"One of the Nation's Top 2 Unsigned Bands."
- 2005 Zippo Hot Tour
"One of the Nation's Top 7 Unsigned Bands."
"One of the Nation's Top 7 Bands of Most Interest."
"The best show in the country."
- FUSE / Los Angeles
"Charlotte's #1 Favorite Rock Band of 2005."
- Creative Loafing
When press throughout the Southeast are raving that "the Charlotte trio are obviously pointed on a path to stardom" (Creative Loafing), describing them as "amazingly brave and smart...this band cannot be trifled with" (Capital City Free Press), proclaiming that these "rising stars appear to be a cut above the rest" (Sotac Magazine), and declaring that this is "rock 'n' roll glory...Shadowflag will break out soon" (Charlotte Observer), we should all sit up and take notice.
Shadowflag's seeds were sown in the late 1990s when singer/guitarist Ben Jackson and drummer Jason Maner played together in NUTE, a hard-rocking power-glam combo from Charlotte, NC. The band toured the East Coast and lower 48 extensively until the band parted ways in 2001. Meanwhile, keyboardist Matt Olin was producing major theatre productions on and off Broadway and in Charlotte, as well as honing his musical chops in various East Coast rock and roll bands. Jackson and Olin met as cast members of the acclaimed Charlotte production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a punk-rock musical formed in NYC that was eventually performed nationwide.
Taken aback by their musical connection, the duo decided to form an original rock band. Seeking a drummer of like-minded spirit, Jackson invited Maner into the fold. Even upon their first session together, the trio recognized their exciting dynamic and undeniable chemistry. Instantly they began to compose original songs that displayed amazing power and aggression, as well as a sincerity and vulnerability that touched music lovers of all kinds. This ability to balance extremes would become Shadowflag's very definition - darkness and light, evil and innocence, cynicism and naiveté, ultimate power and extreme vulnerability - all within the landscape of a pop song. These seemingly contradictory elements define Shadowflag, a band whose music and message ride the delicate equilibrium inherent in the ultimate human dichotomy: despair and hope.
The band steadily plays venues throughout the Southeast, creating a unity among music lovers of all genres, and forging their own sound - totally unique, yet familiar. Shadowflag has opened for such national acts as Crossfade, 3 Doors Down, Three Days Grace, Naked Beggars (formerly Cinderella), J.Mascis and the Fog, A Flock of Seagulls, and Sponge. Their live shows are spiritual events that crush audiences with raw power, extreme volume and energy, all the while bathing them in purity and glory.
Shadowflag is a musical, emotional and personal force to be reckoned with.
Ben Jackson - vocals, guitars
Matt Olin - piano, keyboards, organs
Jason Maner - drums, percussion
Debut full-length album "Cause for Alarm" released on 3/10/06!
Shadowflag - "Shadowflag" self-titled EP (11/04)
Tracks with regular radio airplay:
"To What End"
[+ Show ]
"The Charlotte trio are obviously pointed on a path to stardom. Visualize a prog-rock combo jumping ..."The Charlotte trio are obviously pointed on a path to stardom. Visualize a prog-rock combo jumping from the 70s into the 21st Century."
The Charlotte Observer
"Rock 'n' roll glory...Shadowflag will break out soon."
“Incredible…their music grabs you with the tenacity of a pit bull and doesn’t let go.”
Capital City Free Press
[+ Show ]
"Amazingly brave and smart. In terms of musicianship, this band cannot be trifled with. Their experi..."Amazingly brave and smart. In terms of musicianship, this band cannot be trifled with. Their experience shines through and there are moments where the guitar and piano interplay top anything I could reference - it's just good, organic harmony. They build up simple ideas into rising and falling emotion, curious dynamics and a fat sound for a band with no bassist to speak of. The last track, a sort of live improvisation, is nearly 14 minutes and worth every second. I recommend this band to anyone who wants a flare for the dramatic in their stereo, but still want to remain in the 21st century. The bonus track at the end of the disc (untitled) displays everything they want to do in one song, and it is the climax of the project...solid exploratory playing and a lot of give and take."
[+ Show ]
“Rising stars to watch.” “Breakthrough band Shadowflag does a superb job of translating emotion i...“Rising stars to watch.”
“Breakthrough band Shadowflag does a superb job of translating emotion into lyrics and connecting its audience to a unique musical experience. The band instinctively lyrics the hearts of everyone.”
“Shadowflag offers compelling melody for Charlotte, and the Queen City gladly welcomes them. Charlotteans are proud and embrace Shadowflag, because there is an uncanny resemblance between city and band – both are hinged on ambition, and Shadowflag’s knowledge of achievement fits in perfectly with the overall goals and vibe of Charlotte.”
“Shadowflag appears to be a cut above the rest.”
“In the next five years, when Shadowflag becomes a household name and are at the top of their game (and the music charts), they will always call Charlotte their home, and the nest that nurtured them to greatness.”
"An incredibly gifted trio of musicians."
Charlotte Theatre Magazine
[+ Show ]
"Shadowflag's scorching ballads, grinding rhythms and sonic chaos create an orgy of music, musicians..."Shadowflag's scorching ballads, grinding rhythms and sonic chaos create an orgy of music, musicianship and hypnotic rock-aura theatricality. The band's exuberant music and shattering vocals bridge the chasm between introspective and savage."
[+ Show ]
“Full of life and emotion…great sound, great talent…well worth checking out! I really dig these guys...“Full of life and emotion…great sound, great talent…well worth checking out! I really dig these guys!”
Laurie Koster, music promoter/advocate
[+ Show ]
“An amazing band to hear and watch…zone into the strength and power of their music. This powerhouse ...“An amazing band to hear and watch…zone into the strength and power of their music. This powerhouse of a band is poised and ready to take over the world. Pay attention, rock fans.”
The Charlotte Observer
[+ Show ]
HEADLINE: `HEDWIG' PROPELS SHADOWFLAG - ROCK MUSICAL WAS THE SPRINGBOARD THAT HELPED LAUNCH PROG-POP...HEADLINE: `HEDWIG' PROPELS SHADOWFLAG - ROCK MUSICAL WAS THE SPRINGBOARD THAT HELPED LAUNCH PROG-POP BAND.
STORY PHOTO CAPTION: The theatrical glam-rock of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" spawned the more complex prog-pop of Shadowflag. The Charlotte trio consists of (from left) drummer Jason Maner, keyboardist Matt Olin and singer/guitarist Ben Jackson.
STORY TEXT: When the hit TV makeover show "What Not to Wear" ransacked Charlotte actor Chris Love's thrift-store wardrobe during a recent episode, the T-shirt he wore as he strolled the streets of New York, shopping for new duds, had viewers wondering, "Who is Shadowflag?"
The Charlotte trio's phones haven't stopped ringing.
"It's great exposure for an unsigned band," says Shadowflag keyboard player Matt Olin.
If the trio's T-shirt debut on national television were the only unusual thing about Shadowflag's quick climb into the regional pop consciousness, it would be weird.
But it's not.
Shadowflag was not born in some area garage. The group began at Actor's Theatre of Charlotte, in summer 2003, when Olin and guitarist Ben Jackson appeared in "Hedwig and The Angry Inch." The two were members of the high-energy glam band that backed Love, the production's cross-dressing star.
"Not long into rehearsals," said Olin, "Ben pulled me aside and said, `When this project is over we should start a band.' "
Olin, sitting over a cup of Mexican coffee on Tuesday, marveled at the strange coincidences that led to Shadowflag's creation a year ago. The tall, dark-haired keyboard player with black-rimmed glasses and a hint of a beard will join his band tonight at the Steeple Lounge, for a celebration of Shadowflag's first anniversary. In addition to the band's original songs, Love will join Shadowflag for a handful of "Hedwig" favorites.
The play, about a sex-change operation gone terribly wrong, became a hit in New York's Greenwich Village in 1998, eventually making its way to film. Love liked the play so much he decided to stage his own version of it in Charlotte. "Hedwig's" debut last year was hugely successful, leading to a return engagement this past July.
"I don't know of any bands born out of a glam-rock theater production," said Olin, 31, who got his MFA in theater production from Columbia University in 1999, then worked as an executive producer on Broadway musicals such as "Titanic," "42nd Street," and "The Music Man."
"Hedwig" not only gave birth to Shadowflag - which is now fleshed out by drummer Jason Maner - but the band also has been nurtured by the musical's cult audience. During the show's recent encore run, crowds were treated to a free set of Shadowflag originals following each of the play's performances. And each night, the group sold out of copies of its self-titled six-song CD.
The band's brooding, piano- and guitar-based rock is surprisingly less campy than you'd expect from two former "Hedwig" players. That's because its influences are eclectic - everything from jazz pianist Keith Jarrett to the Police and even Tool.
Shadowflag fan Don Koster and his wife, Laurie, discovered the band during a show at the Room.
"What makes them special to me is that they're very much equals. Sometimes one player will be a standout musician in a band, but they're matched in their musicianship," said Koster, 49, who likens the trio's sound to the progressive rock of Rush or Queensryche, but with a wild, Billy Joel-style piano. "It's a very full sound for three guys."
Olin said he is surprised by the attraction of jam-band fans, but he attributes it to Shadowflag's instrumental improvisations.
Even with a diverse fan base of hippies, glammies and prog-rock fans, the trio probably will never escape its theatrical beginnings.
Not that they want to.
"There is a big pocket of our fan base that came from the 'Hedwig' experience," said Olin, adding that Shadowflag will always honor its roots by dropping in the occasional cover from "Hedwig."
"It was a unique springboard for the band."
Typical Shadowflag set list
(duration: two hours, played as one full set)
Set Me Free
Slash and Burn
Gift of Pain
The Unforgettable Fire (cover)
A Little Bitter (cover)
Wrapped Around Your Finger (cover)
Midnight Radio (cover)
There are no upcoming dates at this time.