The Flat Five had just made their KHoRM debut in December, so April seemed a little soon to come back, but I trusted their judgment on this. After all, I’d have them play every week if they’d do it. I was a bit surprised when I found out a few days before that the Flat Five turned was actually going to be the Flat Four. Turns out drummer Alex Hall had other commitments and couldn’t make it. I adore Alex, and his drums and accordion add a lot, but he is the only member they can get by without. As Nora O’Connor promised, it meant even more sweet harmonies. It was another marathon of amazing music, with the band occasionally breaking down into the Flat Two or Three. O’Connor and Kelly Hogan took a seat in the front row to allow keyboardist/guitarist Scott Ligon and bassist Casey McDonough a chance to play a few songs on their own. McDonough eventually earned his seat on the futon, “you’ve earned an entire futon warehouse,” Hogan joked. As always, their easy camaraderie and hilarious banter (the most hilariously inappropriate coming from Hogan) were as much a highlight as their impeccable song selection and gorgeous vocals.
I always think I know a lot about music until I see the Flat Five and I only know a handful of the covers they play, and most of them are Monkees songs. This time we got three songs (!) from the criminally underrated group, of course, none of them were actually written by the band. The country western vibe of “What Am I Doin’ Hangin’ ‘Round?” comes courtesy of Michael Martin Murphy, and was lovely as sung by Hogan. “Pleasant Valley Sunday” makes sense when you know how much they love Carole King. My favorite of course was a perfect version of “Love Is Only Sleeping,” which they had also done last time around. I did less squealing, but it was just as awesome. They switched out their winter songs (I was a little disappointed, I argue “The Winter is Cold” is great any time of year) for springier ones. The first song I remember hearing Hogan and Ligon playing together many years ago was the Free Design’s “Kites Are Fun,” a trippy colored song about the joys of “flying.” They love a lot of bands, and most of them I’ve never heard of. There was a two-fer from the Dixie Cups, and lots of talk about Joe South. The latter was someone I wasn’t familiar with, but turns out he wrote a bunch of hits for other people. The best known of those is “Rose Garden.” After having “Birds of Feather” stuck in my head for a week or more, thanks to O’Connor and Hogan’s infectious “na na’s,” I started listening to a lot of Joe South. “Birds” is still stuck, but I did discover a lot of other great songs of his.
The one name I did know well was that of Ligon’s brother Chris. His “Florida” is a sunny, gorgeous, harmony-filled dream, while “Poop Ghost” is just kinda weird. They are talking about making a whole record of his songs, which would be the first merch the Flat Five would have. The fact that the only way to hear them do these pop gems is to go see them (or search them on YouTube) is what makes it so special. The fifty other people in the basement that night seemed to think so too, even after two and a half hours folks were yelling for more. Hopefully, they’ll get it soon.