Currywurds - Devourable Content
November 2017

There’s Nothing Vanilla About Flipturn’s Music

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Although their flagship song is entitled Vanilla, Flipturn’s lyrics, talent, and overall atmosphere is anything but that. Flipturn, an “indie rock garage band,” was one of (if not the most) talented and exciting bands I’ve seen perform live. A five-piece band from Fernandina Beach, this gaggle of college students is polished enough to hammer out an incredible show but young enough to be natural and raw. I didn’t know any of their songs or who they were before I saw them in concert – after they unplugged their amps and I quieted my raging, I was already on Spotify, following them and downloading their EP, Heavy Colors. I haven’t been this excited for a band since The Arctic Monkeys or Tame Impala; better yet, these students perform in my backyard and have 2-for- $1 buttons and free stickers. 

I discovered Flipturn on a Thursday-night whim. My hair was mangy from rolling around a gym floor and my cheeks were flushed with Southwest Rec sweat. I was disgusting, but when Jahi called me up at 9:15 p.m. with a “hey, what are you doing right now?,” I left my apartment with an H&M crop top without the bra. Here’s what my accounting degree hasn’t taught me: how to go from sweaty slut to swanky slut in ten minutes (sans a shower). I had no clue who I was seeing or where I was going, but ambiguity is in the Terms and Conditions when you hang out with Jahi. Drifting – biking – unsolicited washing machine nights… it’s normal how abnormal our friendship is.

The High Dive was something I associated with back tattoos, cigarettes, and septum piercings. My experience with Downtown Gainesville was limited to Flacos quesitos, Indie Nights at the Atlantic, and pretending to be a lesbian at the UC. The High Dive was unknown – uncharted – but I brushed naiveté off my shoulders and went anyway. I broke up with my boyfriend that Monday, so a combination of sadness and shock and singleness made me more reckless than usual. It didn’t help that Jahi told me to park in a sketchy lot – weed deals were happening in the next car over and everyone had shifting eyes. I blindly follow Jahi like a burned-out lamb following a videographer black-Jesus, but he hasn’t led me astray yet.

Retrolux was the opening for Flipturn, and the singer’s glittery top – open at the back – combined with the blackened atmosphere had me hooked on the High Dive. By the time Flipturn came on, I was a groupie for the Dive itself, regardless for the bands performing.  I wasn’t used to performers being so close, to singers being so young. I didn’t know Vanilla,Chicago, Hypoxia, Cartoon Head, or the other songs Dillon Basse (lead singer) was singing without holding anything back. Watching him was a work out as he thrashed back and forth across the stage, complimented by Madeline on bass (her hair is trendy*as*hell), Taylor on synth (her choker game is on point), Tris on lead guitar, and Adrian on the drums. And they’re so young! What the hell! When I was a freshman, I was rushing co-ed fraternities and worrying about how skinny I looked. I was impressed, especially when Jahi told me he was filming their music video for Vanilla (which is phenomenal). I’ve seen Flipturn live three times now, yet I find something new or connect with a different lyric with every performance. Although Vanilla is addictive and makes RTS bus rides a solo banger, Chicago is my favorite song.

Well now our friends all tell us how
They feel trapped with no control
They say one day they'll get out
And break their parents' mold

But will I? How do I become the character in Chicago, one who gets high in Colorado and isn’t afraid of new people? I see my future laid out in these lyrics, and their relatability makes their concerts closer to my reality.

Here’s what I like about Flipturn: something in their chords, in the way Dillon head-bangs on stage and Adrian’s solos give me Whiplash flashbacks, conveys the feeling of everything is going to be okay. That first week after the breakup, when I couldn’t eat or process his sudden loss, was hell – except for Thursday night, 11 p.m., when some random Fernandina Beach band erased everything. It was temporary, it was what I needed. I’m projecting my own life into their songs, but isn’t that the point of music? You weave your experiences with someone else’s voice and fingers on the strings, and somehow, after the lights wake up and the roach is killed, everything turns out okay. Associations are strange, like how I equate Nutter Butters with sexuality -- Flipturn at the High Dive is my version of music therapy and 20-year-old happiness.

Jahi and Angelo were filming their concert, their camera screens creating an alternate reality to what I was seeing. The music was captured between Angelo’s hands and in front of my eyes; two concerts for the free price of one….around the third or fourth song, the marijuana smell wafted through our sweating bodies and dripping makeup. If my approval of the High Dive wasn’t solidified before, it definitely was with this green development. I associate marijuana with not caring about what others think, dry contacts, and stupid jokes that aren’t funny the morning after. I live for those nights, the ones where everyone is mad {thanks, Jack Kerouac} and loose and forgetting and plain alive. We need more of those, especially in college when it’s acceptable to be that way.

I wear one specific pair of shoes to the High Dive. They’re not vanilla shoes, but they don’t let me escape the feelings sewed in them: confidence, sexiness, and blister-less comfort. As my plum power boots, they’ve swamped and stomped the High Dive floor more times than I can count. I can’t decide if the shoes make the night or vice versa – either way, they were essential accessories to forgetful raging and piecing together songs whose lyrics I didn’t know. I know most of Flipturn’s lyrics now, and I’m grateful Jahi dragged me along with him so many Thursdays ago.