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A Gentlemen Army Redefines 'Bar Band'


Saturday evening it was warm Downtown. There was a pleasant breeze blowing down Old Main Street, and every so often you could feel it come in the front door and roll down the bar at McCabe’s Irish Pub. The Bradenton-based punk band A Gentlemen Army (AGA) was there, setting up for the night. I didn’t expect to see them so early, but it is never surprising to happen upon members of this band at McCabe’s. In fact, some patrons have come to associate AGA with the bar.


A Gentlemen Army fits in there; not for any obvious reason—they certainly don’t sound like Flogging Molly; but they dress tough in black and drink like sharks and roar all night like an Irishman’s thirst for whiskey, which is how the notion comes together—it has more to do with darkness and booze than anything else. And tattoos.  


In any case, they are a fine group of chaps—all 5 of them—and it was going to be a good night. I was sitting at the bar with a 2-dollar Happy Hour tall can of PBR, thinking about the last time I saw AGA play at McCabe’s ... It was back in late December: The bar was packed and the band did a stripped down, quieter, pseudo-acoustic version of their set, and everyone loved it. Tonight they were going full electric, but not full throttle.


They’ve been toying with tones and volumes, trying to create a level of sound and fury that is more suitable for all night gigs in intimate venues like McCabe’s—which is an experimental endeavor that may or may not be something A Gentlemen Army wants to pursue further. They’ve been testing the waters. 


Of course, AGA has been playing in venues like McCabe’s since the band’s 2005 inception; but it was always traditional showcases (3 to 5 bands on a bill, 45-minute sets of predominantly original music, etc.)—now, they are providing entertainment all night long, with 3-hours of originals and punk rock covers that you normally wouldn’t hear in such a setting.


In the process, A Gentlemen Army is reinventing the ‘bar band’—which is good, because there isn’t any reason that live entertainment in local bars ought to be limited to Classic Rock and Top-40 cover bands. After all, some people prefer Bad Religion and NOFX, and the Vandals, and AGA has been giving it to them.  


“It’s a fun way to broaden the scope of the band, and engage people on a different level,” says lead-guitarist Mike Leroy. “Also, the chicks are great.” 


The people were definitely engaged Saturday night. The bar was packed and the sound was perfect; the band definitely pulled it off. 


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