Review: Whiskey on a Tuesday: Drunken Lullabies with Flogging Molly, Aug. 21, 2007* - U2 Feedback

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Old 09-01-2007, 09:28 PM   #1
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Review: Whiskey on a Tuesday: Drunken Lullabies with Flogging Molly, Aug. 21, 2007*

by Luke Pimentel
2007.09


In spite of their seemingly ubiquitous presence on the festival circuit these days, most fans would argue the only real way to see Irish folk/punk rockers Flogging Molly is within the confines of a sweaty nightclub, surrounded by several hundred drunken revelers singing their lungs and stomachs into oblivion.

Northern California fans got to see just that on August 21st, when the seven-piece band made a brief pit stop from the Vans Warped Tour to play a rowdy headlining gig at The Catalyst, in the small coastal town of Santa Cruz.

“It’s a Tuesday night. Normally on Tuesday nights, I’m playin’ Bingo,” lead singer Dave King joked, teasing a crowd that would largely be skipping work the next day with hangovers and bruised limbs. Of course, given the volume of enthusiasm that rocked the sold-out venue, it’s doubtful anyone – band or audience - would have had it any other way.



Although Flogging Molly are based out of Los Angeles, their long history with Bay Area audiences gave the Santa Cruz performance the feel of a homecoming. King remarked early on that it was the band’s first club date in several months, and the intimate environs seemed to invigorate them as they stormed through a two-hour set that cut a wide swath through their catalog, careening like a staggering barfly from melancholy lament (the lost-lover tune “Laura”) to rebellious ferment (“What’s Left of the Flag”) and back again with astonishing ease.

If the band has lost any steam due to the rigors of touring, it was not readily apparent this night, either on their faces or in their performance. With ten years experience under their belts, they could be called rock veterans, but that experience has done little to slow them down; few bands can match them for sheer energy onstage. Much like another folk/rock fusion band, and labelmate - Gogol Bordello - Flogging Molly’s sonic blitzkrieg of guitar, banjo, fiddle, and accordion is so potent that watching it inspires equal parts joy and exhaustion.

There was plenty of both to go around Tuesday night. From the first pounding note of “Another Bag of Bricks”, the main floor was a cauldron of gleeful abandon, with cups of beer cascading skyward, shoes and shirts being tossed around like beach balls, and epic, eighteen-inch Mohawk spikes getting bent and smooshed into dreadlocks by the bumper-car grind of shoving arms and elbows.

All of this amused the band to no end, and as the set progressed, the gig took on a vibe more celebratory than angry. King – the band’s de facto spokesman – was quite talkative, taking time to commend the recent I.R.A. peace accord and, as any good Irishman should, taking every possible opportunity to rib the British. When an overzealous audience member flung a flannel shirt into King’s face, he chuckled, flashed his infectious ear-to-ear grin, and remarked with well-polished disdain: “It smells like it was worn by an Englishman.”



When he wasn’t smiling, King was letting out bursts of his trademark manic yowl to punctuate the emotional rollercoasters supplied by the lyrics he sang. Dedications flowed like whiskey: bassist Nathen Maxwell’s daughter got a shout-out in honor of her first birthday, and the late Kurt Vonnegut got a belated eulogy, in the form of “If I Ever Leave this World Alive,” one of many highlights on display from the band’s signature LP, Drunken Lullabies. King even dedicated “Selfish Man” to himself, with the simple justification that “being a redhead on the Warped tour is f—king hard.”

By show’s end, the giant mosh pit had been worn down into something vaguely resembling a punchdrunk conga line, but the happy vibes endured, both on an off the stage. Flogging Molly have always prided themselves on loosening the divide between band and audience, and several band members, including drummer George Schwindt and multi-instrumentalist Bob Schmidt, mingled freely with the crowd, who continued dancing and singing long after the house lights went up. Guitarist Dennis Casey, who had joyfully bounced around the stage all night, could be seen exchanging handshakes and hugs with virtually anyone in his path, at one point exulting, “This was a show to write home about!”

At the very least, it was certainly one to drink to.


For more information on Flogging Molly, please visit the band’s official website at http://www.floggingmolly.com/.
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