Dropkick Murphy’s – 2009.03.14 – House of Blues, Boston.

The annual DKM pilgrimage. The seeds of this annual event started back in 1986 or so at one of my first hardcore matinees, nearly 20 years before my son got his first pair of DKM tickets for his 5th Birthday. I was still in high school when I first saw the skinhead with his son/little brother on his shoulders walking around the Channel (or the Rat, or T.T. the Bear’s. I can’t seem to remember where the first time was.). What a lasting impression that left. My 16/17 year-old brain kicked into high gear and started running the math; all-ages = all-ages. What a revelation, huh? From that moment forward I swore that my kids would experience their music up-close and personal beginning at an early age. I had to wait until the 8th grade to see my first live music (Ozzy Osbourne, Bark at the Moon, Worcester Centrum), and even then it was from the cheap seats. I kept that promise I made to myself so long ago.

All Roads Lead to Boston

March 14th was the 4th annual pilgrimage. It should have been the 5th but last year Colin was recovering from a tonsilectomy and we had to take a pass. We decided that this year we would invite along one of his friends, and with friend came Dad. Some consider me crazy for taking a young kid to a punk-rock show, but I’m not crazy enough to take responsibility for someone else’s young kid. I hoped that the House of Blues would not be the final resting ground of one of the few new adult friendships that I’ve developed.

This was an interesting line-up, with The Old Brigade and Civet opening; traditional Irish music and all-girl street punk respectively. Given the proximity to St. Patrick’s Day and the time of day (1 p.m.),  The Old Brigade was a perfect choice to begin the day. With nothing but an Irish Bodhran for percussion I was shocked that they managed to fill the room as well as they did. For anyone who hasn’t been to the new House of Blues, the room is enormous. The perimeter is slightly larger than the old Avalon Ballroom, but the ceiling has been kicked up three stories with two balcony levels,overlooking the pit and stage. The fact that a bunch of guys with acoustic guitars, mandolins, and penny whistles could control a space teeming with punk rockers is fairly impressive.

Civet was something else entirely. Four tatooed pin-up girls walked out on stage and proceeded to assault us with a dose of traditional hardcore punk with vocals that were reminiscent of a buffalo with streph throat. I’m still confused by the performance a week later. I really didn’t know what to make of it. The incongruity of the whole thing was weird. Hot, tatooed pin-up girls on the one hand; Lemmy-from-Motorhead vocals on the other. Ah, I’m starting to get it even as I write. Had they been a band of beefed up hardcore boys I would have hated them. Damn, I’ve always thought myself above that sort of stereo-typing.

Here’s the thing with the Dropkick Murphy’s. I find that I have to look at the show from two very different perspectives. One is from that of a Dad who has built a special tradition with his son; the other from someone who has seen a million bands play a million shows. Dad loves these annual shows. They really mean a ton to me. I know they’re something that Colin will remember forever. He may decide in years to come that he hates punk rock and would prefer to listen to the stylings of Brittany Spears (he already has a soft spot for bad top-40 dance music), but he certainly won’t ever forget these DKM shows.

The concert-loving guy says, “How many times can I see the same show?” I expect that this is what it feels like for someone who sits through 5 performances of Mama Mia in a row. You can’t take away the energy these guys bring to a show, but it’s all a bit gimicky after a few run-throughs; the bagpipes, the Irish step dancers, the endless stream of slightly overweight chicks slopping up on stage for the bazzillionth rendition of Kiss Me I’m Shitfaced. I’ve had enough already. I find myself wishing they’d do something different. What I’d really like is for them to write some new music but at the very least could they play the set list in a different order from year to year?

Frustrations aside, I’ll keep coming back. I suspect that every January Colin will start asking when tickets go on sale. That’s the draw of this show. It’s family time for the punk rock set. Boston is a city of traditions and we all know that you don’t mess with tradition.


~ by spinthis45 on March 22, 2009.

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