I recently had the opportunity to see Flatfoot 56 perform at Baltimore’s Ottobar. What a show; before the band took the stage at 10:00, the audience was treated to performances by Last Call Hooligans, Dead End Lane, and Ninety-Six Ghosts. While entertaining, the shows were fairly low energy; The floor was practically empty, and everyone was dort of just meandering around, waiting for the main event. After Ninety-Six ghosts finished their set, there was a thirty minute intermission, in which the crowd grew from maybe twenty people, to about one hundred. The energy level rose drastically.
Flatfoot sets a very intresting dynamic in their concerts, with a surprising instrumental variety. Conrad Allsworth plays drums, and Kyle Bawinkel plays the bass guitar. Tobin Bawinkel, standing at 6’10” towers above the audience as he shouts gutturally into the mic. Brandon Good, and Eric McMahon both play guitar, but alternate between accompanying with bagpipes (McMahon), and mandolin (Good). Good is a fascinating musician to watch; a giant of a man, he dwarves his electric guitar, and when he picks up the mandolin, it looks like a child’s toy in his gigantic hands. The gutsiest player award goes to McMahon however, who performs the entire show in a kilt. You know, in case you’re ever unsure that they’re Irish.
As the show went on, a circle pit formed at the foot of the stage. People joined in, prancing in circles, kicking their legs out and flailing their arms. This dance is known as skanking, and yes, it is a bizzare as it sounds. All weirdness aside, it is a strangely liberating experience; a comunal one, that allows the audience to make the jump from spectator to participant.