Not So Secret Agents Of Change, Flobots Concert Rises Above Mean Spirit of Unreal NEO

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Tue, 08/19/2008 - 11:30.

Thanks to Sudhir, I had the opportunity to check out the Flobots at Peabody's, Sunday night. If I'd browsed the Cleveland Scene Magazine concert preview, beforehand, I probably wouldn't have bothered going. The 100s of fans who enjoyed the show agreed that would have been a mistake.

The Flobots are a smart, talented, inspiring and good spirited group of beautiful people offering a dynamic, fun, all ages, fairly sophisticated meld of rock, hip-hop and classical musical styles and instrumentation, with diverse vocals from all of a 6-piece band, and upbeat "Change you can believe" songs that are speading around the world. Flobots are an influential band for these Obama times. "Not So Secret Agents Of Change" is how the Flobots promote and present themselves, best expressed in Cleveland by the band members stepping out to the edge of the stage, at the end of the show, and literally shaking hands with all the people in the audience they could reach.

The Flobots were very open in showing their love for the full-house of fans, Peabody's, and Cleveland, on their first visit ever, and they were not secret in showing their disgust for their welcome from Michael Gallucci, who wrote the preview in Scene, which Flobots violist Mackenzie Roberts read in full to the audience at the end of the show.  In his promotion for their concert, Gallucci described the Flobots as "clogging the airwaves with one of the summer's most annoying songs", "a global hug that's as inept as it is naive", and "includes a viola player, who weaves in and out of the unplugged hip-hop and sounds as out of place as you'd think." They came in a bus from Denver for that? What do you think they will say to friends and the world about Cleveland, now.

The violist was clearly insulted by such a personal and en mass attack by the media against a local concert, happening before the show even happened. So, at the end of the concert, with a full house of fans cheering her on, Mackenzie physically ripped Scene to pieces, threw them into the roaring crowd, and dedicating the closing number to Michael Gallucci... a rocking rendition of Pat Benatar's "Heartbreaker"... saying, like, "I'm going to Disneyland and you are staying right here in Cleveland, for fucking ever, sucker. " So perhaps this band has some edge and fight, afterall.

I'm glad I didn't see the Gallucci preview, as it may have kept me from seeing an uplifting show, with 100s of cool bright people, at one of my favorite concert clubs, on a beautiful Summer Sunday night in Cleveland. I had seen Flobots on Jimmy Kimmel Live and was impressed. John Cale (Velvet Underground, in collaborations and solo) has made me a big fan of viola in rock, so I don't have a problem with it in hip-hop fusion.

I'm sure I am as cynical and mean spirited as anyone at Scene, having grown up in Cleveland in the 1960s and 1970s, on hard-core punk and experimental, but I don't kick Barney in front of my three year old and don't bother trashing the 1,000,000s of lame-ass people in the world who do me no harm. Question of the Day? Does it make sense for the media to insult an out of town band - or any artist - before they even have the chance to perform? Should Scene be torpedoing shows at Peabody's, before the fact? That costs people money and hurts the economy.

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Flobots "take a hit with humility. With humility"

Sudhir told me he saw a follow-up on the Flobots criticism of the Cleveland Scene pre-critic, on Denver Westward, which is in the same line of media as Scene, but in Flobots hometown of Denver.  Very funny to see how these things spread... interesting to see this response from a "friend" of Gallucci

Disrupt IT

Denver Sense says: "Cleveland sucks as does it's music..."

For those too lazy to link over to Denver, here is a bit of the write up on our treatment of the Flobots, here, which led to the comment there, Denver Sense says: "Cleveland sucks as does it's music..."

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...

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?

Disrupt IT

Their loss

As a musician, I'm more than a little shocked at the response the Flobots were given by Scene...that's a really good way to use your position of influence to sabotage a good show.  Good for Mackenzie for giving him sh*t back. 

 On top of which, this is a band that's doing a lot to raise awareness about this year's election -- non-partisan to boot.  I found this video on Rock the Vote's website ( that shows Johnny 5 talking about how important it is to cast a ballot no matter where your political affiliations lie, and frankly I think that alone is worthy of praise.

 Check it out:

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Agents of Change

NOW, is the most dangerous time in the world to speak out against tyranny, corruption and fraud--because it masquerades as philanthropy.