I had no idea what I was in store when I went to the Flogging Molly concert Sunday night at the Grand Sierra Resort. I knew what they sounded like – Celtic punk, fast paced and upbeat – but they brought two other bands that fit right into that mood. Who knew?
The first act out of the gate was a Dallas-Fort Worth-based group called Vandoliers. They sounded like a seed dropped from the Flogging Molly tree. On their website their sound is described as a mix of youthful and defiant punk, rugged red dirt country and vibrant Tejano. They were great.
Next was Russkaja (ЯUSSKAJA), from Vienna, Austria. They are a ska punk band with a great sense of humor and refer to their sound as Russian turbo polka punk. They started with the band playing an intro song and the lead singer running on from the wings, smiling and waving to the crowd, and he kept going off the far side of the stage.
Their membership comes from many European countries. At one point in the show the lead singer (from Russia) and the bass player (from Ukraine), arms over each others’ shoulders, spoke together of their mutual hatred for the war. This too was a great band.
When Flogging Molly was about to come on I went down front to the open pit area where the standing crowd was. That was a mistake for taking pictures. I had only taken a few shots when an exuberant fan bounced off of my lens rendering my camera inoperative. I retreated to a safe location, got my camera working and continued on with the festivities – elsewhere.
“If you’re enough lucky to be Irish… You’re lucky enough!“
– Irish Proverb
As luck would have it, we had Flogging Molly three days after St. Patrick Day, and the party was still in progress. They started with the frantically paced “Drunken Lullabies” off of their second album, getting the feet stomping and the room shaking right away.
There was nary a moment when the tempo was not at a fevered pace all night long. At 60 years old, founding member and lead vocalist Dave King had his hands full keeping the momentum up. The whole band was very active and animated in their gestures and antics. They put on a very entertaining show. Peace signs were more the theme than devil horns at this show.
Their authentic Celtic sound is the result of gifted musicians playing traditional Irish instruments such as tin whistle, bodhrán, accordion, plus concertina, banjo, spoons, and violin along with all of the usual suspects.
As referenced above, the crowd was in high spirits from the outset. It looked like the room was full of “Peaky Blinders” extras with all the Irish flat caps and double fisted brews. The theater wasn’t full (which was a shame), but that just left a little extra wiggle room for dancing. I wished I had a pause button so I could have made some calls to get some friends down there. People were on their feet all night. Maybe not the same people all the time, but there was not a moment when there weren’t people dancing.
It was truly a magical evening, and the fun was palpable. All three bands killed it. We had Texas, Europe and Ireland represented on our stage right here in Reno, Nevada. Having never heard of the first two bands, I now have some exploring to do. It really feels like live music is back for good. Let’s hope so at least.
“There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary.“
– Irish proverb
Drunken Lullabies, The Hand of John L. Sullivan, Swagger, Selfish Man, The Worst Day Since Yesterday, These Times Have Got Me Drinking, Life In a Tenement Square, A Song of Liberty, Float, Black Friday Rule, Croppy Boy, Devil’s Dance Floor, Crushed (Hostile Nations ) We Will Rock You, If I Ever Leave This World Alive, Salty Dog, What’s Left Of The Flag, The Seven Deadly Sins, Tobacco Island