Sometimes the planets align just right to give us holiday concerts that fans never forget. Things like seeing Misfits on Halloween or Manic Hispanic on Cinco De Mayo stick with you for life.
On any given Saint Patrick’s Day you can see Dropkick Murphys in Boston, but if bagpipes aren’t your thing then Las Vegas was the place for you this year. While most people were leaving their broken March Madness brackets on the floor in the sports book at The Cosmopolitan, the true degenerates were headed upstairs to The Chelsea to see Anti Flag and the great Flogging Molly drive them through the night and into their St. Paddy’s Day.
A venue that usually has the floor covered with chairs for comedians or more laid back music was a clear general admission room consumed with kilts and battle vests. The seats around the floor seemed like they were filled before anything else, but with the Flogging Molly fan base spanning from five years old to 105, it’s no surprise that a lot of the crowd wanted to sit back and relax to enjoy the show.
After Skinny Lister opened up the night it was Anti Flag’s turn to get the festivities going. This year brought their latest release LIES THEY TELL OUR CHILDREN to the table, and with the past few years being such a heavily politicized time, we were itching to see what the Pittsburgh boys had to say.
Opening with “Hate Conquers All” and then into For Blood and Empire’s “The Press Corpse” and “This is the End”, was setting up a modern classic when it comes to Anti Flag shows. The crowd immediately knew the “Whoa-oh, whoa-oh” in their new “LAUGH.CRY.SMILE.DIE” that was recorded with Silverstein’s Shane Told and carried that energy all the way through to “Die for your Government” when Chris #2 had to do a quick pause to make sure a… more than buzzed… fan was losing their footing in the pit. Safety first, then Punk Rock I guess.
Like any Anti Flag show, Justin Sane and Chris #2 are soberingly vocal about the current times in our country. I’ll never forget hearing them talk about 9/11 and the corrupt corporations taking advantage of us in the early 2000’s, and now when we have banks collapsing and cops killing people all over our county, their message is as clear as ever. In this fancy ballroom with rock fans on both sides of the isle, everyone can take a second to hear Anti Flag’s point of view, look back on all these fans chanting their protest along with them, and feel a movement that has been resonating at these shows for decades.
Now was the time for the party to begin. The double fisting beers around the venue turned into a double-double fisting in both hands to make up for any time you’d be spending going back to the bar over the next hour.
Candle lights were the only thing leaving a somber mood as everything else dimmed and the words from “There’s Nothing Left Pt.1” came over the house speakers. It’s such a calm entrance to something you know is going to explode at any moment, and just as the song winds down you see Dave King, Bridget Regan, and the rest of the gang enter to kick us straight into a frenzy with the classic “The Likes of you Again.”
I thought the floor was going to collapse through “Swagger” and “Drunken Lullabies”. I went to throw a beer cup away and it felt like I was walking through waves on a beach. I thought that if we could make it through those songs we’d be fine, but we were testing the structural integrity of The Cosmopolitan all night.
Irish anthem after Irish anthem was sung through “Tobacco Island” and into “Devil’s Dance Floor”. When you hear the classic singalong “What’s Left of the Flag” you start to think it’s time to head home, but missing a Flogging Molly encore will leave you like a drunk at last call feening for more. If you stayed you got to head home with endlessly entertaining”Black Friday Rule” and “Salty Dog” stuck in your head and into St. Pattys Day in less than an hour.
Make sure to check out Flogging Molly’s new album Anthem and see them continuing their Winter 2023 Tour in Europe here at the end of May.
PHOTO CREDIT: All photos by Stephy Muzio (Hayward) for ZRockR Magazine – All Rights Reserved