The crowd was spilling out of Detroit’s, The Majestic to see a sound line-up for Mustard Plug’s Holiday Show on December 29, 2011:
If Flogging Molly and The Tossers had a baby, Flatfoot 56, a Celtic punk rock bank from Chicago, would probably be their son. They were a solid opener and had no trouble getting people to dance. Flatfoot 56 amped the crowd up with their rapid, energetic music: a piercing bagpipe, a fury of drums, a driving bass, a harmonious mandolin, and a fast-paced guitarist with a gruff, Irish tinted voice. They played songs like, “Chinatown Jail Break,” and covered Albert E. Brumley’s, “I’ll Fly Away.” Flatfoot 56 is a brotherhood and treats whatever venue they play at as home—with the crowd as family. The band was in good spirits and grateful to the people who came, old fans and new. The night was off to a great start.
Local band, The Parka Kings, was highly anticipated due to not having played in five years. The muffled acoustics did them a disservice and cloaked their otherwise peppy ska/punk lounge-like sound. Nevertheless, the group grew more comfortable with each song played as the crowd enjoyed such songs as, “Alone”—fairly rich horns with danceable beats and a sweet bass, “Pablo Can’t Take It”— harder sounding ska with a spirited guitar, and a well received Bim Ska Bim cover. Although The Parka Kings could have played with more energy, their performace was a sweet comeback for fans.
Mustard Plug played effortlessly with their usual upbeat energy and zest which was no surprise since they’ve been playing since 1991. They’ve been organizing and playing an annual Holiday Show since 2005 with a variety of other bands in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Chicago, and sometimes even Cleveland. Mustard Plug easily engaged the crowd in constant skanking, crowd surfing and stage diving with smooth, blaring horns, hopping Ska riffs, a walking bass, and an easy-going alto singer. The sound quality was projected well and enhanced songs such as, “Skank by Numbers,” “Hit Me! Hit Me!,” and “On and On.” Each band paid homage to Mustard Plug that night, but Jay Navarro of The Suicide Machines said it best, “…much respect to the mighty Mustard Plug…much love and respect.”
Detroit’s own punk rock band, The Suicide Machines, played with an explosive level of energy. The stage was decorated with an array of Christmas decorations including a brilliantly lit mobile reindeer, a gift wrapped speaker and a sparkling tree. These were later hauled off stage by the crowd and became souvenirs—a comical addition to the musical mayhem. They were an unstoppable force with their maniacal drums, thrashing guitar and a gutter-mouthed singer who jumped around without faltering in breath. “Destruction by Definition” was played in its entirety with the original bassist from that album, Royce Nunely, who pounded on the bass as though 1996 was only yesterday. Their song, “Islands” was successfully played by a guest guitarist of the age of 19. “Hey” and “Vans Song” had three improvising guest trombonists from The Parka Kings, Mustard Plug and We Are The Union and they did a hell of a job. The Suicide Machines played a five set encore and ended it with the earlier requested “D.D.T.” It was a killer night.