Flobots puts on a timely performance at NewWestFest

Mack Beaulieu

On a day when cultural unity was the theme, it wasn’t just talk, Flobots put its capabilities on full display-in rocking fashion.

Brer Rabbit of Denver based band Flobots

As a band, Flobots has always railed against the seedy under belly of our world; they speak of issues like social stratification, manipulative politics and abuses of power. They did this most notably in their 2008 hit “Handlebars,” but Sunday offered a timely opportunity for them to give their message to Fort Collins.


“It’s a political lie that we’re divided, but we need to be more active than ever before,” said front-man Stephen Brackett, on a day when a Black Lives Matter protest was happening just outside the festival.

The crowd didn’t know many of Flobot’s songs, but that didn’t stop them from participating in the bands vibe and Flobot’s renditions of “Amazing Grace” and “Everyday People.”

Mackenzie Gault, a classically trained violist and vocalist Brer Rabbit jam out.

“I almost cried when they played Amazing Grace,” said attendee Lauren Knappic. “It was really empowering.”

Their message wasn’t too heavy handed, as CSU grad student Jasmine Hicks pointed out, but just encouraged the audience to simply have the conversations they need to have about the things that are going on in our society.

It also gave them a chance to play one of their newer songs, “Blood in the River,” as a dedication to the counter-protester who died in Charlotteville’s white nationalist rally on Saturday. The song was not unknown to some of the younger faces in the crowd, which means maybe Flobots can reach a newer generation, like they did so well with “Handlebars” almost a decade ago.

Front men Jonny 5 and Brer Rabbit of Flobots took time to make important political statements throughout their set.

Overall, the concert would have obviously been stronger if the whole crowd was more familiar with Flobots, but the concert seemed to offer something for everyone; as the hip-hop/rock genre often does. Twenty-somethings got rowdy for “Handlebars,” teens sang along to newer songs, families got an edgy but safe performance and everyone gave thunderous applause for Viola soloist Mackenzie Gault.

Flobots and their message spilled into the rest of the day at the main stage, as they were followed by the bilingual group Los Dreamers and mentioned in Brandi Carslile’s set. Although it played to one of the day’s smaller crowds, this was one of the best shows at NewWestFest.

Collegian reporter Mack Beaulieu can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com.