With two stunning EPs and two singles under their belts – including one acoustic rendition – five-piece indie rock dream Flipturn has been taking east coast stages by storm while on tour with crunchy indie group *repeat repeat. I was lucky enough to catch them in Philly on the second night of their tour, following a DC performance the night before.
Flipturn has become one of my absolute staple favorites since discovering them in March – a discovery made from a particularly spot-on Spotify algorithm, might I add. Even as I’m sitting and writing this, I’m having a hard time accurately conveying my excitement for just how stoked I was to see Flipturn, and for just how tight of a show this group can put on. Let’s get into it.
Just as I was entering the upstairs of The Milkboy, Flipturn was launching right into “Cold”, the second-to-last song off their first EP titled Heavy Colors (2017). This song acted effectively as a primer; the base layer that Flipturn would swathe their canvas with, a rich and varying sample of their sound. Vocalist (and rhythm guitarist) Dillon Basse’s crystal clear, operatic bellows soar with a fervor unmatched alongside piercing leads from guitarist Tristan Duncan, the kind that drift away and carry you with them. Madeline Jarman’s bass grounds us, reminding us that we are still desperately running to keep up with our own heartbeats; all in harmonious contrast with Taylor Allen’s synth, which subtly lifts us to the dreamy stratosphere, filling the space as it floats by. Drums from Adrian Walker are compelling when they need to take the wheel, and subdued at all the right times, building captivating suspense as each song plays out.
Following “Cold” was “Churches”, which the band released as a single before its official release on second EP Citrona, out in 2018. This punchy, electrifying track is arguably the band’s angstiest, and it was an absolute headbanger – halfway through, I turned around to check out the crowd, and it had easily doubled. On the recording for this song, there is slightly more distortion placed on the vocals, almost like screaming into a 1930’s telephone (I say this genuinely and endearingly) – and Basse’s vigor and rasp as a live performer matched this intensity perfectly.
Next was a new song that hasn’t been released yet, but judging by its subject, I might guess that it will be titled “Eleanor”. The bass-heavy, disco feel of this song definitely piqued the crowd’s interest as much as the ones they knew and sang along to. Following that, a cover, and a modern classic at that: “Hold On” by Alabama Shakes. Flipturn’s insertion of their gritty yet uplifting indie glitter gave the song a fresh and welcomed twist. Basse made sure to shout out dynamic frontwoman Brittany Howard, as well as encourage the crowd to check out her new solo work, released earlier this year.
On Citrona, instrumental opening track “Fletcher” bleeds into “Six Below”– which is exactly how Flipturn played it live. “Fletcher” starts off minimally, adding layer and layer of perfectly syncopated lilting rhythms from Basse on guitar and Allen’s synth alike, topped with Duncan’s undulating lead guitar that yearns for another summer. The transition into “Six Below” feels like that brief, liminal space between dreaming and awareness, and it isn’t until the first chorus that you have to truly face the world, as Basse declares, “I know what everybody knows: Die young or you can grow old, until you’re buried six below”. The incredibly fast drum fills and solos from Walker were outstanding during this number.
“Hippies” haunts in all the right ways, and left me feeling nostalgic for memories that weren’t even my own. Basse’s ringing falsetto paints like an old film, reminiscent of all those who have loved and lost before himself. The buildup towards the end up the song held just the right touch of suspense, lifting up the audience just high enough to drop back off with a satisfied head nod at its break. The final line of each chorus, as well as the song, mourns: “I lost you”.
Between each song, Basse must have called out at least thirty different variations of “Thank you!” and “You guys rock!” following the eruptions of applause and “Woo!”s from the crowd (here’s hoping I was the loudest there). Then, he and Jarman playfully requested a name for their next song – another new and untitled one. Several jokes were called out, but we’ll have to wait and see what they end up deciding for it. On this track, the most dominant melody came from Duncan on lead guitar, heartily met by a much more frequent use of falsetto from Basse. Basse is also an unstoppable dancer; I swear, he never stopped jumping back and forth during the entire set. His buzz was infectious.
Basse announced they had two more songs. The group was met again by cheers not lacking in volume, but, knowing that it would inevitably end, the celebratory air that begins every night of excitement had shifted slightly, preparing itself to begin missing the experience. The first twinkling strums of one of Flipturn’s biggest hits began, “August”. To say that this song is sweet or nostalgic might be cliché, but not out of line. The first line is an invitation to open the storybook: “August, honey, tasted sweeter with you.” Every summer love, every youthful flashback, every ray of sun entering your teenage bedroom is captured in this song. The perfect song to fall in love to, to have your heart broken to, to fall apart to – and it happened live, all at once, for about fifty of us in that room. “I loved you from the start,” Basse wails, each note rising to surpass the last – eventually leading up to a perfectly stacked buildup that meanders at first, then meets you face to face, as if to settle matters for the last time. The crowd went wild.
The final song of the night was “Nickel”, paralleling its closing on Citrona. On this upbeat, choppy anthem, Basse demands the truth. “Was I just told a lie my entire life, thinking I’d be great?” The song carries out with a chant that Basse invited the entire crowd to chant, clap, eventually scream along with many times over, as the intensity increases: “I give it all up for a bottle of wine, about two feet tall, three inches wide; I’d rather be drunk, or out of my mind, than trade my soul for nickels and dimes.”
After graciously accepting the mountainous applause and cheers following this track, Basse’s and Jarman’s eyebrows raised as the crowd began chanting unanimously, “One more song!” Jarman made a slashing motion to her throat as Basse stepped to the mic, jokingly exasperated with palms extended at his sides and an ear-to-ear grin, to remind the crowd, “We’re the opener! We can’t play another, we’re the opener,” The cheering finally subdued, some music began on the speakers overhead to fill the space, and fans flocked together to discuss what they had just heard.
Flipturn put on one of the more solid shows I’ve seen of any indie touring group, touring or not, and I will definitely be seeing them next – and hopefully every- time they come to Philly in the future.
3. New – Unreleased
4. Hold On by Alabama Shakes
6. Six Below
8. New – Untitled
On Friday, May 10th, the legendary Neko Case made a fiery appearance at The Uptown Theater in Kansas City, MO. Taking the stage very casually, she wore pants with a skeleton frame on them and slowly introduced us to her set with “Pitch or Honey”. She then launched into “Bad Luck”, which had the majority of the lower level seated section on their feet for a good portion of the track. The lights glowed warmly behind Case, making it look as though she had a true halo around her head. Her on stage cohorts – all basked in a warm glow – seemed to be no less than thrilled to be performing with her, and we can’t say we’re surprised.
After experiencing Case for the first time at 2018’s Sasquatch Music Festival – I know, where have I been? -, I was concerned that the performance might not ignite the level of magic that seemed to seep up from the canyon at the venue in Washington last year. But Case has an aura about her that far exceeds the surrounding environment. And – in any case (no pun intended, truly) – The Uptown Theater provides an ambiance that feels unique to Case’s brand of performance style. It was a night made in heaven.
Our hearts melted the moment the first chords of seventh song of the evening – “Maybe Sparrow” – hit the air. That song and the accompanying level of shaken you feel after experiencing it live truly attest to Case’s magnetic nature. And, of course, nothing left the room more energized than when she pulled “Train From Kansas City” out of her back pocket as the second of three encore tracks. If nothing else, this city is known for its appreciation of the wealth of music and culture it inspires and is mentioned in. Forever, we will appreciate her for that nod to what was once a flyover city.
Case’s sound can only be categorized as the perfect blend of nature and otherworldly, enigmatic energy. To have the pleasure of enjoying it live will leave a mark on your soul, no matter the night of the week. Though it DOES help that it was a Friday night experience, as we had the remainder of the weekend to really digest it all.
Keep up with Neko Case here.
If you haven’t witnessed UPSAHL live, now is the perfect time. This female act is about to be major, and if her recorded music is not already any indication of that, then her live performance is absolute proof. And we couldn’t have thought of anyone better to open Max Frost’s show at The Riot Room on Monday, March 11th.
Rolling through . And during “All My Friends Are Rich”, you could tell the entire crowd was identifying with the lyrics in some way or another. (Hi. Yes. “Now where in the hell is my money?”) In fact, we were thrilled to see her perform any of the tracks off of her new Hindsight 20/20 EP, as it is such a vulnerable and theatrical work of art. Lucky us, UPSAHL’s vocals are just as raspy and enticing in real life as they are recorded, so her entire performance felt as though we were inside the EP itself. Not to mention, “Drugs” gave us all the confidence.
We walked away from that set to the bar like the badasses we had always dreamt of being, and we owe it all to an evening of fun with UPSAHL.
Keep up with the artist here.
I stumbled upon Larkin Poe in late 2016. I was on a YouTube music spree, as one will occasionally do, and they happened to pop up in my “Up Next” column. It was a Jam in the Van video of the song Jailbreak. The video had been posted in 2014 so it was roughly 2 and half years old by the time I found it. The song had a good pop to it and both Rebecca and Meghan had a good energy for the song. After the video ended, I began to dig into more of their stuff, Don’t, Sugar High, Stubborn Love and Trouble in Mind. Every song I listened to was solid, but the studio recordings lacked that something that separates music you throw on in the back ground from music you throw on to really listen to.
Flash forward to the Garage at Knuckleheads Saloon on a Monday night. I was unsure of the following that Larkin Poe would have, especially with it being a Monday night, in December, in Kansas City Missouri. We got to the venue 20 minutes before the opener was scheduled. I assumed this would be plenty of time to grab a seat, grab a drink and talk before the show started. What’s that they say about assumptions? The venue was packed. We were fortunate enough to find a couple lonesome bar stools in the corner. Other than those, it was standing room only.
It’s important to point out the composition of the crowd for this event. There were plenty of adults in attendance and the usual crowd that seems to attend Knuckleheads religiously, regardless of what type of artist or music it being played. The best part about the crowd for me were the parents that brought their kids with them. Live music is an important thing to support and it’s even better when the band is on fire like Larkin Poe was that night.
When Larkin Poe took the stage, I immediately understood why the place had sold out. The energy they brought with them left the crowd with one option, buckle up and enjoy the ride. Their opening song “Summertime Sunset” brought the house down and it only got better from there. Meghan’s slide guitar outro for Look Away was a good for lesson for any guitar player in patience, tone and control. Rebecca’s vocals have gotten stronger and more confident since I first heard her, and the entire concert was a showcase for that talent.
The show was refreshing and genuine and as a soon to be father of a daughter, it was awesome to see two sisters absolutely dominating the stage. I cannot wait for them to come back around or anywhere close, I will be dragging my friends and most likely a certain family member, you know who you are, to see them again.
Keep up with Larkin Poe here.
Arriving at the venue I didn’t know what to expect, I was very familiar with Frozen Nation’s music. I should be, Alteria Anarchy was the first radio show to air Frozen Nation’s first single I Failed for you and I was the first journalist ever to interview them. I had become very good friends with Idris but this is the first time I would have met him in the flesh. The venue itself was a very artistic place, one side where the music happened and the other a very arty bar.
The first person who I met and recognised was Moss, the frontman of Frozen Nation. A tall handsome man who when I said Moss I’m Phill his face lit up and I was greeted with a big hug for a welcome. Frozen Nation are one of the very few bands I have a very close affinity to, a band like only a couple more that I have seen grow and followed. It felt like meeting someone I have known all my life but yet I was meeting in the flesh for the first time. After Moss greeted me he introduced me firstly to my great friend Idris of whom again I was met with a big hug and a smile, then to Dorian of whom I had never actually spoken to but yet he like Moss and Idris just seemed like part of my extended family.
As the night rolled on Idris, Moss and Dorian were there making sure we had a great night. They introduced us to people and the whole air of the gig was very much a personal one, to say we were made welcome is truly the understatement. It was a perfect night with great friends, but to my honour my great friends were also the headline band. Dorian chatted to me and told me the very intricacies of the music and told me stories of Elvis. Me being a Jethro Tull fan I was wowed by this.
Swan Death came on and they were very Goth Rock in style, their style mixed with their visuals blended well and was a great opening act.
Perverted By Language had more an attitude, slightly punkish and again really great live.
But I was waiting, waiting to see my friends, the headline band. The lights were dim and then the music started and so did the visuals in the background. As the music began the crowd just started to move. I had listened to Dark Belgian Disco so many times so when I heard Genghis Khan my body also started to instinctively move, the music just put you under a spell and you just couldn’t help yourself. Then in the background the silver spinning disco ball led to the title track of Frozen Nation’s album, Dark Belgian Disco which was played with perfection.
I personally was waiting for one song, the song that has been on my alarm since the first day I heard it. The song people have heard so much on Alteria Anarchy, my favourite song. And as I heard the start of I Failed For You, Idris shouted “This is for you Phill”, to say this was a true honour was an understatement. One of my favourite bands, my friends, dedicate my favourite song to me was just unbelievable. I couldn’t help myself move and then following I Failed For You was Come On To The Ride which is another song that is just so funky with such a great feeling.
As they played more yet another familiar favourite played, Give Me The Perfect Song. I was singing and dancing, I just couldn’t stop myself and neither could the people at the gig. Then followed Alone In Berlin, I couldn’t believe just how much perfection had been given to us. I love the sound of Frozen Nation, it’s just pure and funky. Dark but yet the lights shinning from that disco ball just shine brightly.
The night ended and I couldn’t thank Idris, Moss and Dorian enough. We had a long day so that’s where the night ended for me, but that’s not where this story ends.
The day after we met Frozen Nation, they took us to this amazing Belgian restaurant and treated us to lunch and beer. We just chatted more about the music of Frozen Nation. Dorian, Idris and Moss were just so passionate about their music and from what I heard & felt from the gig it shows. The guys spoke and Dorian said “Would you like to see our studio, would you like to meet Elvis?”, how could I refuse? After a pleasant walk through the streets of Brussels with the guys showing us the wonderful sights and telling us the stories and folklore of where we were walking we arrived at the studio. I was in awe, all the old analogue equipment that gave Frozen Nation their unique and wonderful sound. Dorian showed me where they record and how they do it, then in a smaller noise proofed room there he was there was Elvis. Dorian told me how they use him and how he is just like a person and the stories that made him feel that way.
We sat and chatted more, Idris and Dorian stayed in the studio to do a little work and Moss took us for a beer before we had to leave. Big hugs from Idris and Dorian, I felt sad in a way as I was leaving two of my close friends. We left for the pub with Moss. Nice beer too, traditional Belgian beer. Well you can’t go to Brussels without tasting the amazing beer now can you? As the time came close that we had to leave to come home Moss even walked with us to the tram station. We bought tickets and with one last hug from my friend Moss we were on our way.
The whole experience is one I will never forget, Frozen Nation themselves and the wonderful city of Brussels. I cannot thank my friends Idris, Moss and Dorian for an amazing weekend and for the amazing music. Thank you for letting me introduce the world to that wonderful Dark Belgian Disco sound and also for your friendship.
Frozen Nation we will be back, thank you.
by: Phill Bruce