It’s a cold St Patrick’s Day weekend in Boston. The pubs are full to capacity and everywhere you look is a sea of green. To some, St Paddy’s day has a different theme; possibly a pub crawl, local Irish music at one of the many pubs, or like myself, a Dropkick Murphys hometown gig leading up to the much-celebrated day. A sort of migration happens this time of year as fans descend on Boston from all over the world, braving the sometimes-harsh winter elements to join the Murphys community in celebration. The venue for this weekend’s festivities is the iconic House of Blues in Boston with the Dropkicks selling out multiple shows over several days. Also on the ticket depending on the show, Agnostic Front, Hatebreed, and Bim Skala Bim.
Dropkick Murphys are a Celtic punk band formed in Quincy Massachusetts in 1996 and include band members Al Barr, Ken Casey, Jeff DaRosa, Tim Brennan, Matt Kelly, James Lynch, and Lee Forshner. On the Born & Bred recording label, the band’s latest album 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory dropped in January of 2017.
A thunderous version of “The Foggy Dew” performed by Sinead O’Connor and the Chieftains woke the crowd at House of Blues, building excitement as the song played on leading up to the start of the show. The Murphys took the stage delivering a raucous set of working-class anthems to the sellout crowd. Known for their rowdy and frenetic gigs, the evening did not disappoint.
In addition to bagpipes, Dropkick Murphys seamlessly merge banjo, mandolin, tin whistle and accordion into their trademark Boston Celtic style of punk rock. Watching the crowd, you could witness people in their comfort zones, some deep into the mayhem of the pit, while others rocked out from the sidelines loudly chanting “The Boys Are Back” with the band. A few highlights from this show included “The State of Massachusetts” and “The Gauntlet” which clearly demonstrated what the Murphys do best – deliver high energy in your face Celtic punk rock. The Murphys ended the show in typical fashion with “Kiss Me I’m Shitfaced”, including a fan stage invasion, followed by a blistering rendition of “Skinhead on the MBTA” that had the crowd in a frenzy.
Dropkick Murphys played a total of twenty-five songs including the encore for the rowdy bunch. I can think of nowhere I’d rather be on St. Paddy’s Day than with the Dropkick Murphys in Boston. Regardless of the day, Dropkick Murphys always put together a great show, as do the fine people at House of Blues in Boston.
Agnostic Front is a hardcore band based in New York City. Originally formed in 1980, its members include Vinnie Stigma, Roger Miret, Craig Silverma, Mike Gallo, and Pokey. AF is a Nuclear Blast Records recording artist whose latest album The American Dream Died dropped in 2015.
All conversations about the hardcore music scene should begin and end with Agnostic Front, the Godfathers of Hardcore. The band’s set was hard and fast, in direct contrast to the stage setup, which was rather minimalistic, with a somewhat subdued lighting scheme. The band took the stage and did what they’ve done for the last thirty plus years; deliver a New York style musical beatdown to the crowd at House of Blues. Agnostic Front performed a wandering set of old and new originals, and covers that had a few high points, including “Old New York”, and the Ramones cover of “Blitzkrieg Bop” with Roger Miret urging the crowd to get the circle pit started. The band has numerous weapons at its disposal including Silverman’s power chords, Stigma’s cutting guitar riffs and Roger Miret’s distinct vocals, all of which were on full display.
Bim Skala Bim is a Boston based Ska band formed in 1983 and includes band members Dan Vitale, Mark Farranti, Jim Jones, Jim Arhelger, Vince Nobile, and Dave Butts. Bim Skala Bim’s latest work Musical Biscuits dropped in 2013. The band comes from a rich Boston heritage of punk and ska bands whose accolades including ten Boston Music awards, Best in Boston (Boston Magazine), and Boston Business Journal rating Bim Skala Bim’s Bones album #19 in their “Boston Top 40 Albums of All Time” list. Bim Skala Bim warmed up the House of Blues crowd who embraced their sound and veteran stage presence and made a great addition to the evening.
Review and photos by Patrick Gilrane