Review by Scott StegengaFor many alternative rock fans, Flickerstick are this years best and worst band. Theyre also the one you love to hate or hate to love. No matter how you analyze them, these now famous winners of VH-1's 'Bands on the Run' are surely doing something right.
Photos by Barry Brecheisen
Playing a late show at Chicago's Metro, the wild Texans began their set with a solo singer and acoustic guitar. Brandin Lea, on a dark stage, performed "Execution by X-mas Lights." Lea's vocals have this great baritone range that doesnt crack on the high notes. After touring nonstop around the US and the UK for their Epic records re-release Welcoming Home The Astronauts, it doesnít show that they're really worn out by the road. In fact, they're getting better.
Yeah, the same stage antics are as you'd expect from their well-documented VH-1 tour, but the real talent is slowly revealing itself. Amidst the occasional swigs of Jagermeister in between songs, the insane flailing axe work by guitarist Rex Ewing, and the vigorous Jagger-esque movements of vocalist Lea, the five-piece has definitely worked its way into a proper rock band. Its live show blasting off to its full potential. I'm sure the wild times still happen for them, but now they have the fans to pump up the power. Flickerstick truly have dedicated fams, including some who follow them on tour as if they were the next post-Grateful Dead band even though they're not a jam band and theyíre only playing songs from one release. So what is the draw? It's the energetic live show. People wanna party and go nuts because they know that Flickerstick will deliver.
With a backdrop sporting visuals of space travel, insects, fire, and even the Lone Star Steakhouse, Flickerstick are space rock with that American touch. Forget the neo-psychedelic ways of the latest UK exports and don't call them the next Radiohead. The 'stick play straight up alternative rock with that avant-garde edge bringing out cool rock anthems and the occasional wall of sound. Songs like "Coke," "Beautiful," and the Pink Floyd-esque "Direct Line to the Telepathic" were setlist highlights that delighted the audience and kept the party going.
After the main set concluded with Ewing going into the crowd with his guitar, it looked like some of the band had thought the night was over. In fact, when only Lea and guitarist/keyboardist Corey Kreig entered, they wondered if the rest of the crew would come back for the fan-requested encore "You're So Hollywood." A few fun insults to the missing members eventually prompted the rest to come out and get the crowd jumping for the finish.
Opening the evening were tour-friends and Irish/Bostonians Rubyhorse playing songs from their upcoming release Rise. Turns out both bands are close friends as they both received their major label contracts while touring together previously. Not unknowns in the least, the late-nite crowd came early to see the quintet as well as singer Dave Farrell singing indie release faves to their latest single "Sparkle." Farrell has a different energy on stage with his homemade mic stand and prancing on stage like ultra cocky Eurotrash ultimately ending with him lying on the floor during the closer and singing wile bassist Decky Lucey stands on his chest. This was a feat by any means and a good start to a night of beer guzzling and body jumping.
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