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Michael Flynn And Faline At The Commodore

Michael Flynn @ The Commodore. Photo: @driesipoo

Shortly after moving to Charleston I saw Michael Flynn perform at Redux. In the time since then, it has remained my favorite show I’ve seen in town. I had never heard of Slow Runner or Flynn but the songwriting & minimalistic instrumentation resonated intensely with me. After the years of endless jamming I had endured while studying in the mountains of western NC, it was the perfect, poignant introduction to the talent and conviction that exists in Charleston.

The latest of Flynn’s increasingly scarce performances occurred Tuesday night at the Commodore on Meeting St. The night was the first installment of the Hearts & Plugs month long residency at the venue. If I remember correctly the aforementioned Redux show was part of a similar residency. Cheers to you for both H&P!

Prior to Flynn’s set Faline started things off. As is customary, Jenna didn’t give a fuck, and her band was tight. This juxtaposition seemed to capture the spirit of Faline in it’s best incarnation yet. I couldn’t help thinking she would’ve been happy if everything fell apart behind her, but deft playing from Benjamin Lee and Corey Campbell (Susto) made sure everything held steady. I remember having a conversation with Wolfgang Zimmerman of Brave Baby about tension in music. I don’t remember the outcome of that discussion (it was late-night at Royal American to offer some context) but Faline’s performance was a clear exemplification of how when it’s properly executed, it can be very powerful.

Michael Flynn @ The Commodore. Photo: @driesipoo

Back to the Redux show, the lineup was Flynn, Nick Jenkins, and Ron Wiltrout on the drums. I’ve made countless irresponsible decisions to watch Ron play. Mash on Monday nights prior to an early workday has become a bad habit. Tuesday night the lineup was even more reserved. Michael Flynn on keys with Benjamin Lee on drums. I was disappointed to see that Ron was not on the roster, but some reassurance from Eric Rickert and Benji’s performance with Faline quickly quelled any concern.

The set was different from previous outings. Where Flynn’s latest release Face in the Cloud is heavy on electronics, the performance felt more like an unplugged. It’s always a pleasure to hear larger productions stripped down, confirming affirmations that music is not always Gestalt in nature. That the individual elements still can stand on their own. A sentiment often disregarded in popular music.

Face in the Cloud track “Holy Ghost” was a highlight but the set was elegant from start to finish. A debut solo performance of a track from Slow Runner’s latest album ‘New Monsters’ appeased the loyalists. The sense of identity in Flynn’s work is perhaps his strongest asset. Even with only two musicians on stage, the set felt full and fluid, representing a body of work and its creator, rather than a collection of micro-moments.

The set served as a reminder that the growing Charleston Music Scene is as diverse as it is driven. The amount of local musicians in the crowd reflects both an admiration for its early innovators and a commitment to moving the scene forward both commercially and sonically. It’s a scene where Slow Runner and Flynn’s influence will always be a welcome occurrence.

-Aaron (HR)