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Flobots and Alex Andre re-energize Legends

Claire Stephens | Sunday, September 2, 2012



Saturday’s concert by student artist Alex Andre and the Flobots featured energetic music and even more enthusiasm from the performers for social awareness. 

Andre, a senior who opened for Macklemore and Rye Rye at Legends last year, returned Saturday before the Flobots show with a night of high-energy hip-hop and rock. Students Mike Nichols, Eugene Staples and Priscilla Nyankson joined Andre on stage for his performance. 

Andre and friends performed new music that will be on his upcoming mixtape this fall and kept the performance fun and personal by calling out to their loyal fans in the audience. The energy of the supportive crowd fed back into Andre’s vocally strong performance. His unfailing, smooth flow matched with fun beats and the different rapping styles of Staples and Nichols gave the early comers a solid start to the night. 

Flobots, the concert’s headliner, took the stage shortly after Andre’s performance, which they had watched from the audience. They began with pulsing high energy that spread to the jumping, clapping, swaying crowd. The band’s opening numbers featured rock heavy songs in which the lyrics were often lost in the music.

Flobots used the small space and lack of barriers between themselves and the audience to create an immersive and distinctly personal show, often literally getting in the students’ faces. The event was not well attended, but the band gave crowd a rocking show with little rest. Although the outskirts of the crowd were excluded from the colors and visuals of the performance, the music filled the gap and had even the outsiders swaying to the sound. 

The band also lived up to its reputation for emphasizing political and social awareness by telling students that building the world they dream of is a greater victory than any football game or political race. The lead singers said they were energized by the youth of the audience, who they called the new generation of leaders. 

Earlier in the night, Andre also wore a 4-to-5 Movement shirt while he performed and gave a brief shout-out to the group. Flobots member Jonny 5 said the movement was something he might want to be a part of, and after Stephen Brackett’s impassioned speech about making a difference, he led the audience in a “fight with tools” chant that bled into the next song.

Much of the Flobots’ set included rock-focused music with rap and hip-hop vocals, including the rowdy, harder rock sound of a song from their new album, “Circle in the Square.” They also slowed it down with some of their more issue-oriented songs like “Superhero.” Slower songs featured the vocals and of the band’s female violinist, giving their rock and hip-hop sound a refreshing, unique twist. Quieter moments in the strings and drums also allowed for interesting vocal harmonies to shine through.

Flobots got the enthusiastic participation of the audience for finally playing popular single “Handlebars” and concluded by calling Notre Dame to rise, leading into another famous single “Rise.” Though some of the crowd had trickled out as the show went on, those who stayed were rewarded with the loud, infectious energy of the band. 

After the show, a couple of Flobots members spent time with Andre and Nichols, discussing Andre’s performance and quoting their favorite lines from his music. Andre, who also talked with them about music and life for a long time, applauded them for being “really humble guys, true artists and students of music.”