Dropkick Murphys show puts band’s punk roots front and center

Ken Casey of Dropkick Murphys hopping the barricade. Photos: Shaun Astor

Early into their set, Ken Casey, vocalist for Dropkick Murphys, asked if anyone in the crowd had seen the band on their last show in Reno – one for which the band was touring in support of an acoustic album made up of unfinished songs by folk musician Woody Guthrie. He mentioned that the previous tour had seen the band doing something different and playing seated venues, before saying he remembered Reno’s crowd being up on their feet, making the seated venue feel like a punk show. Casey then said that said that it was fun to do something new on the last go around, however tonight was not going to be an acoustic show…

[Check out our review and photos of the Dropkick Murphys’ 2022 Reno show here!]

In fact, while the band is currently just a couple dates into their St. Patrick’s Day 2024 Tour that will wrap up with multiple shows in their hometown of Boston on St. Paddy’s Day, the group made good on Casey’s promise to take things back to the band’s typically raucous set with a selection of the band’s Celtic-influenced songs that leaned decidedly upon their punk roots.

With a set that consisted of over half a dozen songs from their 1998 Do Or Die album – at least double the number of selections from any other single album of theirs – Dropkick Murphys played heavily into their punk roots. Casey, always adamant about expressing the band’s graciousness to their fans, had risers and blocks placed between the stage and barricade, letting him head into the crowd and perform often with one foot on the rail and the mic extended energetically into the crowd.

As the band performed “Good As Gold”, their backdrop was a montage of old punk and hardcore vinyl records spinning with visible labels from groups like Blitz and The Misfits emphasizing the underground that the band emerged from.

Bagpipes filled the room, intro-ing songs like “Road of the Righteous”, “The Boys Are Back”, and “Rose Tattoo” while the seven members moved throughout the Grand Sierra’s Grand Theatre stage. At times it was multi-instrumentalist Tim Brennan who propelled the band – alternating between accordion, organ and guitars throughout the night.

While the high energy of the music had most of the crowd on their feet throughout the set and a circle pit across the GA pit, one highlight of the night was Casey pulling a younger fan onstage who had been singing along at the railing throughout the night. Asking the kid to help sing “Rose Tattoo”, the young audience member knew every word, with Casey handing off the mic completely and walking away while the kid hit every word.

Wrapping up a 24 song set with “Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced”, the band treated the packed theater to a set that hit heavy from their earlier albums. Despite those albums being over 25 years old at this point, Dropkick Murphys performed them with a vigor that would have felt just as fitting back in those small sweaty clubs.

Dropkick Murphys multi-instrumentalist Tim Brennan was a whirlwind to watch.

Touring with Dropkick Murphys is Hermosa Beach, California band Pennywise. While Dropkick Murphys emphasize their Irish influence for a tour named for the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, Pennywise came up in the same mid/late 1990’s era and clubs, and the it was clear that a large portion of the audience were familiar and excited for both.

“Fuck Vegas! Reno is just dirty Las Vegas, right?” questioned guitarist Fletcher Dragge to cheers from the room. With the supporting slot rather than their usual headlining status, the group sped through a set of more well known songs. However it was when they slowed it down a bit and mentioned it being the day after Valentine’s Day while they played the well known Ben E. King song “Stand By Me,” with Fletcher pointing out couples making out in the crowd and offering his hotel room, that the whole room got to its feet, just before the band finished with the massive gang singalong of “Bro Hymn.”

Vocalist Jim Lindberg also dedicated a part of the set to parents who bring their kids to the show and let them listen to songs like “Fuck Authority.”

Pennywise’s new school punk would be old enough to legally drink…

Opening on this tour is The Scratch, a four-piece from Dublin, Ireland. And while it might be wrong to classify an authentic Irish band as being Irish-influenced, the music clearly sounds like it was shaped in the pubs of Ireland. The band plays a harder style of rock, slipping a Pogues cover into their set, and successfully warming up the room, even if the crowd couldn’t get the hang of their gang chants.

The Scratch straight from Dublin, Ireland.
James Lynch of Dropkick Murphys
Pennywise
Fletcher Dragge of Pennywise
The Scratch
The Scratch
The Scratch

ABOUT Shaun Astor

Shaun Astor
Shaun Astor cites pop music singers and social deviants as being among his strongest influences. His vices include vegan baking, riding a bicycle unreasonable distances and fixating on places and ideas that make up the subject of the sentence, "But that’s impossible…" He splits his time between Reno and a hammock perched from ghost town building foundations. Check out his work at www.raisethestakeseditions.com

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