Irish Eyes are Smilin’view image
Luck brings Flogging Molly to the WOW
BY TIM O’ROURKE
Around 35 million Americans claim Irish heritage. On St. Patrick’s Day the 156-mile Chicago River gets dyed green and it seems every other corner bar is an “Irish pub.” So it isn’t hard to see why an Irish/American, punk/folk band with a habit of downing Guinness onstage has a rabid fan-base here in the States.
But it isn’t just an Irish heritage gimmick that makes Flogging Molly one of the most successful bands touring today. These guys (and a gal on fiddle and tin whistle) put on one hellofa stage show and play music that makes you want to pick a fight with a bouncer one minute and has you crying in your stout the next.
This seven-piece outfit is known for raucous shows fueled by beer, loud guitars, beer, fiddles, flailing body parts, beer, accordions, banjos, beer and a unique combination of sound and energy that is both feverish punk and traditional Irish. But the message isn’t really unabashed excess in that stereotypical Irish way. “Screaming at the Wailing Wall” is a critique of Bush’s warmongering and “Tobacco Island” speaks of 17th century Emerald Isle residents who were shipped to Barbados and forced into slavery.
Singer/songwriter/guitarist Dave King is the undisputed leader of Flogging Molly and the source of the band’s Irish roots. Born in Dublin, King’s childhood was filled with music – his parents and their friends used to return from the pub and fire up traditional Irish instruments like the fiddle, mandolin, tin whistle and spoons.
But King needed to rock, and spoons and fiddle weren’t cutting it. “As you get older, you want to pick up electric guitars and play loud. You rebel against those traditional elements,” King said in a press release. Yet he and the band haven’t abandoned those elements, and that’s what makes this music special.
Yes, they’re special, and yes, they’re busy. A year after releasing their third studio album, Within a Mile of Home, King and his mates are jumping the ponds in both directions for a tour that started in California, moved on to Japan, comes back to the U.S. (including a stopover here at the WOW Hall). It culminates in Ireland and other European stops.