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Prairie Scout, Connor McLaren perform at Buskirk-Chumley Theater on Jan. 29

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Local band Prairie Scout and artist Connor McLaren took the stage on Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. in the iconic Buskirk-Chumley Theater for a crowd of Bloomington music fans.  

Prairie Scout kicked off the night with an exhilarating cover of the indie rock band the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Maps” and then went into its latest single “Undergrowth.” The crowd came down to the stage to cheer and sing along while the band played new and unreleased material. 

Prairie Scout is new to the Bloomington music scene, recently winning both WIUX and the Union Board’s Battle of the Bands events, which happened to be their first two gigs ever. They already have a confident folk-rock sound, led by singer-songwriter and frontwoman, Natalie Ingalls.  

She said participating in the band competitions meant playing in front of more and more people, and acccelerated the band’s trajectory. 

Prarie Scout consists of drummer Wesley Anne Davis, bassist Julia Fegelman, and guitarist John Hasey. The band played a smaller show at the Orbit Room back in November, and Ingalls remarked that playing on a bigger stage is a sign of the band’s growth. 

“It feels kind of unreal because we're so new in our band career, so it's really an honor.” She said, “It’s fun you get to move around and make the most of it, and it was really cool to have everyone come out and people come to the front of the stage and listen.” 

Davis said that starting off the band’s career on such a high gave them motivation to chase what’s next.  

“We have a milestone ahead of us that we got to just be ready and keep working towards, its given us a bit of a drive,” she said.  

The band formed last year when Ingalls decided to start a band with other Bloomington musicians after finding success with another project back home in Falls Church, Virginia. 

Talking about how quickly the band came together and found success, Fegelman remarked on the band’s origins.  

“When Natalie invited us all to play with her for the first time, she kind of advertised it to us that she wanted to play a lot of shows and record an album, and we're doing that now, so it's really great,” She said. 

Performing after Prairie Scout, Connor McLaren, an indie and Americana artist from Bloomington took the stage with his band to perform hit songs off his latest album as well as unreleased tracks from his upcoming project. 

He has a distinctly Midwestern sound and even includes a harmonica solo at the end of one of his songs, to which an audience member shouted out, “Say hi to Johnny Cash for me!” in excitement. 

McLaren has built a devoted fanbase locally and in the Midwest, and members of the crowd were dancing and singing along to the words of almost every song. He said he used to come to the Buskirk-Chumley when he was in high school, and is now performing on the same stage as some of his heroes.  

“I've been here a couple times since then and a lot of musicians I admire have played that stage and to be able to share that, it's really, really cool,” he said. 

McLaren said he has seen the Bloomington music community burst open these past couple of years since the pandemic and was in this new wave of local bands.  

The Bloomington music scene has developed into a space for talented young artists to gain an audience locally and build momentum, McLaren shared.

Editor’s Note: Ingalls was previously employed by the Indiana Daily Student.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to include the correct pronouns for Davis.

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