By: Martin Halo
Flogging Molly :: 09.15.07 :: Stone Pony :: Asbury Park, NJ
With the ghostly visions of a deserted costal relic slowly fading from Asbury Park's tormented, drug-induced memory, the last year of lawlessness is finally upon us. Renovation projects for high income housing and seaside facelifts have persevered through the corruption and street crime which has kept Asbury spiraling downward in recent years.
| Flogging Molly|
The first annual Tillie Town Festival, named after the ominous face of peeling paint on the Palace Amusements Building - which Bruce Springsteen most famously immortalized prior to pressing Born to Run - is geared toward reviving and celebrating Asbury's long tradition of cultural deliverance.
"Tillie is the spirit of rock n' roll in Asbury Park," said resident house promoter Kyle Brendle as he dodged road cases being shuffled through the backstage causeway. "The Stony Pony is the only thing left around here for musicians playing the circuit." The venue is a snarling workhorse for national talent who want to perform in a more intimate environment, while simultaneously acting as the support system for the sweat and struggles of local hopefuls.
Just as the sun was preparing its encore over the Atlantic Ocean and the angels laid their symphonic explosions over the clouds, the members of the Los Angeles based Irish punk ensemble Flogging Molly descended from their idling tour bus, drinks in hand to casually meet the spotlight as Iggy and his Stooges blasted from the house speakers. Consisting of Dave King (vox/guitars), Bridget Regan (fiddle), Dennis Casey (guitars), Matt Hensley (accordion), Robert Schmidt (banjo), Nathen Maxwell (bass) and George Schwindt (drums), the band's summer road leg came to an end at the Tillie Town, one last performance before Flogging Molly retreat to the Irish countryside for the recording of their next album.
The true pleasure of the evening's performance - besides the insanely adorable Irish women roaming no further than arm's length of the bar - was a musical experience focused on the liquor soaked fuzzy haze of Irish anthems. From behind Maxwell's bass amplifiers the crowd swayed, intertwined as one free-flowing organism. Pits whirl pooled and crowd surfers screamed over a sea of denim jackets. King greeted the screaming faithful with, "You seem like a lively fucking bunch, that is for sure."
| Flogging Molly|
The set included the bulk of the 2006 compilation Whiskey on a Sunday. After the booming chorus in "Whistles the Wind," King took a moment to open a splashing foam pint of thick, black beer as he cried, "I'll crack one open for you bastards!"
This is a moment of clarity where the venue seems to stand still as seagulls soared overheard. Every defining characteristic seems to bleed through. The band took a few seconds to compose themselves while the audience's frenzy became calm. Peering back over the amplifiers, Maxwell, with a simple eye shrug, seemed to say, "Wow!" It felt like a dreaded holiday gathering when, just for a moment, all the drama and bickering ceases, everyone on the same page, experiencing and savoring the same moment.
Before the fragile bliss turned into awkwardness, the band launched into the string-driven "Drunken Lullabies." "Selfish Man" and "Within a Mile of Home" capped the set.
Opening the performance and earning honorable mention was The Street Dogs led by ex-Dropkick Murphy's frontman Mike McClogan.
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