Flatfoot 56 bring Toil to Pendleton

by Reggie Edwards

Flatfoot 56 has always put out great music, presenting a positive Celtic punk experience. However, their live show is where it’s at- always has been a fun time. Their latest show inPendleton,Ind.was no exception as they put on one of the craziest shows I’ve seen in a long time to one of the smallest crowds I’ve ever seen.

Opening the show were some local bands which included Saints of Denial, 77 Times and The Benefit. I didn’t expect much from any of them because, well, let’s be honest, my experience with small local bands opening up for a big national act has always been a nightmare.

I was pleasantly surprised by each of them, though; Saints of Denial blew me away. They reminded me of an early Flyleaf and they rocked the stage like none other. They still had some rough spots, but that’s to be expected from a small band.

Their stage presence was impressive and they definitely have some potential. If they stick together long enough they could really go somewhere.

Next up for us was 77 Times. I had a chance to catch them in July 2011 at Lamb Jam Festival and they were one of the best bands of the day in my book. They played together well, had great stage presence and, the most important thing, they had fun doing it.

Imagine my excitement when I found out they were performing here. I had an idea of what to expect but when they took the stage it became evident they had really developed as a band over the last year- that’s important.

Finally, The Benefit was the last opener, who had a completely different sound than the first few bands of the night, providing an upbeat Sublime-ish sound.

That was enough for me right there, then they played a rendition of OutKast’s “Hey Ya” that was honestly better than the original….and better than the metal version of “Baby Got Back” which I heard a few nights earlier.

The Benefit owned the stage and definitely entertained while they were at it.

Then….then It was time for the main event…Chicago’s Flatfoot 56- bagpipes and all. Those who were seeing the band for the first time had no idea what they were in for.

Flatfoot 56 have always had a high-tempo live show that involves organized chaos (not like The Chariot, but still chaos) and the epitome of a punk show…just with bagpipes and mandolins.

The first time I saw them was Cornerstone 2011 at midnight and I walked into some of the biggest circle pits I’d seen up to that point and I hit the floor more times during that show than I ever have. Plus I was covered in mud afterwards- epic.

Then was Ignite Fest 2011 just a few months later on a baseball field and they started a grass war between the fans on each side of the stage.

Needless to say, they’re always entertaining, so I was even more excited when the smaller-than-life crowd morphed into one big circle pit throughout the show.

Frontman Tobin Bawinkel took time to talk to the crowd throughout the show, telling the fans that if they have never seen people dancing, circle pitting, and going crazy like they were, ‘welcome to a punk show, a place where it doesn’t matter how you look or act, everyone is welcome.’

He also told the fans that if they find themselves not having fun, to ‘loosen up and let go.’

Flatfoot opened with “Brother Brother” from their latest release, Toil and the party began.

“Brother Brother” is one of my favorites from Toil and I was ecstatic that they played it and started with it.

One thing I absolutely have to give props to the guys for is the fact that most bands play songs from the new album and the previous album and that’s it. Not Flatfoot 56, though, far from it.

Not only did they play all the favorites from Toil and 2010’s Black Thorn, but they also played a number of songs from 2007’s Jungle of the Midwest Sea, which was my first Flatfoot album.

The crowd, which couldn’t have been more than 50 people, was crazy as ever, with circle pits, walls of death (which was initiated by the band for “Hoity Toity”), picking people up and running with them upside down, crowd surfing, Irish jigs and even that line-dancing-kick-thing the Rockettes do, I just couldn’t resist.

I had to take part in the circle pits and Wall of Death, which I must say I’m proud of myself for surviving, even though I collided heads with someone and went down.

“I Believe It,” “6-10,” “Courage,” “Carry ‘Em Out” and “Chinatown Jailbreak” were among some of the songs played that night, but one of my favorite parts of the night was toward the end, and any Flatfoot 56 concert veteran knows what I’m talking about.

No, I’m not talking about the end of “Chinatown Jailbreak” when half the crowd jumped on stage to dance and jam with the band, who seemed to love every minute of it.

To end the show, Flatfoot played a Celtic punk rendition of the old hymn “I’ll Fly Away” as well as an a cappella version of “Amazing Grace.” Normally “Amazing Grace” would have been played up-tempo like “I’ll Fly Away,” but not this night. I think it had to do with the fill-in drummer as regular drummer Justin Bawinkel (brother of frontman Tobin and bassist Kyle) was unable to be there.

It had a sort of feel that you just couldn’t find anywhere else- an aura and atmosphere that was irreplaceable and I think this was a better version because it was a different way to end one of the wildest and craziest shows I’ve seen in quite some time.

I had a chance to sit down with frontman Tobin Bawinkel and bassist Kyle Bawinkel before the show to talk about Toil, touring and more. Click below to hear the interview in its entirety.

Flatfoot 56 Interview:

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