WFNX's Disorientation concert was, of course, a spin on freshman orientation. Now that the incoming students know where the science lab is, it was time for another college tradition: Saturday night stupefaction. Headlined by Celtic punk band Flogging Molly and featuring a lineup of palatable emo, pop punk, and Britpop, this was the place to let loose.
Six hours or so before the party ended with Molly's triumphant ceilidh in a half-filled auditorium, British electro quartet Does it Offend You, Yeah? played to a distressingly sparse, seated audience. (The band's intriguing name isn't borrowed from Austin Powers with the "baby" missing, by the way. It's actually a quote from Ricky Gervais's character, David Brent, in the original British "The Office" TV series.)
Good-naturedly, the band gave a flawless performance of bombastic bouncy songs with an edgier sonic palette than the average post-post-punk-funk dance band. Wisely, the foursome kept the pace on the up-and-up, unlike late addition Anberlin, a replacement for Rogue Wave, which canceled due to an undisclosed band member injury. Anberlin played the arena show its five vamping members no doubt visualized in their daydreams. Did the band really need those pat emotive ballads among all that power rock, though?
Hard-touring outfit Alkaline Trio finally got the audience bouncing and turned the Pavilion into something resembling a rock 'n' roll show with its rousing SoCal-style punk. The threesome did return to traditional punk social values with the plaintive, driving, and rather lovely anthem "Warbrain." The song was included on a 2004 protest compilation CD, "Rock Against Bush," explained co-singer and guitarist Matt Skiba, adding, "We still mean it, but now it's rock against McCain."
There was nothing political about girl magnets the Kooks, an English pop quartet fronted by nasally singer Luke Pritchard. His obvious debt to Coldplay's Chris Martin overlooked a possible penchant to be the second coming of Bob Marley, whose little ticky dances, serious-faced feigned angst, frequent reggae backbeat to his guitar strum, and even yearning vocal cadences were injected into the Kooks' catchy pop songs.
If the Kooks' rise was overnight, Flogging Molly's was an arduous climb from obscurity. Singer Dave King went about it the hard way: starting at the top in the feted and fated '80s metal band Fastway, before resurfacing in the '90s in Los Angeles with Flogging Molly. He couldn't have looked happier fronting this formidable septet. Guitars, bass, and drums were joined at times by accordion, fiddle, tin whistle, mandolin, and banjo, as King yelled out bristling tall tales and drinking songs, along with the more traditional Irish songs from the band's latest album, "Float." It was simple stuff, but powerful nevertheless. Whoever said there are no second acts clearly never lived in LA.