Flannelgraph Records Holiday Benefit Spectacular
It was a cold and dreary Thursday evening in Bloomington, and as usual there was a great show going on at the Bishop. Flannelgraph Records was having an artist showcase to promote their current compilation “The Holidays Don’t Have To Be So Rotten, Volume Two.” Not only were the proceeds from compilation sales donated to Stepping Stones – a nonprofit dedicated to housing young people experiencing homelessness, but admission to the show was free with a food or clothing donation to the Monroe County Red Cross.
Preparation for the show began just as preparation for any Sleeping Bag show does, and as my friends and I finally made it to the venue around 10:30 we came to the terrible realization that we had missed the first four groups to perform. Although I didn’t get to experience Frank Schweikhardt, Tim Felton, New Terrors, or the rather confusingly named She Does Is Magic in person, I’m sure the positive reports heard from those already at the venue were not too off mark.
Coming in right at the end of Drekka’s set, I found that the abstract mix of textures being created on stage perfectly suited the state that I found myself in. With sounds slipping in and out of the mix only to be replaced by equally interesting bits, Drekka served as a perfect transition between the outsides cold stillness and the warm poppy Sleeping Bag gems to come. Following Drekka were Wet Blankets, a band which for some reason just didn’t seem to “do it” for the crowd or myself. Despite a relatively cohesive performance full of traditional Alex Bulli favorites such as beachy riffs and barre chords aplenty, the groups lyrical content (relentlessly and unapologetically singing about girls) always seemed to bring me back down to earth whenever I found myself getting too far into the groove of the music. However, this was all soon to change.
After an almost instantaneous switch-out, headliners and local favorites Sleeping Bag took the stage, cracking jokes and playing with effects pedals before jumping in to their set. With tempos and riffs mildly reminiscent of early Weezer, the crowd instantly took kindly to the Sleeping Bag sound, and most seemed to know at least some of the lyrics from the groups self-titled LP. Guitarist Lewis Rogers was dressed as well as always, and accompanied the bouncy Fender-driven guitar tone with his signature dance moves. Sleeping Bag are one of the few local bands in which every member seems to know exactly what sonic space they want to occupy in a song, and do so flawlessly with winding guitar lines, bass driven rhythms, and dancy drum beats. Mid-set the group surprised everyone in the crowd by switching instruments to perform a rather interesting holiday song complete with sleigh bells and a guest appearance. After this entertaining departure from their normal sound the band finished out the rest of the set flawlessly, aside from a hilariously received false start on their last song caused by an outburst from an over-zealous audience member. After a warm round of applause the crowds began to disperse and happily headed on their separate ways after a very good beginning to a long night out.
By: Alex Bulli