Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced – Dropkick Murphys at The National

by | Jun 11, 2010 | MUSIC

We were sitting on the patio of Penny Lane Pub, drinking London Porter and discussing our options with one of our music editors. Through some misfiring in the ornate circuitry of the press access approval process, we had been granted two press passes, but not the photography badge necessary to get Ian Graham’s sizeable camera bag into The National. Some three blocks away, the Dropkick Murphys were taking the stage. Even if we received the last minute phone call we were banking on, the photo badge was only good for the first three songs. It was too late for us to get pictures.

We were sitting on the patio of Penny Lane Pub, drinking London Porter and discussing our options with one of our music editors. Through some misfiring in the ornate circuitry of the press access approval process, we had been granted two press passes, but not the photography badge necessary to get Ian Graham’s sizeable camera bag into The National. Some three blocks away, the Dropkick Murphys were taking the stage. Even if we received the last minute phone call we were banking on, the photo badge was only good for the first three songs. It was too late for us to get pictures.

I hadn’t seen the Dropkick Murphys since before I had worn in my first pair of checkerboard slip-ons. Being half Scotts-Irish (because any Dropkick fan will immediately inform you of their Celtic heritage within the first five sentences after declaring their fandom), the band was one of the few musical acts that, me being an angsty teenage punk, my dad could relate to as well as I could. I remember being enraptured by the thunderous momentum of their stage presence, the hysteric frenzy of the pit. In this there was all the kinetic energy of a youth movement, and all the familiarity of tradition: aural generations screaming through the bagpipes of a young Spicy McHaggis while the roar and crunch of palm-muted rebellion pumped its fists through shivering amps.

I had heard several times not to ruin my memories of Dropkick by seeing them again, that whether they’ve deteriorated or my tastes have evolved, and most likely it would be both, I would be disappointed in the band today. It seemed there was this whole sad culture of washed up punk bands, grasping at the tattered banners of their heyday worn by commercial success and fading relevance into some hollow, nostalgic symbol of something no longer alive. I had a sense that the music was the transparent and spectral residue of a phenomenon that ran its course without ever really accomplishing its goals. This, compounded by our lack of photographic coverage, was pushing us in the direction of skipping the show. But we hadn’t finished our pints yet.

On the pro-side for attending, we had free passes and a text message from our publisher saying he still wanted a piece, pictures or not. Not to mention a decent beer buzz throwing its arm around the prospect of seeing a band who’s infamous drinking songs I was too young to chug along with at the last show I caught. And what if they don’t suck? The more I drank and thought about it, the more not going seemed ridiculous. We were right around the corner, after all. Why not?

Ian’s perspective and pint seemed to be evolving in the same direction as mine, so we polished off our beers and left. But when we got to the gate, the will call window had closed. Luckily, the security guard remembered us and the fact that we did indeed have passes waiting for us, so he let us in anyway (I owe you a beer, security guard).

When we walked through the door the effect was electric. In a blue haze and grandeur the music came pouring back at me. This was not the zombified corpse of a sound. The sense of momentum, the starry-eyed anticipation of a greater purpose were certainly diminished, but in their place was something else. This was the celebration of something that was, the exuberant commemoration of an unparalleled moment. It was not a desperate grasp at the fleeting shards of limelight, but an expression content to be exactly what it was, still alive, perhaps more pregnant with memories than dreams, but sure as shit not dead.

They say that in any good relationship, the initial passion is eventually replaced with intimacy. My relationship with Dropkick, and perhaps that between them and their fans as a whole, is still somewhere in the middle of that transition, half wild and indulgent, half comfort, roots, history. We stuck around long enough to drink to “Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced”, threw our arms around the shoulders of the random crust punks beside us, and sang.

And I feel younger than I did yesterday.

www.dropkickmurphys.com
www.thenationalva.com

R. Anthony Harris

R. Anthony Harris

I created Richmond, Virginia’s culture publication RVA Magazine and brought the first Richmond Mural Project to town. Designed the first brand for the Richmond’s First Fridays Artwalk and promoted the citywide “RVA” brand before the city adopted it as the official moniker. I threw a bunch of parties. Printed a lot of magazines. Met so many fantastic people in the process. Professional work: www.majormajor.me




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