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Flogging Molly Returns With Violent Femmes To Mesa!

Sometimes you know you miss things, but until they are before your eyes you don’t realize how much you missed them. When it came to the tour with Violent Femmes and Flogging Molly, a pair of them in the form of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes and Flogging Molly brought out that exact feeling for me. However, that was in part because I had never seen Thick or Violent Femmes before.  I was in for a treat with the four combined this Friday night.

Our openers were a band new to me, Thick. A simple name, but I’m sure the play on meanings and words probably part of the fun of choosing that name. It is a three piece out of Brooklyn, Nikki Sisti, on guitar, Kate Black, on bass, and Shari Page, on drums, with shared lead vocals.

They are bouncy and excited on stage which echoes sentiments of their music. The layered vocals give it a garage rock feel with an indie punk rock sound overall. It is absolutely music that makes you want to jump around with the pop melodies of the songs. Thick left an excellent first impression and I hope to catch them once again.

Then, of course, was a band that brings the personality and the joy with Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. A band fronted by one of the best frontmen in punk rock, Spike Slawson. The assembled Gimmes stars for this stop was Stacey Dee, of Bad Cop/Bad Cop, CJ Ramone, Dan Root, of the Adolescents, and Andrew Pinching, of the Damned.  CJ was playing on his birthday too. Everyone in their uniform pink Hawaiian shirts play with an additional hop and animation to their stage presence.

Of course, the personality and charm of Spike with a microphone can’t go unmentioned. He spent time to ask audience members the craziest place they’ve had sex and taking stabs at what actual city they were playing for fun engagement with the audience. It was smile inducing. Their covers perfect for getting any crowd engaged too.  With “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard,” “I Will Survive,” and “Rocket Man,” among many others, many in the crowd sang along. The Gimme Gimmes just reminding me this night why they are always one of my favorites to watch live.

Next was my first time seeing the long time running folk rockers, the Violent Femmes. From the get go they reminded the audience they have such a rich and deep catalog of hit tracks by starting with “Add It Up.” It says a lot when you can kick off with a huge song from your catalog and know you have such a rich catalog to pull from to finish on other fan favorite tracks. They filled well over an hour with that deep catalog of tracks.

Gordon Gano, on vocals and guitar, was expressing his enjoyment of the longest his hair has been in his life. After their last song, he did a little hair flip with his hands just reinforcing how much he liked having the longer hair. The craziest realization to me was seeing it is a core three members that perform the songs I’ve heard for years. There was an additional forth with a giant saxophone and providing additional percussion up there too. While slower than the bands around them, they made for a good time watching the Violent Femmes for my first time.

Flogging Molly would be last with what can only be described as the high energy finish to this fantastic lineup. Flogging Molly is no strangers to the Valley of the Sun, having graced us with a decade of St. Patrick’s Day shows in the past. This Phoenix crowd was as receptive to them this night as any prior visit I’ve been a part of. The pit was opened up, the crowd was singing along, and people were dancing every direction you looked. A flood of excitement came over me as each familiar tune brought out more and more feelings, reminding me just how much I missed seeing them these past two years.

The energy Dave King, lead vocals and guitar, exudes on that stage you’d think he was just a teenager with a beard that just makes him look older. He was everywhere he could run on that stage through the set. Similar sentiments could be said watching everyone in the band from Nathan Maxwell to Spencer Swain across the stage watching the pure delight in their faces as they played. The set included “Drunken Lullabies,” “Black Friday Rule,” and “The Seven Deadly Sins.” Additionally, they treated us to a yet to be recorded new track for excitement of new music coming. The night ended in the usual Flogging Molly fashion, with Eric Idle’s “Always Look on the Bright Side Of Life” through the speakers as they waved us good night. It was a close to a wonderful night of music.

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