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 

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