BobaFlex @ The Back Bar, Janesville, WI 04/26/2018
The true road warriors of rock and roll slid into The Back Bar with their truly unique brand of soulful yet up beat Southern rock. Maintaining success and sold out shows by hard working McCoy brothers Sean and Marty(of the historically famed American rivalry Hatfield and McCoys), BobaFlex brings a sound that is particular to their Ohio/West Virginia roots.
The Back Bar in Janesville, WI is a fantastic place to watch a show. The stage itself is fairly sizable. Walking through the doors of the building well enter you directly into the “venue”. The performance area is no more than 50 feet in front of you. The bar is off to the right of the entrance and there are tables and chairs all over the room. It is pretty nice. In front of the stage is an open area for those who want to stand right up front and jam. Needless to say this is where I hung out all show.
With smoke filling the stage drummer Tommy Johnson walks out and gives a wave before settling in behind his kit. As the intro song “I Am A Nightmare” off of their new release “Eloquent Demons” begins the rest of the band minus front man Shaun McCoy appear. Once the lyrical parts of the song kick in McCoy runs out frantically and gives a quick scream. Leaning over the monitor belting out note after note you knew it was the perfect song to set the evening off.
The pure energy projecting from the band, the audience then gets loud and starts squeezing closer to the stage. Second on the setlist was “Momma Don’t Take My Drugs Away”. An absolute rock banger and party anthem. The strong backing vocals full of “Hey ey ey” filled the air. The multiple fist pumps and hair flips add to the already building hypnotic harmonies. Fittingly “Chemical Valley” then kicked up the speed and vibe throughout. Having both guitarists out front of the stage showing off the sweet guitar licks that make the “Chemical Valley” so attractive to the ears is truly a great attention getter. I was glued. It also help that I freaking love that song. My history of illness and the amount of meds and narcotics I’ve been on it resonates to the chaos my life went through until very recently. Every time I hear it live it hits a chord of understanding and realization.
Moving on to more newer songs “Moon and the Shadows”, “Lights Out” and “Say What You Will” the band flexed their growth within the rock genre. The songs itself have the typical Bobaflex sound and vibe, but pushing more individual lead guitar work with a bit of an 80s vibe. “Lights Out” is more of a forward rock tune that capture the crowds attentiveness and had the ladies in the front head banging. It completely clicked within this portion of the set.
Slowing the mood down a bit and already having given primary vocals over the Marty McCoy, The next anthem “Bad Man” polarized an already captivated and ruckus gallery. The guitar twang and deep heavy vocals provided a moment to breathe from the already upbeat show. With the ability to slow down and ease the mood it brought a dynamic into to play that will continuously run until the end of the show. Also I’m not gonna lie here, it was probably my favorite song from the entire set. It changed the entire complexity of the performance. Having already paced the speed slower, a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Hey You” loomed and was executed the BF way. An homage yet with familiar southern like twang. Amazingly enough, a couple of kids behind me had no clue it was a cover. I was rather surprised by that notion.
After a slight recess from their up tempo styling they slid right into “Vampire” off of the “Hell in My Heart” album. The persistent yet thick bass smacking and constant chug by Jymmy Tolland were vibrating the room on every note. Marty McCoy out front with the microphone swayed back and forth with one hand out to his side mesmerizing all singing along. Shortly after the final “Oh Ooooh”, brother Shaun McCoy gives an almost Zakk Wylde toned guitar riff which is repeated during every bit of the next tune “Long Time Coming”. It was one of those occasions where I literally put my camera down and just watched with great enjoyment. It gripped me. More than likely because I didn’t think they would perform it after what I presumed was a foreshadowed vibe change earlier.
This was a perfect time for the break before a 4 song encore. Hell, it gave me time to re-evaluate my viewing spot. I managed to move to the center of the room in time for “Home”. Clearly performed for the long time fans and there were plenty in the room judging by the singing. Backed right up with the overly popular “I’m Glad You’re Dead”. All started by Johnson’s bold and thundering floor toms and bass kicks. The melodies were being sung with heartfelt tones and a brute force when needed. The best part of attending a Bobaflex show is it isn’t all about the lead vocals. The backing and harmonies are just as impactful to the guts of the music being played. None more than perhaps on this song being performed live. Needless to say it was executed to perfection. Following that up was “Spider in the Dark” a heartfelt song with an acoustic/clean beginning leading into a heavier sound. Not to mention dual lead vocals during its entire duration. It was obvious this portion of the show was meant to play the living crap out of even the bands favorite works. The smiles and mannerisms from the artists really says it all. Giving patrons high fives and handshakes during their efforts being put forth added a welcome closeness with all in the room.
The grandiose sound of “Bury Me With My Guns On” closed the joyous evening out. Having attendees virtually losing it whether by dancing, singing or standing on chairs the finale was indeed the best to bury the night with. Having harmonies blaring and flashes of bright light across the venue I was in a happy place. I felt fantastic and energized. Having the entire band out front to say good night to all gave the event an appreciative feel.
I have seen a lot of Bobaflex since I first encountered them back in Minneapolis in 2002. With all honesty I can proclaim this as the best incarnation of the band. The McCoy brothers swapping of vocals/guitar over nearly every song is something that almost no artist has the balls to do let alone try. It works whether it is live or on disc. Safe to say I would see them every day of the week if I could. I encourage you to attend a show and get the warm fuzzies.
BobaFlex @ The Back Bar, Janesville, WI 04/26/2018