Flogging Molly at the Fox Theater, Oakland

flogging molly

When I first heard the name “Flogging Molly,” I told myself that that band was not something I’d like to hear. Such a violent sounding name (although I recently learned that in Ireland “flogging” can also mean “to sell”) kept me from enjoying some of what later became my favorite songs, with incredible lyrics and tunes to which I could just Schottische all night.

The Fox Theater is an amazing venue. I saw Jónsi perform there a few years ago, and after all that time I remember the beautiful ceiling, ornate figures beside the stage, and awesome drinks (at outrageous prices). My friend and I waited impatiently as the time went, while the first band, the Mariachi el Bronx, played. Despite finals, projects, papers, and everything else I had to do that day, I gladly put all those things out of my mind for those several hours to bask in the greatness of one of my favorite bands.

Bad handling of the sound equipment aside, Flogging Molly sounded infinitely better live than in recording. All the energy I feel in their songs was tripled, and everyone (even me in row Z of the balcony) was on their feet, jumping, bouncing and screaming. It was a sea of green faux-hawks, four leaf clovers, converse shoes and the occasional waft of weed. One child, no more than 6 years old, made it through over half an hour of Flogging Molly before becoming too tired to stay awake. He got up from his seat beside his mom and camped in the center of the aisle, so he could see over the grown-ups blocking his view. He was bobbing his head and waving his arms, tapping his feet and mouthing along. I believe this young man is perhaps Flogging Molly’s greatest, and by far most adorable, fan.


What truly enriched the experience for me, aside from the flashing lights and the chance to hear my favorite songs at ear-damaging volumes, was how lead vocalist Dave King took time to introduce all other six band members, including his wife on wind and violin. He also, for nearly every song, took a few seconds to explain where it came from, why it was written, and what it means to them. I then could listen to the song and sing along, and have a much deeper understanding of their music, mainly to do with Irish history.

By the end of the performance, I really felt as though I knew the band better. Dave also took a few swigs from his jug of beer on the stage. As the night progressed, the band was full of more and more beer, and their music, if possible, became even better.

The best, of course, came last. The show ended with “If I Ever Leave This World Alive”, and they all gave us a wave and a bow, but the fun wasn’t over. Every other concert I’ve seen (and by now, that makes quite a few), the curtains close, the set lists are handed out, and everyone is shoved out the door quickly. The band disappears behind the door and there is a dull silence, and the only comfort in the end is the remaining glow of having enjoyed such a lovely show. Flogging Molly, however, perhaps in their not so sober state, turned on some music and kept dancing. People came out from backstage, jumped into the crowd, began partner dancing, kicking their legs up and doing the reverse worm. They balled up the set lists and threw them into the crowd. They showed us a side not all bands show, and it was a fantastic ending to a great concert. Oh, and they have an album called “Swagger.” How could I ever have doubted them?

And as Dave said, you’d better be listening to Flogging Molly all day on Saint Patrick’s day!

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