Monday, March 21, 2011

Tales of the Mosh Pit: Flogging Molly in Las Vegas

All during March, I indulged in an Irish music fix.  I tuned in to Celtic Podcast before work.  I rallied a dozen or so of us to hear the Wailing O'Sheas at Piper Down and almost 60 to hear Swagger and the Young Dubliners at The Depot.  Ten of us decided our St. Paddy's would be incomplete without hearing a real Irish band, Flogging Molly.  A half-day road trip from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas was followed by a quick dinner and the concert just a day after St. Patrick's Day on Friday night.
I'd heard the band's Irish punk online and even jigged to it while packing.  (Note: Applying makeup while jigging is not for the faint of heart.)  Like other Celtic and Irish bands I've covered, Flogging Molly supplements the usual metal instrumentation with traditional Irish instruments such as Irish whistles, mandolins, and accordions.
As far as what to wear, I probably should've studied a little harder.  When I saw that the two who'd previously seen Flogging Molly were wearing boots, I knew I was underdressed with my new lace up jigging shoes.
The mosh pit periphery where we situated ourselves shortly before the first warm up band took to the stage appeared to be a liveable piece of real estate: center, close to the stage, and with people in front of me who were short enough for me to hold my camera above their heads for clear shots to the bands.  In retrospect, a laughable theory.
The mild waves of crowd swaying that marked the two warm up bands were replaced with a rip tide by the time Flogging Molly finished their first song.  The mosh pit saw much action, even from one in our group, who said it was a whirling hub of pushing and punching where all the moshers immediately went to the rescue of fallen moshers to ensure their ultimate safety and continued high energy of the circle.  Crowd surfers were lifted from the back to the front overhead, legs first.  I learned later from one of our more experienced moshers that all of this activity brings incredible energy to the music, the band, and the crowd.
I was about two or three people from center front of the stage and very lucky because I had my former boxing champion friend standing behind me holding back the masses behind me.  Oh the amazing factoids you learn about your friends on a Vegas trip.  Even so, his fine blockage wasn't enough to keep my arms from being pushed and shoved such that picture taking was an exercise in futility.  About a third of the way through the set, I escaped, swimming my arms to part the crowd.
I walked the periphery of the floor crowd, shooting the band and stage as I went.  Eventually, I ended up to the far right of the stage where miraculously I had an unobstructed view of the band and got some great side shots.  Not a photographer's dream, necessarily, but I'm not a photographer, I didn't have a press pass, and so I was just hoping to get a few photos to share with those of you who couldn't go along.
Lyrical themes mirrored what we'd already heard other bands play: Irish history, alcohol, and politics, among others. But the energy on stage was unparalleled.
Watching the band from my ultimate vantage point gave me real insights into the live wire that lead singer Dave King is.  His incredible animation was unshakable even to the last encore song.  At several junctures during the show, he mentioned that he was married to Bridget Regen, who played Irish whistle and fiddle.  I have to say she was exponentially proficient on the Irish whistle.  Her high level endurance was evident as she played song after high speed song.  Her fingers rolled across the instrument with ease and speed and she never lost an ounce of intensity.
The set was about as expected. I'd printed out a set list from a recent concert and we heard the same lineup, not that I was disappointed by any means. In fact, quite to the contrary.  My one disappointment, and there was one, was that the venue's house sound system was of questionable quality.  Some of the singing for the two warm up bands and Flogging Molly was muddled.  Still, the band's lively music won me over.  Perhaps I cannot fully satisfy my need to hear rock-i-fied Irish drinking songs.  The mosh pit (nor anywhere close) is probably not the place for me but my friends seemed to thrive on it for the most part, at least for a one-time experience.
Regarding the rest of the Vegas trip, it was high energy of our own making ... we converted Mamita's restaurant into a dance club, we bustled from stage to stage at Fremont Street, and danced through the crowds as we traveled.  We got tipped, cheered, stared at, and photographed almost without ceasing.  We had fun.  And the rest ... stays in Vegas, as the saying goes.
Set List
Speed of Darkness
The Likes of You Again
Requiem for a Dying Song
Selfish Man
The Worst Day Since Yesterday
Saints and Sinners
(No More) Paddy's Lament
Drunken Lullabies
The Wanderlust
Factory Girls
So Sail On
Black Friday Rule
Don't Shut 'Em Down
Rebels of the Sacred Heart
Devil's Dance Floor
If I Ever Leave This World Alive
Salty Dog
What's Left of the Flag
Tobacco Island
Seven Deadly Sins
Flogging Molly
Dave King – lead vocals, acoustic guitar, bodhrán, banjo, spoons
Bridget Regan – fiddle, tin whistle, uillean pipes, vocals
Dennis Casey – guitar, vocals
Matt Hensley – accordion, concertina
Nathen Maxwell – bass guitar, vocals
Bob Schmidt – mandolin, banjo
George Schwindt – drums, percussion 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Here's How Much Fun My Friends and I Had At the Young Dubliners/Swagger Concert on Saturday

Missed the concert? Press play and get jiggy without delay.

Last Saturday, I shared my love of the Irish rock bands Young Dubliners and Swagger with a few dozen of my closest friends.  For those of us who had jigged non-stop through Swagger and the Dubs at the Irish Festival in August and the Harry O's concert in late December, buying a ticket to their concert at The Depot in Salt Lake City was an easy decision. In February, a bunch of us went to Piper Down to hear Swagger and I got a few more converts.  Still others heard about the concert events I posted on and Facebook, or through their friends.  And then I actually told people I had a ticket for them to buy, which helped them make plans to go.  All told ... 57 unless there were more I didn't count.

For me, the Celtic rock-a-thon wasn't as much about the concert itself as it was about seeing everyone having a great time.  And of course, I was having a jiggy bit of fun myself.  The pictures have been posted to Facebook and captured much attention and, in some cases, vigorous debate about hidden agendas, subliminal meanings, intentional exorcisms, and other such.  Amazing how so many could be so apparently compromised, including in one photo, me.  The "notifications" were plentiful, informing that my Facebook friends and their friends were liking and commenting on my photos.  Several friends made concert photos their Facebook "profile pictures."  And why not? you only get to be a leprechaun once a year.  Incidentally ... I don't think I have attended a music event in recent history where I took so few pictures of the bands.

My blogger soul sister and friend Linda summed up the evening this way ...
I was not actually very familiar with the Young Dubliners prior to Saturday night's concert. I had seen Swagger at Piper Down a few weeks prior, and really enjoyed them, so I figured the Dubs would also be good. I was not disappointed. What a fun concert! It's a good thing we were all out on the floor as it was music that just made you want to move and groove. My ancestry is German, but after that concert I was really hoping that there is truth to the bit of family lore that says my great, great grandfather's love for the Irish parlor maid caused him to leave behind the family castle in Germany to immigrate to the states just so he could marry her! I'd like to think there really is a little Irish in me. - Linda

 I did the first jig when Swagger started up! - Joe
Lively, fun, energetic music. Great friends. Knew it'd get hot, but got even hotter. Enjoyed the spontaneous (huge) group swinging back and forth. Sore feet. Squished in between the masses, but still managed to find a little room to jig (or more accurately jump). Lots of sweaty people. Enjoyed the people who dressed up. Found it humorous in the beginning when there was about a half dozen of us short girls together in the front. - Anne
It was a blast. Everyone I met that night was so nice. My legs were pretty dead by the end of the night. I definitely need to retire the shirt I was wearing...not my color at all. That was my first time at The Depot.......what a great venue.  - Chris

All I can say is my feet and legs hurt for days from all the dancing!  - Carolyn
I have seen the Dubs on occasion and as always they did not disappoint. They rocked the house. Swagger, it was my first experience and they set the tone and the atmosphere for what was to come.  Shared the floor with old friends and made some new friends that night too. Hopefully I did not step on too many toes while trying to dance. Missed the leprechaun girls dancing though.  Thanks everyone for a wonderful time. - Joe
Pressed up against a hot and sweaty crowd - amazing music and fabulous dancing... Such an incredibly fun time!!! :)  - Karen
I danced so hard, I swear I saw short leprechaun girls up front. They were the best! LOL- Arthur

Other comments may be added here soon as my fellow groupies attempt to arrest their thoughts into a sentence or two.  Meanwhile, these pictures are worth at least a thousand words.  Enjoy!


The Young Dubliners and Swagger Posts Featured on FeliciaEvita
Irish Music Festival - The Young Dubliners
Irish Music Festival - Swagger and Others
Swagger at Piper Down 
The Young Dubliners and Swagger in a Blizzard 
Swagger at the Utah Hibernian Society Fundraiser

Band Websites
Swagger The Band
The Young Dubliners