Motor City Muscle Review: Molly Hatchet, August 19, Hart Plaza

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Much as it was throughout the entire weekend at Hart Plaza, the crowd for Floridian Southern rock crew Molly Hatchet’s Sunday night set was decidedly sparse, suggesting that perhaps the organizers of Detroit’s Motor City Muscle Festival had been, to borrow a phrase from Molly Hatchet, flirting with disaster. However, judging from the reaction of those who did show up, people seemed to be enjoying themselves in general, which is ultimately what counts. And though the festival was generally underattended and hindered by a few issues (the weather on Friday, delayed set times, Iceage’s cancellation, Ace Frehley’s BS video shoot), overall it was a fun time. Here’s hoping they can work out the kinks and make a few improvements and that there’s more to come with a second round for next year.

Though playing to a small crowd, Molly Hatchet took it in stride, with singer Phil McCormack taking a few good natured shots at their tiny audience. “How you doing?” he asked the crowd at one point. “Both of you responded! That’s 3 out of 5!” Overall, McCormack was an entertaining frontman – a little bit over the top and almost a bit of a caricature of a good ol’ boy rock ‘n’ roller but that’s exactly what you want from a Southern rock singer. Yes, he’s almost a walking stereotype, but there’s something oddly compelling about him onstage as he roams about the stage shouting out his catchphrase, “Hell yeah!”

“No, we’re not gonna go into the next song. I’m gonna go into how awesome this guy is.” he said at one point in reference to drummer Shawn Beamer, adding that “He kicks ass, no longer takes names.” Speaking of Beamer, sure he’s a good drummer, but the most memorable element of his performance on this night was playing while his hair got whipped around by a ridiculously overpowered wind machine. His hair was so windblown, it looked like he was touching one of those static electricity things at the Ontario Science Centre that makes your hair stand on end. Awesome.

Also awesome? The dude who I saw breakdancing during Molly Hatchet’s set. I’m sure that no one except those of us in his immediate vicinity even saw him, but I can safely say the combo of Southern rock and breakdancing was one of the best things I’ve seen in awhile.

Before they performed “Fall Of The Peacemakers,” the band brought a guest onstage who McCormack introduced as Reverend Rob, a former marine. “He’s not an ex-marine. He’s a former marine.” I’m not quite sure what the distinction is. Doesn’t it mean he’s no longer a marine either way? I assume he was trying to make the point that once a marine, you’re always a marine? Or maybe ex-marine has the same connotation as the ex-parrot in the old Monty Python Sketch? In that case, then yes, I agree – Reverend Rob is a former marine. The band followed that song up with McCormack reciting the actual Pledge of Allegiance while waving the flag in a not too subtle show of patriotism. And of course he ended the pledge with his own personal flair, adding the obligatory “Hell yeah” at the end. That addendum really should be officially added to the pledge. Give it a couple years and it probably will be …

At one point during Molly Hatchet’s set, I cut out to catch a bit of Detroit alt-rockers Sponge for a bit because I remembered them having one or two minor hits back in the ’90s and it was … not good. So I hauled ass back to that weird mainstage to catch Molly Hatchet playing the piano coda to Derek and the Dominos’ “Layla.” Did they play the whole song? Who knows? I certainly hope they did. They went on to play a couple more songs before ending things off the only way they could have – with their own personal Citizen Kane, “Flirtin’ with Disaster.” Hell yeah, Molly Hatchet. Hell yeah.

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Posted on by Paul in Concerts

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