nathen maxwell

Dave King from Flogging Molly thinks my hat is stupid (and other life lessons)

(Not my typical blog post so bear with me)

A little over a week ago out here in the states we celebrated the time-honored tradition of Thanksgiving. And as many can attest this day was inevitably followed up by Black Friday. But for those of us who’d rather not face the storms of people getting all “Hunger Games” over a TV, we wait it out until Cyber Monday.

This is the allotted day when I tend to get most of my X-Mas shopping taken care of. And the time had come to find that perfect gift for my girlfriend of nearly 3 years. As a writer, Brittany’s not exactly a techy sort of person, so most of the Newegg/Best-Buy/Tigerdirect options were out the window. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past three years it’s that she’s a massive, long-time fan of Flogging Molly. So armed with my new found inspiration I did some hunting around the interwebs to check tour dates and see if they had any upcoming shows out here in Denver. December 9th. Ogden Theater. 8pm. A little early for Christmas perhaps but I had hopes it would be appreciated all the same. 

Now just to set the record straight, I’ve been aware of Flogging Molly for several years. Their first album was released at the tail end of my 4th grade education, so by the time I hit middle school “Drunken Lullabies” had become something of an anthem for a handful of kids walking the halls of Powell. And while I liked the track bearing the same name I never really picked up the rest of their music. I was too far in league with the hip hop crowd at that point to allow other genres onto my radar. (Don’t worry I’ve branched out since then)

Fast forward to last night and Britt and I are at the Ogden Theater down on Colfax, standing front row, stage right, above the pit, at my very first Flogging Molly concert.

It was pretty obvious standing in line, on a Tuesday night, in a crowded Denver street surrounded by beard-clad fans in kilts and newsboy caps, just how deep the culture of this band and their legacy has grown over the years. And while I was thoroughly out of my element I could still take comfort in knowing that Britt and I were about to have a pretty damn good time.

First up was the Pasadena Band, followed by The Mighty Stef. I have to say it was pretty incredible to see and hear from their own accounts just how influenced these two bands were by the headliner. It’s hard to quantify but they were simultaneously everything I expected from this punk irish genre and not at all. There was a depth to their words that encapsulated the good times and the struggle both at home and abroad. A fitting opener for what was about to come.

2 hours in, with a packed house and 10pm bearing down on us it was time for Flogging Molly to take the stage. The 7 member ensemble rushed out to a surge of applause and shouts from the crowd that was nearly deafened by their very first note. They had a presence and power that was rivaled only by the moshing and crowdsurfing of the people in the pit below. This was the time when I realized how addicting their shows could be. The sound and energy of the band and everyone in the concert hall all pounding in sync. As an illustrator working in the entertainment industry, I couldn’t help but admire the color, music, and showmanship that Flogging Molly brought to the fore, and above all else the sheer loyalty of all their devoted fans. This is the kind of stuff that fuels my work in the visual realm. It’s a treat getting to see creators in their element doing what they love and getting amped off the feedback of others. In the best way possible, each musician was steeped in this energy and became an act unto themself. It was a battle for attention that made my focus dart from one artist to the next, and in that moment I was hooked.

This was also around the time when I started to become very self-aware of just how few lyrics I actually knew. While I was stomping and clapping alongside Britt and the rest of the crowd, I was not however, singing. Eeeevvveeerryyyybody else in there was screaming back those Irish chants verbatum but me…I made it about 80% of the way through Drunken Lullabies and remained silent for the rest of the show, doing my best to blend with the crowd. I suppose that didn’t sit too well with the lead singer of the band Mr. Dave King, who near the end of the night decided to pause the show and call me out -Forgive me as I try my best to recite his poignant remarks :)

“Alright, dis mother f***er right here…” (now pointing in my direction) “…He’s da tallest one in the room…” (I’m just over 6'3") “…and he hasn’t been singing all NIGHT!!”


I think he noticed :/

I look down at Britt and she grabs my arm, and just starts laughing. I could feel the rest of the 1,600+ Ogden theater eyes on the back of my head now. People in the pit below stopped shoving one another to turn and look up at the man who dared to enter their hallowed ground. And in case there was any confusion as to who people were supposed to be glaring at in this single most concert-stopping moment, Dave gave them a little help: “Now I’ll tell you something. If YOU sing along to these last few songs I’ll buy you a new hat! Because the one yer wearin’ is just fuckin’ stupid.”

I couldn’t help but break down and laugh, throw my hands in the air and just start clapping. I’d like to think that the rest of the audience did too, but in all honesty I was too stunned to even notice. The show raged on for another couple songs and, needless to say, aside from a few newly learned chorus’ on Seven Deadly Sins and If I Ever Leave This World Alive I was forced to mouth noiselessly under the scrutiny of the crowd for the remainder of the night.

All in all I’d have to admit, a little over a week ago my hope was that Brittany and I would leave this show with an experience; something she could take with her that might carry over for the next few weeks until X-Mas rolls around. But I think we instead left with something infinitely more valuable, a story to tell and a lesson learned:

If you’re gonna stand in the front row, you BETTER know the lyrics.

To Dave, Bridget, Matt, George, Bob, Nathen, and Dennis, I thank you all for a kick ass night and I look forward to ending my Flogging Molly virginity by cranking Swagger for the rest of the day. There may be a few lines I need to brush up on ;)


P.S. My head is 22 7/8" around, and Christmas is right around the corner, Dave…

Because we listen to music and don't watch music videos enough, apparently

So Jay and I went to the Flogging Molly show this last weekend in Indy, and we stopped to eat at some Tavern advertising good fucking chili. The place was insanely packed, the chili was great, and Jay went to use the restroom before we headed to the venue. This guy walks in, sees the open bar stool, and asks if he could sit next to me- I apologise and tell him it’s my boyfriend’s seat. He’s real cool about it, then Jay comes back and we all get to talking; Jay asks if he’s been there before, guy says yes, Jay suggests the chili and then the guy tells us where to find the chili dog on the menu… since it was under frankenfurter, we hadn’t seen it. We all talk for a couple minutes, Jay offers to let him snag our bar stools so he doesn’t have to wait for one, he thanks us and we tell him we have to get to a show. We tell him it’s Flogging Molly, he says he’ll see us there, awesome we all say bye.

We get to the show and see him with a bunch of girls, Jay waves at him and says “That’s the dude from the bar” and dude laughs and we go on with the night.

… Then Flogging Molly gets on stage and I notice the guy with the bass is wearing the same damn hat as the guy from the bar… and the same vest… and same shirt… so we rampage our way to the front and see that he also has the tattoo on his hand… and we had just been chillin with Nathen Maxwell, the bassist for Flogging Molly, and didn’t even know so we could snag a picture or something. Cool. Hahhaa.

But yea also the show was fucking awesome.