St. Patty’s started early this year with Boston’s now-legendary Celtic punks, the Dropkick Murphys,
arriving to a sold-out and very packed Stubb’s. I’ve met my fair share of transplants since moving from the northeast, but last night I realized that the Red Sox nation has officially extended its arm to the Dropkick Murphys. The crowd was littered with Sox, Bruins and Celtics apparel—and a couple dozen kilts to boot. Enough “B” on caps for singer Al Barr to comment that he always felt like Florida was where all the Bostonians were moving, and that maybe he was wrong.
The night started with Revilers, another Boston punk outfit. For those that missed it (and many did as a rather large crowd pre-gamed across the street at Bull McCabe’s), the Revilers bring a classic hardcore punk sound from home. Enough “Southie” accent that singer J Had’s announcement of song titles was indistinguishable to many in the crowd. Sorry—no subtitles here. Their set was solid, and drummer “Hurricane” gets his name for a reason; those lengthy arms flailing about were fun to watch. I only wish bassist Dr. Hands had a little more Dr. Groove.
Next up was bluegrass/punkioneers Old Man Markley. There’s been a trend over the last decade of punks going bluegrass, folk or Americana, with many unfortunate misses. That cannot be said of Old Man Markley. I’m not sure if coming out to Queen’s “Flash” was another nod to Boston since “Ted” hit theaters, but whatever the reason it made me smile and sing terribly. I couldn’t help but turn and watch the crowd during their first two songs, seeing that moment of new musical enjoyment on so many faces at once. The crowd was most responsive to those songs from autoharp player and singer Annie DeTemple, while bassist Joey Garibaldi and washboard player Ryan Markley kept the energy going throughout the set. Highlights included “For Better For Worse”, “Guts n Teeth” and their newest single “Blood On My Hands.” The entire set was a well-picked build into the Murph’s taking the stage.
Enter the Dropkick Murphys. There’s a reason this band is where they are. After 17 years they’re still writing songs that will forever be staples of their set. Whether you’ve seen them in the small clubs of Boston or on a stage like Stubb’s—and even if this is your first time seeing them—you’re a part of the show and always have been. Right out the gate the boys hit everyone with the anthemic lead off track from their newest album, Signed and Sealed in Blood, “The Boys are Back”. And folks, they are. That energy you used to get at punk rock shows still exists in all their swagger. That’s all it took to get the crowd going, one that didn’t cease until the lights came on.
“Rose Tattoo” and “The Battle Rages On” were some of the tracks played from the new record. Of course, the Murphs generously played the back catalog of hits for their long-time fans with “The Warriors Code,“ “A Few Good Men“ and “The Gauntlet.” “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya” was a personal show highlight. And it’s true that fans of The Departed got their wish at the end of the set with “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” but hey I was wishing too.
During their multi-song encore, they were joined on stage by anyone willing. I know, you’ve seen it before—but remember when you were 15 and you got on stage with your favorite band? Kudos to the boys for getting so many fans involved. And the fun surprise near the end of the night came with their cover of AC/DC’s “T.N.T.” in which Barr’s voice is almost too perfect for that song. This was a set without disappointment. And as the Murph’s koozies that a friend passed off to me at the end of the night said, the bar might be closed, but the night’s not over.
Check out a photo gallery of the concert below. Dropkick Murphys performed at Stubb’s in Austin on Feb. 27.