Dropkick Murphys/Teenage Bottlerocket/The Mahones @ The Shrine
On November 5th, 2012, I took a walk down to the Shrine Auditorium. It’s only a few blocks from my house, after all. The night was cool, but nowhere near cold; I made the walk with little discomfort in jeans, a t-shirt, and a hoodie. Traffic rushed past me, up and down Broadwater, headlights bright in the post-Daylight Savings evening. I was on my way to see the show—Dropkick Murphys had come back to town, and brought The Mahones and Teenage Bottlerocket along with them.
The crowd outside had lined up at the booths outside to buy tickets last-minute or, as in my case, pick up tickets at Will Call. I found my good friend and bartender Tyson outside, and we jumped in line just ahead of my Gal Friday Randi. When we’d all secured our tickets, we strolled inside. The Mahones had already taken the stage.
This was the first I’d ever even heard of The Mahones, so I had no idea what to expect. As their quasi-Irish name suggests, they play traditional-Irish music, with a healthy portion of punk rock on top. It was a fair start to the night’s festivities, and a good choice of openers, considering the audience: the color green dominated everything. Dropkick Murphys t-shirts, Boston sports jerseys, slouch caps, and even a couple kilts all reflected the night’s theme of “punk rock at a St. Patrick’s Day parade.” When our photo passes were deemed worthy by the doorwoman’s manager, Dan, Tyson and I stuck them to our respective outermost layers. The three of us walked to the concert floor just as the Mahones wrapped their set at 7:30 PM.
There were hundreds of people in attendance, many of them pressed in between the Shrine basketball court’s half-court line and the stage. We were able to circumvent most of the crowd by sticking close to the merchandise tables immediately to the right of the door. We had one destination in mind as we weaved through the crowd.
The show floor was crowded, but the beer garden was absolutely packed. It took us almost twenty-five minutes to get in front of the servers. The upside was that Teenage Bottlerocket started their set at 7:45, taking the stage in the dark to the ominous sounds of Slayer. The intro and the actual performance could not have been more different; the Wyoming quartet’s high-energy music had people nodding along in no time. I’d never heard of Teenage Bottlerocket before, either (I know…what kind of reporter am I?), but their upbeat, retro-raw anthem rock plays like a mash-up of ‘90s Green Day and classic Misfits. They were three songs in when we secured our beer. The signs all said that all alcohol had to stay behind the chain-link fence that had been set up to cover the rear fifth of the basketball court. Ever the crafty concertgoers, we smuggled the alcohol out onto the floor, keeping it cleverly hidden in our bloodstreams. Tyson and I went off to get backstage with our cool photo pass badges, while Randi polished off her Coronas and set off in search of merchandise.
Tyson and I were able to get through the curtain to the left of the stage without issue; the yellow-shirted security guy let us straight through when I told him we were going to take pictures. We tromped down the ramp to the backstage area, riding high on our good fortune. Unfortunately, we ran into another security guard who stopped us. We explained we were there to take pictures, but she called her manager, and he shooed us out. Turns out “those (passes) don’t let you back here, guys,” in his own words. So close, yet so far! We headed back upstairs, found Randi at the Dropkick Murphys merch table, and watched the end of TBR’s set. They played until around 8:30.
At 9:00, the blackened auditorium began to ring with the melodic strains of traditional Irish music. The crowd raised lighters. When the music faded and the stage lights came up, Dropkick Murphys were in place and started playing. The band jumped straight into a song from their new album, and never let the show’s energy level drop. The band’s foot-stomping, get-up-and-jig rock, soaked with accordion, banjo, bagpipes, and whistles, got the crowd moving. As loud as the band’s guitars, drums, and vocals were, the largest, loudest instrument in the place was the Shrine’s wooden floor; it boomed along in time with the music as the crowd stomped their feet. The band played a mix of songs, both old and new, fast and slow, familiar and obscure. The urge to join the growing mosh pit became too strong toward the end of the show. I doffed my sweatshirt, handed it to Randi, and made my way to the pit during the classic tune “I’m Shipping Up to Boston.” The band wrapped up soon after, but came out for an encore after the crowd shouted, clapped, and stomped for one.
The encore was something else again; the band brought a gaggle of young women from the audience up on the stage. The band broke into a rousing rendition of their song “Kiss Me, I’m S**tfaced.” I saw some familiar faces up there, so when guys started hopping the barricade and running up to join the band, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity like that. I hoisted myself over the chest-high barricade without flipping forward and bashing out all my teeth and climbed up on the stage to join the party.
The band played a few more songs, including a cover of “Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap” that had me hoarse from shouting along. When the show ended, I picked my way down off the stage and strolled out the door, elated. I rendezvoused with Randi and Tyson outside, retrieved my hoodie, and headed home. After throwing in a load of laundry and recharging with a snack, it was off to the bar for a nightcap with some other concertgoers.
This was my first Dropkick Murphys concert, but I can say with complete confidence that it will not be my last. Everybody I spoke to about it professed to having a great time. If you’re a fan of good-time music, pick up an album by any of these bands (or all three), or, better, go to a concert. You’ll not be disappointed.
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