The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Fort Frances warms Iowa’s winter

Fort Frances, a self-described “independent band” from Chicago will be playing Gardner tonight at 9 p.m. Their music features three-part vocal harmonies, a unique element for an indie rock band and they really tell stories with their lyrics, creating a strong feeling of genuineness. On their official website, Fort Frances states their mission: “In an uncertain music business, the band is making sure that they can continue to make music  with heart on their own terms.”

No strangers to Iowa’s cornfields, Fort Frances came to Grinnell two years ago as openers for the band Lower Dens. Concerts chair Moira Donovan ’14 recalled their show as a positive experience.

“They had a really good turnout … they sounded really good in Gardner and I think they really fit the space well,” she explained.

Fort Frances’s sound elicits the word intimate—especially their song “Plastic Hearts.” The lyrics begin: “everything gets broken/everything turns golden/the city keeps us waiting/ … there’s no shame in slowing down.” The band invites listeners into a story of life moving faster than a normal heart can keep up with.

Another song, “Habits,” continues their soulful longing with soft vocal crooning and guitar melody. The listener is pulled into the tender world Fort Frances creates with the texture of their voices. There is a heart embedded within the lyrics and musicality of Fort Frances’s work that fits the vibe of an introspective Iowan winter.

Grinnell’s own Adrianna Walsh ’15 will complement and extend the intimate feel of the show. Walsh opened for the band Norwegian Arms earlier this semester at Bob’s Underground and while Bob’s was the appropriate setting for Norwegian Arms, Walsh is interested in seeing how Gardner’s larger space will contribute to the show.

“Performing in Gardner always has a different vibe than performing in Bob’s. Usually there’s a bigger crowd, but people are also more spread out. For this show, it’ll just be me and an acoustic guitar,” Walsh said in an e-mail to the S&B.

Walsh expressed excitement over the compatibility between her sound and Fort Frances’s.

“Fort Frances has a sound that’s really laid-back, but also has a lot of energy. They write on their website that they’re trying to take their music in a bit of a new direction—a little less indie-folk and a little rougher around the edges. That desire to branch out is something I’m feeling lately in my own music, so I guess we’re kind of connected on this weird philosophical level there,” Walsh said.

The combination of a student opener and a larger, more established band is a pattern Concerts has kept up this year.

“I am trying to expand student acts to promote the band, because fellow students come to support their friend and to connect the community with Concerts as well,” Donovan said.

Tonight, Gardner is prepped for an evening where artists can display their craft.

“A musician is an exhibition of their art. Concerts aren’t necessarily a party; first and foremost it is showing people’s art,” Donovan said.

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