Gogol Bordello - Throw Rag - Flogging Molly
House Of Blues - Atlantic City, NJ – August 4, 2005

By Mike D'Ariano


         
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Gogol Bordello

Throw Rag

Flogging Molly

All photos:
Mike D'Ariano

 

   

I've been going to Wildwood, New Jersey with my family and my friends for around twenty-five years. I could tell a long story about how grand and fucked up those trips have been, but that's another story, and if memory serves, I already wrote it. Anyway, I was sitting on my boat with a few close friends (yes, I own a boat) and we were planning a trip down to the south Jersey shore.

We hadn't picked a date yet, and were hammering that out when one of my pals stopped everything to ask what CD I was playing. I told him it was a band called Flogging Molly, and he said he loved it. Everyone on board that day fell for the band, as I had the first time I heard them about a year ago. As we listened, I remembered that I saw somewhere that they were playing in Atlantic City the first week of August. I mentioned this to the guys, and our Wildwood trip was settled. We'd go the first weekend in August, and we'd backtrack north to Atlantic City one night to check out the band.

Fast forward a few weeks, and me and the boys are sitting in the House of Blues restaurant at the Showboat Casino in Atlantic City. We were sucking down Miller Lites, eating overpriced, but really quite good cheeseburgers, and waiting for showtime, upstairs in the House of Blues Music Hall. Chuck looked at me and said, "So do you know anything about these opening bands?"

"I think there's just one, some band called Throw Rag, and no, I don't know anything about them," I said.

"Well it says here," he said holding up a flyer for the show that he'd snagged on the way in, "that before Throw Rag there's a band called Gogol Bordello."

"Holy shit, really?" I asked excitedly.

"Yeah, you know them?" Chuck asked.

"I've heard one song of theirs. It's some crazy-ass thing about people wearing purple. They're cool. They combine Gypsy music and Punk."

John and Charlie looked at each other, and shrugged. We paid for our shit and headed upstairs. When we got there, we were thoroughly searched, by not one but two security guards. They went through all my camera gear even though they clearly saw my press pass. They wanded us down with metal detectors. They checked our ID. They stamped our hands. And then they let us in without taking or even looking at our tickets. Good work fellas, keep it up.

We got inside just in time to see Gogol Bordello take the stage. Holy Shit!

 
Gogol Bordello
 

Gogol Bordello are like some kind of tripped out Gypsy carnival on speed. You look at the stage and there are people everywhere, some in costume, some not, all playing, all kinds of instruments, from guitar, bass, and drums, to fiddle, symbol, and at one point bucket . . . yeah, bucket. People are throwing shit. People are dancing. And in the middle of it all is Eugene, the band's mustached guitar playing, lead singing front man. He's running all over the place, screaming and playing, and strangling the girls, and diving into the crowd, and climbing up his mic stand like it's a tree and not just a skinny- ass piece of metal. The energy they put out is incredible, and the overall experience is well . . . Holy Shit.

They played the Purple song which I knew ('Start Wearing Purple") and a bunch of other stuff that I didn't including "Think Locally Fuck Globally" and "Not A Crime" . . . yeah, I bought their new CD. Anyway, if you get a chance to see this band, take it. They're incredible, and like nothing else out there.

Throw Rag

Up next was Throw Rag. They had the unenviable job of going on after an outstanding opening act and before the headliner. All the same, they played a strong set that was highlighted by the guy playing the washboard and occasionally singing, going completely nuts. He tried to seduce me at one point, mentioning my "big lens" and then went back to freaking out. It was fun to watch and the music was good. What more do you want? Oh, you wanted a pack of crazy gypsies and drunken Irishmen playing fusion punk rock? Well, you can't win 'em all.

Between Throw Rag and Flogging Molly, there was about a half-hour of excellent music played over the house P.A. Rancid, Op Ivy, The Clash, good fucking stuff, and then Johnny Cash came on with "Sam Hall." While the man in black sang, "Damn your eyes!" the curtain opened and Flogging Molly took the stage.

 
Flogging Molly
 

What happened next was one of those rare moments in my life. Something that's happened to me only three or four times before in close to a thousand sweaty music hall evenings. The band completely destroyed me.

I knew they were good. In fact, they were my favorite band; one that I discovered in the past year. But when they came on, from the "Screaming At The Wailing Wall" opener to the "What's Left of the Flag" encore, the band gave us everything they had and demanded we give it back in return.

I had planned to photograph them for the first few songs and then meet up with the boys for the rest of the show. I ended up watching the entire show from the photo pit with folks falling on my head from time to time as I was mesmerized by this soulful passionate band playing one song after another to perfection. "Drunken Lullabies," "Black Friday Rule," "If I Ever Leave This World Alive." Jesus, it was one of those times where you find yourself thinking, "If I dropped dead right now, that would be just fine."

I sang along at the top of my lungs and stomped my feet in time, and left the pit just before the encore feeling sore and horse and like I had just seen the greatest fucking band in the world.

For the encore, which consisted of two songs, I cracked a Guinness, stood with my friends, and toasted the band while my pal Metalhead John danced a jig. They were just that damn good.

 
       


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