May 7, 2004 – My Brother's Place in Waldorf, MD
by S M C
If you missed Flexible Head at My Brother’s Place in Waldorf on Friday night, you missed something special.
Intense thunderstorms, lightning and tornado warnings kept a large chunk of the crowd at home, but as Freddie Mercury used to sing, 'the show must go on'. Fly or Die (side project of Rookie Driver) and Showcase (soon to tour with As Seasons Fall in June/July) both performed enjoyable sets. However, it was Flexible Head’s self-described "punk/pop-punk/metal-like alternative" that stole the show.
FH guitarist/songwriter, Dan, started the insanity with a Hendrix-like intro of Amazing Grace, smoothly transitioning to their staple opener of Be The One, a little pop-punk favorite of FH fans, that got the crowd bouncing from the moment the drums kicked.
Enter Jeff. The singer/songwriter/frontman-extrodinaire slammed in from stage left. While Mother Nature didn’t send any tornadoes, Jeff's entrance and subsequent performance brought the whirlwind inside the house. Donned in suede burgundy pants and a lime green, ruffled tuxedo top that would make any wedding singer jealous, you knew from that moment that Flexible Head was not only here to perform, but to entertain.
As the crowd tried to catch a breath, the Flexible Head theme song introduced the band, which includes Andy on drums and Kerry on bass, both new members who performed so professionally that you couldn’t tell that they were FH rookies.
Jeff's ability to tie pop-culture into the show, in a very Ian McCulloch (Echo and the Bunnymen) kind of way, really added to the performance. Throughout the set, he worked in lyrical references including Outkast ("Shake it, Shake…shake it like a Polaroid picture" in the Flexible Head theme song) and Eminem ("My name is…" during Today) and threw in an outdated, perhaps taboo, reference to Vanilla Ice. The band surprised the crowd, most not old enough to catch this one, with a cover of New Edition's Mr. Telephone Man. Finally, during a catchy song entitled Country Punk Rock Girl, the band worked Lynyrd Skynrd’s Sweet Home Alabama into a break complete with a crowd pleasing drum solo from Andy.
There was even a point between songs where Jeff appeared quite Black Francis-like (The Pixies) when he engaged in a roaring match with some of the fans up front. It may sound strange, but it worked.
The one filler that Jeff added that I had to ask about was a little tribute to Scarsdale, NY's own Too Much Joy, when he included the ending to TMJ's Nothing on My Mind. He insisted that I purchase a copy of the album Cereal Killers and write a review more than a decade after its release. I promised.
The set featured a nice transition from some of FH's poppier stuff to the harder (No Friend of Mine, Culture Pop) and back to the lighter side (Existential Girlfriend and Ever). Dan indicated that Ever is their new favorite song and it will be the first track they lay down when they head back to the studio.
I must admit that Jeff, who reminds me of Bouncing Souls' frontman Greg Attonito, could easily be David Lee Roth's younger brother. Okay, so he isn't related to David Lee, and you will not recognize his name from any version of Adam Sandler’s Chanukah Song, but the showmanship oozes from his pores.
"Hey, we do what we can. I want everyone at every Flexible Head performance to leave thinking, 'that's the way it should be…those guys rocked.' To me, a band really needs to focus on the entertainment value of their set. Don’t get me wrong, the music is equally important, and fortunately for me, Dan is a very accomplished guitarist and songwriter. That allows me to really explore the entertaining side…just what any good frontman should do," stated Jeff, dripping like he just finished a session in a sauna, while signing autographs for a line of young FH fans.
I asked Dan about the new rhythm section and the ability to prep them for a live gig in a short amount of time. Dan attributed this to his attention to detail.
"I admit that I am a perfectionist, which may be why we have gone through more bass players than Spinal Tap went through drummers, but I don’t know of any other way to do it. At least I admit to being a perfectionist. Jeff is in denial."
Finally, for those of you that were curious, Flexible Head is named after a little known song from a successful UK band of the late 80’s and early 90’s called Ned's Atomic Dustbin, that hails from Stourbridge. I know because I checked it out. In fact, for you Ned’s fans, they are playing a handful of shows in the UK in December, with 3/5th’s of the original lineup INTACT.
As for Flexible Head, they may be a local band in Maryland, but they take it seriously (I know, that doesn’t sound very punk!). If they keep this up and the guys can stay together, there is a great chance that you will hear from them on a much larger stage. Hopefully the labels will take notice, sooner rather than later.
S M C