Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sounds: Dropkick Murphys @ DC ShamrockFest 2012 (RFK Stadium)

This is the concert that I wasn't going to go to, but did.

I so needed this.

Earlier in the week I attended a rather disappointing concert. I am undecided about writing about that concert  or even really mentioning the band because I still believe that they are a good band. But the show, meh. I didn't feel anything. There was no connection with the audience. They pretty much came on stage, ran through their set list and left, hardly any banter, or really anything.  My heart didn't swell up and almost explode when they played my favorite song. I mean, they sounded fine, but c'mon, I could of been home just listening to their album for all it really was.

On drive home I was frustrated in my usual dramatic way; isn't live music the cheese in my macaroni and cheese? Aren't live shows where, like the beach, I feel most my true self? Why didn't I feel anything? Was it the band? Bands are allowed to have bad nights. Was it crowd? The crowd, ha.  I totally filled my quota for the year of guys wearing skinny jeans that night. Hey fellas, please stop. Just stop it. Was it me?  

I came home from the show and immediately bought a ticket for ShamrockFest. If I was coming down with some sort of live music influenza (oh the drama!), I knew I needed some strong medicine,  like The Dropkick Murphys.

I had heard this festival promoted on the radio for awhile, but had pretty much decided not to go. There are pros and cons to music festivals. Pro: you get to see a large number of bands for a relatively inexpensive ticket, con: large crowds means that if you really want to see a big name or headling band you basically have to mark out your spot early and stand in that spot for a good couple of hours if you want a decent view of the stage. More and more as I get older I turn into a curmudgeon when it comes to music festivals: I'm too old, my back hurts, it might rain, the kids of today, arghhhhh.

But I am so glad that I talked that old curmudgeon into going yesterday, it was one of the best festivals I have been to in awhile. I did go early to get a good spot. This spot:

With this view:
Don't worry, the pictures do get better. 

And from this spot I could see two of the four stages. I ended up seeing 7 bands between the two stages and all of them were so good. The minute the first band started to play, my heart felt like it grew three sizes.  It was a St. Patrick's Day festival so all the music was so themed, from traditional Irish music (Gaelic Storm) to a wonderful mix of Irish and Eastern European gypsy music (Scythian) to good old (Irish) American punk rock (The Mighty Regis). Oh punk rock kid of my soul, I'm glad that you got to come out and play too. And maybe the greatest thing was that all the bands seem so happy to be there. Their excitement led to the crowd's excitement, which led to a happy connection between the two groups, this is the way live music should be, band from Tuesday night! (Why yes, I am shaking my fist in the air right now.)

I'm planing on writing about a couple of the other bands throughout this next week so let's just get down to business and talk about DKM. Yeah, I know, finally. 

I happen to be standing by a couple of kids (16-17 yrs old) in the crowd who were seeing DKM for the first time and they were OMG excited. It was quite adorable until they started to freak out about the crowd  surfing during one of the earlier bands. I had to cautioned them that it's going to get worse. If you want to be up front for DKM, you are going to have to absorb a lot of the crowd. As we got to talking they asked how many times I have seen DKM, and I replied with my usual, "Oh, a bunch of times." To say that I have seen them at least once a year for the last 14 years kinda makes me sound like I need to be featured on a TLC reality show. But they have always been a touring band, touring to cities that I just so happened to live in. They have easily become one of my favorite live bands, not only because of their music, which is pretty fantastic, but also the connection that they have established between themselves and their fans.  And that is why I keep coming back. There is definitely a sense of community at their shows. Every show they thank the crowd for making it possible for them to play music for a living. Every show they make an effort to let every person in the crowd know that they are wanted, that they have a place there. They are pretty established as a band these days; Bruce Springsteen did guest vocals on their last album, their music is featured in movies, but still they work hard to put on a good show every night. I think I'll be a supporter for awhile. 

Their set last night was fantastic. They played a well blended set of songs from all their past albums, the banter was great. And there I was front row, on my tippy toes singing with my eyes closed to each and every song. I so needed this. 

Pictures were taken with my point and click, from a drunken mob. Somebody's elbow was always poking me in the ribs, someone was always stepping my foot, crowd surfers were surfing over head and I wouldn't have changed a thing. 

Fourteen years and counting. At least this time I didn't have to break down a door. 

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