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Atlantic City Weekly blogs: Backstage Blast
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Touring as a rock star would rate among the ultimate occupations for most teens and 20-somethings, but weathered veterans can tend to grow weary of the grind, particularly those who tour long and hard like members of Flogging Molly. The band stopped at Showboat’s House of Blues last Friday night, March 13, and played to a packed, passionate crowd. Headed by Dublin-born guitarist/vocalist Dave King and based in Los Angeles, Flogging Molly blends traditional Irish folk songs (those about tilting back pints, rising up against oppression, etc.) with high-energy punk rock in a way similar to the Boston-based, seven-member ensemble Dropkick Murphys, who visited HOB in November. That combination of music genres may sound strange, but it’s addictive and the fans absolutely eat it up.

A few days before the band arrived in A.C., I spoke with Flogging Molly accordion player Matt Hensley for an AC Weekly preview. Among the subjects we touched on was the rigors of the road, and the San Diego-born Hensley, a group member for most of Flogging Molly’s 12-year history, missing out on much of his 10-year-old son Oliver’s growing up. In passing, I mentioned that my sister has a son that age and another son, Sam, who’ll soon be 18 and is a huge Flogging Molly fan. Hensley responded straight away with an offer to leave two backstage passes at the HOB will-call window.

I kept this under wraps until I was sure it would happen. When it did, imagine what you might do to make any particular kid’s ultimate day, and there you’d have it. We stayed backstage for the whole show, got members to sign autographs, and took photos. I’d never seen any show from that perspective before, and it’s quite interesting. Acoustically you’re better off in front of the band, but you get to see so much more of the inner workings of a performance from the shadows. Paramount on that list, I found, is how vital “roadies” are to the whole operation. They aren’t just crewmembers who set up and break down sets at the start and end of each show. They’re on constant call, moving equipment around between opening and headline acts and standing by for anything that might be needed. In one case violinist Bridget Regan, in mid performance, turned and signaled to a roadie that something was wrong. The crewman grabbed a backup instrument, snaked it around to where a swap could be made, then quickly repaired a broken string – all the while a song was being performed. It was an impressive, educational experience – one with an Emerald Isle panache.



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