Two of Chicago’s most popular bands, both with fervent U.S. and international fan bases, Flatfoot 56 and Naked Raygun, were among the many acts performing at Motoblot 2016. Both took the outdoor stage, set up outside of Cobra Lounge, Saturday June 25th, with the legendary Naked Raygun headlining.The Flatfoot 56 set began with “Brother, Brother” from Toil, a song name seemingly appropriate for the southsiders’ recently slightly revised lineup. Two, not three, Bawinkel brothers, Tobin Bawinkel on lead vocals and guitar and Kyle Bawinkel on bass and vocals, remain as official members of the quintet. Drummer Justin Bawinkel exited the group to focus on his studies and fatherhood as he and his wife welcomed their first child within the last year. Conrad Allsworth is the new drummer. Eric McMahon (bagpipes, guitar), Brandon Good (mandolin, guitar) round out the line-up.
Flatfoot 56 are known for their high-energy, to the point of near exhaustion, sets. Some highlights of their Motoblot performance included : “The Rich, The Strong and The Poor” and “I Believe It” both also from Toil; “Chinatown Jail Break,” from Jungle of the Midwest Sea; and “We Grow Stronger” from Black Thorn.
Flatfoot 56 closed their set out the way they often do, with one of the classics hymns of which they have recorded covers. “I’ll Fly Away” has been described as one of the most recorded gospel songs and has been utilized by several different Christian denominations. And to some, as of yet unfamiliar with FF56, it might seem a curious choice to be covered by a punk band. Yet their version maintains the power; and as with their version of “Amazing Grace,” movingly transforms their always very active circle pit into a fellowship session akin to a Revival, with punks, skins and every other conceivable description of fan, regardless of personal religious beliefs or lack thereof, joyously singing along in unity about life, love and the Hereafter.
Upcoming for Flatfoot 56, per Tobin and Kyle: “We hit Atlas Studios to record a new album with Matt Allison. We are looking to track at least 14 songs. This will be the first full length album that will we will have written with our new drummer Conrad. It’s going to be an amazing record. We are also planning a west coast tour in September.”
Post-Punk legends Naked Raygun capped the night to a frenzied crowd. Pierre Kezdy, Jeff Pezzati, Eric Spicer, Bill Stephens, and Fritz Doreza gave the crowd what they wanted, classic songs such as “Vanilla Blue”, “Rat Patrol”, and “Home of the Brave”.
Naked Raygun, formed in 1981, has been cited as the primary inspiration for many bands to follow. Dave Grohl has famously recalled Naked Raygun as his first concert experience, at The Cubby Bear, and repaid them for their inspiration by having NR join Foo Fighters’ 2015 bill at a venue in close proximity to The Cubby Bear: Wrigley Field.
At numerous points during their set, Lead Singer Jeff Pezzati, stepped away from continuously stalking the stage and stepped halfway onto the barricade, which had been pulled close to the stage, to give the fans an assist on the vocals. This was especially effective on “Home of the Brave” and “Rat Patrol”, with the frenetic, swaying crowd, grasping for the mic, to join in on “Whoa oh oh oh oh oh, Whoa oh oh oh oh oh” on the latter song.
In what was the easily the most fun moment of the strong set, Naked Raygun dedicated Coldbringer to their close friend Steev MF Custer and teasingly jumbled the name of Custer’s band, asking if it was Death IN Memphis? Death OR Memphis and various other possibilities. Custer, who makes no secret of the fact that Naked Raygun is his all-time favorite group and inspiration, (and on at least one occasion stepped in on guitar with Naked Raygun) was spotted grinning widely at the side of the stage, seemingly in partial disbelief. This moment was especially fun for the crowd as well, as many are also fans of Death and Memphis and present for their rollicking set just a few hours earlier. Naked Raygun is scheduled to headline at The Smooth Fox in Elgin, IL on Saturday July 23rd, with support by the Biscaynies, The Bungdoons, and The Usuals.