Photos and Review by: Daniel Merlino
Author’s Instagram: merlinofotografia
Date: March 8, 2023
Location: Diamond Ballroom, Oklahoma City, OK
THERE ARE TIMES when you whimsically try to guess how a band or artist will sound based upon inconsequential details – such as the type of clothing worn or the type of instruments in-hand – and sometimes your guess is accurate. If a band walks on stage resembling Viking warriors wielding specific guitar brands associated with most of the heavier genres of music, you will more than likely be in for a brutal metal show. Although it would be quite a surprise if they specialized in Polka. Setting the obvious example aside, when Skinny Lister walked on stage I expected laid-back folk for a relaxing start to this evening. All expectations went out the window as the first chord slammed into the crowd.
Formed in 2009, SL crafted their sound in the folk clubs of Greenwich in London, England. They unleashed an exuberance of energy and a wall of sound seemingly impossible to originate from the source upon the stage. Playing a mixture of folk, shanties, and adventure songs, they displayed nothing short of punk rock spirit. I look forward to following their music and career as they continue their journey.
Some of my greatest life-molding moments have revolved around skateboarding and music. Many of those skate sessions were spent rolling alongside a stereo blasting Anti-Flag. They started playing around 1988 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and have regularly released music since 1996. Politically charged and outspoken advocates for progressive movements, their encouragement of young people to vote resulted in commendation from a US Representative in 2004.
AF charged the stage under darkness and built tension under deep red lighting. They erupted with power and raw energy throwing guitars overhead, launching off of the stage monitors, and high-jumping through the air. The crowd responded in-kind through mosh pits and circle pits with explosive roars. AF shared genuine moments of gratitude and hilarious quips. Nearing the end of their set they introduced Rob Rushing, the creator of Punk Rock Saves Lives – a music non-profit described as, “a catalyst at events allowing the punk rock community to start focusing on health and wellness…human rights, and equality.”
They closed their set with a medley of incredible punk rock songs spanning The Ramones, Sex Pistols, Green Day, The Clash, and Black Flag. Hopefully, they continue to inspire current and future generations to increase political awareness and to keep punk rock alive.
Originating in Los Angeles in 1995, Dave King brought traditional Irish folk instruments and LA musicians together to form the Celtic punk band Flogging Molly. They derived their name from the LA pub, Molly Malone’s, where they frequently played. I discovered FM around 2003 following the earlier release of their Drunken Lullabies album. Admittedly, I only found them because I was a fan of Matt Hensley as a professional skateboarder; I had no clue he also played the accordion in FM.
The audience welcomed them with enthusiastic cheers and excitement. How did they sound after nearly 30 years of a career? Perfect. As good as their studio recorded albums sound, FM’s live show is something bigger, stronger, and somehow better-sounding. Not taking anything away from their studio albums, but their music as-performed just fills you with joy, sorrow, and reverie.
Catch Skinny Lister, Anti-Flag, and Flogging Molly on tour for the rest of March in the U.S. and then picking back up in May in the United Kingdom.
As always, please help keep the magic of music performance alive by supporting your local musicians, artists, and venues.
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