By JOHN SHERIDAN
This year UMW got something more than the plain white pop-rock we’re usually subjected to. On Saturday, Oct. 25 in Dodd Auditorium, activist indie hip-hop group Flobots came to the students of Mary Washington bearing beats and important messages.
The crowd greeted them warmly with some drunken whoops and hollers. Maybe they loved Flobots. Maybe they were just drunk/bored enough to enjoy whatever entertainment was placed in front of them. The drummer, bassist, guitarist, two MCs and gorgeous violinist who comprise the group began their first song for the small crowd with this opening statement: “There is a war going on for your mind.” The closing line followed: “We are the insurgents.”
Their music never crossed the line into nu-metal or rap-metal but it came dangerously close a few times. Their music relied heavily on the lyrics and flow of the two MCs. The topic of the night, to quote them, seemed to be “We need change.”
Most songs spoke of what’s wrong with America, Bush, the war, the world, etc., and generally sounded like what rap-rock should have sounded like. Thankfully the beautiful violinist got more than one solo, in which she showcased amazing classical violin skills. The anti-racism song “Born of Another America” was exceptionally good with a bass line that made you feel like you were walking down a bad alley. The very best moment of the entire show was when the blonde bombshell violinist sang a cover of Pat Benetar’s “Heartbreaker,” and I melted like candy.
During a free minute the guitarist said something about “…’cause I heard Mary Washington is crazy!” in a tone that was so rehearsed I cringed. OK, so they’re new to this. But in a sad way, they were right, just not in the way they intended. Do we go buck wild at UMW? No. Is it a zoo? Yes.
Flobots made it clear through their performance that they genuinely cared about being here, about playing their music, and about motivating our generation into action. To be honest, after 2000 I really can’t blame anyone for feeling like their vote is useless. Flobots want you to know you’re not alone. They were very careful, however, to never mention a candidate. They do not want us to follow them, they want us to think for ourselves.
I was surprised with Flobots’ energy throughout the show. They could see that they were playing to a half-empty auditorium full of college kids so average that 65 per cent of them were probably wearing the same homecoming shirt they bought that day. But Flobots came on full blast and did not slow down until it was over. Granted, that was only about eight songs, but they did not slack off and finished strong with their two hits, “Handlebars” and “Rise.”
Flobots came with a message to spread. It seemed to be a simple, direct message, no more specific than it had to be, which I interpreted as follows: get off your ass and vote, make a difference, change the world. I guess in that order. It was generally just “get off your ass and do something.”
Kind of like if your father did hip-hop about how irresponsible you are.
It sounds terrible, and lyrically, yes, they ran out of new ways to say “Let’s make a change” after the first couple songs, but regardless of how they said it, the message was valid.
Now is the perfect time to come to one’s senses and realize that if everything sucks, it can be changed and we can all take part.
Time is on our side, we simply need the willpower to use it properly lest we become copies of those who came before us. I left that night with only one question floating in my head: what will Flobots do if Obama gets elected?