How do you celebrate a 20-year anniversary? If you’re the Dropkick Murphys, you celebrate your anniversary by doing the same damn thing you’ve always done; you play great music, incorporating generations of fans that celebrate the same values of family, roots, tradition and honor … and mosh pits … lots and lots of punk-loving pits.
The energy inside the aptly named Electric Factory was maxing out as the Philly crowd anxiously awaited the Dropkick Murphys 20th Anniversary show. Opening bands Darkbuster and Tiger Army entertained a crowd that needed no warming up, and the city of brotherly love met them attentively and with great appreciation and enthusiasm. However, once the opening refrains of “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya” and the silhouette of Ken Casey appeared on stage, everything changed. The attentive crowd morphed into a massive pit no attendee could avoid, a pit that persisted throughout the 22-song set, never settling, always welcoming, and wildly appreciative. Fans in the back threw their arms (and sometimes legs) in the air while fans toward the stage were glowing of stage lights and admiration. Al Barr took no time walking off the stage and into the crowd, singing not to them, but with them.
Dropkick Murphys played a good mix of songs spanning their 20-year career, including “Famous For Nothing” and “Rose Tattoo.” Local step dancers took the stage with the band for “Prisoner’s Song” and “I’m Shipping Up To Boston.” Near the end of their set, Casey addressed a young boy on the rail wearing a black Dropkick Murphys shirt and newsboy cap. “I’ve been watching my man down here down front. He knows every goddamn word, and we want to ask him to come up here and sing a song.” With that, nine-year old Patrick was hoisted on stage and enthusiastically rocked out “The Boys Are Back.” He wasn’t the only fan lucky enough to join the show. During “Kiss Me, I’m Shit-Faced” more fans were invited on stage to join the revelry.
A Dropkick Murphys event is more than a concert; it’s a night of, dare I say, “family,” joining together in what I can only describe as unity with a throw-caution-t0-the-wind chaser. The Electric Factory show was their last before heading home to Boston, as per tradition, to ring in St. Patrick’s Day, but make no mistake; the Dropkick Murphys never walk alone. Anywhere they are, they are at home with the fans of all ages that love them. Here’s to 20-years of solid, celtic punk rock music and may we have many, many more for the generations of fans to come. Sláinte!
Photos by Robin Ervolina