Oct 092009

Unknown openers for a major act are, almost by definition, a hit-or-miss prospect.  Which is one of the reasons why it can be such an exhilarating experience to encounter a band you’ve never heard before that totally rocks your socks off.  The Flogging Molly last week at the Knitting Factory had in store two such bands.

The first, a Motown band from LA called Fitz and the Tantrums (MySpace), takes everything I like about Motown (the energy, the vocal dynamism, the groovy bass lines) and replaces everything else with polished, energetic pop sensibilities. They are highly recommended for anyone who likes funk, fusion, Motown, etc. Hit the link to their MySpace above to sample some of the awesome.

Next up were an groovy ska combo called Hepcat.  (MySpace – Be sure to check out their version of “Dance Wit’ Me”).  Apparently they’re fairly well known in LA and in the ska scene, but this was my first exposure to them.  They were well-coordinated, talented, and charming.  They were also very high energy, managing to get a fair portion of the crowd jumping around and dancing.  They certainly weren’t doing anything revolutionary with the genre, but when the genre is one that’s as effortlessly enjoyable as ska, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  They’re truly masters of form.  They know what they do, and they do it amazingly well.

So after a couple topnotch openers, Flogging Molly took the stage.  And, continuing the momentum of the evening, they certainly did not disappoint.  They played a good mix of newer and older material, focusing mostly on their punkier, more high-energy stuff.

Highlights of their set included “What’s Left of the Flag”, “Drunken Lullabies” and “Lightning Storm” which they dedicated to Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer, and Ronnie Drew.  I was also a big fan of their live rendition of “If I Ever Leave This World Alive”, which lead to a giant round of cheesy swaying-and-shoulder-hugging camaraderie in the audience.

Definitely an awesome show.  Easily one of the best I’ve been too in ages, and probably a strong candidate for my top 10 of all time.  The combination of two brilliant and unexpected openers and a headliner who know their audience and are professional and talented to boot made for a truly epic show.  Aside from a few audience members being complete twats*a good time was had by all.

*Seriously guys, shoving people who don’t want to be in the pit into it isn’t funny, clever, cool, badass, etc.  It just flat makes you an immature jackass.

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