Flogging Molly

support Street Dogs + Skindred + Time Again
author TL date 16/11/08 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

While it seems to be true for gigs in general here in Denmark that punk seems to draw a larger and more loyal crowd than the genres that might otherwise be 'in' on the global music scene, the loyalty had found its limits in an encounter with the somewhat limited promotion of the fact that there was actually a fourth band on the Eastpak Antidote Tour poster, and that to accommodate their set, the doors of Vega would open bright and early already at 18:00, and the band would then go on at 18:45. So it's not that Vega is totally empty when Jill and I arrive around 18:20, but it's pretty clear that considering the turnout at the Dropkick Murphys show of earlier this year, the majority of the those that have tickets for the fellow Irish folk-punkers Flogging Molly and their support bands simply haven't shown up yet.

Time Again

Effectively, it's not exactly a massive crowd response that meets Time Again when they go on stage pretty much like clockwork at 18:45. The band go at it in a manner that's only proper for a first support band, giving a good effort towards waking up people who are here already. Guitarist Elijah Reyes pretty much runs away with the show when during each song he has his own solo part during which he swings his instrument like a proper guitar hero, playing it either behind his head or flying through the air, generally acting exactly like a rock'n'roll guitarist should. As for the rest of the band, they don't really put up much of a contest for him, and while they still play their stuff tightly and with extra energy to rock out, they still look a bit inferior to their mate. Vocalist Daniel Dart isn't getting much help though, because the sound quality is unsurprisingly support band-like, with his voice being more or less drowned in the instruments. It might be for the better though, because from what you can hear, he is proper punk rock in the sense that he can't really sing worth shit. That's hardly as much of a point in the band's show as just rockin' out is though, and they try to transfer this to the audience by requesting circle pits and more activity in general. Requests that are generally avoided by faces either hidden in beer glasses or busy with conversation. So despite that these guys seemed to know how to put a good performance together, the indifferent crowd and the low quality of the sound that had them seem like a poor mans Rancid, prohibits them from getting any real praise this time around. I will give them half a grade for the guitar heroism though, as such antics are never wasted on me.

Skindred

Given the apathy of the crowd for Time Again, I'm really not expecting for things to improve for Skindred, being the definite odd band out tonight. Shows what I know, as Skindred prove to be a party-starter beyond most bands I can remember seeing. Before the band is halfway through their first song, their ragga-metal (dancehall/nu-metal) has got at least half of the already much denser crowd nodding along in approval. Frontman Benji Webbe cuts the song short though, and before kicking back into its second half, his ridiculously charming showmanship has ensured that the crowd are ready to fly into it. From that moment on, the Skindred show is an intense and senseless period of appreciation for music that shouldn't sound good, but does anyway. Consider that the best way I can explain it is to imagine Disturbed with a rastafari for a frontman? Ah well, Benji takes his hat off "So dat hiz dreadz can bounce bettah", and by God we bounce with them, while he nails rap vocals and metal screams and growls with consistent proficiency, un-fazed by the fact that he puts one of his microphones out of working order during a particularly careless move. The only bad thing I have to say about Skindred's set is in fact that it was as short as it is powerful, and considering how into it the crowd suddenly was, one or two more songs wouldn't have done any harm. Be that as it may though, I'll just say that I'll definitely be seeing Skindred the next time they come around, and so should you.

8

Street Dogs

When Street Dogs come on stage, I think a lot of crowd members are thinking the same thing. "Those dudes are WAY too well dressed for punk rock". However, while ex-Dropkick Murphys man Mike McColgan might look like a metro-sexual in a midlife crisis, he still knows the mechanics of a good punk rock show, and as his band dishes out the best of their songs, mainly from their two newest albums, the state of things betray the initial doubtful impression. It's not like "Meatfist" has the crowd going off the first beat, but as the band performs "Two Angry Kids", "Tobe's Got A Drinking Problem" and "Fatty" and other of their best songs later on, there's still grounds for a good show. Being warm now, people in the crowd suddenly remember what a circle pit it, so that Mike's request gets a better response than Daniel Dart's did earlier tonight. On the surface, things are seemingly all fine and dandy, with Mike spending loads of time by the barrier right in the face of the crowd, and otherwise singing from atop speaker sets. However, I think most people can sense that tonight's tricks were still a bit of a routine performance for the band, being thrown in there in a strangely forced fashion that you might expect from a massive entertainment machine like Green Day, rather than a small time Boston band like Street Dogs. I don't want to accuse the band of being affected by their age, but compared to Skindred's intense performance, the many breaks between songs here seemed even longer than they were, and broke the flow a bit. So even if main man Mike goes crowd surfing towards the other end of the room after the set is done, his band's performance still falls short of Skindred and Flogging Molly.

7

Flogging Molly

When I think about it, I have a lot of negative things to say about Flogging Molly. To Irish culture, they've got to be like a touring McDonalds, selling out the green island's culture all over the world, and the nature of the show is already as much of an institution as the conceptualized Irish pubs you can find in all countries save Ireland itself. Their show is totally predictable, from the appearance of each band member to the banter between Dave King and the crowd between songs, that by the way also all sound the same. It matters little though, because what you can predict is one awesome time, and the way the songs all sound is retardedly uplifting. From the first stroke of Bob Schmidt's mandolin, the party is right back on, twice as intense as during Skindred's set, as the audience finally get their long awaited chance to jump around and imitate river dancing and what not. Dave King makes sure to entertain with proper Irish accent between songs, welcoming the few Irishmen who have actually found their way here, elegantly neglecting to mention that his band is and has always been located in Los Angeles.

Despite all there is to criticize about Flogging Molly's image, one must bow deeply to their work ethic. Their show is professional from one end to the other, including the impression that the band is genuinely happy to be here and party with us. Cleverly, the setlist features a slower song after every two or three fast ones, allowing the crowd to catch their breath while they also get a sense of variety. "Requiem For A Dying Song", "Float", "The Devil's Dancefloor", "Drunken Lullabies" and "What's Left Of The Flag", and newer tracks like "The Lightning Storm", they're all in there, and to each and every song, the vast majority of the crowd is sweating and gasping for air, refusing to let go of even a single second of the fun they're here for. In comparison to the Dropkick Murphys show (a comparison that's impossible not to make), this show never really oversteps its boundaries though, and while it is yet another testament to the band's experience that things run like machinery, the experience is restrained to a level just below what would've been unique. The crowd still cheer like it was the home football team leaving the stage when the main set ends though, and predictably, Flogging Molly have an encore ready that features a couple of acoustic songs Dave King performs solo, before the band comes back in and give us the last dance. All things in consideration, far be it from me to degrade a band that has it's audience crowd surfing with sheer anticipation, two songs ("Blitzkrieg Bop" and "Teenage Wasteland") before they even come on stage. Flogging Molly simply bring the party wherever they go, and if they bring it back here again, I'll faithfully be present, overlooking the slightly cheesy parts of the band's image.

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