I haven’t seen Flogging Molly for about a decade, when I saw them in L.A. before they hit it big. Yeah, that’s right, I knew them before they were popular. That’s also the motto of Demorama, the music site I once again write for, run by my friend Deneen Gannon. More about The Neener and Demorama later, this is a concert review. Flogging Molly is an Irish rock band, with influences ranging from the Pogues to Stiff Little Fingers. Their songs range from ballads to balls-out rockers and sea-shanty inspired pirate punk tunes like “Salty Dog,” one of my favorites. They’re on iTunes (and therefore iLike on Facebook) if you want to sample their wares.
Sarah bought us tickets as my Valentine’s Day present, and since I sat through Rufus Wainwright, she had to sit through a few hours of Irish mayhem. The opening bands, two from Molly’s label Side One Dummy and one local, were uniformly excellent. They had to be, to stand up to Molly’s energy.
The first opener was the Dusty Rhodes River Band, from Orange County, California. They’re a folk-rock band with a violinist, and have a great, full, raucous sound. They reminded me a little of The Black Keys. I took a video of them playing, probably the best one of the night.
I picked up their CD but left it at Sarah’s, but if it’s half as good as their set, it’ll be worth it. The myspace link of their name above has some songs, including “Street Fighter” which they played. They also covered “The Weight” by The Band, who their sound resembles quite a bit. They also covered “Midnight Rider” and did a fine job.
Next up was my favorite band of the night, The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. Two Indiana maniacs on slide guitar and a washboard, and a psycho drummer. They call themselves “roots blues” and they’re somewhere between shockabilly and old Delta blues, reminding me of one of my favorite underrated albums of all time, Elmo Williams & Hezekiah Early. Hell, everyone’s on myspace these days. I only go there to listen to bands. Every page is like a money shot of adware at your face in a candy-colored web porno.
My video of Peyton & co. sucks, but they are all over youtube. Here’s a good tune that lets you experience his slide guitar sound and her washboard mania. He does rhythm on it too- a glass slide on his thumb provides rhythm, like on banjo, while he plays with his other hand on the fretboard.
My video is sneaky because security was nearby, but you can hear them playing “Your Cousin’s on Cops.” I got my picture taken with them after the show. His beard puts mine to shame, and she makes those faces on stage too.
Next up was Jesse Malin, a local alt rocker. He was good and energetic, sang from the mosh pit, and had that typical sound you will probably hear on the radio soon. My fave were his faster-paced songs, like “In the Modern World,” available on the myspace link.
After many Guinness imbibed, we were all ready to hear the main act. Doors opened at 7:30 and now it was 10:30, the natives had begun to grow restless. Having been to Ireland, I must say they handle their drink much better than us Irish-Americans. In the ticket line I nearly got into fisticuffs with a trio of drunken boys who were yelling about not being let in. They practically yelled right in Sarah’s ear. I gave them a stern talking to. They questioned my ancestry and I told them about my trip to the mother country, that distracted them a while.
Another thing I like better about Ireland- they don’t care how “Irish” you are, whether you’re “pure Irish” or whatever. Sorry, I’m an American first. Though I am eligible for Irish citizenship and hope to retire there someday, I get tired of how us Americans just can’t be frigging Americans.
But enough of that shit, Flogging Molly! They blasted on stage with “Selfish Man” and “The Likes of You Again,” two powerful rockers from Swagger, still my favorite album of theirs. I saw them for the first time right before it was released, and still think it’s one of the best Irish rock albums ever recorded. They have an accordion player, a tin whistle, banjo and mandolin player and a spate of guitars. They really have a full sound and overpowered the mike on my little camera. So here’s someone else’s video of “Drunken Lullabies.”
Dave King looks a bit older than I remember him ten years back at that venue in Los Angeles, but he is a perpetual motion machine for turning Guinness into pure musical enjoyment. His banter in between songs was as delightful as usual, though he doesn’t talk to the crowd as much as he used to. He gave a can of Guinness to a girl who got a bloody nose in the mosh pit, and consistently thanked the security crew for keeping the crowd under control. Their fanbase has changed a lot since the early days, I remember people dancing Irish jigs back then, now the punk foundation of their music has really brought in a lot of people from the Dropkick Murphys Boston Punk scene. We were right behind the soundboard, and the Fillmore has a “strick” 115db limit. They touched 117 a few times according to their meter. They also have a golden monkey’s paw as a luck charm.
They did a few of their lighter tunes like “Whistles the Wind” and “The Worst Day Since Yesterday,” always encouraging the crowd to join in. The songs off their new album, Float, were quite good, and I’ll be picking it up soon. He finished the set with one of my favorites, “Salty Dog,” and teased us a bit before coming back for an encore.