Saturday, May 18 from Noon to 10 p.m. at the American Legion Mall, 700 N. Pennsylvania St. Tickets start at $85, however, VIP and cabana upgrades are available. For more information, a festival site map and FAQ, visit, imaderocknroll.com.

Contact Arts & Culture Reporter Chloe McGowan 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @chloe_mcgowanxx.