Photos and Review By Porter Byers
On a stormy June 22 in D.C. there was no better place to rock the night away than the Anthem in D.C. This includes, in my opinion, the fact that Mötley Crü and Def Leppard were playing up the road. “How about that Joan Jett though?” Flogging Molly’s frontman Dave King conceded, during one of the night’s many references to the other game in town.
English reggae band The Skints kicked off the evening with dub grooves, repeatedly expressing their gratitude to those in attendance for the early start time of 6:30pm on a Wednesday. Next up was Norcal psychobilly rock trio Tiger Army, who have been frequently touring as both headliners and as special guests since their early days at fabled 924 Gilman. Both bands ensured everything was perfectly set and whet for the evening, that is the table and the appetites, respectively.
Despite the grand finale set from the elder statesmen and woman, there was no question that a significant number of fans were there for another Los Angeles-based outfit that delights with high-tempo melodies. The Interrupters doused the Anthem in what at first felt like blissful nostalgia of the mid-2000s ska pop-punk era; but I soon realized that this was something new and original. My ignorance and age were further clarified by the number of youngsters skanking and singing along, a fact praised by singer Aimee Interrupter. Again I shame myself by acknowledging that surely many others have recognized her vocals are a perfect fusion of Gwen Stefani and Brody Dalle. This isn’t a comparison, it’s a juxtaposition that is uniquely her own, as was the band’s entire set – with one exception – that started with them sprinting to the stage and declining to slow down.
After taking the stage to the Specials’ “Ghost Town,” the Interrupters blasted anthemic opening songs “Take Back the Power” and “Title Holder.” Their set contained fun numbers like “On a Turntable,” a song Aimee said she wrote about her fridge, and plenty of high energy ska and melodic punk. A highlight for the California 90s kid in me was an Epitaph Records suite featuring teases of the Offspring’s “Come Out and Play,” NOFX’s “Linoleum,” Rancid’s “Ruby Soho,” and concluding with a full cover of Bad Religion’s “Sorrow.” It is comforting, even exciting, to know that not only is there an entirely fresh realm of ska-punk bands and fans, but that genre leaders like the Interrupters are bridging the generational divide. Their new album, In the Wild, is scheduled for an August 5 release.
There was more joy to be had when the legendary opening banjo riff of “Drunken Lullabies” brought the Anthem to a roiling boil. Flogging Molly has in no way, shape, or form slowed down during their illustrious quarter-century career of whisking fans into circle pits and commanding raised fists and loud sing-alongs. We got at least one song from each of their albums with surprisingly omission of 2011’s Speed of Darkness. There were new songs, like Croppy Boy ’98 from their forthcoming album Anthem (due out September 9)alongside staples like “Tobacco Island” and “What’s Left of the Flag.”
The spirit of Flogging Molly has always been one of light and darkness, of hope and defeat, where tales of celebration and triumph compliment those of hardship and oppression. The band dedicated “A Song of Liberty” to the people of Ukraine, and later performed “Crushed (Hostile Nations).” They closed the evening with the spirited, “Seven Deadly Sins.” To Dave King and the band I raise a Guinness and say, “here’s to another quarter century!”