The relaxing sounds of Milwaukee folk band Field Report will come to Gardner Lounge on Thursday, Nov. 12, at 8:30 p.m. Opening for Field Report is Grinnell’s own Seth Hanson & The Additional Six.
Christopher Porterfield is the singer/songwriter behind Field Report (an anagram of his surname). Before starting Field Report, Porterfield was in DeYarmond Edison with Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, who played Grinnell back in 2008.
However, it wasn’t until after DeYarmond Edison broke up that Porterfield began gaining recognition. When Field Report released their debut self-titled album on New York indie label Partisan Records in 2012, critics and musicians praised Porterfield’s poetic lyrics. The album even landed Field Report a touring slot with the alt-rock band Counting Crows.
As their notoriety increased, expectations rose for their sophomore album. In October of last year they released their second album, “Marigolden.” The city of Milwaukee was so excited for the album release show at the Pabst Theater on Oct. 22, 2014 that Mayor Tom Barrett declared the day “Field Report Day.”
On “Marigolden,” he sings with heartbreaking and honest clarity. In the song “Ambrosia,” he recounts a tale about a child who was bullied until he ultimately committed suicide. A level of earnest uncertainty is revealed through his haunting voice and lyrics. His voice both pounds and wobbles over minimalist piano chords at the end of the song as he repeats “Maybe something’s gonna change,” before concluding, “Maybe nothing’s gonna change.”
Although Field Report’s music is lyric-driven, often backed by simple piano or guitar, on “Marigolden” they experiment with electronic sounds. Some of the most magical moments on the album occur when they layer twangy strings over synths, like the ambient hums in their song “Wings.”
Opening for Field Report is Grinnell’s folk mastermind Seth Hanson ’17 who performs under the name Seth Hanson & The Additional Six. The name, a reference to the twelve-string guitar he originally learned to play on, is somewhat misleading—Seth is the only member of the band. However, his songs sometimes feature other musicians, such as Isabel Cooke ’16, who will be singing with him on Thursday.
Although he is still in college, Hanson’s Bandcamp sports an impressively extensive discography. His most recent two-song release, “Brother,” is available on his Soundcloud and features his vivid lyricism, this time backed by piano rather than his usual acoustic guitar.