As if I haven’t seen Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys twice each in less than two years, it didn’t matter in the least when I heard they were finally touring the US together after the success of their Europe and UK tour. Obviously, I knew I needed to be there, so clad in my Kelly green “Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced” shirt (that shirt may or may not have been accurate) and after some day drinking at the Irish pub around the corner from the venue (okay, that shirt was definitely accurate), I strolled into the old Forest Hills Stadium, former home of the US Open, to catch two of my favorite punk bands for what I already knew going in would be the epitome of Irish Punk and neither Flogging Molly or DKM disappointed.
Jake Burns of Still Little Fingers fame opened the show with a solo acoustic set, which I missed most of due to the early door time and the aforementioned day drinking, but the two songs I did catch at the end of his set were alright. I’d have been all over a Stiff Little Fingers performance as an opener, but I just can’t get with an acoustic set, so on to Flogging Molly we go. Everyone knows Dave King is a little crazy, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him perform sober as he came out once again with a Guinness in hand as he always does. But if King is this good after a few beers I’m not sure I ever want to see him sober.
FM has been running with a similar setlist for a couple years now, so it comes as no surprise that mainstays like The Hand of John L Sullivan, Drunken Lullabies, Requiem for a Dying Song, If I Ever Leave This World Alive, What’s Left of the Flag and The Seven Deadly Sins remained on a setlist that finally saw some changes in the 16 songs the band was able to play (they’d been rumored to be playing 12, so the extra tunes were a nice surprise) that included a very fast Irish punk snippted of the Queen classic We Will Rock You in the middle of Crushed (Hostile Nations).
Flogging Molly has absolutely killed it all three times I’ve seen them, and while a lot of people griped that FM should have been headlining instead of Dropkick Murphys, and I don’t think you could have gone wrong either way, what was still in store for the rest of the night was something equally special.
Dropkick Murphys are another band that never disappoint and as the headliner for this tour, as opposed to last summer’s run with Rancid, you knew they were going to pull out all the stops. Bassist Ken Casey can’t play currently as a result of some type of injury that I’ve heard is anything from a hand injury to neck surgery, so with a fill-in on bass, Casey and Al Barr shared singing duties and both came out in the crowd several times – and as a result made me forget most of the rest of the band was there while I was shooting my three songs – which was a nice change of pace as Casey is typically in the back and never gets close enough for the fans to interact with him, even if the circumstances surrounding it suck.
DKM are known for their balls-out attitude and their ridiculous encores, and among the 21-song performance was a whopping five-song encore that we’ll get to a little later, but suffice to say at this juncture Dropkick Murphys left absolutely nothing to be desired on a night where a 13,000 capacity former tennis stadium looked more like a ghost town except for the 5,000 or so souls who were smart enough to buy tickets – the neighborhood bars were giving a bunch away before the show to help will it out. I’ll never understand how bands as popular as these two failed to sell tickets in NYC on a Friday night. Is it because us New Yorkers think Queens is a myth? Is it because DKM are from Boston and we hate Boston? Are people stupid? These are the questions that I need answers to, dammit!
Anyway, I got to hear a handful of my favorite songs on this night as DKM proceeded to play The Boys Are Back and Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya while I was in the pit, affording me a rare opportunity to sing along very loudly while shooting. Then the real fun started when I was able to relax and rock with the Murphys (myself?) as they played my favorites including Barroom Hero, Rocky Road to Dublin, Rose Tattoo, Out of Our Heads and Going Out in Style. Of course, I’m still waiting to hear a few songs like Flanigan’s Ball, Loyal to No One and Fields of Athenry (or maybe I did hear that once?), but with a band like DKM who I can just listen to forever, there’s no complaining about a setlist.
The encore, though, is where it really got fun with I’m Shipping Up to Boston, Skinhead on the MBTA and, the highlight of my night, the namesake song to go with the shirt I was wearing, Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced. DKM also covered one of my other favorite bands, AC/DC‘s Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap to end the night, a change of pace from their usual closing song, End of the Night. I do love that song and I wish they’d have played it, but the band did bring many of the girls up on stage during Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced as they always do, and one of their tour guys who works with them on the Claddagh Fund proposed to his girlfriend on stage. She said yes. How awkward would that have been?
I knew this tour was going to kick ass just based on the two bands on it, never mind all the rave reviews I heard out of Europe, but I was still pleasantly surprised by just how great this show was. All of my expectations were exceeded, and that’s hard to do when you already know what’s going to happen.