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Antlers headline Blue Moose

BY JORDAN MONTGOMERY | MARCH 29, 2012 6:30 AM

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Vocalist and guitarist Peter Silberman will not celebrate his 26th birthday with his family and friends in his home state of New York. Rather, he will spend it in Iowa City, performing with his band, the Antlers, as part of the Mission Creek Music and Arts Festival.

The indie-rock trio will perform at 8 p.m. on Friday at the Blue Moose Tap House, 211 Iowa Ave. Admission is $12 in advance, $15 on the day of the show. The Antlers is brought to Iowa City by SCOPE in collaboration with Mission Creek.

Silberman began the Antlers as a solo project when he moved to Brooklyn from his hometown of Somers, N.Y. In the project's earlier years, he said, it was not easy to grow a solid fanbase in a massive city such as New York City. There were times when performing was miserable.

"It's the kind of place where it's either happening for you or it's really not," Silberman said. "There are so many shows going on at all times. In any given night, there are a number of better options than the show you're putting on — there are probably are five or more established bands that are playing in the area. It can be kind of brutal, to be honest."

In March 2009, after recruiting two musicians to join his act, the band released Hospice, and the member's musical careers underwent a drastic change.

"Once the momentum started building, it happened very quickly," Silberman said. "For us, Hospice was a breakout record; word of mouth started building our popularity very quickly."

The group performed at music festivals in Barcelona, Spain, Montréal, and at Chicago's Lollapalooza in 2010. That year, the Antlers also toured as the opening band for the National.

"I never thought we would be opening for bands that I respect the hell out of," Silberman said. "We toured with the National for a few weeks, and it was an honor because I always looked up to them as musicians, and now I'm friends with those people. It reminds me of how lucky I am to have this job."

Despite its now international acclaim, the musicians in the Antlers have stayed grounded. They approach songwriting collaboratively in their own recording studio and practice space in Brooklyn. Silberman said it is a great space in which the three musicians can bond creatively.

The group will return to Iowa City this weekend for the first time in three years. Bands such as the Antlers fit one of the goals of Mission Creek, which focuses on highlighting bands outside the mainstream.

"We're really excited to be bringing the Antlers," said former Daily Iowan employee Zoey Miller, SCOPE's public relations/grass-roots marketing representative. "I think Mission Creek prides itself in bring exemplary indie acts to Iowa City, and the Antlers is a great addition to the festival's lineup."

Iowa City native and University of Iowa freshman Ellie Highland will attend Mission Creek for the first time this year. She was drawn to it after the Antlers' performance was announced.

"They're a very popular band," she said. "I'd never heard of Mission Creek before, and I've lived in Iowa City for a long time, so I think by bringing a well-known indie band, more people will come out to the festival."

As the festival takes over Iowa City this week, more than 100 musical acts will perform at venues across the city. In previous years, more than 5,000 people have shown up to listen to musicians hailing from just down the street or the other side of the world.

The Antlers has performed shows in which audiences number in the thousands, but the band's approach to performing live hasn't changed.

"We definitely try to have a show that feels connected," Silberman said. "We don't ever want to place a show where we feel alienated from the crowd. We are not just guys on stage; we want to create an experience for the people watching and listening."


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