Seventh Annual Green 17 Tour 2011
With Drowning Men and Moneybrother
Fillmore Miami Beach
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Better than: A gallon of Guinness.
Even though it's a big boozy band of seven Irish punks, Flogging Molly is always on time. Drunk or not, Dave King and crew keep shit prompt. So as soon as the clock clicked to 10 p.m. on Saturday night, the lights dimmed dramatically and Molly crashed the stage.
By that time, though, the crowd already had three hours of serious drinking behind it. The doors opened at 7. Everyone was hustled into the Fillmore's plush interior by the venue's militarily focused security staff. And almost immediately, the beer-guzzling and whiskey-gargling began.
An hour and a half later, the musical brawl finally got underway with San Diego rockers Drowning Men, the first of Flogging Molly's Green 17 Tour traveling companions. Led by Nato Bardeen, a wiry tattoed dude who alternately strangled his guitar and pounded the electric piano, the Men sprinted through 30 minutes of bruisingly angular heartland rock.
If you wanted some kind of shorthand, you could call this Southern California crew "a leaner, less maudlin version of the Killers." But here's the major distinction: Where Brandon Flowers and his bunch of Vegas dandies can come off like practitioners of Americana cabaret, the Drowning Men strip the sound to its core, peddling pure, real, hard-won, and honest riffs.
The second band, Sweden's Moneybrother, was basically a tribute act, though. Think E Street takes a trip to Stockholm. Sure, this outfit played its own original tunes. But from the very first blast of sax and some very Boss-y whoa ho hos, it was unavoidably obvious that singer and guitar guy Anders Wendin's got a raging boner for Bruce Springsteen.
Between sets, another boozing sesh ensued -- Bud and Jameson and self-serve boilermakers. Faces became flush and hipster punks stripped their shirts off. Little lasses started doing a drunken hybrid dance, mashing together the jig, pogo, and skank. And security hit high alert, running through complicated maneuvers designed to contain the wild throng.
But there was no need for pre-emptive action. This was a merry and peaceful mob, even if it was hell-bent on good times. So when the theater went dark and Flogging Molly's introductory anthem, "The Old Triangle," rang out, everyone grew pensive, sang along, whistled, cheered, and closed their eyes. It was a moment of contemplative calm.
Then the rowdy shit started ... An otherworldly rumble shook every skeleton in the place as King and crew snatched up their instruments (guitar, bass, violin, accordion, drums, and keys) and blasted into the opening cut, rabble-rousing, hand-clapping, foot-stomping protest "Requiem for a Dying Song" off 2008's Float. "There's a government whip cracked across your back/Where the order of the day is don't listen, attack."
For the first half-hour, dressed like cool bankers in suits, suspenders, and sharp leather jackets, the septet slammed cans of Guinness while stoking spirits with both old and new songs, from 2000's sharp, brooding "The Likes of You Again" to upcoming album Speed of Darkness's title track, and back through "Selfish Man" and "The Worst Day Since Yesterday."
All along, Flogging Molly thrashed in the glow of a floor-to-ceiling backdrop depicting Detroit's derelict architectural wonder, the Michigan Central Station, with its busted-out windows and crumbling facade. (Related note: King and his wife, Molly violinist Bridget Regan, own a home in the Motor City.) The stage set shade-shifted from orange to green, purple, and grey as King rattled off sonic assaults -- "(No More) Paddy's Lament," "Don't Shut 'Em Down," "Drunken Lullabies" -- against institutionalized oppression, economic collapse, sobriety, and other social ills.
Suddenly, Flogging Molly went unplugged. "Over the years, we've kept a certain part of what we do. And that is, most of the songs are written on acoustic instruments," King shouted while idly strumming his guitar. "So it seems pretty fucking obvious we should do an acoustic set. Bring it down to a nice intimate affair." The interlude was brief, though, beginning with a song written for a friend, "The Wanderlust" and ending with another, "Factory Girls," that King penned for his 90-year-old mother.
Reigniting the electric part of the show, Flogging Molly hit a final sprint, rambling into "Black Friday Rule," "Rebels of the Sacred Heart," and a couple of others before burning through blistering versions of "World Alive" and "Salty Dog." Straight away, the mob reacted, whirling like slobbering spastic wolfhounds, tossing drinks into the air, and slipping across the Fillmore's beer- and sweat-soaked floors. It was the kind of mad, sloppy scene you'd witness at the pub on payday. And it all ended with the mournfully joyous cyclone of "What's Left of the Flag," as King chanted: "Walk away me boys, walk away me boys/And by morning, we'll be free."
But wanting another round, the guzzlers, garglers, little lasses, and hipster punks wouldn't go home. They begged for an encore, kicking off an unrelenting soccer-style chant, "Olé, olé, olé." It got louder and quicker and even a little angrier until the band bounded back out. "Thank you so much," King shouted.
And the mob got another 15 frenzied minutes -- "Float," "Tobacco Island," and "Seven Deadly Sins" -- while Flogging Molly made it home before midnight, exactly as planned.
Again ... Drunk or not, King and crew keep shit prompt.
The Crowd: Teens with mohawks, children with mohawks, Broward bikers and their old ladies, some real-deal Boston micks, and a glut of emerald green.
Overheard in the Crowd: "What do you think of the word hipster?"
Flogging Molly's Setlist:
-"Requiem for a Dying Song"
-"The Likes of You Again"
-"Speed of Darkness"
-"The Worst Day Since Yesterday"
-"(No More) Paddy's Lament"
-"Don't Shut 'Em Down"
-"So Sail On"
-"Black Friday Rule"
-"Rebels of the Sacred Heart"
-"Devil's Dance Floor"
-"Saints and Sinners"
-"What's Left of the Flag"
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-"Seven Deadly Sins"