‘The Astronomers’ prep for tour

Cory Sparks, Editor in Chief

UW Oshkosh’s Michael Stensland and Ben Baker are taking their band, “The Astronomers” on their Midwest Kids Tour that’ll make four stops in two states over spring break.

When the Advance-Titan last covered the band in late 2019, they had 13,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. With their hit song “Overthinking” now eclipsing 900,000 players as they’re rising north of 46,000 monthly listeners overall on Spotify, Fond du Lac natives have been creating music and building further their fan base since early 2019.

Courtesy of The Astronomers
The Astronomers have over 83,000 monthly listeners on Spotify.

Other songs garnering a plethora of listens are “All In” with 610,000, “U Fucked Up” with over 97,000 and “Bad Type” (released in Nov. 2021) with over 83,000.

The two went on a three-show tour in September 2021 when they played in Madison, Fond du Lac and Oshkosh all over the course of the weekend. Their performance in Oshkosh took place during UWO’s sesquicentennial celebration.

On the Midwest Kids Tour, Stensland and Baker will hit Chicago (Hideout, 21+) and Milwaukee (Cactus Club, 18+) on March 20 and 21 before going north to La Crosse (Warehouse) and Green Bay (Lyric Room, 21+) on March 24 and 25.

Singer and songwriter Neuhaus will accompany the dynamic duo when they headline in Chicago and Milwaukee, as he’ll perform his alternative music that has garnered him over 38,000 monthly listeners on Spotify.

While “The Astronomers are just three years old, Stensland said he has taken a liking to the traveling aspect of being an up-and-coming band. He said he especially enjoys the exploratory aspect of making memories and trying different foods when traveling from location to location.

“Playing shows is by far my favorite reward of making music,” Stensland, the lead singer, said. “One [thing] I look forward to is traveling. I love stopping at gas stations, creating random inside jokes on the way and trying restaurants.”

Despite enjoying all of the traveling aspects, Stensland said the interactive experiences with his fans over songs he makes at home is an unmatched feeling.

“Nothing will beat hearing people sing back lyrics that I have written in my spare bedroom,” he said.

While the band is touring in Wisconsin and Illinois, their following online is much greater. “The Astronomers” have broadened their reach over social media platforms such as Tiktok and Instagram.

On Tiktok, they have a video with over five million views. While Stensland said he finds the band’s social media reach impressive, he finds more enjoyment knowing that people are willing to travel great lengths just to see him and Baker perform.

“Having a good following on social media is important, but it’s even more important when you can grow a real fan base and connections through social media,” Stensland said. “I truly feel that is what we are doing. We had people travel all the way from Cleveland, Ohio to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and it was all because they liked our music! How cool is that?”

With brass instrumentals supplementing Strensland’s voice in “Bad Type” and the ever-so-catchy chorus of “Overthinking,” the duo brings a flash northern Wisconsin authenticity that stems from their background in Jazz from when they were in middle school.
Stensland said the goal on this tour, and any tour, is quite simple: get as many fans to the show as possible. He said he loves seeing fans at shows who have supported the band at other performances in the past.

“We haven’t toured too much, as our first show ever was last May, but our goal is seeing how many new people we can bring to the shows,” he said. “So when I ask how many people have been to an Astronomers show while I’m on stage it’s cool seeing new hands each time.”

For those who attend one of the duo’s performances on tour, Stensland said they promise to not let you leave without having exclusive opportunities.

He said fans who attend live shows may hear unreleased songs and have access to new merchandise that would otherwise take two to three weeks to ship if ordered online.

“[We play] a lot of new songs that are not out yet and also [sell] new merch only sold at the shows.”