I deferred yesterday’s Music Monday post so I could write something about the concert I went to last night. Seeing as how I’ve managed to attend at lest 1 concert every month since January I have wondered, frequently, if it is something I should write about. Since the nominal goal is to hit at least 1 concert a month for the year (yay, New Years Resolutions!) there will be more concerts to come and I suppose something ought to be said. Yesterday, on a Monday of all days, me and my good friend Val trekked out the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ (one of the oddest locations for a moderately sized music venue) to catch Flogging Molly.
Opening for the legendary Irish punk band was Tom River, NJ’s own River City Extension and the punk/ska act Big D and the Kid’s Table. I am always wary of opening acts and didn’t get to check out either group before the night of the show. I admit, with some shame, that when River City Extension hit the stage I was more then a little distracted by the stunning dimpled smile of the blonde backup singer (she also had a nice bit of solo vocal work during one song) so it took at least through their first song until I really started to hear what they were playing. Which turned out to be some bizarre, and wholly enjoyable amalgamation of styles from southern rock, to punk, to country with influences (that I heard anyway) from bands like Jimmy Buffet, The Allman Brothers, George Thorogood (a sax solo in particular during one song was like something straight from Buddy Leach or Hank Carter), and yes even Flogging Molly. Indeed, for a relatively young band, they had some extraordinarily polished music with a sound that managed to be both big and intimate at the same time. The highlight of the set was definitely the song “Too Tired to Drink” which, the epicly bearded front man informed us in epistelatory fashion, was a song they had written the previous night. The band also gets bonus points for including a cello since it in fact the greatest instrument in the history of ever (note: former cello player here, likely I am biased). Unfortunately, the band doesn’t have a full length album yet BUT they will on May 7th at their CD release party at Asbury Lanes (in stores on May 11th) though you might check them out at Ramapo College (my alma mater!) this Friday April 30th (note: I can’t find any info on this show on the Ramapo website). Also, I apologize I didn’t include the names of the band members (Joe, Mike, Jenn, Nick, Dan, James, Pat and Sam) since I can’t place names to faces/instruments.
The next act Big D and the Kids Table it should be noted is not my kind of band. At some point in my youth I grew a mean dislike towards ska, it is more then likely a by-product of my driving to desire to contrariness (everyone was into it right around the time I entered high school), but it has been a genre a music that I’ve never been much into. Objectively speaking Big D is a damned talented band, which I should hope seeing as how they’ve been around for almost 15 years now. Their lead singer David McWane, has a lot of energy and his manic hopping and contorting reminded me of a little of Scott Wyland…though David seemed like less of douche (he also looks like the bastard love child of Seth Green and Timothy Olyphant, but maybe that’s just me). There were moments when the guitar hit some heavy riffing that tantalized my metal-loving heart but ska is a music that never lingers in one place too long and those moments of heavy crunching guitar gave way to staccato drum beats and blaring brass right quickly. They also had two very attractive svelte ladies singing back-up (and occasionally handling extra percussion) McWane mentioned their name but it escapes me now and I can’t find any mention of them on the band’s website. Again, ska = not my thing. But if you’re interested in the genre and have yet to listen to Big D and the Kids Table methinks they are certainly worth looking at.
Now, before I go on to the main act I’d like to take a moment to talk about crowd dynamics. As a frequent attendee of metal shows I am familiar with, though I have never participated in, the mosh pit. During River City Extension’s, and most of Big D’s, acts the “most pits” were full of bizarre dance skipping. I’m guessing this is skanking, but maybe I’m wrong. Regardless, I felt like some naturalist hiding in the high grass as I watched the antics in these pits. It was strange. Also of note was near complete lack of a pit wall. Most metal shows I go to there is a row of typically stalwart gentlemen (occasionally venue security) who line the edges of the mosh pit protecting the rest of the crowd and less adventurous concert goers. There wasn’t really one of that last night. This was all fine when it was just bizarre skip dancing but when the more familiar shoving of the traditional mosh pit showed up towards the end of Big D’s set the malleability of the crowd was something of an issue and saw the night’s first (though not the last) breakthrough scattering non-moshing concert goers left and right. Fun times. Things were particularly nasty during Flogging Molly’s set as the majority of the venue’s floor was given over to moshing (my friend Val got knocked the floor once, and almost a second time by moshers breaking out of the pit). After Flogging Molly’s first song Dave King mused aloud something along the lines of “If this is Monday night imagine what a Saturday crowd is like?” My response is that we’d all be dead and the Starland Ballrooms likely in flames.
Ok, Flogging Molly finally takes the stage. It had been nearly a year since I had popped on any of my Flogging Molly CDs so I was kind of going in cold which in hindsight probably wasn’t the best but the show was a last minute decision. I’d been trying to see Flogging Molly since earlier in the year, but they sold out the Electric Factory too quickly so the last minute rescheduling of this show for Monday night was just a nice bit of serendipity. I have to say that it was well worth the wait. They guys (and lady) put on a damned fine show playing songs from every album. Drunken Lullabies being one of my favorite albums of all time I was pumped that the band played my three favorite songs from that album: Rebels of the Sacred Heart, What’s Left of the Flag, and If I Ever Leave This World Alive (though my favorite song, Death Valley Queen, was not). As mentioned in the previous paragraph some of the rowdier songs had me watching the crowd to avoid certain death which certainly spoiled some of the fun. Like many bands that have been together for a long time Flogging Molly are group that has honed their on-stage performance into near perfection and their skill at working together as a group is aided by David King’s undeniable charisma at the front. All in all this was a fantastic show that introduced to an interesting new up and coming band in the River City Extension and solidified Flogging Molly as one of my favorite bands.