Flogging Molly played at the Riviera Theatre
About 2000 people were at the rock show
The jam session was awesome
It whipped a horse's ass

I went to a Flogging Molly show this Saturday and they played with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and a local Irish punk band called The Tossers. It was best live show I have ever been to.

The venue was the Riviera Theatre here in Chicago, a beautiful old vaudeville house where time has passed everything by. The antique stage and balcony facades are deteriorating, but the classy beauty of the place is still evident and belied the amazing punk rock show that was about to occur.

The half-drunk Tossers opened the show and played a very short set, much to the chagrin of the crowd who were there to see the local boys as much as they were the headliners. Their sound was very muddied and by the time the crowd was finally getting riled up the band had to leave the stage. They only played one song I knew, but it was my favorite of theirs ("Altercations").

Up next were the Bosstones. I have to admit I wouldn't call myself a fan of their stuff, knowing only the singles that were released off of Let's Face It a few years ago. I was surprised not only by how much I enjoyed their set but also that I remembered all the lyrics to "The Rascal King". There was so much energy to their set and the blaring horn section perfectly complimented Dicky Barrett’s scratchy vocals. One also cannot underestimate the power of a band that has a designated skanker.

But this is the Flogging Molly node, and that's who I came to see. After watching the first two bands from the safety of the bar near the back of the theatre, I moved down into the pit in anticipation of Dave and the boys (and Bridget) taking the stage. After an obscenely long wait, the lights finally went down again and the strains of Johnny Cash's "Danny Boy" began to emerge from the speakers. The band took the stage together and quickly leapt into "Every Dog Has It's Day" Throughout the whole show the crowd ebbed and flowed in time with the music, there was always a crowd surfer somewhere in the air and a gigantic circle started up during "Devil's Dance Floor."

Soon the stage was riddled with cans of Guinness and a huge bottle of whiskey that various band members would take a swig out of whenever they needed a little extra oomph. They were not one of those bands that just flowed from one song into another, instead frontman Dave King would interact with the crowd whenever he could, exhorting us to sing along or if only to inform us that the next song would feature the lovely Ms. Bridget Regan on tin whistle. The band blew through songs off of both their studio albums, but favoring Drunken Lullabies a little bit. They eschewed their slower and more depressing tunes in favor of playing only the most hard-rocking songs as fast and loud as possible. The crowd sang (or should I say screamed) along with every song. Even as Dave talked about the death of his father when he was a young boy and moved into “The Likes of You Again”, an ode to the fallen man, the energy of the crowd was never diminished.

The band blazed through their setlist and each song achieved a new power and resonance that could never be conveyed on any studio album. I hate to say it, but the CD’s I own now sound like only a pale recreation of what this band is truly capable of. I was also really happy to hear “Cruel Mistress,” a pounding sea chanty sung by bass player Nathen Maxwell that also featured Dave King dancing a jig with whiskey bottle in hand.

Soon the show reached it’s unfortunatly inevitable conclusion, but not before the band whipped out an epic version of “Delilah” (dedicated to King’s ex-wife "You could tell she was a soccer fan 'cause she would kick me balls every fucking night") that lasted about ten minutes and featured everyone in the place lifting their beers and wailing “Why why why Delilah” into the rafters. The show finally closed with “Sentimental Johnny”, an almost polka-like number that had band manager/trumpet player Gary Schwindt steal the show.

I emerged around midnight, completely covered in sweat, dying of thirst, and my voice hoarse from singing for the past few hours. It was paradoxically the most tired and most alive I have ever felt.