I’m trying to find the right adjective to encapsulate Flickerstick in the wake of both the band’s 2021 reunion and their quick pivot to — of all things — touring again, as well as their return to local stages, including Tannahill’s Tavern and Music Hall in late March. “Renewed” and “revived” aren’t quite what I’m looking for, and “resuscitated”’s implication of urgency is silenced by the yawn of 15 years. “Resurrected” kind of works, though that word’s messianic baggage is perhaps too grandiose for any rock band, let alone Flickerstick — though who am I to doubt or downplay the enthusiasm of thousands of longtime fans from all over the world?
Flickerstick’s return has been a welcome surprise to everyone involved on both sides of the stage, a community that includes keyboardist and former guitarist Cory Kreig. For the band’s co-founder, watching his old band melt faces again is the culmination of both a friendship with and love of local music that goes back nearly 30 years.
Kreig formed Flickerstick (or what would become Flickerstick) with singer/guitarist Brandin Lea in 1995 when the two were both at UNT.
“I kinda peaced out of UNT,” Kreig said, “but Brandin was still there, so I stayed and lived in Denton.”
Despite that geographic origin, Krieg said “every rehearsal” was on Trail Lake Drive at Bruce Lea Dance Factory, the studio owned by the father of Lea and younger brother Fletcher Lea, who played bass in the band. “We wrote music in Fort Worth. We were Fort Worth. We all graduated from Fort Worth high schools.”
Local music was a huge deal for him and his bandmates. Along with listening to Tales from the Edge compilation CDs from the now-defunct mod-rock station The Edge, Kreig and company were big fans of Brutal Juice, Doosu, all of the One Ton Records bands, and their “all-time favorite,” Hi-Fi Drowning.
Kreig dropped a bunch of other names that conjured mental images of Buzzoven comps and the KTCU booth circa 1998, and during that jog down memory lane, Kreig said, “It hasn’t really been announced, but our opener is Valve.”
I flipped out a little, because that band — an early-2000s power-pop vehicle for producer Casey Diorio — was one of my favorite bands from way back then, but I digress.
Nowadays, Kreig claims he goes only to “Flickerstick shows and whoever my daughters listen to.”
Though he played guitar in the two reunion shows this summer at House of Blues in Dallas, he has since handed over the position to Beau Wagener, who, oddly enough, was a candidate for the band’s original lineup. His name came into the mix last year, when the reunion started to be a real thing.
While Kreig’s parts are now performed by Wagener, he still works for the band. “Technically speaking, I work for the band. I guess I’m the de facto manager-slash-social media guy. I work closely with Ryan Higgs, who is the touring manager. I help with booking shows, kinda help keep the guys moving forward.”
Regarding forward motion, Kreig sat in with the band last summer when they recorded a song that Kreig and Lea wrote in 2002. The band tried to record “Shine On” a “couple” times while laying down 2004’s Tarantula, Krieg said, but “it just wasn’t working at the time.”
After announcing the reunion, he continued, their thoughts immediately turned to recording again, which sent Kreig, Lea, and company to near Austin and the studio of Taylor Tatsch (Maren Morris, Cut Throat Finches, Shadows of Jets).
Though he himself didn’t play on it, Kreig sat in as a producer. “I thought it was important, more in the service of the song, if I didn’t play on it, but if I could help from a writing or directional standpoint, I was there to give input. Otherwise, I was like, ‘You guys are the band.’ ”
Serving the song is often musicianspeak for shelving one’s ego, which is another way of letting water be under the bygones or whatever. Kreig and Lea were sort of known for butting heads way back when, but in the fullness of time, both have reconciled and, according to Kreig, even share the occasional “two-hour phone conversation.”
Kreig still relished the rush from revisiting his band’s hits during the two shows he did play. “It was amazing. I was a little nervous because, from a playing perspective, my chops … I had to really work. If you don’t stay proficient, you lose it. I had the muscle memory, but I was worried about letting fans down. I wanted to do the songs justice. So many people flew in from all over — places like Chicago and Ireland — and that blew my mind.
“The big thing was my wife and daughters were there,” he continued. “My wife never really knew me as a musician, and it was really cool watching my daughters learn about the music as we went through the process and then see the concert. In a way, it was like watching them become fans. And at those shows, we saw old friends, people we’d known for decades.”
Former owner of now-defunct TCU-area venue The Aardvark, Danny Weaver and former Aardvark bartender Peter Link were two guitar techs.
“It was just decades of family,” Kreig went on. “Higgs tour-managed the show. [Wife] Jenna [Hill-Higgs] was the stage manager. We were surrounded by friends. Everything was very familial.”
Reflecting on the renewed trajectory of his old band, Kreig was enthusiastic. “It’s cool to be old. I got to relive a little bit of being 25 again, and that was nice. It’s funny, because when we started talking about doing the band again, Brandin said, ‘Hey, man. I would really like to get out and play. I love those songs, but I’ll just do ’em solo,’ … and I was like, ‘No way, man. Do it as Flickerstick!’ And that’s the thing that I’m passionate about: getting to watch Brandin, a guy I’ve known since I was 15 through ups and down … this is where he belongs. I’m excited for him and the rest of the band. The feedback has been really good.”
And as for my search for the correct word to describe the 2022 version of Flickerstick, given their single, their plans to record more singles, and now this headlining show at Tannahill’s, I think the one I’m looking for is “relevant.”
8pm Sat, Mar 25, w/Valve at Tannahill’s Tavern and Music Hall, 122 E Exchange Av, Ste 200, FW. 817-900-9300.