Dallas…DROPKICK MURPHYS. I’ve waited years to hear those two words used in a singular sentence, and on February 26, this reporter’s wet dream became a reality. Monumental…historic…epic – often those terms are carelessly tossed around. Well not here, not now. In fact, those terms straddle the line of appropriateness, even perhaps leaning slightly towards the side of not really doing the show justice.
Why? Because it was fucking insane. I’ve covered hundreds of concerts and artists in my career, but never did I have such a kickass time before. Sure, I’ve covered bands that I dig, but this was the first show by a band that I love, that the band actually “brought it.” Actually, to be honest, THE DROPKICK MURPHYS brought it like a motherfucker.
But obviously, doubt wasn’t on the ticketholders minds, as it was a sold out show at House of Blues Dallas.
The band draws upon their proud Irish-American heritage, utilizing instruments such as the bagpipes, banjo and accordion for a truly unique sound. Their songs, deeply rooted in traditional Irish pub songs and shanties fused with hardcore and punk stylings, are so catchy, so moving and so relatable, that even the most die-hard wallflower cannot help but be seduced into skanking along to the beat. After twenty years and eight albums, they are still here, still going strong.
Opening up the twentieth anniversary show in Dallas were fellow Bostonians, DARKBUSTER. I had never heard of them before, but dude, they play some wicked ska! They didn’t just impress the hell out of me, but they won over the capacity crowd pretty much right off the bat. Totally set the tone for the entire evening… just what we all needed. Next up were TIGER ARMY, a band from the west coast. Their niche sound of “psycho-billy” style punk was the perfect complement to DARKBUSTER and what I knew THE DROPKICKS were all about. All three bands jived perfectly.
TIGER ARMY left the stage with the fanfare normally reserved for champion athletes, the curtains drew shut and stayed that way until around 10:30 p.m. A slideshow covering DROPKICK’S 20-year career began to play on a sheet.
But this was no ordinary slideshow/”remember when” bullshit, no, this was a proper documentary, using archival footage, interviews and voice-over sound bites and was very well produced. It was maybe like ten minutes or so and I kept thinking, “Man, this would make a great feature-length movie; I’d totally watch that!”
After the video ended the sheet went black and the Twentieth Anniversary Tour logo appeared. A spotlight hit the lower left-hand corner of the logo and a silhouetted figure raised his hands above his head. As if on cue, the crowd’s cheers grew increasingly louder, in perfect sync with the raising of his arms.
Bam! The sheet feel, lights came up and THE DROPKICK MURPHYS went straight into “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya”. Another highlight was “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and the next song was a cover of one of my all-time favorite songs by THE CLASH “Career Opportunities”. I had never heard anyone perform it live before, let alone fucking nail it. I was so blown away man, I was in full-blown fanboy mode by then.
The floor below the balcony was a total sea of green, purple, black and yellow- surging in unison and the steady stream of crowd surfers kept the air below well stocked in Chuck Taylors and Doc Martens. It was painfully obvious from any vantage point in the house that everyone was having the time of their lives. But, nothing lasts forever and before I knew it the evening of lifetime drew to a close.
It was just so much damn fun. I can’t stress that enough: how awesome and righteous the show really was; and then it was over in what seemed like a blink of eye (even though they played for over an hour). However, the band had one last surprise…
For a final encore, they called up friends, family and fans on stage, pulled up the house lights and orchestrated one hell of a group sing-along. After they graciously thanked everyone for 20 years of loyalty and rose tattoos they proceeded to lay down “Having a Party”, by the legendary Sam Cooke. It was beautiful. I shit you not people, it brought tears to my eyes. The vibe generated by the sing-along pretty much embodied the spirit of THE DROPKICK MURPHYS’ performance and of the concert as a whole; the comaraderie, the love, the good times. Long live punk rock.
LIVE WORDS AND PHOTOS: RYAN JAVIER