Red Bull isn’t exactly the first company to spring to mind when you think about $3 punk shows, but lately they’ve been killing it with their series of Red Bull Sound Select shows. Their approach is simple: sell no tickets in advance, and charge very little at the door. This specific show featured $10 tickets, with a $3 offer for anyone who RSVP’d through Facebook or Twitter. This method creates a sense of urgency to get to the venue hours before the doors open, but it also cuts down on all of that ticket scalping nonsense, which, in the long run, is really nice. On the night of June 5, 2014, the latest Red Bull Sound Select show took place at The Bell House in Brooklyn, NY, featuring performances by Jared Hart (of The Scandals), Dave Hause, and Molly and the Zombies. You know, that new band made up of Brian Fallon (The Gaslight Anthem), Brian McGee (Plow United), Cat Popper (Ryan Adams & the Cardinals), and Randy Schrager (Scissor Sisters).
One might imagine that the line wrapped around the block for an event like this. Oddly enough, that wasn’t the case. The line was modest, barely stretching across a quarter of the block. The Bell House opened the doors to its front bar at 5:30, the room filling up quickly despite the lacking impression given by the initial line. The main room didn’t open until 7, but it gave all the early birds a chance to have a couple of drinks without having to push past a huge crowd. After a 75 minute wait in the stage room (during which the merch table sold out of most of their Molly and the Zombie shirts), Jared Hart started the night with stripped down versions of his band’s songs, some solo cuts, and a cover of Rancid’s “Poison”. The crowd was still building up at this point in the night, but those who did show up early shouted along with every word.
Dave Hause took to the stage about a half hour later, accompanied by his younger brother Tim on lead guitar and keyboards. He was quick to mention that the show was his first live performance in roughly two months and he was feeling a little rusty. Yet between his 11-song set that spanned both solo albums (and The Loved Ones’ “Pretty Good Year”) and his in-between song banter (including, but not limited to, praising Red Bull for their $3 shows, comparing himself to the titular character of How Stella Got Her Groove Back, and getting someone in the crowd to buy his underage brother a shot [Don’t worry, Tim politely declined it and Dave had it instead]), Hause barely seemed phased and easily made the hours of waiting completely worth it.
(In case you were wondering, the highlight of Hause’s set was when he started playing “C’mon Kid”. Seconds into the song, his guitar came unplugged but rather than stopping to fix it, he continued to play as the room, which had increased greatly, shouted along with him, creating a genuine sense of camaraderie. And despite the large space working against him, you could still faintly hear his strumming over the crowd.)
At 10:45, Molly and the Zombies finally appeared, launching into “Long Drives”, “Red Lights”, and “Lucky” right off the bat. Despite having no ‘official’ releases, the crowd still sang along to every word (once again, we can thank Red Bull Sound Select for that). In direct contrast to the songs and their overall laid-back vibe the room was full of energy, fueled by the 5+ hours of anticipation. And the $7 draft beers.
Openly acknowledging their limited song catalog, it didn’t take long for the band to go into cover mode, starting with The Band’s “Ophelia” (or, as Fallon called it, “Not-’The Weight’”). Brian McGee took up lead vocals during “Hand in Hand” and “Final Vow”, two cuts off his brand new solo release, Ruin Creek, while Fallon moved to lead guitar- if you’ve ever seen The Gaslight Anthem live, you’ll know that lead isn’t what Fallon is known for, but he pulled it off with a huge smile (and then a lot of shaking it off afterward). A cover of Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man” was thrown in between the act’s remaining songs.
The night closed with a final cover: Roky Eriksen and the Aliens’ “I Walked with a Zombie” (which Fallon die-hards might remember as the song he covered at the previous $3 Red Bull Sound Select show at The Music Hall of Williamsburg with The Bouncing Souls). The band invited Jesse Malin up on stage to join them, adding even more “super” to the already super group.
It would be easy to think of Molly and the Zombies as “just another Brian Fallon project” that “sounds just like The Gaslight Anthem”, but you’d also be dead wrong to think that. Sure, Fallon is primarily the band’s lead vocalist, but the band’s roots/Americana sound is equally indebted to McGee’s time as a solo artist, Popper’s alt-country background, and Schrager just being a really good drummer. There’s a lot of chemistry between the members on stage, and if their songs are any indication, off stage as well. Molly and the Zombies will likely have to take a backseat to the members’ other projects, but if there’s any justice in the world the act will be able to take to the road at least every few years. If and when that happens, don’t miss them.
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