BREWSTER – It was the quintessential Cape Cod band moment. Dan Shook, guitar in hand, said into the microphone, “Hey Mom, get me a beer.”
This story could have been written about any of several Cape Cod bands. We chose to do the Last Waltz of The Flakes for a few reasons, which we will go into later – but mostly because we stumbled upon their final show in pursuit of a music video of the band. Josh Penney, the drummer, is moving to California.
“People have said just get another drummer,” said Shook, lead singer for the band. “But they don’t get it. That’s not the point.” Shook, who did get a beer delivered from his mother, said the entire point of The Flakes is that “we never argue, and we all enjoy hanging out with each other.”
While we came to see a fun loud band, because it was the final show we realized that we were seeing what we often see – the warmth of a musical family, and that includes friends and fans.
And so in front of a huge brick fireplace under eight sets of antlers at the rented Brewster Sportsman’s Club, The Flakes played loud and said goodbye. It wasn’t a large crowd.
“We’re going to know everybody here,” said Shook, before the band’s final show began, as something of a private party in the rented hall. There was pizza, taxidermy and friendly bartender along with the music of The Flakes – which felt like to us like punk rock with heavy pop undertones.
This gets us to one of the reasons why it was so cool, yet sad for us to write this story about the final concert of a band most people in the world have never heard of. Again, this story could have been written about any of several Cape Cod bands that have broken up – and probably thousands of American bands over the years.
The Flakes have known each other since grade school, middle school, or the Juice Bar in Orleans – which was a place that the kids who were into music on the lower Cape used to hang out. They all graduated from Nauset High School.
Shook, 29, and guitarist Mark Usher, 30, met in elementary school in Brewster. The two played a song,
“Blitzkrieg Bop” by the Ramones in a 5th grade talent show, said Shook. Chris Wright, 31, the bass player, met Shook and usher in middle school, he said. All used to hang out at the Juice Bar, where they met Penney. 30.
In other words, this is a band in which all members have known each other since they were teenagers or younger. It is easy to find another drummer. It’s harder to find one who has also been a friend since childhood.
“We’re good friends as well as bandmates,” said Wright.
Usher cited the longtime friendships and talked of the “uniqueness of the band.”
And Penney said of his pending move west, “It is bittersweet.”
The band may eventually find another drummer, said Shook. It’s a seasonal band, he said. That’s to be discussed later.
The river of time moves endlessly forward, carrying all with it, for now, even The Flakes. The band got their name from Shook’s father, Steve Shook, who, among many things, wrote the second best Christmas song ever. (It’s fantastic.)
When Steve Shook saw a photo of his son’s band outside in the snow, he said it looked like an album cover, and The Flakes were born.
Steve Shook would know. A co-founder of Travis and Shook, and a co-founder of the Incredible Casuals, Steve Shook is maybe the most charismatic performer we’ve seen on Cape Cod. This brings us to how we first found the Flakes, where his lead singer son is the acorn that did not fall far from the tree.
Steve Shook’s old songwriting partner, Chandler Travis, organizes a fundraiser, the Christmas Cavalcade to Benefit The Homeless, every year. Travis brings in several performers, and that was where we first saw The Flakes.
A quick editorial note: This is our kind of music.
When we saw The Flakes this time and the first time it reminded us of some of the music we recall seeing
a few lifetimes ago, in the early 1980s, at the the Rathskeller in Boston. When we learned of the Incredibly Casual DNA of lead singer Shook, we were impressed. But we had no idea of it when we first saw The Flakes.
Band members called their music “garage rock” or “power pop” and their mission statement is to bring back obscure music. While they write their own music, they also play old songs by old now-unknown bands.
“They think it’s our music because they haven’t heard it before,” said Penny. “Or we Flakesify it – increase the beat, maybe play a little faster, maybe distort the guitars.”
Mission statement, covers or originals, what the Flakes really are… er, were… was a group of friends playing music for their friends and family. “We always think it’s funny when they pay us at the end of the night,” said Shook.
As fans, we wish they got paid a lot more and could have stayed together. We wish that for a lot of bands we’ve seen.
But Penney said that while the band may be broken up, “We’re friends till the end.”
– If you like Cape Cod music, here is a 6,000-word story that Cape Cod Wave did on the Cape Cod original music scene. We interviewed 20 musicians, four club owners, and two radio deejays – Cape Cod Music And The Joy Of Being Originally Alive
And here is a link to our growing collection of local music stories and videos – MUSIC
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— Brian Tarcy