Larry and His Flask hits Riot Fest this weeekend
From street corner to spotlight, this punk/prog/bluegrass band wins over fans by sheer will.
When you see Larry and His Flask for the first time, you are going to discover two things: First, while punk-bluegrass with progressive-rock flavored solos might not necessarily be your cup of tea, you won't be able to deny that this band has incredible energy. It's almost like watching the Electric Mayhem from the Muppet movies, except with six Animals instead of just one. And secondly, Larry and His Flask are an act that no band would ever want to have open for them.
The rambunctious six-piece began in rural Oregon a decade ago as a teenage punk band comprising brothers Jamin and Jeshua Marshall (bass and drums) and singer/guitarist Ian Cook. Originally just a trio, the band of friends and brothers began to organically grow through parties and jamborees that attracted kindred spirits and brought in lots of other musical ideas challenging the perimeters of punk.
"We'd always been into [bluegrass]," says Jamin Marshall. "It definitely took a long time to get to the level where we could do what we always wanted to do with the harmonies and stuff. We just didn't have the experience when we started out."
Does this strange amalgam of styles mean that Larry and His Flask are innovators with a lot of style, or nerds with none at all? It could just be that the members of the band frankly don't care. Something about that famous Satchel Paige quote about not looking back (because something might be catching up with you) rings especially true for a band that has gone from busking on the street corner to two dates at Royale without trying to court any particular audience.
When you learn to busk, you learn to be ignored. You also learn to win attention with sheer will and to play for anyone. Now in their middle and late 20s, the band is playing nearly 200 dates a year and is still virtually homeless, according to Marshall. They've played the Warped Tour, but judging by their chops it might be time to play Newport. "I don't know if they'd have us," muses Marshall. "We're not trying to attract the type of audience that wants to sit and watch a mandolin solo. We're a party band."
If you go
with Gogol Bordello, Descendents, Larry and His Flask and others
Saturday, 2 p.m.
50 Kent Ave., Brooklyn