Flogging Molly @ Tempe Beach Park| 3/17/13
I could hardly contain my excitement as I boarded the light rail last night. It wasn't my first time or anything, but I remember how insane last year's St. Patrick's Day experience was: Coming home from Seamus McCaffrey's and making a brief stop at Sky Harbor, where I bumbled drunkenly through terminal 4 to the baggage claim. I had absolutely no business being out in public, much less picking someone up at an international airport. Being the responsible drunk that I was, I at least knew enough to leave the car at home. But St. Paddy's in Tempe is crazy; crazy enough that Flogging Molly has gone ahead and declared it the best place in the country to be on the day "everyone's Irish."
This year, as I once again boarded the light rail, making my way from Tempe Beach Park, to downtown Phoenix, I heard a brief roar of applause and disgust. "What happened?" I asked, looking over at a crowd in the next car.
"That guy just spilled his flask, and licked it off the floor," a girl responded.
"That's awesome," I replied. I hope alcohol kills whatever's living on that floor, I thought.
As I got off at my stop, I looked over and noticed a shirtless guy passed out, and his friend kindly supporting the back of his head, to keep it from bouncing off the glass at every turn. The 20-minute light rail ride home perfectly reflects the events that took place at Tempe Beach Park, during the day-long concert event, culminating in a two hour set from Flogging Molly. The booze was constant. People did a bunch of dumb shit. But in the end, camaraderie prevailed.
I arrived in time to catch The Donots, a German punk band. They played a bunch of songs I didn't know, but found entertaining nonetheless. It was a bit hard to understand, given the singer's rather thick German accent. He claimed the band had to take a course in English before embarking on their tour of the States. They sounded good and I was pleased with the performance. They even managed to sneak in a cover of Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It." Many concertgoers had yet to arrive. Many more were holed up in any number of Mill Avenue bars trying to beat the unexpected heat of the afternoon.
Following The Donots was Anti Flag. I have to admit something I've secretly suspected since seeing them on last year's Warped Tour. After 20 years, I'm beginning to suspect Anti Flag has lost their edge. Anyone who's spent a large amount of time in "punk" knows the genre has changed significantly over the past decade. The harder bands have melted away to this new wave of bubblegum, at least for most of the "mainstream" stuff. Although Anti Flag hasn't entirely changed with the times, they seemed to come across as tired. Maybe it's just age. This, after all, is an anniversary tour. They played all the songs they usually play, ripping through fan favorites like "The Press Corpse" and "Broken Bones." "Turn Coat" and "The Economy Is Suffering . . . Let it Die" preceded "Die for Your Government" a bit too perfectly. The highlight of their set came in the form of The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go."
Next up was Pepper, or as I like to refer to them, "the greatest Sublime cover band ever." I'm sure many would disagree, and argue the merits of this Hawaiian band's unparalleled originality, but whatever. Don't get me wrong. They have a great sound. They seem to have a good stage presence that the crowd really appreciated. But it doesn't change the fact they came across like a Bradley Nowell tribute band. What can I say? I like new things. I just felt like I had already heard "Love Affair" and "Point and Shoot" (which wins the award for most vulgar song of the day), a hundred times throughout my life. They even gave a shout-out to Arizona band Authority Zero in the middle of their set. I found that both brazen and pointless. Despite all feelings to the contrary, their reggae/surf/punk sound was definitely needed to lull the drunken crowd down a few notches before Flogging Molly took the stage.
Flogging Molly played a grueling and altogether amazing set. Any diehard Molly fan had to have walked away in shear drunken amazement because the band jumped all over the discographical map, hitting the major works, and stuff they hadn't done in years, leaving no blarney stone unturned.
Flogging Molly opened with "Another Bag of Bricks." They worked through "Paddy's Lament" and "Revolution" as Dave King paused to sip his Guinness. "Selfish Man" from 2000's Swagger and "Heart of the Sea" from 2011's Speed of Darkness followed. "Saints and Sinners," "Requiem for a Dying Song" from the politically charged 2008 album Float, and "Power's Out" gave way to a necessary "acoustic set".
Dave King cracks another Guinness.
This all-acoustic set comprised "The Wanderlust," "This Present State of Grace," and "A Prayer for Me." Three songs does not a set make, but who's gonna argue?
The pace quickened with "Float" and "Tobacco Island." There was an immense explosion from the crowd as the opening riff from "Devil's Dance Floor" rang out. I had half-expected much of the crowd to be incapable of such drunken dancing. I was wrong. Everywhere I looked, men, women and children were flailing and kicking their best Irish jigs. This energy carried through during "Seven Deadly Sins." Flogging Molly was more than willing to give the drunken masses an encore. "Salty Dog" and "If I Ever Leave This World Alive" were the final songs of the evening.
There was no room for disappointment from Flogging Molly, who had also just wrapped an eight-week tour. They had seen to that. As I fought through the green crowd, enjoying the cool night air and basking in the aura that builds from a great show, I suddenly remembered, I still had the light rail ride to look forward to. This was definitely a St. Paddy's for the books. Sláinte!
Last Night: Flogging Molly at Tempe Beach Park
The Crowd: Green.
The Highlight: Watching a woman slip in vomit, hurl her cup of beer at said puddle as she walked away, and passersby applauding.
Random Notebook Dump: Judging from the women here, there must be hundreds of disappointed fathers out there right now.
Personal Bias: Obvious.
Approximate Set List:
"Another Bag of Bricks" "Paddy's Lament" "Revolution" "Selfish Man" "Heart of the Sea" "Drunken Lullabies" "Saints & Sinners" "Requiem For a Dying Song" "The Power's Out" "The Wanderlust" "This Present State of Grace" "A Prayer for Me in Silence" "Float" "Tobacco Island" "Rebels of the Sacred Heart" "Devil's Dance Floor" "The Worst Day Since Yesterday" "Within a Mile From Home" "Seven Deadly Sins"
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"Salty Dog" "If I Ever Leave This World Alive"