So far this week I have seen a pop songstress, a couple of pop-punk icons, and a local singer-songwriter. My week has been a bit all over the place so it only made sense that I spent my Friday night being serenaded by some of my favorite Celtic-punk bands.
The first of the two bands to take The Turf Club stage on Friday night was The Rumjacks. Although I’ve never quite understood how such a solid Celtic punk band came out of Sydney, Australia, who am I to question it? Formed in 2008, this band has been staying true to their Celtic-punk verging on punk-folk sound and turning heads while doing so. Although not a household name yet, they are definitely on their way. The Rumjacks’ music is fun and makes you want to dance. Although I’ve been a huge fan of this band for some time, I have honestly never taken the time to take a deep dive into their discography, but their nearly hour-long set helped me see all of their sides. From Irish drinking songs that make you want to do a little jig to a more acoustic-based folk vibe, their style is a bit all over the place while being completely that of The Rumjacks. A fun opening act and a true treat to finally cross this band off of my bucket list, The Rumjacks left me so ready for the only other band of the night.
I will never forget the first time I saw Flatfoot 56. It was all the way back in the early 2000s when I was still in high school. I had just taken up learning the bagpipes (long story) and I was deep in the Celtic punk scene. Although it sounds harsh to call that a phase of my life especially when I still treat myself to Celtic punk music, it really was a phase and I was so determined to be a pipe player in a punk band. Flatfoot 56 was that band. They were more underground than Dropkick Murphy’s and Flogging Molly (and underground was the name of the game for me as an angsty teen) and they just seemed to have more fun on stage than the “professionals”. Since that show, I have always turned back to Flatfoot 56 when I need that little Irish influence in my life so being able to see them for the third time ever on Friday night was a complete treat.
I’ll be honest, their set was a bit of a blur for me due to a friend showing up and us just talking about how amazing and fun the band was so bear with me as I stumble through here. Much like The Rumjacks, Flatfoot 56 absolutely set the stage for a fun night full of dancing and singing. Although The Rumjacks’ sound focuses a bit more on the folk side of things, Flatfoot 56 focuses more on the dancing side and that was clear with the way the audience responded. Even though it wasn’t a sold-out crowd, everyone in the room was dancing along to the infectious beats of this band. Although I found my eyes darting across the stage to try and catch everything, they mostly landed on vocalist Tobin Bawinkel. This man is truly larger than life. At 6’10”, he towered over everyone else and was next to impossible to get a clear picture of because of it but, beyond that, the way he led the rest of the band was truly captivating. I don’t know what it was as it was nothing out of the ordinary for bands but they just felt so tight with every song they performed.
Even though Flatfoot 56 has been around since 2000, I feel like they are still just waiting for their big break. I’ve seen this before and it typically ruins bands as they grow frustrated with the fact they are doing the same tour circuit and playing for the same people night after night but I don’t see that with this band. They were truly just as excited to be on the stage as the audience was to be watching them which was truly one of the highlights of the night for me. Flatfoot 56 is not slowing down and they are definitely just getting better with age, and I truly can not wait to see them again sooner rather than later.
The show, overall, was amazing. I had a great time diving back into a world that I don’t visit frequently enough but it was the fact that the night was sponsored by Punk Rock Saves Lives that really made it stand out. Punk Rock Saves Lives is a non-profit that is truly just trying to help the punk rock community. From mental health services to providing Narcan to getting people registered for bone marrow and stem cell donations– these guys are the real MVPs of the scene. I have interacted with this group before at various other festivals but had never seen them take part in a smaller show like Friday nights. I truly appreciated the fact that there’s clearly no event too big or small for this non-profit to show up at. I promised myself I wouldn’t spend the majority of this article talking about all of the good things these people do so I will just leave it at this: Take care of yourself, take care of your friends, neighbors, and strangers– just be kind and, if you have the time look up this amazing organization and get involved.