Photo by Zoe Evans. Words by Zoe Evans and Rrita Hashani.
Yes - Flo Petite is her real name. Flo, a 19-year-old Leo with a haunted bedroom, is just as cool as you’d expect her to be. She released her first EP “Soft Wrinkled Feelings” in March 2018, which included an off-beat, dreamy and intimate single of the same name. This May she has ventured her first tour with her drummer Phil and photographer pal Madison.
Along the way, after picking up some dinosaur figurine travel buddies at a Dollar General, they stopped in Knoxville and met up with Grlsplain before their fourth show of the tour at the Pilot Light.
Flo has a unique schooling background. She was homeschooled in Hagerstown, Maryland until the age of 14, when she decided she needed to find something new. She stumbled upon Evolution Rock School, where she trained musically and practiced playing in bands. It’s also where she met Phil.
“We were never in a band together, because they were afraid of our amazingness together.”
Now a couple, the two lovebirds take the stage with stunning confidence, eclectic style and a cool nonchalance. They even made the glockenspiel look cool.
Indigo Age, a Knoxville psych-rock band opened the show Wednesday, upping the energy and getting the audience amped. Flo appeared on stage afterward, immediately kicking off the set with “Soft Wrinkled Feelings”.
“Soft wrinkled people / they run through her life.”
In this song she’s a poetic story teller and it’s not quite clear whether the story’s a fairytale or an anxiety dream. The funky percussion and fluctuating melody make the crowd bop and tip-tap, but Flo’s monotonous repetition of “all the time, all the time” seems ominous.
Her music feels this way, much like Regina Spektor and Fiona Apple. She’s got the vocal range, the quirky lyrics and the thematic vagueness.
We’re in the crowd, but we’re in her zone; twirling between whichever fantasy the current song spins us into and the reality of Phil’s talented glockenspiel-ing. In between this dream, she thanks us, offers a bit of banter, and then it’s back to the fun.
I have to personally thank Flo for performing “March” as an acoustic encore (Sorry, Phil). The original, complete with glockenspiel and alien back-up singers, is a fun live song that you can sing and sway to. The acoustic version, on the other hand, is a raw rendition that allows you to truly take in Flo’s voice and lyrics.
“I'm staring at my reflection in your bedroom window
And I'm wondering which bowl I'll get my head stuck in
'Cause it's the guilt that I feel
That wakes me up in the morning”
Now, I may be projecting, but to me, the song is about the pressure each day brings. Simply waking up and doing things can be an everyday struggle. And although she dedicated it to me (Rrita) (no big deal), Flo released the acoustic version for her mom. On her Bandcamp, she says:
“This is a birthday gift for my mom, since March is her favorite song of mine, her birthday is in March and she's always said she wanted an acoustic version. She pointed out that a fish is the astrological sign for March, which was not intentional on my part when I was writing the line "With a fish tail wrapped around my finger" but I think that's pretty ironic (Yeah I really do think). Happy birthday mom! And all my other Pisces!”
While we only talked to Flo for a little while, I think that describes her pretty well.
Followed up by locals MARK and Duck Butter, it was a wild and varied night. Flo’s energy seemed to infect us all. It was such a mellow, friendly environment – honestly, friendlier than I expect from shows at this point (having become cold and hard to the music scene). Flo’s fresh tunes worked their magic and softened me up.