Last Friday night the UAA Concert Board put on one of the most highly anticipated concerts to hit Anchorage in awhile. Flogging Molly sold out quickly, moved to a bigger venue and then sold out again. It’s been more than a decade since I’ve attended a show at the Egan Center, the last one for me was Blink182 sometime before I was old enough to concern myself with the absolute necessity that is the hallowed ground of a beer garden. I spent the bulk of my 20s living in Las Vegas and booze at a concert was a forgone conclusion.
Which is why it was so surprising to find myself standing in what can only be described as Beer Hades last Friday night in the bowels of the Egan Center, praying they had something on tap that wasn’t piss thin beer. Since I was there on a press pass and was eager to get back upstairs to watch the opening act (Sean Wheeler and Zander Schloss) I ended up ditching the line and going sans beer after about 20 minutes.
The booze situation was heinous: you stood in line downstairs to get your ID checked, you were admitted to a room where (allegedly) they were selling beer and wine, then you stood in line to acquire said beer and/or wine, which is where you had to stay to drink it too. You were only allowed one beverage per trip through the line and since you couldn’t take it out of the room you ran the risk of missing the show if you stayed to get more than one. Then, to make the whole thing even more brutal, when I came back downstairs between the opening act and when the band went on I was informed that the beer access had been closed down altogether. Woe! Heartache! Villainy! I call shenanigans!
On the off-chance you didn’t read Jeri Kopet’s interview with the Irish punk band who’s most well known tune is probably “Drunken Lullabies” you may think that a little thing like a long beer line in the basement isn’t such a big deal.
You are wrong. I would argue that despite the bands top-notch performance, pounding Celtic melodies and rabble-rousing lyrical style this show was all but ruined by the distinct lack of whiskey, let alone the liberty of free flowing lager. My rights as a Flogging Molly fan where grossly violated by these oversights.
Okay, libations aside, this was a pretty amazing show. The band was prompt to get on stage, which is something that I am always impressed by. There was some friendly banter about it being the band’s first trip to Alaska, some mild political commentary about violence in Ireland and introductions of all six of the band members on stage. Flogging Molly’s whole schtick is drunken revelry and high energy, easily digestible punk rock. It’s a good schtick, well honed and one they pull off well. For a group that has been around for going on 15 years, performing in a pretty niche genre and really relying on tours over record sales to make their living, it’s important to note that their live show does not prove lacking.
They may not have lasers and lightshows, but what they do have is a group of dedicated professional musicians who are clearly having a good time. You know, thinking back on it, I actually take it back about the lack of booze ruining things for me. This was by far one of the better large shows I’ve seen, next time though I’ll remember to pre-game at home and skip Beer Hades altogether.
(All photos by Kerry Tasker)