Sometimes, I feel like there’s this very distinct divide in the music world – between “pop” music and the experimental, indie stuff. Between what the masses listen to and what the “cool kids” and critics are listening to. I love reading the magazines, articles and blogs that talk about the music that falls on the latter side of the line (for example, RSL, which is one of the best music blogs out there), but I consistently fall on the pop side. I totally don’t get the “outside the box” stuff. Maybe this is just representative of my limited mental capacity; perhaps I really know nothing about music at all. For example, I’m totally not ashamed to admit that I just don’t hear what everyone else loves about The Arcade Fire (bring on the critics!). Not one single thing about them appeals to me. Here’s a confession: There’s something about music with melodies that get stuck in your head and lyrics that you can sing along and relate to that grabs me. Pop, ladies and gentleman, is NOT a dirty word to me.
Despite my tendency to love the pop crack…on occasion, there’s an unusual band that grabs me from the very first note I hear them play.
Flagship is one of these bands.
These kids are flipping amazing. The first time I saw them live, they played a late show after one of my favorite little rock singers. I stuck around, more to hang out with my friends than to hear the late show band. But damn. Pull out the old-school microphone a la Robert Smith, and you’re gonna get my attention, no matter WHAT kind of music you’re playing. Add to that that this band that I’d NEVER EVEN HEARD OF before packed out The Evening Muse, and you can color me intrigued.
So I started listening. Closely.
I don’t have the music education background to talk in “lingo” about what this band does that appeals to me. I can’t tell you what time they’re playing in. Couldn’t tell you for the life of me what kind of guitar tones they pull out of their instruments or why it’s cool that Drake plays a Rickenbacker. I just know that it is. And that that I love their music. And that I want to play it. All the time.
Flagship bridges the very divide that I think exists in music. They’re creative and experimental, but their music is totally relatable for me. They’ve got those “earworm” type lyrics – the kind that you find yourself singing all throughout the day – layered on top of really complex melodies and flipping brilliant instrumentation. It’s “indie” music sans pretentiousness. One minute, they’re playing songs that are reminiscent of 80s new age, the next minute they’re channeling classic rockers like Tom Petty, and then to completely throw you for a loop, they play a song that sounds like it’s straight out of Americana. It’s incredible.
And I don’t know if I’m more impressed with lead singer Drake Margolnick with his cut-through-you wailing and haunting refrains or Logan Fincher’s little bursts of disgustingly creative guitar parts. It KILLS me that these kids are so young and they’re playing at this level.
Okay, and I might love, just a little bit that Drake pulls in a little Springsteen “Tunnel of Love,” whether he knows it or not, in their song “Enemies of the State” when he sings “Na na na na, hey…”
Tonight, I watched them play to a crowd of about fifty indie kids at a small bar in Charlotte – the kind of kids that wear Activision t-shirts when they’re too young to know what it was, and dresses and flowers in their hair when the venue attire is obviously jeans and t-shirt fare – and the only thing that kept running through my head was what Samantha from Sex in the City said, when she was talking to Smith about his career as an actor.
“First the girls, then the gays, then everyone else will follow.”
Their fans LOVE them. Rabid, Jersey Shore fist-pumping love them. You look around the crowd and everyone is singing along. People are filling in the parts from the recorded versions of the songs that don’t make it to the live show – hand claps, background vocals, the works. It’s kind of inspiring to see a crowd of young people be this stoked about music (and how old am I that I’m referring to a crowd at a live show as “young people?”).
Another way I know this band has “it” – whatever that “it” is? I was inspired to come home and write this blog. I haven’t been inspired to write much of anything lately, but their show left me buzzing. I’m talking punch-drunk, toe tapping, want to bring all of my friends to their next show buzz.
Glad I’m catching Flagship on the way up. Why aren’t you listening to them already?