Hey music junkies, 2022 is coming into full swing, and the events of the past two years are slowly starting to melt away, like the last snow of the winter season. After two years, more and more people have been eager to get out, and safely (as safely as we can anyway), gather for a raucous night of music. The Truman played host to Country, Turbo Polka Metal, and Celtic Punk.
Up first were VANDOLIERS from Dallas, Texas. An alternative country band, already familiar to KC audiences, thanks to their performances at Knuckleheads. I’m sure it was nice for the guys to, not only be performing indoors, but also not have the constant blow of train whistles…IYKYK.
The boys kicked things off with their single Rolling Out. The song has everything you could hope for from traditional country. Harmonizing, leaving the city, a fiddle, and of course the twang of a steely guitar. The set would continue with their strong country sound, slowly winning the Celtic Punk fans over with their moving love ballad, as one does as a Country outfit, Cigarettes in the Rain. Time was almost up, with an abbreviated six-song set, and they ended strong with their high-energy version of I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by Proclaimers, ensuring everyone was dancing, and singing along. I look forward to seeing more from these guys.
On next, were RUSSKAJA. With a mix of Russian, and Ukrainian members, the band was quick to address the elephant in the room, with a pre-show message playing, condemning all wars. A sentiment that would be repeated when Russian born singer, Georgij Makazaria, put his arm around Ukrainian born bassist, Dimitrij Miller, stating “For us, it’s really hard what happens now…we condemn this fucking war. We are the example that between Ukrainian people, and Russian people, there is no war. There is just one crazy motherfucker who made the war.”
One thing is abundantly clear though. The band loves each other, they love their audiences, and they love playing music. Part polka, park ska, part metal. All party. The sound is unmistakably Russian, and the band had the crowd with them the entire time. While most bands will make passing references to the town they’re in, Russkaja took things a step further. It’s easy to talk about Kansas City barbeque (as one should), but slipping in an entire cover of the classic, Kansas City? That’s not something I’ve seen in all the shows I’ve been to. A welcome addition, that was well appreciated by the packed house.
After a quick reshuffle of the stage, it was time for the night’s headliner, FLOGGING MOLLY. The band plays in town every few years, and never fails to disappoint, or sell out the house. It was great to see them right in time for St. Patrick’s Day.
Dave King burst out like a bat out of hell, filled with energy, and good humor. When introducing Salty Dog, Dave was greeted with uproarious cheers after, “This goes way back to our album ‘Swagger'” to which he responded with a wink “Half of you weren’t even fucking born, don’t give me that.”
Their set would include such hits as The Hand of John L. Sullivan, and The Devil’s Dance Floor, that the crowd has come to expect, as well as new material like A Song for Liberty. Things took a somber turn when the band played Crushed (Hostile Nations), which was dedicated to the people of Ukraine. While people do like to come to the shows for some escape from reality, it is good to see when musicians paying reverence.
The night was full of great music, of different genres, and bands of varying nationalities, but it worked. Music fans of all ages packed in, and revelled to the sounds, and became one. As has become custom for their shows, FLOGGING MOLLY lead the crowd in a pre-recorded rendition of Monty Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from the classic Life of Brian. And really there could not be a better note to leave on.
I’ve never seen FLOGGING MOLLY live, but I’m glad I was able to catch them on this tour. With VANDOLIERS, and RUSSKAJA, an incredible line-up of music is in store, and what we all need now is to escape a little. Just remember…
If life seems jolly rotten
There’s something you’ve forgotten
And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing
When you’re feeling in the dumps
Don’t be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle, that’s the thing
Always look on the bright side of life
Words and Photos by Josh Chaikin