Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Live music field trip: Dropkick Murphys

DKM CIT took a field trip on Monday night to House of Blues to see Boston-based Celtic-punkers Dropkick Murphys. The short version: A+, with a bit of AP credit putting the GPA well over 4.0.

Zowie. That’s what a rock show is supposed to be like.

As is becoming tradition around here, a few words on the venue first. I had not been to HoB prior, and was pleasantly surprised by the whole thing.

Dinner prior was good to very good – standard pub fare but better than most. Beer was cold, if not terribly cheap. The only ding on the restaurant was price. And perhaps noise. We were there to see a punk band, so noise isn’t really a problem, per se. However, there was a bit too much late 90’s Top 40 turned up to 11. Could have done without that.

The show hall is a good setup. The open floor area has a couple of bars, and enough room to get out of the way if the action in front of the stage gets to be too much. The balcony is right on top of the stage. I couldn’t see a lot of it from our vantage point on the floor, but the first few rows of the balcony are certainly top-notch seats.

But, seriously, who goes to a Dropkick show to sit?

One other thing about HoB – we got out of the place in no time. I was shocked and pleased with how quickly we were able to clear the hall, get outside, and get the car. We were on the freeway and headed home within 15 minutes of the last cymbal crash. Amazing.

We missed the first act of the evening, who must have been on stage for every bit of 15 minutes. We did catch most of the second band, a punk-bluegrass (I think) outfit who called themselves Larry and His Flask. Loved them! What they lacked in skill they made up in enthusiasm. As a group, they set new facial-hair records. All of them looked like they had spent the last six months in the Canadian Rockies hunting moose. Two of them were, I'm pretty sure, only partially human. The maniac playing the stand-up bass like it was a ukulele was distinctly chimp-like, and one of the guitarists was a dead-ringer for a Geico caveman.

I think I’d like to see Larry and His Flask in a different setting. Maybe an outdoor one, where the mayhem wouldn’t be too difficult to take. I sure wouldn’t want to see them in a small venue. I’m fairly certain the walls of a place like the Barley House would collapse from the antics inside.

They were cray-zee. But entertaining.

After a reasonable break, it was Dropkick time. They started loud and fast, and just kept going from there for the next hour and a half.

I haven’t been in GA at a rowdy show in some time, and had forgotten all about the initial surge when the band starts. What must have been 25 rather strapping lads pushed right the f*** past us at the first note. I managed to sidestep the worst of it, but one of our party wound up wearing his beer. I had a moment of old-guy “WTF!?!?!”, then remembered where I was and went with it.

The moshing (if we still call it that) was, I suspect, pretty tame by usual Dropkick standards. Some mild crowd-surfing and a bit of pushing and shoving continued through the entire show, but it was restricted to front and center. Our spot, approx 10 feet from the stage but off to the left a little, was very calm, with everyone around us just having fun jumping up and down and shouting along with the songs.

DKM played most of the hits – I missed “The Worker’s Song”, but they included pretty much everything else. Maniacal lead singer Al Barr continuously charged off the stage and into the personal space of those gathered front and center. The rest of the band put as much energy into the songs as the screaming crowd did. By the end of the show, I was drenched with sweat and flung beer and laughing my head off.

Highlights? Heck, take your pick. “State of Massachusetts” was the first real sing-along number. Nearly all of the women from the floor climbed up on stage to sing “Kiss Me, I’m @#$@-Faced” – there were a lot more women in attendance than I expected. The bring-the-house-down finale was “Shipping Up to Boston”, with the crowd bellowing the few lyrics out, drowning Barr’s gravelly roar.

It was all great.

DKM’s next album, which will be released this year, was recorded live in Boston over St Paddy’s week last year. Go get this album and the DVD. These guys work their a**es off on stage, put on a great show, and I can only imagine what a Boston, St. Patrick’s Day crowd must be like.

To sum, then: I loved everything about this show: Venue, opening act, headline act, and the entire show experience. Go to HoB, go see Larry and His Flask somewhere safe, go see DKM. And rock on!

Oi! Oi! Oi!

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