The Lower 48 played second on a bill of three bands but you couldn’t tell that from the headlining punch they brought to their set Thursday night at Milwaukee’s Mad Planet. The young Portland-via-Minneapolis band were the only out-of-towners in the lineup, playing in-between Milwaukee bands, The Delphines and Young Holidays. It was sort of an interesting lineup but both The Delphines and Young Holidays have solid local followings and it resulted in a healthy crowd for a Thursday night show.
Of the local acts, both bands showed promise, but I’d have to say The Delphines flaunt an impressively polished sound. They build around psychedelic 60s pop and do so better than most bands trying to fashion that style. They closed their set with “Half of a Century” off of God Help the Delphines; a smoky, stirring tune that leaves you wanting to hear more.
I was only able to stick around for half of the Young Holidays set, as the entire show started an hour later than scheduled and I did have to work in the morning. However I heard enough to know it’s an ambitious sound. The band is helmed by singer Max Holiday and it dabs in everything from new wave to dance pop to garage rock to hip hop. At times it felt like a Girl Talk track, however the sound was being created by one band, live. An impressive feat if you ask me. Definitely sparks of promise in the young band, and worth keeping an ear out for in the future.
The Lower 48 started out of a group of high school friends in Minneapolis. After finishing school they ventured out to Portland to further develop their sound in the eclectic music scene that resides out there. The initial sound was more folk-based, but now the trio is firing on all cylinders with catchy, crafty indie pop. The Lower 48 is still an incredibly young band (all three members are 22 years old) so there’s plenty of time to continue to mold and shape their music, however I feel they’re on to something special after hearing them play live on Thursday night.
The set was almost entirely new, previously unreleased songs; putting much of the focus on the band’s new pop-influenced direction. Early on I couldn’t help but notice how encompassing the band’s sound was. Mad Planet is small bar venue with a small stage and The Lower 48 overtook it. It was full, high energy sound and it was hard to believe only three people on a guitar, bass, and drum kit were creating it. With that, each member of the band knows how to command each of their instruments. Sarah Parson helmed the electric guitar for most the night, Ben Braden held down the bass, and Nick sparkled behind the drums and whatever additional instruments would be needed. He skillfully multi-tasked the harmonica for a handful of songs while not missing a beat on the drums.
“Setting Sun” is the current single that The Lower 48 are touring behind and hands down, it’s a catchy tune; it wonderfully blends together the group’s folk roots with a pop melody. Maybe my favorite part of the track is the trumpet work that really stands out on it. With just the three band members, I wasn’t sure if the trumpet part was going to be shelved for the live show, solely due to lack of personnel. However, I was not disappointed. From behind the drums, Nick triumphantly delivered on the trumpet. A highlight of the night for me.
From seeing their set and then meeting the members after the show, it’s evident that The Lower 48 are a very committed band. They live for their music and they are going to do whatever it takes so it can be heard. And from what I’ve heard so far, they are definitely on the right path to bigger things.
The Lower 48 are still currently rounding out their Midwest Tour, so if you’re in Kansas City, Duluth, Eau Claire, or Fargo, don’t hesitate to check them out. Also, stay tuned for future single releases in the coming months.