Flogging Molly

support The Minutes + The Mighty Stef
author PP date 08/11/11 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

Flogging Molly or Machine Head with Darkest Hour, DevilDriver and Bring Me The Horizon? That was a tough question for any a music fan all the way until KB Hallen burned down and the choice was quickly made for those of us without a ticket to the latter. When the show was moved to Amager Bio, it sold out in an instant, and thus forced my hand: I'd go check out Flogging Molly (which also sold out shortly after doors opened) despite disdain for both of their latest albums. Not to worry though, Flogging Molly are always a blast live, no matter the occasion. But lets talk about the support bands first.

The Mighty Stef

First up were The Mighty Stef from Dublin, Ireland, who appeared on stage all suited up. Promising, I thought as my first impression, an idea reinforced by the first song "We Want Blood", an alt country song with distinct folk elements thrown in the mix. They manage to get the crowd singing along to the "oooh, oooh, we want blood" part to an impressive extent. But that's about the only positive thing I can say about the band for tonight. For the rest of their set, they looked and sounded like a band more suitable to your local barn dance around the haystacks. Country elements played a big role in their music throughout, which isn't a problem in itself, but when the band cannot make their songs interesting if their life depended on it, that's definitely a problem. The songs were boring and safe (just like the inactive stage show), more geared towards your 50-year-old father than a folk punk audience waiting to get their dancing shoes on tonight. I get it, Flogging Molly are using The Mighty Stef as a way to display one extreme of what influences them in 2011 - the mature alt/country side to their latest album "Speed Of Darkness" - but The Mighty Stef aren't playing at a charity dinner dance tonight. It's just not good enough.

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The Minutes guitarist leaning into the crowd

The Minutes

If The Mighty Stef were displaying the alt/country side of Flogging Molly influences, then The Minutes - also from Dublin, Ireland - showcase their rock'n'roll side. Their sound can best be characterized as a bastard child between Queens Of The Stone Age style stoner rock, the experimental garage/indie of the latest album by The Strokes, and the classic rock'n'roll by Wolfmother or The Parlor Mob. The core of their sound consists of groovy, down-tuned guitar/bass lines that occasionally break out into catchy guitar riffs with a little bit of indie/garage flavor, complemented by lots and lots of open-ended chords that sound exactly like early Queens Of The Stone Age. A fine premise instrumentally, but its the way The Minutes carry themselves on stage that makes the show stand out. Their vocalist, in particular, carries himself on stage like a rock star. His overwhelming confidence and star-appeal manifests through a wide variety of weird facial expressions which seem to correspond to the songs he is playing, as if he is physically living through his music on stage. His attitude stands out during his screamed parts which sound louder than on record, the intense shouts he lets out on occasion, and the way he handles his effects pedals. It's difficult to explain, but he has that charisma that carries a band far beyond their own instrumental capability: it both looks and feels like an authentic rock'n'roll show. And so their droning QOTSA-inspired stoner riffs get the audience shaking their bodies and tapping their feet a little bit, but more importantly, everyone looks hypnotized and captivated by The Minutes after a couple of songs all the way until they finish their set. That's an impressive achievement from a support band in a completely different genre from the headliners.

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Flogging Molly

Flogging Molly

"SKÅL DENMARK!!" is a phrase we hear on several occasions tonight, although Flogging Molly singer Dave King insists on drinking cans of Guinness throughout the show. But this is all part of their image, just like the legendary clover leaf, wich is hanging behind the band in a massive, stage-sized banner alongside some illuminating lighting. And that's exactly what all of us came here for tonight: a quintessential Flogging Molly show where singing and dancing along to jolly Irish folk punk rhythms are far more important than artistic integrity or musical evolution as a band. That's why there is such a stark contrast between crowd activity for classics like "Drunken Lullabies", "Requiem For A Dying Dream", the huge sing along for "The Worst Day Since Yesterday", and the slower material from "Float" and the more mature sound of "Speed of Darkness". For one, Store Vega transforms into one massive dance floor, whereas for the other, people are standing still, patiently waiting for the next classic to surface. Throughout the night this theme of jolly drunken danceathon vs mature contemporary rock persists, making it clear that while the sold-out Store Vega appreciates the new material, it's for songs like "Drunken Lullabies" what people came here for. The crowd wants to dance, they want to go crazy, they want to drink themselves under the table...you get the point. They aren't interested in the slower moving, mature rock songs offered by "Speed Of Darkness".

Fortunately, Flogging Molly seem to acknowledge this, as every slow song is surrounded by at least a couple of banjo/flute/violin-driven fun-fests where everyone on the floor and on the seats seems to be up and dancing. Dave King adds fuel to the fire by spouting out customized banter for the crowd, like when he announces a song by asking us to "remember the days of old, the viking times, when you raped and pillaged our land?", and other funny commentary that feels like natural and unpredictable interaction with the local crowd.

Ecstatic crowd for Flogging Molly

But there's only so much folk punk and crazed dancing one's body can take in a single night. Flogging Molly play for over 100 minutes, so the crowd tires of dancing just before the encore. Granted, they offer something for everyone with a nice cross-cut of material from all their albums, but having seen this band during their best tours back before "Float" was released, I can only look back nostalgically at the days when a Flogging Molly show consisted entirely of jolly Irish folk punk without the unnecessary pauses in the form of boring, mature material (albeit better live than on the album) that only a minority seem to care about. Nevertheless, "Seven Deadly Sins" finalizes the set with one more sing along and a crazed crowd, underlining that Flogging Molly are still one of the funnest bands to experience live in 2011, even if their concert tonight shows symptoms of the cancer known as 'musical evolution' that has been the end of many a band.

Photos by Rasmus Ejlersen

Picture gallery can be found here

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