Punk Rock Moshes into the Heartland

Dave King with Flogging Molly Voodoo Lounge in Kansas City. Photo by Josh Chaikin

Sometimes you just feel like drinking. Other times you feel like fighting. And sometimes you just want to register to be part of the national bone marrow donor registry (through Punk Rock Saves Lives). When you’re at a punk rock show, you can do all three.

Friday night brought three heavy hitters to Harrah’s Voodoo Lounge in Kansas City featuring British folk band, SKINNY LISTER, Philadelphia-based punk outfit ANTI-FLAG, and Irish-American Celtic Punk rockers, FLOGGING MOLLY.

SKINNY LISTER hit the stage first, with the Voodoo Lounge already nearly full, and plenty of fans SKINNY LISTER t-shirts spread through the crowd. They kicked things off with Wanted, from their 2016 release The Devil, The Heart & The Fight, featuring Daniel Heptinstall on lead vocals. They hit hard, and fast, and lit the fuse setting off the explosive energy that would carry through the night, with songs from all their studio releases along the way.

SKINNY LISTER was once dubbed “the hardest working band in the UK”. I don’t know if that’s due to hours logged on the road, or energy spent onstage, but the gang from across the pond left almost everything they had onstage. During Arm Wrestling in Dresden, Lorna Thomas jumped off the stage into the pit, and arm wrestled two of the security guards in the pit at the same time, winning of course. She then issued a challenge to everyone present, inviting them to test their skill at the merch table. I only saw one brave (and very big) soul take up the challenge, and it was a sight to behold.

Punk rock titans, ANTI-FLAG were up next. With new album Lies they Tell Our Children released at the start of the year, and lots of happenings in the news, there was much for the gang to do (and I’m not just talking about Chris Barker’s giant leaps), and they wasted no time. Kicking off with Hate Conquers All from 20/20 Vision, made it very clear what their message was; as Justin Sane said in a Billboard interview, “”Look, Donald Trump IS the problem, so we have to go directly at the problem.” – but punk has always traditionally skewed left.

Justin would continue his message, saying they would fight any politicians who go after reproductive rights, and those who would not help in seeking justice, before naming off people whom we lost due to police brutality.

Before heading into their final song of the night, Brandenburg Gate, the head of the organization Punk Rock Saves Lives, Rob Rushing (who also happens to be Anti-Flag’s driver) took to the stage to speak a bit about their organization, and invited people to have their cheeks swabs, to potentially become bone marrow sponsors for those who were in need (which I happily did). The group is located out of Denver, Colorado, and more information on the program can be found on their website.

Closing out, just ahead of St. Patrick’s Day, was FLOGGING MOLLY. With a healthy touring schedule that seems to bring the gang in to Kansas City every year around this time (and almost a year to the day of their last stop), there was a party in tow, and it’s easy to see why.

Some music just makes you want to get up and dance. The unmistakable Irish sound, helped by the tin whistle and fiddle, played by Bridget Reagan (who was recovering from a fractured shoulder), almost demands that one start to move. Lead singer, and guitarist, Dave King spent most of the night bounding around the stage, later remarking how nice the stage was, giving it a few stomps for good measure.

There’s a certain sense of community at a concert. Different shows have different communities, and they say your vibe attracts your tribe. The punk community, traditionally on the outskirts, are probably the one of the warmest. The mantra “If someone falls, we pick them up” was echoed throughout the night, before circle pits were formed.

There’s always a party, and when FLOGGING MOLLY is featured, grab yourself a Guinness, and I’ll see you on The Devil’s Dance Floor.

Words and Photos by Josh Chaikin

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