FAIRBANKS — Post-punk. Celtic rocker. Irish grunge.
There’s really not one category you can put Flogging Molly in because the band defies description — it’s Irish goes punk by way of Los Angeles. And it works.
The band is far from traditional; blends of mandolin, accordion and even a bodhran merge with electric guitar, bass and percussion to help belt out raucous rhythms their fans love. Couple that with socially conscious lyrics that touch on today’s economic and political culture, and you’ve got the makings of an influential group not afraid to speak up about the world as they say it.
Flogging Molly fans will get to hear that influence in person this weekend when the band takes the stage at The Blue Loon for two sold-out performances. The group initially was booked for one performance, Saturday night, but tickets sold out so fast that The Blue Loon owner Adam Wool quickly orchestrated a second performance on Sunday night. Those tickets went fast, too.
“There are two things about The Loon,” singer Bob Schmidt said from his home in Boulder, Colo. “It’s a great, small-sized club and you get to be so close to the crowd. The crowd is so diverse, from university kids to Native Alaskans to miners to pipeline workers. It’s people who you wouldn’t think would be in to you. It’s a great experience.”
The appearance at The Loon marks a return to Fairbanks for Flogging Molly — they played here about seven years ago — and this trip up, the band also is playing Anchorage for the first time.
“It’s more fun going to of the track places,” Schmidt said. “The reaction is a little better than cities that get major concerts every weekend because the fans are more appreciative of live music. That’s a great show.”
Concert-goers this weekend are likely to be hit with tunes off the bands latest album, “Speed of Darkness,” which are rife with social implications. The track the “The Power’s Out” touches on issues akin to the Occupy Wall Street movement, with the in-your-face lyrics the group is known for: “The power’s out, like this economy/The power’s out, guess it’s par for the course/Unless you’re a bloodsucking leech CEO.”
Band members all live in the United States, but lead singer Dave King splits his time between Ireland and Detroit. It’s there, in Detroit, that King saw businesses and fans touched by the economic downturn.
“I write from my surroundings,” King wrote on the band’s website. “I wanted people who’ve lost their jobs to know I was paying attention. We’re singing for them, all of these good people brought to their knees.”
With fans losing jobs and businesses across the nation closing, Flogging Molly saw that as personal, Schmidt said.
“We saw that those voices needed telling as well. We touch on issues that happen in politics, issues that are a realistic basis. That is the experience of life,” Schmidt said. “We’ve got a great fan base and a great crowd that allows us to be personal with them.”
And it’s not just issues in the United States that the band takes up — they’ve even gone international.
Member Bridget Regan took to the band’s website to show support for Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist punk band whose members were were arrested in March and convicted in August of hooliganism for protesting the re-election of President Vladimir Putin by performing at Cathedral of Christ the Saviour Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow.
“What the band did was essentially a peaceful protest and not something motivated by religious hatred or hostility as the prosecution suggests,” Regan wrote. “In fact, if you believe in any sort of religious nonsense, what they did was quite rational in going straight to the Virgin Mary herself and asking her for assistance in a cause in which they strongly believe they need help: to drive Putin away ... The music world is seriously lacking in not only women, but women who are willing to make a statement. By making a statement I don’t mean fashioning a dress out of meat, or exposing your 53-year-old arse cheek to a crowd of unsuspecting innocents, I mean a real moral or political statement ... The world needs more Bjorks, more Patti Smiths, and dare I say it, more Pussy Riot.”
Societal issues aside, the band isn’t all deep thought and stream of consciousness. They’re also about having a good time on stage and putting on an unforgettable show.
“We’re not a traditional band,” King wrote on the band’s website. “We are influenced by traditional music and inspired by it, but without question we put our own twist on it.”
And Schmidt admits the band as been lucky in their longevity on the music scene.
“Our fans have been there through it all,” he said. “Fast, slow, the whole spectrum of emotion. It makes us the band that we are.”
If you go
• Saturday and Sunday at The Blue Loon, 2999 Parks Highway
• Doors open at 9 p.m. for Saturday’s show and at 6 p.m. for Sunday’s show
• Tickets have sold out for both performances
A look at the band: Flogging Molly
• Dave King: Vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bodhran
• Dennis Casey: Electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals
• Matthew Hensley: Accordion, concertina, piano, vocals
• Nathen Maxwell: Bass guitar, vocals
• Bridget Regan: Violin, tin whistle, classical guitar, uilleann pipes, vocals
• Bob Schmidt: Mandolin, mandola, tenor banjo, five string banjo, vocals
• George Schwindt: Drums, percussion
Contact Features Editor Gary Black at 459-7504 or on Twitter at @FDNMfeatures.>/em>