March 11, 2019 – It being March, it means one amazing thing for me; the beginning of the concert season. OK, I attended Cheap Trick back in February but to me, spring is really when the concert season kicks into gear. I’ve got about ten shows lined up and possibly a few more during the course of this year. If you’re into guitar-based rock be sure to check back here often. If you have read previous articles, you know that I have Badflower down as one of my Best 5 New Rock Bands. I believe that they, along with Greta Van Fleet will continue to attract bigger and bigger audiences as the year goes on. I had the feeling GVF was going to be huge last year with the release of “Highway Tune” and “Safari Song.” I wanted to get in on the “ground floor” of seeing them before they got so popular I wouldn’t be able to see them up close. I feel the same way about Badflower. Will they be as big as Greta Van Fleet? That is hard to predict. GVF is a modern-day phenomenon – selling out just about everywhere they play, albeit in smaller venues. Badflower could also fill smaller arenas and by the end of this year they will probably accomplish that feat. They will be touring with Shinedown during the spring and summer months. From there, the sky is the limit. On to the review:
Badflower was one of four bands performing on this night along with local band Paliisades, Of Mice and Men and Nothing More being the headliner. During the first band’s set (Paliisades), a good sized crowd had already formed. About fifteen minutes after Palisades had finished up, Badflower came on to an enthusiastic welcome from the audience and dove right in with one of my favorites; “X Ana X” from their new album “OK, I’m Sick.” From the onset, they were rocking hard and instantly bonded with the audience. Next, they reached back for two songs from their earlier release; the “Temper” EP – “Drop Dead” and the slow rocker, “White Noise.” Singer/guitarist Josh Katz led the charge as he worked the crowd into a frenzy while lead guitarist Joe Morrow kept a low profile until called upon. The anti-right wing “Die” from the new album was next with the “fuck you” of the chorus being a rallying cry between the band and the audience as they took turns flipping each other off at the end of the song, hilariously. They followed with hit “Heroin”, played to crowd’s enthusiastic approval, followed by the YouTube mega-smash “Ghost.” They finished off the set with the slow, deliberate “Animal.”
I was a little bit surprised that they were only allotted time for a seven song set. They could have easily been the headliner. They were energetic, fun and kept the audience engaged as though they were seasoned professionals – something that new, young bands usually take a while to learn.
As a front man, Josh has unusual ways that he relates to the audience. While great at working the crowd, smiling and having the run of the stage, he also shows his vulnerability. He suffers from anxiety attacks and apparently takes medication for them (hence the song “X ana X”.) He has posted about this on Twitter and encourages people who suffer from similar attacks and lets them know they are not alone. He mentioned this to the crowd in a funny way – saying that he loves them all but tomorrow “I’m going to be like, fuck you.” The audience laughed because they knew exactly what he meant. In essence, he uses his own experiences to connect with the fans, in the same way other singers might tell a story or crack a joke. He also made everyone laugh by mistakenly leaving one of his effects pedals on while he said that they would like to play their entire new album for them but being that they are an opening act, that: “fuck it, that’s just the way it is.” Suddenly, everything he had just said was repeated back through the pedal until roadies came over to switch off the effect, leaving everyone laughing. Was it Josh just using shtick? Probably not, but it harkens back to other singers who used circumstance, whether real or concocted to get a reaction from the audience.
Badflower were thoroughly enjoyable. I was surprised how much and how well Josh played guitar. He wasn’t flashy, playing just what the songs needed and leaving the lead work to Morrow. You don’t see much of him playing guitar in their videos, he primarily just sings. Bassist Alex Espiritu and Drummer Anthony Sonetti were solid in backing them and all were a tight, cohesive unit. Together, they are one of the new breed of rockers – hopefully one of many that will give Rock that much needed kick in the ass. They’re edgy, original and don’t seem to borrow from other well-known bands. They are also relatable, their music is fresh and while in a Punk vein, it rocks hard and appeals to men and women of all age groups. I look for them to become much bigger than they are right now. If they continue to stay fresh and maintain their edginess, it will happen. Great show, guys!
Video credit: Kim Gandy Jinks