Friday, February 29, 2008

...And Then I Went Home and Flogged My Molly

“And the lesson here is, if there can be peace in Ireland, there can be peace fuckin’ anywhere!” Dave King, the knot on his Irish-green tie dangling almost a foot beneath his neck, proclaimed, angling his fingers into a peace sign. King, the lead singer for Flogging Molly, an LA-based Irish American punk band, imparted these words of wisdom to a boozed-up crowd at Manhattan’s Irving Plaza on Thursday night, February 28. Then, without a trace of irony, he cued the band into a stirring folk anthem, inciting a sweaty, drunken mosh pit that physically shook the venue’s floor. Tattooed Irishmen spilled over one another, elbowing and shouldering each other to the ground and just as quickly picking each other up. An odd way to celebrate brotherhood, but hey—it’s better than family dinner.

Bestial though it seems, the mosh pit is the least-understood rock phenomenon. Ostensibly, it embodies everything that parents and censorship boards and suit-clad politicians rally against. In reality, it is a fraternal, safe bonding ground for delirious celebration. There are rules—you can’t intentionally hurt or knock down your comrade. There is also order—certain sections, usually in the middle, are designated for heavy contact, while those further out on the periphery are reserved for lighter tussling. Most heartwarming is the procedure for when, inevitably, one guy goes down and three perspiring bodies fall over him. The action around them stops (on a friggin’ dime), and other moshers pull up the fallen revelers. Handshakes and head-nods are exchanged, and the beatings resume.

Outsiders just can’t get the sentiment. Most moshes (disclaimer: anything involving the words “Pantera” or “meth addict” is different) aren’t inhabited by frustrated bikers looking to wail on strangers. In fact, the craziest moshes I’ve seen—Metallica, Audioslave, and The Vines, to name just three—were full of smiling, hopping partiers. Not quite the enraged, chaotic mess you might imagine. Last night, while Flogging Molly blistered through a shamrock romp, a man and woman slow-danced in the violence’s vortex, flailing wrecking balls wreaking havoc all around them. They were the like the sun and moon uniting in a meteor shower. I think they started making out.

“You know, having three days off in New York is a bad idea for a rock band,” King said later, eyes wide. “You can get into lots of fuckin’ trouble.” The crowd roared its approval, in the way that only rock crowds can unequivocally agree with something they know nothing about. The guy next to me, shirtless and about three feet thick (metaphor?), was looking to the sky, eyes closed and eyebrows lifted. The girl he was holding, possibly the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen, leaned softly against him. When the next tune started, he moved her behind him and threw himself like a missile into some poor schmuck in the middle of the pit. The schmuck went down, and then the missile fell on top of him. They laughed, picked each other up, and then teamed up on some other guy. The girl took it all in from just beyond the mayhem, and damned if I never saw someone look so in love.

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