It wasn’t that the band last night was on my bucket list– more that when their St. Paul show at the Turf Club was announced I knew it was a show that I couldn’t miss. Although I worshiped Flobots back in the day, they are one of those bands where I quickly fell off the wagon and stopped following. It’s not that they ever put out a bad album or did anything to turn me off, more just that their 2007 “Fight With Tools” release was just a jaw-dropping album that hit me at the exact right time that none of their other releases stood a chance. Sure, seeing them last night made me feel like a terrible “fan” (if I could even call myself that) since I only recognized the older songs but I didn’t care. After so many play-throughs of that fateful 2007 release, I was finally seeing this group live and it was more than I could have ever dreamed of.
After a quick dinner at one of my favorite Thai spots (that just happens to be next door to The Turf Club– shout out to On’s Thai Kitchen!), my friend/ photographer and I were some of the first people through the doors for the show. It’s not that we wanted to be, more that we were too hungry prior to dinner that killing time at home was no longer an option. As we made our way through the doors, I wasn’t surprised to notice that there was only a handful of people there. Not only were we early, but the promise of terrible weather later on in the night and a band that had a giant hit back in 2008 but really hadn’t hit that point since then, had me guessing that it was going to be a chill night. My friend and I took our spots at the bar, joked around with the bartender, grabbed a drink and chatted for a bit. Within about twenty minutes (still forty minutes before the show), I realized that the venue had filled up not just a bit, but a lot. It was packed and I was shocked to say the least. We chugged our drinks and made our way up to the stage so we could get a good spot before they were all gone.
Opening up the Wednesday night show was Cleveland based Tropidelic– a band that I had never heard of prior to last night but will not soon forget. As the group took the stage, I was instantly struck by the diversity of the members. You had a singer that looked straight out of Florida Georgia Line, a guitarist that might belong in a metal band, a horn player that was probably the coach of a chess team and, well, you get the point. It was a mis-match of people and, as the six of them took their spots on stage, I was excited to see what their music would be. The group wasted no time and quickly jumped into what ended up being a truly amazing set.
The music of Tropidelic was a cluster much like all of the members on stage. With a blend of punk, ska, reggae, funk, hip-hop– you name it, this group had an element of it in their music. The sound was almost chaotic at times but not out of control. With synchronized dance moves coming from the trumpet and trombone players, not only was the music entertaining but so was the show. There was something about this band’s set that just screamed positivity without them having to make a statement about it and that was refreshing. It was honestly just a feel good set full of feel good sounds that had everyone in the packed crowd moving and grooving along to the music. Whether you liked their sound or not, there was a smile on your face as you tried to figure this band out. A little secret- there’s no figuring this band out. Their look and sound is off the wall and it’s perfect so don’t even try and figure them out– just let it happen and let the good vibes take over.
As the stage was turned over for Flobots, I could feel the anticipation building up in me. As I mentioned, they weren’t a band on my bucket list but as soon as the show was announced, I knew I couldn’t miss it. Their 2007 “Fight With Tools” release made a huge impact on me (although I couldn’t really tell you why) and I was excited to see what this group has been up to over the years. The six members took the stage to a cheering crowd and, like Tropidelic, wasted no time jumping into their set.
Flobots sound, much like that of Tropidelic, is very eclectic although it seems to have a heavier hip-hop influence than anything else. With political undertones while still keeping a light hearted feel, Flobots’ set on Wednesday night definitely had my jaw on the ground. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting other than what you would think a one-hit wonder would give you. That’s not a diss on them but, let’s be honest, they had that one hit song (“Handlebars”) but never really hit it big with anything else. I knew I was going to love finally seeing this group live but didn’t think I would be so impressed. I feel like Flobots has a bad rep but for no apparent reason. Honestly, I think they were just a bit ahead of their time for their sound and style.
It was song after song of energy as the members took turns at the front of the stage. Regardless of who was stealing the spotlight at any given moment, it was impossible to have your eyes settle on just one member. Each of them had a giant smile on their face and was moving around to the music however they saw fit. This mentality seemed to match that of the crowd. Everyone was in their own little world, dancing how ever they wanted, with a smile on their face and it was truly a thing of beauty.
Whether you went to Wednesday night’s show just to hear “Handlebars”, you were there because you have been following this group throughout their career, or you just stumbled on in to escape the boredom that is a Minnesota winter, I feel like you got more than what you paid for and were left with a truly amazing night of music.