If it’s a good time you’re after, I have bad news. You missed the Socks in the Frying Pan concert last night. And I know you are probably thinking, “I don’t care that I missed it because I’ve never heard of that band, plus that is the weirdest band name ever.” I will grant you the point on the name. Never has a band name been quite so intriguing and mysterious. And based on the name you would never guess that Socks represents the best in traditional Irish music. But I’m here to tell you that this immensely talented band deserves a listen and you will care the next time they play in town.
Having discovered Socks at the Walnut Valley Festival, I could not pass up the chance to see them right in my own back yard sans the seven hour drive. Their set at Hoyt Sherman Place on Friday night was nothing less than spectacular. The band is made up of Aodán Coyne on guitar and brothers Shane and Fiachra Hayes on button accordion and fiddle, respectively. Shane is taking a break from touring right now so Socks is touring with another bloke on the accordion. However, with Fiachra’s thick accent and my untrained Irish ear it was impossible for me to catch his name. He is unnamed here but not unappreciated!
Socks’ concerts are a showcase for each band member’s immense instrumental and vocal talent. The speed with which Fiachra Hayes can play the fiddle is astounding and the slow build of some traditional jigs is a perfect showcase for that. "Slipjigs and Reels" was a rousing good time and one of the jigs they played in the second act left them genuinely out of breathe (Fiachra blames their adopted U.S. diet, namely, Dunkin’ Donuts). Coyne’s songwriting was beautifully showcased in his solo guitar piece written about the role of women in the 1916 uprising. All in all, perfection. Zero complaints. I could have done without the two guest appearances of the local Irish dance troupe but that is only because they danced in front of the band and obstructed my view.
Their stage presence is winning. Fiachra took the lead as chief communicator and he is a great storyteller. His yarns often poke fun at his fellow band members but are also charmingly self-deprecating. The crowd on Friday was small-ish but mighty, foot stomping from the very first song. I hope that every single person who was in attendance tells at least 5 other people about Socks so that their next stop in Des Moines is a sold out show. My only regret? They did not play "Shady Grove" and I didn’t catch one of the little socks that they threw out into the audience! Come back to Des Moines anytime Socks! We’ll be ready!