A rose is a rose is a rose, and by any other name would still smell as sweet, we're told. But in the case of Flower S.F., such succinctness doesn't fly. Even with one name, qualitative analysis becomes a daunting task. File under: heavy metal? A cursory examination of Big Daddy Large, the band's new CD, would probably elicit a resounding “Yes!” though it would be barely audible above the thunderous squall of power chords and tom-heavy tattooing. But whither to assign the swinging strut of “Please Try Blues” and the muted pulse of “Overture”? Or, for that matter, the acoustic ruminations of “Mr. Delusion”? A few more listens and the twisted roots convolute and eventually fuse. The cross-pollination becomes so maddeningly obfuscated that Gregor Mendel would probably pack it up and go into real estate if pressed to chart the whole mess out.
“We're definitely a pretty versatile band,” asserts drummer Sean Alford. “We can play a lot of different things — and we do — but we try to incorporate every element to fit our concept. There are so many types of flowers, and if you look at us as a band, each member could individually represent whatever species you'd possibly want to have in your garden.”
Vocalist Storm Large's lyrics further prove Flower's garden to be quite contrary. On “Goddess,” she's all aloe vera empathy, soothing the bruised protagonist with balmy lines like, “If you could only see the girl in front of me/ You'd understand why I call you a goddess.” Burn her, though, and she's a Venus' flytrap, devouring you whole before belching a salty kiss into the empty air. “Once you realize I'm a goddess out of heaven,” she sings on the opening “Ego,” “You and I can get along again/ You can just lick my boots.”
Onstage, Large is another dichotomy altogether, part Russ Meyer wet dream, her pelvis locked in perpetual gyration mode, and part wailing banshee screaming for blood. “I scare men from the stage,” she says. “Guys get intimidated, because I'm like, 'I like sex, I like sex hard!' and they're like, 'Yipe! Yipe! Yipe!' screaming to their mommies, 'This woman, I saw her! She was sweating, and she knew what she wanted!' ” Women, suffice it to say, often feel empowered by the Flower S.F. experience.
“We're a very sexy band,” Large notes. “They definitely have moist panties at the end of the night.”
“Or a hard-on,” Alford quickly adds.
“Yes,” Large agrees. “A stiff groin is definitely felt throughout.”
The most prevalent emotion the band evokes, though, is anger. Even in the more subdued moments, aggression is waiting — but just barely — to fully manifest itself again in the next swooping chorus. When it does strike full force, there's no mistaking it: The listener is sucked into a maelstrom of
percussive choppery, nerve-pricking high-gain guitar washes and Large's caterwauling invectives.
Guitarist Michael Cavaseno calls it “straight testosterone,” damp undies notwithstanding. “It's rage,” concurs recently inducted bassist Ubi Whittaker. “That's what I feel when I play with Flower. It's like my teeth are just gnashing down to small pebbles — I've loosened a tooth because of Flower,” he laughs. Unsurprisingly, then, the music has become more pugnacious since Whittaker signed on.
“Before, we had lots of aggression, but it was really misdirected in a lot of ways,” Large explains. “It was fierce and fiery music, and it still is, but it's a lot more focused — not so frenetic. It's got tightness, it's got bottom.”
“It's like a fat piece of meat now,” she concludes, “whereas it was like a deli tray before.”
Flower S.F. plays an SF02 showcase Thurs, May 18, at the Paradise Lounge in S.F.; call 861-6906.