One of the best things about Summerfest in Milwaukee is the variety of bands that you can see on any given day, on one of eleven different ground stages. One admission price equals tons of bands. It’s a music lovers dream come true. For those in attendance on this particular hot Sunday night, they witnessed a memorable set from Badflower, a band from Los Angeles.
The band casually walked on stage and started with, Drop Dead. The rapid fire intro immediately caught the attention of the audience and Josh Katz’s initially softly spoken words gradually built up to the chorus. He sang, “I am not your savior, I can’t help you.” His facial expressions between the verses and choruses would have you believe he was playing the part of two people. They continued with Soap, and bassist Alex Espiritu, much like during the first song, was all hair flying as he hardly stood still playing in rhythm to the prominent beat running throughout the song. Watching him, you couldn’t help but smile along with the happiness he showed while playing on stage.
The eerie intro of White Noise coupled with its haunting music really showcased playing by guitarist Joey Morrow who was intently focused during their entire performance. This easily transitioned to Ghost, a brand new song released in early in June. Lyrically it deals heavily on the topic of suicide. In the live setting, the song had the perfect amount of emotion and intensity. Josh asked everyone to request the “depressing” song on their local radio station. He commented that they rock out to the song all day long.
The played an older mid-tempo song, The Jester, which included a line in the chorus that could connect with just about anyone in any situation, “Is there anybody out there looking out for me?” They finished out their set with three from their Temper EP. Let The Band Play started off seemingly harmless, but about three-quarters of the way through the song, it just exploded. Alex and drummer Anthony Sonetti played in time at a quick pace as both Josh, who also played guitar during the entire set, and Joey played as fast as their hands would allow. Eventually Josh dropped to his knees, still playing, and lowered the mic to his level to continue singing before he laid down on his back. Joey also dropped to his knees, hair flying, to finish out the song. Let the band play indeed.
During Heroin, once again you could see the multitude of emotions across Josh’s face as he sang. He really wears his heart on his sleeve and his thoughts pour out in the form of lyrics for all to experience and maybe even relate to. Towards the end of the song, Joey and Alex stood on either side of Josh, with Alex placing his head briefly on Josh’s shoulder as they ended the song. Although they have not been a band for a long time, you can tell they are all connected on a different level due to the music they make together.
They ended the set with their most popular song, Animal. It was kind of wild to watch the crowd react as a lot of them realized they knew the song. This was another excellent example of a slow build up to an energetic chorus. Joey, who had been providing backing vocals off and on all night, helped out one last time and even took a bit of the spot light for a solo towards the end. Overall, it’s everything you want in a song. Heavy, gritty and groove-oriented.
While I don’t know the ratio of who knew of the band prior to seeing them at Summerfest, it was quite clear by the end of their 40-minute set that they had gained many more fans. Fans standing on the benches were clapping, cheering and hoping for more from Badflower. Alas, they would have to wait for another time.
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