Friday night was one of pleasant surprise for myself. I drove down to Knuckle Down Saloon in Madison, where I was going to be interviewing Jake Olson of Midwest Mix-Up. That went well, Jake is a good interviewer and all around a cool dude who really seems to have his shit together. After, I decided to stick around for some of the music and see if I couldn’t get some good footage for the site.
I’ll be honest, when Jake invited me out to meet him at Knuckle Down for our interview, I had not checked out any of the bands on the bill that night. Sometimes, if I’m invited out to a show where I have never heard of any of the bands, I like to go in completely blind and let their performance be my absolute first impression before facebook videos, bandcamp singles, or otherwise.
I’m at the bar with a friend talking about whatever, and we hear the amps go live at the front of the room. I didn’t know who was on first right away, but they instantly caught my attention.
Simply put, The Red Flags blew. My. Mind.
The Red Flags are a three-piece rock band from Janesville, Wisconsin: Guitarist and vocalist Gabe Wilson, Jonah Wilson on drums and as well as providing some vocals, and Ally Borchardt on bass, with back up vocals also. I can’t lie, being a female musician myself, having a very talented female bassist in a musical act scores automatic bonus points with me. I think it’s pretty cool that all members in one band do vocals, that’s something I don’t think I’ve seen in our scene before.
Instantly, I could recognize a weird but incredible mixture: basically if White Stripes and Rage Against The Machine had a baby. The guitarist, Jonah, even made me think of Tom Morello, from everything including playing and performance style (even has that hopping duck walk down), all the way down to his signature baseball cap! I had to wonder if he played that part on purpose or if it was just coincidence.
The energy of this group was tangible and I could tell shot through almost every person watching the stage. I have to include that their drummer, Jonah probably beat out everyone else in terms of energy, jumping up and down in his seat and throwing himself in every direction and still miraculously able to keep a perfect beat. I thought for sure he would end up kicking one of the pieces of his drum set over, if not the whole thing. This is not to imply that the rest of the band was lacking in energy, not at all. In fact, Gabe got so into it that he did end up knocking over a mic stand (I was so busy recording, I didn’t even notice it almost hit me in the face, falling right down in front of me)!
All in all, I give this band two huge thumbs up and implore anyone that’s looking to get their groove on to catch one of their shows. Make sure to like them on facebook, they have a lot of shows posted in the coming months that you can keep track of.
I wanted to keep the video I’m including short, but I tell you it was hard to only choose a couple songs to showcase here on Music Maehem.
Catch them on Feb 19th at the High Noon Saloon in Madison WI