The San Francisco Giants parade last Friday, coupled with Halloween, may have slowed the city down for the weekend, but that didn’t stop fans from attending Flyleaf Saturday at Slim’s. Early-bird fans were greeted by the welcoming venue staff and their characteristically obscure choice of pre-show screen projection: clips from the Powerpuff Girls — leaving unamused show-goers to mingle among themselves until showtime.
An hour after doors opened, the audience was welcomed by the ever-so loving and talented Ryan White who maintained a strong personable connection with the crowd by cracking jokes in between songs while tuning his guitar. He even good-naturedly adopted an audience member as his son for the remainder of the set.
Jokes aside, his melodic acoustics complimented his passionate vocals, leaving the crowd with hearty smiles and pure admiration for his talent. After praising Flyleaf for their hospitality and grandeur, White saluted the audience farewell in preparation for Lullwater.
… who took to the stage and started off their explosive set with enough energy to ensue intense head-bobbing and fists in the air from the very start. Lead vocals and rhythm guitarist John Strickland took on an Undertaker-esque persona, often making eye-contact with the individual audience members to establish a genuine connection. Strickland’s gritty voice accompanied by the familiar sounds of rock n’ roll were more than enough to keep the crowd energized and pumped.
Throughout the set, he spoke about the undying nature of rock n’ roll and their mission as musicians to preserve the art, to which the crowd boldly agreed by bellowing and raising their fists in agreement. The electrifying and genuine four-piece group from Georgia closed their set with their signature song “Oddline.”
The crowd, left restless due to the rush of adrenaline brought from the previous set was, at this point, ready for Flyleaf. Before playing, frontwoman Kristen May addressed them with an eager welcome. This was then followed by a thunderous flash of light and “Fully Alive” from their self-titled debut album. Often swapping positions and jumping off anything that was greater than three feet, the band took spatial control at the helm.
Guitarist Jared Harttman frequently resorted to jumping from a position on the elevated platform of drummer James Cullpepper at the most pivotal points of every song; however, the energy from fellow guitarist Sameer Bhattacharya couldn’t be discounted as he often would play while strutting non-stop from one end of the stage to the other.
Although not as physically energetic as the guitarists, May’s passion could be felt in the strength and passion of her voice and through her connection to the crowd as she jumped up and down, motioning the crowd to do the same. She dropped to the ground, on her knees during the more emotional moments, meeting the crowd at eye level. May even jumped onto the floor several times throughout the show, causing a more turbulent environment as fans would rush her. The non-stop stamina shown by the group was as incredible as it was impressive. The highlight of their performance had everything to do with these stunts: during signature song “I’m So Sick,” Hartmann climbed a mountain of speakers and amplifiers before leaping back down — the crowd audibly gasped — without missing a chord.
Despite the three performances spanning different genres, there was an almost seamless transition between each one, building towards the final crescendo of Flyleaf’s set. We scaled a mountain Saturday night, and we never really came down.
Article and photos by Edfil Dulay