When Bobaflex rolled through Idaho on the Ill Niño 15 Years of Revolution Tour last month, I caught all three of their Gem State shows. My weekend of live music started off with an acoustic session at the 100.3 the X studios on Friday afternoon. The band performed three songs for an eager audience in the intimate setting and provided some insight into their tracks, the writing process, and life on the road in between songs. An acoustic performance is the ultimate way to appreciate the vocal talents of the band. The McCoy brothers, Shaun and Marty, trade lead-vocal duties and guitarist Dave Tipple and bassist Jymmy Tolland contribute backing vocals. Drummer Tommy Johnson added a bit of beatbox percussion to the mix.
The performance was streamed live and the video can be viewed here:
Later that night, Bobaflex performed at the Boise Knitting Factory in direct support of Ill Niño. With Marty on rhythm guitar and Shaun on lead vocals, they opened their set with the dynamic “Start a War” off their latest album Anything That Moves. They followed with “Chemical Valley”, “Pretty Little Things”, “Mama (Don’t Take My Drugs Away)”, and “I’m Glad You’re Dead”. At this point Shaun and Marty traded the mic and guitar, and the band continued with “Never Coming Back.” They momentarily slowed things down a bit with Marty McCoy’s and Tipple’s beautiful vocal harmonies on the intro of “A Spider in The Dark”. They closed out their set with “Losing My Mind” and their hit song, “Bury Me with My Guns On.” Fun fact: the official video for “Bury Me with My Guns On” was filmed at the Knitting Factory in 2011, where yours truly was in attendance.
Despite the band’s two-year absence from Boise, the crowd received Bobaflex very enthusiastically. The audience sang along, pumped its fists in the air, and moshed in front of the stage. During Ill Niño’s set, the band hung out with fans.
The next morning, a couple of friends and I drove to Eastern Idaho to watch Bobaflex perform at SEIRAM Fest in Blackfoot. The guys hit the stage in the early evening with a set list similar to the night before. About halfway through the set, Marty lit up a cigarette. Fans familiar with the band’s catalog cheered excitedly, aware that could only mean an older favorite, “Home,” was to follow. The set ended with Marty, in typical fashion, climbing on an unsuspecting security’s shoulders to sing “Bury Me with My Guns On” and interact with the entire front row of the crowd.
I don’t often get to photograph concerts in daylight so the day’s shoot was rewarding. The large, partly enclosed stage was the ideal backdrop, though a bit more fog and some stage lights could have made everything that much closer to perfect.
My last date with Bobaflex was a somewhat early outdoor headline show in the small town of Jerome, the same place Nikki Sixx lived as a kid. The fairly small stage was positioned against a building with AC units and other unappealing objects on the roof and shaded with tarps, making the backdrop less than ideal for photos. I decided early on that this show would be more about enjoying the band than trying to get the perfect shots.
The band added a few more fan favorites to their headline set list, including “Low Life”, “Vampire”, and “Bad Man”. At the point in their set when they usually slow things down a bit, Marty picked up a guitar and joined Tipple on vocals for the band’s rendition of “Sound of Silence”, which predates Disturbed’s recent take on the Simon & Garfunkel classic. The Bobaflex cover of the song is heavier, with both acoustic and electric guitars, but the vocals equal the original in both intensity and expression.
The crowd was significantly smaller than the previous two nights but the band put on the same high-energy show as they would for a stadium-sized audience. The smaller venue did allow the band to come out after the set to mingle with fans, sign autographs and take pictures. They were obviously tired from the long weeks on the road but that didn’t keep the guys from spending a little quality time with fans.
There is a raw quality about Bobaflex, a genuine rebellious rock and roll vibe balanced by the elegance of the vocal harmonies for which they are acclaimed. These seasoned musicians have dedicated their lives to creating and playing music; there is no plan B. They are truly one of the hardest working bands and some of the most down-to-earth people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.
My highlight of the weekend was being granted all-access to shoot from pretty much anywhere my little heart desired. The opportunity to capture shots that are different from the typical images taken from the photo pit is priceless. But the endeavor is also stressful. I easily get lost in the excitement of trying to capture the perfect moment, rushing from the pit to the sides of the stage, back to the pit, and out into the crowd. I have to be aware of my surroundings and keep out-of-the-way of the band and their crew. The last thing I want to do is trip over an instrument cable or guitar stand. Yet even with the risks, all-access is worth every exhilarating minute.
Bobaflex is currently back out on the Road to Sturgis tour: