Dropkick Murphys Drop the Ball

Matthew Greenberg, Sports Editor


Dropkick Murphy's
Photo by Mathew Greenberg

Commonly known as Flogging Molly’s harder, more punk-esque counterparts, the Dropkick Murphys have been demolishing the Irish Hard Rock scene since 1996. These guys are straight off of the streets of Boston, and they make sure every person who hears them play knows it. Strangely though, their show at the Aragon Ballroom on February 22 was a less-than-stellar performance.

The show began in classic fashion, two opening bands before the headliner, the first of which was a group called The Revilers, a punk group out of Boston. These guys weren’t even on the ticket for this show until they got a call the day before asking them to come out for a night. While putting together a show and crossing the country in a 24-hour turnaround is impressive, the performance was nothing special. They had a few guitar riffs that may have been catchy enough, but their odd sense of crowd-awareness did not lend them to as warm a welcome as they were probably anticipating.

That would end up being an unfortunate theme throughout the evening.

The purpose of a solid opening band is to keep the crowd amped all the way through those long set changes. From the first band to the second, this change is usually about 15-20 minutes, but from the second band to the headliner, the changeover can be upwards of half an hour or more. That is a long time for an audience to stand around doing very little, particularly if they are not partaking in a $7 glass of Bud Light, and even more particularly if the second band was rather lackluster in their performance.

Such was the case from the second group of the night, Old Man Markley, a punk bluegrass band out of San Fernando Valley. The group certainly seemed to have the energy necessary to pump up the crowd, but somewhere they fell short of that goal, never truly connecting with the crowd for more than a minute or two at a time. Needless to say, there was an uncomfortable feeling spreading across the Aragon as the crowd anxiously awaited Dropkick Murphys to take the stage, all but praying for a show that would make the entire night worthwhile.

Too bad. It’s difficult to guess what the mindset of the group was when they made the set list, but they certainly needed to give it a little more thought. Obviously, with the release of their eighth studio album, Signed and Sealed in Blood (2013), there was going to be a heavy load in order to promote it. The problem is that the new album pales in comparison to the likes of previous albums, such as Blackout (2003) and The Warrior’s Code (2005).

When a band plays the first hit song of a set; that is usually a sign of how the rest of the show will go. “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya” is a major fan favorite off of The Meanest of Times (2007), but was delivered almost tiredly. The next hit to come up would have been “Worker’s Song” off of Blackout, but instead they played an acoustic variation that did not sit well with the audience.

In fact, the crowd seemed completely out of touch until the last 15 minutes of the 75-minute set. The set closed with the ever-popular “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” but even this all-powerful crowd-pleaser was not enough to rescue this show, as the band barely sang any of the song themselves, expecting an unimpressed audience to do it for them. No such luck there.

Many bands tend to save major hits or classic closing songs for their encore sets. Such is the case with the Dropkick Murphys, who have recently been on an AC/DC kick, and have incorporated at least one cover into their encores. This time around it was a stirring rendition of “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.” Strangely uncharacteristic (although fitting with the off-putting nature of the evening) was the five-song encore, rather than the classic two or three. Sure, there were classic Dropkick encore pieces like “The Boys on the Dock,” and “Skinhead on the MBTA,” but the most egregious decision was the omission of the classic “Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced.”

As the crowd solemnly shuffled toward the exits, the air was thick with disappointment and confusion. Having personally seen these guys five times previously, the purely unfortunate nature of the show was bothersome, to say the least.