Flogging Molly and The Interrupters brought their co-headlining tour to Irvine Saturday night as they stopped at the FivePoint Amphitheatre. This has slowly become one of my favorite venues as the sound is outstanding for an outdoor venue; the smaller size means there’s not a bad seat in the house; and last but not least, the free parking is a definite plus.
The tour featured a rather eclectic lineup including punk, reggae, dancehall, ska, and Celtic and folk punk. The weather provided a beautiful day featuring one of the last days of cool breeze before the heat wave started kicking in.
Leading the night was The Skints, who I had the privilege of seeing for the first time. The London band shared similarities with The Interrupters and yet seemed a world apart, bringing a more reggae-based form of ska music to an energetic crowd.
Their setup is unique in that they feature three lead singers: Marcia Richards, who also plays keyboards, guitar, saxophone and a myriad of other instruments; Joshua Waters Rudge on guitar; and Jamie Kyriakides on drums. They kicked off the night with “Rubadub (Done Know)” followed by a medley of their songs, “Ratata” and “No No No.” My favorite of the night was actually their closing number, “Learning to Swim” led by Richards’ sultry vocals only to cut into a ripping rock guitar chorus.
Irvine was in for a special treat as this was the only stop that featured Orange County hometown heroes, The Vandals (other dates featured Tiger Army who did not play this show). The band wasted no time as they took to the stage and launched into “Cafe 405.” They played the cheery jingle “The People That Are Going to Hell” about all the rotten sinners at the end of their lives. Lead singer Dave Quackenbush heard the people next to me yelling out for “My Girlfriend’s Dead,” and happily obliged.
Drummer Josh Freese, was in usual incredible form as he slayed through nearly a dozen songs in rocket speed and precision, featuring Isaac from “Love Boat” on his drum head. The band dipped as far back as their debut EP, “Peace Through Vandalism,” as they played “Pirate’s Life,” and the popular “Urban Struggle,” the latter earning one of the rowdiest mosh pits of the night. Guitarist Warren Fitzgerald ended their set, as he often does, with their rocking rendition of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.”
Don’t forget you can catch the Vandals in December at the House of Blues, Anaheim for their 27th Annual Christmas Formal!
The Interrupters took to the stage for what has become a signature entrance, walking out to The Specials’ “Ghost Town.” As lead singer Amy Interrupter graced the stage to greet the crowd, the band began playing the hit sing-along, “Take Back the Power.”
I remember seeing the band in their early days as they would play smaller venues, such as the Roxy or the Constellation Room, the tiny venue inside the Observatory. They seem just as comfortable playing to thousands in attendance at FivePoint. Amy gets quite a workout covering every inch of the front of the stage as she goes back and forth, ensuring she is able to connect with fans from all sides.
Guitarist and songwriter Kevin Bivona showed a lot of energy, even leaping across the stage as he played. He provided excellent backing vocals on songs like “On a Turntable” and “A Friend Like Me.” The band is a family affair as they are rounded out by Bivona’s twin brothers, Jesse on drums and Justin on bass.
The Interrupters are celebrating the release of their fourth album, “In the Wild,” which came out last month. Honestly, I feel their music and lyrics have really matured into a more serious of an album that showcases how far they’ve come in their short, evolved career.
This is shown as they played songs like “In the Mirror” and “Raised by Wolves,” which speak about a troubled childhood and serious issues, while still being catchy and resonating with the crowd. After a set spanning their discography, the band closed with “She’s Kerosene,” their big radio hit from 2018.
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a band come out to their own music before, but sure enough, Flogging Molly walked out to a large ovation from the crowd to “There’s Nothing Left Pt. 1.” In another surprising move, the Celtic punk band opened with arguably their biggest hit, “Drunken Lullabies.”
As Bob Schmidt fiddled madly on the banjo, lead singer and acoustic guitarist Dave King began shimmying across the stage to the beat. For a band to open, rather than close, with their most popular song, they were clearly confident in their catalogue and their performance.
King, who originally hails from Limerick, Ireland, said that although they were physically not very far away from where they got their start at the Irish bar, Molly Malone’s, the band had grown in size and popularity so much from those days. The band itself takes their name from the legendary bar, where several of the members, including King and his wife, Bridget Regan, had met in the early 2000s.
Much like The Interrupters, Flogging Molly is celebrating the release of their latest album, “Anthem,” which dropped just a few weeks ago. The band played the opening track from that album, a medley between “These Times Have Got Me Drinking,” directly into the instrumental, “Falling Up the Stairs.”
King introduced the next song as, “a song that is and always has been about being positive,” and they began playing “Float.” King declared, “This one is for Ukraine!” as the band played the appropriate “Song of Liberty.”
After over a dozen songs and playing well over an hour, the band concluded their set with “Seven Deadly Sins” as Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” played during their exit.