By: Heather Bushman
We play the waiting game when we go to a concert; it is the muffled pulse of background music, the acute awareness of standing-room-only. The waiting game is everyone deciding how to look and what to do with this gap of time in a room full of strangers, and is a game that will never end – until the first amp flickers to life with the typical static and they emerge from the back of the stage like heroes from the rubble. There’s a spark in the room now, an electric shock that jolts through the crowd and unites them as a single body.
At Gainesville’s Heartwood Soundstage on October 24th, the spark ignited, just like it happens at every show. You can’t see, hear, nor feel it, but you know it happened. You know what everybody knows: flipturn is about to play.
flipturn are local music at its finest. The Fernandina Beach quintet is known for its pop-rock sound with an indie-alternative flair, drawing comparisons to groups like Hippo Campus, Cannibal Kids, and Grouplove. flipturn are a favorite of many smaller venues across the southeast, especially in north Florida. Since the release of the Heavy Colors EP in 2017, they have amassed a loyal fanbase with a steady show schedule and the successful debut album Citrona. Dillon Basse fronts the group with a voice ranging from delicate vibratos to emphatic growls on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Tristan Duncan propels the melody with glossy fills and catchy licks on lead guitar, Madeline Jarman grooves with funky slaps and flowing lines on bass, Taylor Allen smooths it down on keys, and Adrian Walker is the pulse of the sound on drums.
As talented as each musician is, it’s the blend of their contributions that make the music so special. There’s a certain charm about flipturn, a cool breeze of relaxation combined with a charge of charisma that courses through every track. Their debut single “Chicago” accomplishes this on the upbeat side, with a simple acoustic guitar foundation, a hi-hat-heavy backbeat, and lyrics that take the uncertainty of young adult life and make it into a fun adventure. “Churches,” the first single from their album Citrona, races along as a fast-paced exploration of an awakening (spiritual, secular, or otherwise), complete with sharp electric riffs and a motoring pulse that borders on chaos. Fan-favorite “August” is perhaps the group’s greatest display of versatility, venturing away from the usual lightness of up-tempo bops and into ballad territory with a deep-dive into the could’ve-been.
The group’s songwriting persona presents the perfect combination of playful and poignant. It touches on everything from heartbreak to waning youth to (as Basse said of Citrona’s “Nickel”) “getting really really drunk.” flipturn know that life can be serious and intense, but hell if it can’t be fun along the way.
The music alone is what makes flipturn a great band, but the live show is what makes flipturn a southeast staple. The room lights up as soon as the group steps on stage and never falters until the end of the omnipresent encore. Basse radiates pure joy as the voice of the band, pouring every ounce of effort and emotion into each song in the set (and sounding phenomenal while doing it). In addition to her laid-back key- and synth-work, Allen’s vocal feature on “Chicago” is also a live highlight, as the whole crowd invests in this relatively quiet moment of vulnerability from a new voice. Jarman, along with those seriously groovy basslines, is responsible for the customary merch plug, but she always makes note of the band’s humility and excitement to be performing, thanking the crowd for being there and allowing for an experience of shared passion. Duncan’s guitar solos soar and always incite massive applause, and Walker looks like he’s having the time of his life pounding away on the drum set.
With the band’s technical skill and the respective personalities of its members, combined with the close quarters of a small venue, flipturn craft a group identity characterized by energy and intimacy. This connection with the fanbase is what brings people back. First-timers are a rarity at a flipturn show considering how often they play and how dedicated the fans are, so the venue is filled with people who know every word to every song.
The first time at a flipturn venue can feel intimidating, especially when surrounded by those dedicated frequenters that have seen the group on countless occasions, but the environment is so alive that everyone will end the night with a new (or renewed) love for the music they just heard and the show they just saw. flipturn are the type of band you have to see more than once. Regulars make up the majority of attendance, and it’s clear that the east-coast surf rockers know their audience.
The group repays their loyalty in spades, forming a real bond with the crowd through encouragement to participate in sing-alongs, dance breaks, and clap sequences. Returners are always rewarded with fresh setlist: a new order, new covers, and new music along with old favorites scattered throughout. Tracks like “Chicago,” “August,” “Six Below,” and “Vanilla” have continued to be pillars of a Flipturn show, but a trip to the archives is guaranteed with deep tracks from Heavy Colors like “Cold” or “Hypoxia” always making an appearance. Newcomers are instantly hooked, and old-timers are treated to a varied setlist with exciting surprises: No matter how many times you see Flipturn, you will get something different out of every show.
flipturn are an essential stop on the Florida alternative circuit. Not only is the group itself great, but the touring partners are always delightful in their own rights. Bands like Miles From London, The Brazen Youth, and Repeat Repeat all offer high-energy talent and discographies that are definitely worth a listen. A flipturn show is a wonderful introduction to the local music scene, which is particularly rich in Florida’s biggest cities. Not to mention, a flipturn show is just a good time. Maybe it’s the way the crowd is always ready to go all-out, or the way the group maintains a relaxed but energetic onstage composure, or it’s the way that every song is just so catchy. It’s probably a combination of all three and then some, but it feels pointless to pin why exactly the group works so well.
This combination isn’t where the focus lies when flipturn perform; that focus remains on just how great the band really is. We play the waiting game with flipturn, like all local bands, but after getting an incredible experience, the least we can give is a little patience. With musical components that gel so seamlessly, a group that emulates what it means to be cool, and a show that’s pure fun, flipturn are undeniably worth the wait.
Follow @flipturnband on Instagram and Twitter and @flipturn on Facebook for upcoming show dates! Stream Flipturn on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, or wherever you get your music!
Soflosound.com is your one stop shop for a hip hop fan’s music reviews, profiles, and essays. By the youth, for the youth, and allied with all oldheads, everywhere. Leave a comment below on what you want to see next!
Edited by: Tommy Rodriguez