FL; Wildcat Lounge; Santa Barbara, CA; 05/30/04

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

When we covered the Warped Tour last year, both Snidermann and myself agreed that FL was the best band we saw that day. We were fans immediately. I briefly reviewed their live performance (which you can read about by clicking here) and, subsequently, their CD, "What Does That Stand For?" (which you can read by clicking here).

But it's been nearly a year since we last caught FL live so - when we heard about this show at the famous Wildcat Lounge in Santa Barbara - we were eager to attend. But a serious question had to be asked: Would the band live up to our previous impressions? Or were we just caught up in the Warped Tour excitement? 

The answer, happily, is that FL were just as charismatic, energetic and entertaining this Memorial Day weekend as they were back in July at the Warped Tour.

Like the Warped Tour, there were only about fifteen people in front of the Wildcat stage when the band finally began at about 10:30 PM. Like the Warped Tour, by the time the band finished their set, there was more than twice that many and all were firmly under the band's spell.

There's so much to like about FL, I'm not really sure where to start so let's begin with something I've mentioned in previous reviews: The songwriting. FL's songs are a powerful combination of classic rock, heavy metal and punk. They've got lively tempos, hook-laden choruses and the lyrics are always solid and often funny. And, as good as the songs are on the band's CD, they're even better in a live setting.

Performance-wise, FL are one of the most dynamic bands I've ever seen live. Lead vocalist and sometimes guitarist Jonathan Jonah has a great voice and he knows how to use it. Onstage, Jonah is riveting. He's got the passion of Axl Rose with none of the overblown attitude. Lead guitarist Chris Koushayan is one of those musicians who's so good at what he does he makes it look easy. You know it's not - watching him furiously playing guitar will leave you dizzy - but Koushayan's style appears effortless. Drummer Matt Shapiro is much the same. The curse of a drummer is that you're the backbone of the band but sometimes, when you're really doing your job right, the audience tends to forget you're there. There's no forgetting Shapiro (especially with his new and mighty mutton chops). His excellent work behind the drum kit keeps FL as tight as they are. And I've never ... and I mean never ... seen anyone have as much fun on stage as does bassist Peter Crowner. Crowner plays every show like he's a multi-millionaire rock star but there's a sly edge to his performance that tells the audience he's not taking that rock star attitude and clichés seriously. Crowner's fun is highly infectious and his presence is a major part of the success of any FL show.

The band played for maybe an hour, including a bunch of songs from their CD and many they have yet to record or release. A crowd favorite, of course, was "Fuck You, 'cause now I've Fucked Her, too" (a hidden track on "What Does That Stand For?) as was the band's blistering cover of Van Halen's "Panama." "Our friends wrote this for us," Crowner said, just prior to the "Panama" cover. "Because we play it better than them," Jonah added, kidding. The really funny thing was that he wasn't too far wrong.

FL is a band I hope we continue to hear more and more from in the future. If they come to your neighborhood, do yourself a favor and don't miss them.

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Copyright © 2004 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:16 -0400.