This weekend, April 22 and 23, across Lansing, Stoopfest Music Festival will bring new and exciting sounds to downtown, expanding the local music scene to artists from across the country. Some of the headliners sat down with the State News to explain their music and what they are thrilled to bring to the festival that has not been able to occur due to the pandemic in a couple years.
Frontier Ruckus is the headliner most familiar with the area. Matthew Milia, the main lyricist and leader of the band, released the band's first album while he was studying at Michigan State University.
“It's always good to play in Lansing," Milia said. "It's a big part of our story.”
While the band has not performed much since the pandemic, they have been able to record their sixth LP, taking this time to reinvent their sound and craft songs that they are excited to perform at Stoopfest. Milia said they are reverting back to their original roots when they first started to create music, releasing acoustic and americano driven songs with lots of lyrics.
“We have a new song called Magdalene … it feels so good every time we play it," Milia said about their new music. "The first lyrics in it are ‘The gift certificate you gave to me expired today, I was too tired to make it to the Meijer in White Lake anyway.’ That always gets a nice reaction from Michigan folks.”
Milia claimed that anyone with an appreciation for dense lyricism can be fans of the music they create. They are also always trying to reference Michigan-familiar experiences, as their band began here in Lansing, with one of their first memories of making it big being winning the Battle of the Bands at the university in 2006. While Milia explained that college towns are constantly refreshing like a living organism, he things their music can still identify with the place they started at.
“There are universal, semi-permanent elements of the human condition that we write our songs about,” Milia said.
Milia thinks the return to Stoopfest is exactly what the band needs since the feeling of playing music here, in the setting of those who enjoy songwriting, is important to their performance and discovering other artists they can connect with.
“I like more organic festivals like Stoopfest that are more intimate so you can be really close and discover things up close and personal,” Milia said.
The next headliner, Screaming Females, are just excited to be playing anywhere after a long drought of live music. Jarrett Doughtery on drums for the band explained that in their long history of playing together, they have never played so few shows in a long span of time.
“We’re so excited to be able to get out and play again," Doughtery said. "Our band has been around for 17 years and in those years we played 60 to 150 shows a year for many, many years. In the last two years, we have played about five shows, so this is going to be part of our first tour in two years.”
This three piece rock and roll, punk band has made it a point on their returning tour to play smaller cities while other bands may want to hit bigger cities at this time. They are more excited for experience intimate areas, driving to smaller towns, being able to play for people who have been missing having live music around. They also have a different approach to the way they pick the music for every venue.
“We always play a different set and never really know what it’s going to be before Marissa writes out the set list a few minutes before we go on," Doughtery said about how their vocalist picks their song list.
Picking from 30 to 40 songs for every tour, they switch between this long list of music to keep the spontaneity of the band alive, making every moment of playing music different from any other. However, they want to make sure that they play some of their music that they are playing for the first time like Doughtery's new favorite song of theirs: "Morning Dove."
They also do this routine because they come from an era before social media, where they had to prove themselves live instead of relying on the internet to give people their first opinion on their act.
“Even though we do go out and headline tours now and play pretty big places sometimes, we still come in with the assumption that we have to prove ourselves up there and because of that I feel like maybe people are taken aback when they see us for the first time,” Doughtery said.
Screaming Females is definitely ready for the college audience here in East Lansing, playing many DIY shows with and for college kids since their band started in a college town in New Jersey. These humble beginnings allows them to still connect with those kids trying to make their own music out of a dorm room.
“It’s not necessarily about a sound or something that is trying to mimic whatever college students may be into at this moment," Doughtery said. "I don’t think people like that sort of thing where it can feel insincere or something. I think it's more about bringing that attitude … that is very open minded.”
Another headlining act having a history of coming out to Lansing for a long time is Brook Pridemore, being an innovator of music across the country and bringing a new genre to smaller communities .
“I call it ... anti-folk which is a regional scene which I was part of for a long time in New York, but it is sort of like aggressive folk music or folk music with an attitude," Pridemore said about his style. "I have been touring for a long time with an acoustic guitar and a bunch of pedals, but a lot of my set now … is really dancy.”
Pridemore hopes that not only does his music make people want to jump around, but also give them hope with his new album called 'Glad to Be Alive.' He hopes that he can bring a flavor of what a great New York band is like to a new place.
Pridemore is another band able to show the spirit of college kids, hoping that he can make Stoopfest that much more enjoyable for the local population.
“I went to college and I learned everything I know about music from college radio, and I still make music that represents that,” Pridemore said.
The last headlining band is Apes of State with April Hartman, who heard the hype of the festival from her friends in Rent Strike and She/her/hers, wanting to bring an area that she loves performing in some joy from their set.
“I hope that people leave our set happier than they came," Hartman said. "So if that’s just because they relate to something we sing about or the energy, that’s what my goal is.”
Singing folk punk music, including high energy, emotional and mostly upbeat vibes, even when they are singing inherently sad songs, makes their band stand out for Hartman. She is also excited to sing songs that are important to her and the crowd.
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“I sing about social issues that are still going on right now like the opioid epidemic…and the socioeconomic state of the United States,” Hartman said.
Hartman is exhilarated to premiere the band's new lineup, moving away from being an acoustic band to more of a louder punk band with more drive, performing with a drummer and bassist for some of the first times.
Whatever music you're into, the artists at Stoopfest are ready to welcome you to their stages, having a specific niche of music taste for everyone in the Greater Lansing area.
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