There I was in the middle of the crowd at the Flogging Molly show Tuesday night. Everyone was having a great time, including the band, and you could feel the floor vibrate as people jumped to the pounding beat and wailing pipes of Celto-Punk mayhem. And yes, I was in the moment–packed in amongst the excited young alterna-girls, sweaty skinheads, shirtless tattooed guys, and old punks–but I was thinking too. I had a notion, something I had been thinking about over the past year or so. That night, it crystalized. I finally knew what had been knocking around in my head for these many months.
The Clash-Pogues Continuum.
You’ve got two of the most influential bands of modern music, you see. On the one hand there’s the Clash, “the only band that matters”, one of the defining bands of the punk explosion. Then you’ve got the Pogues, who took that punk energy and slammed it together with Irish music to make something that was both and yet neither. Since then we’ve seen countless bands influenced by the Clash. It took the Pogues longer to have an impact but within the last 10 years Celto-Punk has turned into a genre in its own right and bands like the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly have become hugely popular (in punk terms anyway).
I began thinking then that you could place bands on a Clash-Pogues Continuum. The closer a band was to the Clash, the more dominant the punk sound (Rancid are the most extreme example, being as close as you can get to the Clash without actually being the Clash). The closer the band was to the Pogues, the more dominant the Irish elements. I’m not sure if there’s a band that sits squarely in the middle. At the moment I’d map the continuum this way.
You can also, of course, create other continuums. You might make a Clash-Specials Continuum, for example, for ska punk, with Operation Ivy featuring promimently. And the Ramones, with their lengthy career, probably get one of their own. You get the idea.
The Flogging Molly show was great, btw. Really good fun.