The 2009 edition of the Forward Music Festival (FMF) provided plenty of action, fun and a few surprises. This was our first time at Madison’s indie music event of the year and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Starting with Thursday night’s showcase headliners Megafaun through Ra Ra Riot, YACHT, Low, Andrew Bird, Wavves and everyone else in between, FMF appealed to the growing independent music fan base emerging across the country.
Virtually none of the artists at the festival receive any commercial radio airplay at all. But, they do inhabit a growing number of internet music blogs/sites that have become the new wave of digital marketing. Andrew Bird selling 2,000 tickets at the Overture Center may give a wake-up call to local media on the emergence of independent music. Indie is not just for hipsters anymore.
Ra Ra Riot headlined Friday night's sold-out showcase at the High Noon Saloon with enough drama to keep everyone interested. Starting with the opening band Princeton, who started an hour and a half late because of a missing drummer, the music schedule kept getting delayed as the night progressed. Former Wisconsinites, Archie Powell and the Exports, who now call Chicago home, were up next followed by Madison's Flatbear. Margot & the Nuclear So and So's were reduced to an acoustic duo, due to the other band members attending a funeral. The word from hardcore fans at the front of the stage was that the band had broken up, but didn't want to cancel.
Ra Ra Riot evidently tried to pull rank on the event by insisting they start before midnight, according to their contract. They basically forced Madison-based band Sleeping in the Aviary to switch slots with them and then didn't mention it during their set. When Ra Ra Riot finished their gig, two thirds of the sold-out crowd left, thinking the showcase was over. Sleeping in the Aviary soldiered on and put on a blistering set in front of a small crowd of die-hard fans. We like to call it the PBR shower as both band members and the audience sprayed each other with Milwaukee's finest brew.