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[whitespace] Molly Be Nimble

The Celtic rockers elevate Irish drinking songs to euphoric heights

By David Espinoza

ONCE UPON a time, while lying face down in a puddle of spilled Black and Tan, I was told by a wise man there are basically two kinds of drunks: the euphoric "It's all good," and the belligerent "death be to anyone who messes with me." The L.A.-based Celtic rockers Flogging Molly are of the former persuasion and, hot damn, can they put on a fine show. Playing the middle slot of a three-band bill at the Catalyst on Saturday (May 12) that included Tsunami Bomb and headliners the Living End, the seven-member Flogging Molly worked the packed house like a ADD-child in charge of a high-speed blender.

Led by the spry, acoustic-guitar-sporting Ireland native Dave King, and backed up by six musicians--half of whom were Oi boys and the other half suit-wearing Celtic-o-philes--Flogging Molly flawlessly sewed together traditional Irish melodies (played on fiddles, mandolins and accordions) with loud 'n' fiery punk-speed rock & roll (courtesy of guitar, bass and drums). In contrast to East Coast counterparts the Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly is much more refined in sound and definitely more playful. Nimble songs about drinking, getting happily drunk and drinking more are Flogging Molly's bread and butter. As King put it in reference to the 16-and-over-show drinking restriction, "We're flying on a fokin' empty tank--no alcohol allowed in here." King then took a sip of his drink and said, "I'm flyin' first class, ya bastards!"

It's probably a good thing that at least half the audience was under age and presumably sober, for Flogging Molly is the kind of band that could spawn a full-scale riot if provided with enough Guinness. Thanks to a coveted spot on the WARPED tour last year, the Molly has been adopted by legions of punked-out teens bored to tears with Fat Wreck Chords. The stage diving factor was clearly amusing to King and crew who didn't seem prepared but were entertained nonetheless when folks climbed onstage and dove off. That being said, Flogging Molly is clearly punk in ethic but not necessarily in sound.

The band's major label debut record Swagger is decent, but the real deal is available only live, where the band exhibits stunning showmanship that transcends all audiences and could make them the next Pogues. As for King, his philosophy was summed up toward the end of his set with: "Here's to all the drinkers--it's a dying art but we have to keep it alive."

Estradasphere Eats Raw Baby Flesh

Down the road over at Palookaville, local satanic pop enthusiasts Estradasphere were busy entertaining their disciples with sword wielding rituals both Alice Cooper and Andrew Lloyd Webber would be proud of. Supreme masters of blurring the lines between music, theater and new-age religion, Estradasphere donned various costumes as they introduced tunes off their latest album, The Silent Elk of Yesterday. It's always hard to say whether the theatrics complement the dizzingly highbrow Black Metal meets kitch pop compositions or if it's the other way around. Perhaps they've created the next level of spectacle that deserves its own name.

Asteroid Band

The best underground band in Santa Cruz (according to this writer) is finally about to release its debut album. Almost a year in the making, Sin in Space's Asteroid Band CD release party will take place at the Cayuga Vault on Friday (May 18). While the music is as innovative and smart as the Pixies, the lyrics are much stronger: "We run on the treadmills, we drive SUVs, we will, if you will, if they will agree--all the air was conditioned and the laughter was canned, and nobody listened to my asteroid band."

The Goth/industrial/electronica gathering known as Dominion will commence its sequel this Saturday from 9pm to 1:30am at the Santa Cruz Vets Hall. The show will feature DJs Neko, Gobo, Rodent and Greg.

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From the May 16-23, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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