On St. Patty’s eve, eager fans arrived in distant Hell’s Kitchen searching for those streams of whiskey at the end of the rainbow—or at least a song about these mythical streams. People had gathered to see legendary Irish folk-punk outfit the Pogues as well as Brooklyn’s the So So Glos. Decked in green, Guinness sloshing on the floors, a rambunctious crowd began to pack the venue around 8 p.m. as the So So Glos took the stage.
The So So Glos, literally a band of brothers, kicked off the night with an edge. The DIY-punk founders of Bay Ridge’s Market Hotel looked completely comfortable on the very spacious—yet very dissimilar—stage of Terminal 5. Emphatic repetition, group-chanted lines, catchy but not cloying choruses, reverb and clever, punchy lyrics made for a fully layered sound. Lead vocalist Alex Levine brought the swagger as he instructed the crowd how to do the “Lindy Hop,” also a song off the band’s most recent LP, Low Back Chain Shift (Green Owl). Key advice? To “not think about being cool, not think about how much you paid to get in here.” (Day-of tickets were running at $70 a pop.) The So So Glos closed out the set with swinging number “Here Comes The Neighborhood,” exiting the stage with a cry of “Pogue mahone,” which translates to “Kiss my arse!”
After a brief interlude, the lights dimmed and the Clash’s “Straight To Hell” blasted through the speakers—an appropriate choice, as Joe Strummer produced the Pogues’ final studio album. It had the same effect as an echoing tribal drum beat might—hearts raced collectively as drinks were strategically placed aside the mic. Roars erupted as original frontman (the band has seen a few) Shane MacGowan shuffled on stage, decked out in shades and a full trench. The set opened with “Streams Of Whiskey.” At last, the promised land had been reached.
MacGowan played it casual, resting occasionally on the drum riser and taking cigarette breaks to allow Spider Stacy, tin-whistle player as well as vocalist for the band’s last two albums, a go at singing. The Pogues’ signature pairing of traditional instrumentals and rough, rowdy vocals hyped up the audience. Classics including “If I Should Fall From Grace With God,” “Dirty Old Town” and “The Body Of An American” proved to be favorites.
After a double-tiered encore with shenanigans aplenty—Spider Stacy repeatedly banged his head in time to the beat against what appeared to be a baking tray—the Pogues finished its performance. Accordions, banjos and kilts alike retreated backstage. Tail ends of drinks were chugged, and jackets were buttoned as the audience stumbled out onto the streets.