This was by far one of my favorite lineups of the year. While the featured bands played different styles of punk rock, they could not have been more perfectly paired! Both bands were nonstop high energy, from the opening beats to the closing notes. It was my first time attending a show at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino pool in Las Vegas and I have to say, it was, without a doubt, one of the coolest places I have ever seen a show. The stage is set out in the middle of the pool! You can stand in knee-deep water and watch the bands or stand on the white sand beach towards the back. Or, you can jump into one of the most unique mosh pits I have ever seen and soak yourself senseless. Regardless of where you decide to watch, you get a great view of the stage and awesome sound for an outdoor venue.
The dual headlining show began with The Interrupters.
I have seen The Interrupters play about a dozen times, from the tiniest of clubs like the Glasshouse in Pomona, California to their show at Dodger Stadium on the Hella Mega Tour with Green Day and Weezer. I already mentioned that both bands are high-energy and that is no joke… The Interrupters never stopped moving and dancing. They never stopped interacting with the fans. And, what I find one of the most pure and endearing things about them, they never stopped smiling! Whenever you see them play, you get the sense that no matter the size or location of the venue they are in, they are overwhelmed with joy to play there. The band is a family, literally, made of up of three brothers (the twins Jesse and Justin, and older brother Kevin), and the ever-incredible Aimee Interrupter, who is married to Kevin. I have had the pleasure of meeting and interacting with the members of the band due to my son having a connection with them. I can tell you from personal experience, the joy portrayed onstage is absolutely who they are in real life. They are truly some of the nicest and most genuine musicians and people I have ever met.
Being a dual headlining show, the set The Interrupters played was a wee bit shorter than their typical set, but it was nonetheless both powerful and fantastic. Their personalized brand of ska punk just makes you want to dance along with them and sing at the top of your lungs. Their set included songs “Raised by Wolves” and “In the Mirror” from their new album, In The Wild. Both songs are deeply personal expressions of history and are cathartic, but both are incredibly upbeat and were performed to perfection. They did a cover of Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy” and it was the perfect ska punk song. BTW, rumor has it that when they recorded their cover of the song, they did it live in studio and nailed in one take! But, I digress. The rest of the set included some of their best songs, including “Take Back the Power”, “On a Turntable”, “By My Side” and “Gave You Everything”. These songs are so good on their albums, but are even better live. The band members dance, spin, jump, smile and encourage the crowd to join in. They preach a message of love and inclusion, which always brings cheers. When their set comes to an end, I am always left counting the days until the next time we get to see them. Next time they come to your town — go!
Flogging Molly was the second-in-line headliner of the night. Like The Interrupters, Flogging Molly hit the stage and was nonstop until the closing beats. The Celtic punk rock band brings the fire every single show. Ironically, the first time I saw them play was also in Las Vegas and also in a pool at the Aria. The band hit the stage and immediately began their set with “Drunken Lullabies”, which got the crowd dancing and moshing… in the pool.
I have seen a lot of pits in my time, but I have never seen a circle pit in the pool.
Frontman Dave King noticed and commented on that as well, which got the pit even more hyped. There was just something spiritual for a Celtic punk like me to hear the tin whistle, accordion, banjo, fiddle and mandolin paired with driving power chords on guitar. And when King counted down “one, two, ‘tree’”, it was game on! I was really excited to hear the band perform songs from their new album Anthem, which I had the absolute pleasure to review.
They played “These Times Have Got Me Drinking”, “A Song of Liberty” and “The Croppy Boy ’98”; these just so happen to be the best songs on the album in my opinion and are even better live. The power of each song’s message shined through like the first light at sunrise with the energy of the band onstage. I was thrilled when they played “Float”: while a much slower paced song than almost everything else in the rest of the set, it was an obvious must while playing on a stage in the middle of water. They played some of my absolute all-time favorite Celtic punk songs, like “Devil’s Dance Floor”, “If I Ever Leave This World Alive”, “What’s Left of the Flag” and “Seven Deadly Sins” (their closing song). It was great, even as ‘the old guy’ to jump into the circle pit in the pool and mosh with a few other punks like myself.
By the end of the show, I was completely soaked.
Just like every time Flogging Molly plays, they absolutely sounded amazing and put on one hell of a show! Like I said, they never stopped moving. They are interactive, as Dave is a great storyteller. This show was the closing show of their tour and they really gave it their all, leaving everything on the stage. Seeing them again has me really tempted me to join them on their forthcoming Salty Dog Cruise, too! As they began their walk off, they had the members of The Interrupters and Tiger Army join them onstage to dance together to the Monty Python classic, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”. It was the perfect ending to a night filled with smiles, nonstop dancing and awesome music!
Photography by Shane Pase