LIVE REVIEW: Flagship @ The Chapel

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There is perhaps no more appropriate place to watch Flagship perform than in San Francisco’s ‘The Chapel.’ The band (composed of five former church-goers hailing from Charlotte, North Carolina) makes music that’s been described in turns as ‘rapturous,’ ‘ethereal’ and like ‘a religious awakening.’ To hear them live in an historic chapel with soaring 40-foot ceilings seems particularly fitting.

Over the course of their set, Flagship lives up to their reputation, with lead singer Drake Margolnick filling those high ceilings with his powerful, and powerfully expansive, voice. Happily, the rest of the band is able to both match and showcase Margolnick’s capacity: with Grant Harding on keyboard, Matthew Padgett on lead guitar, Michael Finster on drums, and Christopher Comfort on bass, the men form a tightly honed and intuitive whole. Their songs have a tendency toward the orchestral, and there’s a distinct pleasure in the technical cohesion behind each churning crescendo. From the yearning ‘Break the Sky’ to the slow-burn of ‘Gold and Silver,’ the band’s set demonstrates the sense of epic grandeur that’s garnered them comparisons with Radiohead and U2 (and I suspect it will only be a matter of time before we hear a Flagship song on a movie soundtrack).

Yet the comparison I find a bit more interesting is one that’s been made to The National—no doubt due to Margolnicks resonant and emotionally-communicative vocals. As lead singer Matt Berninger has noted, The National experienced large-scale success when they began openly sharing their vulnerabilities: expressing anxieties, doubts and fears, free from obfuscation. As much as Flagship nails the soaring acoustics that lend their songs a redemptive quality, there’s a deeper gravitational pull to the band that I believe they are only scratching the surface of. As they continue to grow (perhaps trading some of their more overtly symbolic lyrics for rawer revelations, perhaps leveraging their already nuanced sense of cadence and control to greater effect) I have no doubt they’ll receive the critical and commercial success they’re after.

In short, go see Flagship—for what they are now, and for what they have the power to become. They’ll play the Chapel again this Thursday, sharing the stage with the rowdy Black Cobra Vipers and the endearing and engaging French Cassettes (whose lead singer’s loveable stage moves just might try to steal the show). Go see Flagship because their debut album (recorded with the help of acclaimed producer Ben Allen) is strong and satisfying, but also because they’re on their way to something great.

Listen to “Gold And Silver”, here via Soundcloud

 

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