Local musician sees Deer District music venues as a national draw

MILWAUKEE — If you’re a fan of live music, the new venues planned for Deer District are good news.

New venues mean more shows and more options, but they won’t necessarily mean more opportunities for local musicians.

Milwaukee artist Chris Porterfield is happy to see the local music scene growing, but says the new venues were probably not intended for smaller artists.

“As far as the impact on local artists, there will be more shows to attend and more jobs at concessions. That’s about it,” he said.

Porterfield took his band “Field Report” from the basements and living rooms of Milwaukee to national tours.


He says the new Deer District venues will fill holes in the city’s music scene by attracting more big names who would otherwise skip Milwaukee.

“They’ll go to Madison or Chicago and not play Milwaukee, which is heartbreaking,” he said. “It’s a disappointment because we deserve these shows and now we can probably get them.”

Porterfield has no illusions, these new places are designed for small local artists.

Although they can find work in the Deer District as opening acts, he says their goal is to sell tickets for larger national tours.

“We’re not the ones in the lead,” he said.

The two new concert halls are scheduled to open in the Deer District late next year with a combined capacity of about 4,800 people, the Milwaukee Bucks and music promoter FPC Live announced Monday.

Construction is expected to begin later this year, with the spaces to be located in the northeast section of the former Bradley Center site.

Organizers said in a statement that the two venues will offer “a wide variety of first-class experiences and amenities for spectators and performers.” FPC Live – part of Frank Productions – expects the venues to host 135 events and draw 200,000 fans downtown each year.

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