Last Friday, Florida-based flipturn brought their Shadowglow tour to the Georgia Theatre for one glorious sold-out evening with support from Athens’ beloved Hotel Fiction.
From the second Hotel Fiction stepped on stage, it became abundantly clear that they were meant to be there as Jade Ireland’s soft vocals and Jessica Thompsons’s sharp sound balance each other out so brilliantly. Their distinct vocals allowed them to shine independently or as a duo, whenever they decided to grace the audience with some of the most incredible harmonies I have heard. This was especially true when they played their breakout hit “Astronaut Kids.” During their set, they asked the audience members to hold up their phone lights to make it feel like space and this was very consistent with the overall vibe of the show, which I can only describe as what I imagine it would feel like to attend a rave on a spaceship.
Seeing a band perform in the city they are from always elevates the experience; while I’m sure that “Athens GA” sounded phenomenal at every show, I’m willing to bet it sounded just a little sweeter in the Classic City itself. There is nothing quite like a hometown show.
They played “Man on The Moon” off their latest EP Enjoy Your Stay and not only was it my favorite song from their set, it is now one of my favorite songs from recent years—calling it phenomenal feels like an understatement, but for now that’s the word I’m landing on. I fully intend on listening to this song an absurd number of times until I physically can’t anymore. Then, picking it back up sometime around May and doing it all over again.
Towards the end, they played “Instead of us,” which is a triumphant number about putting yourself first. It is so well written that it makes me want to tell off people that didn’t even wrong me due to how empowered it made me feel. In only four minutes, the song both destroyed and rebuilt me. To close out their set, they asked the audience to sing along to their song “Monster,” but I am confident the crowd would have done this unprompted.
Every time a song ended, I was sad because I didn’t want it to be over, but once the next one started, I immediately felt on top of the world again. My biggest regret going into the show is only knowing a couple of their originals. To repent for this grave error, I will immediately be learning all of them. Although traveling to outer space may be ambitious, Hotel Fiction is certainly going places.
I was familiar with flipturn’s music prior to the show but after hearing them during soundcheck I knew that I was in for something special. My expectations were high going into the evening, and they were absolutely shattered within ten minutes; the atmosphere in the venue was fantastic, the energy on stage was electric, and frontman Dillon Basse and bassist Madeline Jarman did high knees that put my high school tennis conditioning to shame. (They were also given sparkly cowboy hats by an audience member for “Space Cowboy” which really added to the ambiance.)
On top of being great musicians, they just seemed like great people. I watched at one point as Basse struggled to get the lyrics out, because he was too busy smiling at the audience’s response to the song. This made it clear that they were as humble as they were talented. Later, I watched as he jumped full speed into the audience while trying to crowd surf, but was unfortunately greeted by the Georgia Theatre floor instead of the loving arms of the audience. I think that he felt a full array of emotions that evening.
They have a great catalog consisting of songs with choruses that were designed to be played in front of a packed venue, and are somehow able to keep the atmosphere in the room lighthearted, even when performing songs like “Whales” and “Goddamn” that feature heavy subject matter, like dealing with suffocating pressure and mental health respectively. They have the unique ability of making a room full of people shouting the lyrics “Goddamn my mind, sign of the times / If everyone’s fine, everyone’s lying to you” feel comforting instead of daunting.
After seeing them perform “Halfway,” which features a nod to Houston, and “Chicago,” I concluded that they should write more songs that mention cities. (I would like to throw Athens’ name into the ring if they’re open to suggestions.) These are the kinds of songs that make me want to drive around with my friends and an open sunroof; they made me feel like I was in a coming-of-age movie even though I am a prehistoric 23-year-old.
While the set mainly consisted of songs from their debut album Shadowglow, released last August, as well as some earlier releases, they also covered “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” by Tears For Fears. With the way they dominated the Georgia Theatre, they just might be on track to do so.
During the encore they played “Vanilla,” a deep cut from their debut EP Heavy Colors. Basse prefaced it by telling the audience that it is not normally a part of their set, but they were making an exception since someone yelled it out earlier. Based on how the audience responded to the song, I think it was a pretty good call. At the end of their encore, they brought out Hotel Fiction to join them on stage for fan favorite “Nickel,” a song and moment that reminded me just how much fun live music can be.
They mentioned that this was their largest headline show to date, but judging by the massive amount of talent that I witnessed that evening, I have a feeling this won’t be the case for much longer.
Haley Gilbert is a student writer from Lawrenceville, Georgia. She currently attends the University of Georgia and is part of the Marketing and Music Business programs. After attending countless concerts throughout her life, Haley realized the only thing she enjoys more than listening to music is talking about listening to music, and she is excited to do just that with Vinyl Mag. While she gravitates towards folk and rock music, she is looking forward to expanding her tastes, immersing herself in the vibrant Athens music scene, and sharing her findings with all of you.