Flobots to critic: "I can take a hit with humility. With humility ..."
For more on the Flobots, check out Adam Cayton-Holland's cover story in the August 21 issue of Westword. You can also read Dave Herrera's 2007 profile here.
Flobots, Denver's fast-ascending hip-hop ensemble, caught a rare bit of bad press this week, when a music critic in Cleveland previewed their tour stop there with a journalistic three-iron to the group's lyrical kneecaps:
The folk-rap spirit of dozens of forgotten artists is alive and well in Flobots, a Denver alt-rap/-rock group currently clogging the airwaves with one of the summer's most annoying songs, "Handlebars." The rest of its major-label debut album, Fight With Tools, isn't as wretched, but the damage has been done. A six-member crew that crosses racial and gender lines, Flobots formed at the top of the decade and self-released a pair of CDs that nobody heard. Fight With Tools combines Beck's hazy desert rhymes, Rage Against the Machine's clenched-teeth ire and the slacker-rap of "Handlebars," a global hug that's as inept as it is naive. There's social commentary in Flobots' songs, but most of it amounts to dull proclamations like "Stand up, we shall not be moved." The band includes a viola player, who weaves in and out of the unplugged hip-hop and sounds as out of place as you'd think. - Michael Gallucci
Gallucci, the managing editor of Cleveland's Scene, is a friend and former colleague of mine, and he's generally pretty fair. But he is skilled in the delicate art of being total dick, as he showed here. So you couldn't blame the Flobots for taking some offense, maybe emptying the contents of their bus's septic tank on his lawn.
But instead they ... put him on the guest list? An email from band (by way of its bus driver, Daniel Kellner) to critic:
Hey There Michael, This is Daniel Kellner with the Flobots. We are in town tonight, as you know, and set to go on stage in a few hours. We just picked up the Cleveland Scene, and appreciated your honest opinion/review of our music. We were hoping that you would be interested in coming out to our show tonight at Peabody's and seeing if your opinion couldn't be changed. Your name will be on the guestlist, and we implore you to give us a second chance at our live show. We believe in what we are doing and all that we hope to achieve is advancing the awareness of our fans. Feel free to contact me at this email address should you end up attending the show, we would be happy to dialogue. Flobots Daniel Kellner
Now perhaps it's a trap, and they plan on sacrificing Gallucci on stage and belting "Handlebars" over his lifeless body. If that's the case, I call dips on his Xbox.
But I suspect otherwise. What we have here, it seems, is a band that possesses that rare ability to withstand criticism without losing their minds. And that's something even that dick Gallucci can appreciate. -- Joe Tone
Post Script: We don't know if Galluci made it to the show or not, but if he did, he was treated to Mackenzie Roberts reading his review aloud onstage to a chorus of boos, followed by a dedication to him by the band of Pat Benetar's "Heartbreaker."