Whip It Good
It takes a special sort of band to bring people out to clubs on dreary Monday evenings.
Or maybe it just takes kegloads of cheap Guinness.
Discounted grog was one of the incentives, anyway, that consistently lured people to Linda's Doll Hut a year ago during Flogging Molly's monthlong, Monday-night residency. The Guinness was fitting: the Mollys are an outfit armed with lots of furious, punked-up, Irish folk tunes—like the sorely missed Pogues, but tougher. We're talking loud, frenetic, electric guitars laced with steamy, heaping slabs of all the appropriate traditional Irish instruments: fiddles, mandolins, bodhrans, squeeze boxes, tin whistles, the whole stinking mess.
And 'tis a frickin' glorious mess. Perfect, rousing tunes to accompany either a frenzied celebration or a suicidal depression, beaten out by a gaggle of seven raucous Americans but led by singer Dave King, who really is an honest-to-Christ Irishman (either that or his accent is very well-rehearsed, Meryl Streep-style). Their Doll Hut shows always seemed filled with hordes of football-hooligans-in-training, who clamored just inches away from the band while hoisting plastic, Guinness-topped cups high into the air, taking a sort of odd, religious joy in belting out such lazy, drunken phrases as the eloquent "AAARRRGGGHHH!!!"
Since the Doll Hut stint, the Mollys have released an album, Swagger, that earned them heaps of great press. They played the Warped Tour last summer, alongside a slew of cookie-cutter, kiddie-punk bands whose market-driven ferocity felt faked, especially when pressed up against the Mollys' brand of instrumentation and fire, rooted as it is in hundreds of years of bloody oppression by the filthy, rotten, English, Protestant dogs. Whoops! Was that one of our ancestors channeling through us just then? Sorry 'bout that!
But what stands out most about the Mollys isn't just their music or their crowd's plastered, carefree, fuck-all abandon. There's also the torrid muscle found in King's lyrics, songs that brim with majestic narratives like "Death Valley Queen," "Selfish Man" and "Devil's Dance Floor." Yes, they occasionally indulge in naked, weepy sentimentality; it is, after all, Irish music, so tearstained laments about death and dying and tunes with downer titles like "The Worst Day Since Yesterday" and "Life in a Tenement Square" are pretty much a requirement. But more frequently, they spend their stage time knocking out crowds with angry, sweat-soaked, pissed-off numbers about stuff like dancing on the graves of cold, heartless bastards. Now who couldn't love that? As they'd say in Dublin, the Mollys churn out some damn good craic.
FLOGGING MOLLY PERFORMS WITH SUM 41, THE BLUE MEANIES AND MADCAP AT THE GLASShOUSE, 200 W. SECOND ST., POMONA, (714) 647-7704 OR (909) 629-0377. FRI., 7:30 P.M. $9.99. ALL AGES.
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