Ask about the Lakeland local music scene and you get more blank stares than answers. Bands complain about listeners who travel to Orlando and Tampa, but won’t come to a downtown Lakeland venue. Fans wonder why bands play covers they can hear anywhere. Everyone wonders why a venue doesn’t open that attracts everyone 18-40.
Enter Fairground. The duo of Matt Brown and Alex Bennett have played in various bands in Lakeland. Each adopted the city as his hometown after moving here for college. Bennett plays percussion while Brown handles keyboards. The naysayers haven’t stopped Fairground from working to become the next “band from Lakeland.” (See Copeland and The Dark Romantics as two recent examples.)
The lack of a great downtown music venue isn’t stopping them either. At 7 pm tonight they’re playing the Perspectives Photo Studio next to the Polk Theater. It’s a 2600 sq. foot studio and perfect for an intimate acoustic set. On October 16th, they go electric at Canvas 5 in Tampa.
Fairground lists their influences as The Beatles, Radiohead, Copeland, Coldplay, Muse, Castledoor, Athlete, Self, MGMT, Phoenix, Paper Route, dcTalk, and most importantly, “that feeling in your soul.” Brown will tell you they pull influences from all over. The pair has been playing together on and off for almost five years. In April, they formed Fairground when Brown dissolved his last band, Relo. He’ll tell you he wanted to start over to find the sound he wanted — “something fresh.”
Fairground has a strategy for success. They’re in the studio working on an EP with Aaron Marsh, the Copeland front man who owns and operates The Vanguard Room studio and has spent much time helping Lakeland acts record. Brown records his ideas using his home software and takes the snippets to Bennett. They work up what they like and head to the studio where Marsh helps the duo define their sound.
They’re not looking to settle as just a local band that plays gigs for their friends and ex-classmates. “We want people to hear us on a broad level,” said Brown. After the EP, titled The Waiting Room. debuts, Fairground hopes to tour with a more established band to build that fan base.
Their October 16th show in Tampa is their next step. They’ll sport additional players and a full electric sound
It’s been said that “writing about music is like dancing about architecture” so take a moment to listen to Fairground play their original song, Closure
And maybe spend a few moments with the Fairground video blog: