On February 20, 2011 I was one of the lucky folks who got to see Flogging Molly live when they came to Northern Lights in Clifton Park, NY. This was my first time attending a sold out show at the venue, and holy crap can they pack a lot of people into that place!
My normal strategy when going to a show at Northern Lights is to show up when the doors open and plant my butt on a bar stool and claim it as my own for the night. However, I was going by myself this time and the idea of sitting alone at the bar for the hour or two before the show actually started seemed unappealing. Since these shows always seem to start late, I decided to show up at 7:30pm, when in theory the first opening act would be taking the stage.
Imagine my surprise when I walked up to the doors and heard a band already playing! I can’t remember a single time prior when the show actually started on time! My shock was even greater when I realized that Northern Lights was packed. After some careful weaving I was able to carve out a spot to stand near the sound guys, which is when I realized, damn, the band playing is good, really good.
Again, I’ve been to a fair number of shows at Northern Lights and generally, and I say this with the utmost respect to those artists brave and bold enough to put themselves out there, the opening acts stink. At most I’ve been able to say, that opening band was okay. One exception was Public Enemy, but they had so damn many acts in front of them that odds were a couple of them had to be decent. Also, the Reel Big Fish show, because technically English Beat was an opener and they kicked so much ass as to not be believed.
But back to the subject at hand, the band on stage did not suck, and in fact, I would call them good. Very good. They were The Drowning Men from San Diego, CA. They were like an awesome version of the Killers. I couldn’t help but dance around a bit while they were on stage. You can visit their page on My Space to check them out, which I recommend you do. If I had thought I could have made my way through the throngs of humanity I would have tried to see if I could buy their album at the show, but alas, that was not meant to be. Hello iTunes!
After The Drowning Men were Moneybrother, who are from Sweden. And by the way, promptly took the stage after The Drowning Men were done with their set. I cannot stress enough how rare this is based on past experiences. Moneybrother were a bit more on the pop side of rock and also good. I preferred The Drowning Men, who came down more on the 80’s new wave side of rock, but Moneybrother had a great sound and a lot of energy. And then…..it was Flogging Molly time!
I’m pretty sure it was the comedian Elayne Boosler who did a bit about going to see Diana Ross in concert. Diana Ross kept saying, “You sing!” to the crowd. Boosler’s response was something to the effect of, “No Diana, you sing. I paid a lot of money for these tickets and it wasn’t to listen to the guy next to me sing.” (By the way stand up comedy fans, if you know for sure if it was Elayne Boosler, and better still, can find me a video of it, please share it in the comments!) And generally, I feel that way too. It’s like, I get it, you’re a fan, you know all the words, now shut up so I can enjoy the actual musical artist. Yet this show was different.
Flogging Molly does high energy music that has choruses meant to be sung by a crowd. Not once did lead singer Dave King need to instruct the audience as to when or how to sing, everyone knew. To see, and hear, the crammed together, diverse crowd of attendees, all hold up their beers and shout out the choruses was a unique and pleasurable experience. It was obvious that the folks handling the sound for the show were used to this phenomenon because no matter how loud the crowd sang, you could still always hear King’s voice cutting through the fray.
The band sounded great, the crowd was rowdy up in front (complete with crowd surfing) and as respectful to space as they could be towards the back. King talked a little between songs, but never enough to slow down the pace of the show, and of course, everything sounds funnier and more interesting coming from a person with an Irish accent. I’m pretty certain that’s a scientific fact. Also, the band took time to talk a little bit about the two opening acts. During this King told the audience that Moneybrother were from Sweden, “There’s a health care system that really works,” he stated. And in the crowd there could be heard one lone woman letting out a cheer, oh crap, that was me.
To sum up, this was a fantastic show. If you have the opportunity to catch the current Green 17 Tour I’d highly recommend it. You can see upcoming dates here.
Here’s a taste of Flogging Molly from 2010
(Which by the way, you notice how he makes a liar out of me by telling the crowd, “Everybody!” at the choruses? Thanks Dave.)