Over the Weekend: Flogging Molly, Jan. 1, House of Blues, Anaheim

The Hype: After a decade-plus of recording and touring, Flogging Molly has become--in most circles at least--a household name. The LA band, which expertly mashes anthemic punk energy with the traditional folk sounds of the Emerald Isle, has cleverly carved out a niche for themselves and amassed a loyal following in the process. Expectations were high.

Dave truley remembers me when I interviewed them at Lollapalooza 08.JPG
Christopher Victorio
Flogging Molly Front Man Dave King says, "I'm No. 1"


The Show: Flogging Molly has a rich, layered, large sound delivered by instruments such as accordion, banjo, tin whistle and violin, all anchored by singer Dave King's acoustic guitar, which he strummed furiously throughout FM's nearly two-hour set. From the opening chords of "The Likes of you Again"--off 2000's Swagger--the band roundly engaged the capacity crowd and turned the concert hall into something more akin to an Irish pub. 

For the entire set, King belted out monster ditties about drinking, rebelling, living and dying. At times, he would stop strumming, and allow his voice and the band fill the void. Then, he would reach his arms out to the crowd imploring their participation like a conductor caught in a fit of ecstasy. And for almost two hours, the attendees sang nearly every chorus with just as much enthusiasm as the paid musicians. What was so remarkable about Flogging Molly's performance, however, wasn't just the intensity of their material, but the amount of positivity related in what is often viewed as a dark and edgy genre. 

It was the relative sunniness of their sound that sets them apart from other Irish-themed punk acts such as the Dropkick Murphys. This was most apparent when FM sang a verse from the song "Float" off the eponymous album. "A ripe old age, a ripe old age, that's what I am, a ripe old age, just do it the best I can." It was such rosiness in the face of inevitable demise that lent the evening the inspirational aura of a Journey concert--the result perhaps of the time King spent in 80s UK hairband Fastaway. And somehow, Flogging Molly managed all of this without coming off hokey. There was something oddly moving about watching a roomfull of punk rockers clapping along and waving their hands in the air. 

This isn't to say that the concert's feverish pace didn't wear thin at times, especially for the uninitiated or stone sober. There were moments when one might have wondered if the group could have delivered just as riveting a set within one hour. But watching the crowd's response during one of the final numbers, "Black Friday Rule," when King called out the perennial soccer chant "Ole, ole, ole, ole," the audience responded with gusto, rebuking those who may have had doubts. It was sort of impressive for a crowd of music fans from a country raised on American style football.

Flogging Molly was preceded by the Aggrolites.

The Crowd: An eclectic mix ranging from the teenaged to the middle aged, which spoke to Flogging Molly's long history and fan base loyalty. People seemed less concerned with being seen and were focused on seeing a good band. 

Overheard: "I actually woke up this morning hating life and not wanting to get out of bed.  But I had a pretty good time," said one dude after the show.


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