A Lesson in Local Music

I’m not the kind of person who goes out of his way to find local bands play live. To me, most local music is terrible. I get that there might be some “aesthetic” or “authenticity” in a newly formed, über DIY nobody band from nowhere playing crappy songs about their ex-girlfriends or whatever, but I don’t care. I’ll take the Talking Heads over the Screamin’ Cucumbers any day. Sue me.

But 88Nine Radio Milwaukee—a Milwaukee radio station with a distinctly community-minded ethos—hosts local bands every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. as part of its 414 Music Live program of ingratiating not-so-terrible local bands with the indie-conscious community. I checked it out when Field Report was playing, because at least I’ve heard of those guys.

And yeah, it was pretty sick.

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Field Report playing a set for 414 Music Live. Photo courtesy of Maegan Eli/RadioMilwaukee.

The venue is connected to the radio station, and comfortably seats roughly a hundred people, which keeps the experience intimate, yet allows the sound to travel in an acoustically appropriate manner. The lights were dim in the audience, but the stage was well lit.

It’s attached to a Stone Creek Coffee. Which sells beer. So, obviously, I bought a beer. They only had a few locals brews by the bottle, but it’s better than none. They also sold wine, and this was the kind of venue where you wouldn’t feel uncomfortable sipping a cabernet and rocking out.

The stage was big enough to host a full band, but Field Report (usually a four-piece) showed up as just the lead singer and guitarist, Christopher Porterfield, and upright bassist, Barry Clark. Stripped down and acoustic, it sounded sublime. The official set was just six songs long and interspersed with questions by the host DJ, but after 88Nine stopped airing live, Field Report played another song and took questions from audience members.

(Yes, they are recording a new album. No, they won’t be attending the Eaux Claires music festival this summer).

If I am absolutely forced against my will to attend another local concert, it’s definitely going to be at 88Nine. It really wasn’t that bad.

In fact, I might even go by choice.

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