Sad circumstances brought me back to Michigan last week. My grandfather passed away at the age of 91. If there was a silver lining to the whole affair, it was that he lead a long, active life, and I could be there to celebrate it with my family. But if there was a secondary, backup silver lining, it was that the timing allowed me to catch my friends in Flatfoot celebrating the release of the group’s fifth album of country-rock, Blue Water.
I go way back with Flatfoot. I first interviewed founding member Aaron Bales back in perhaps 2003 for the paper where I worked. At the time, I was just geeked that I was finally able to write about an alt-country band, since we didn’t get many coming through town. The group’s lineup has changed somewhat since then, including the fact that a couple of close acquaintances joined the band, something I didn’t discover until I showed up at a gig in a city 90 miles from where I knew them and was surprised to see them on stage. You know what they say … about the world and its relative size.
At any rate, the band has been doing this for a while, and the songwriting just gets better and better. At Saturday’s show at Woodruff’s in Ypsilanti (pronounced ip-suh-LAN-tee, all you Bay Area readers), the group played the new album from start to finish. Even though I’d never heard any of the songs, by the second chorus, I was often singing along. Not that they were overly simple, just well-crafted and memorable. Bales splits singing duties with bassist Thomas McCartan, and each has his own distinctive voice: Bales’ is as smooth and dramatic as McCartan’s is rough and authentic. For an encore, they played “The Weight,” and it felt predestined.
After they finished up, I enjoyed the grungy pop-rock of The Boys Themselves, featuring 3/5 of veteran Michigan indie rock band Starling Electric. As McCartan explained it to me, the members were sitting around listening to Weezer’s blue album one day and said, “Hey, let’s just do this.” Might as well—Weezer isn’t anymore.
Here’s photographic evidence of the evening:
Or in gallery form, if you prefer: