Frontier Ruckus plays the Rackham Stage at 8:30pm on Thursday, June 22nd as part of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival. Over the last 10 years, the band has released five full-length albums and has toured the world multiple times. Driven by strong lyricism and vivid storytelling, Frontier Ruckus is an electric-folk group with ‘90s pop-rock tendencies and a potent live show. 

“We’re just a really cohesive group,” says Mathew Milia, the band’s songwriter and de facto front man. “I’m really stoked about how the band sounds live right now.” 

FrontierBased in Michigan, the band was started by Milia with a friend from high school, banjo player David Jones. Frontier Ruckus currently includes Anna Burch on bass and vocals, Zach Nichols playing organ and keyboards and Armand Terrell on percussion. 

With five band members, there’s always the possibility of having too much happening on stage. This is not an issue for Frontier Ruckus, as each musician is clearly aware of what they’re doing individually, but also how it fits into the larger context of what song they’re playing. For Milia, it’s all about locking in with his fellow band mates. 

“I’ve got Anna to my left and Dave to my right. We just make eye contact and intuitively know what’s going on,” explains Milia. “When I’m not singing, which is rare…, I’ll kind of saunter over to one of them or go back to the drums. I like checking in with people on stage.” 

For their performance at the Summer Festival, Frontier Ruckus will be joined by a string quartet “to help flesh out the amazing string arrangements that Zach did for our record, Enter the Kingdom,” Milia says. 

Enter the Kingdom, Frontier Ruckus’ most recent album, is still rooted in Milia’s narrative lyrical style, but the arrangements have an added layer of complexity and richness to them. Recorded in Nashville, the album has that big studio depth and twang that put Music City on the map. 

“(Recording in Nashville) was so easy. It was ridiculously easy,” says Milia. “We made Kingdom with Ken Coomer, Wilco’s original drummer, in 11 days. It was our first time working with a producer. We wanted to do something that sounded a little more polished, a little more ‘Nashville’ for lack of a better word, and that’s what happened.” 

Having just completed their tour promoting Enter the Kingdom, which took them around the U.S. and across Europe, Frontier Ruckus is eager to play in Ann Arbor. The state of Michigan is the home and unequivocal inspiration for much of what Frontier Ruckus does. With that, Michigan shows are especially important to the band. 

“Playing in Michigan works and playing outside of Michigan doesn’t,” says Milia with a grin. “We have good shows everywhere, but Michigan shows are the best because people can directly relate to all those little landmarks and stuff that I use as songwriting devices.” 

With a complete, folk-rock sound, poignant lyrics, broad instrumentation and unquestionable cohesion on stage, Frontier Ruckus is ready to take the stage at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival and connect with the people of Michigan once again. Needless to say, Frontier Ruckus at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival is not to be missed. 

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