Shamrock and Roll

By Alex Goetzfried

The Dropkick Murphys at Terminal 5 on March 13, 2013 Photo by Alex Goetzfried
The Dropkick Murphys at Terminal 5 on March 13, 2013
Photo by Alex Goetzfried

St. Patty’s Day got off to an early start on Wednesday night as the American Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys rocked out to 3,000 rabid fans at Terminal 5 in New York City. Doc Martins, kilts, mohawks, tattoos and hockey sweatshirts imprinted with the Dropkick Murphys logo, are the fashionable items for an evening at a Dropkick Murphys show.

The band, together since 1996, is hotter today than when they first started. They are famous for their St. Patty’s Day tours, and this year’s culminates on Sunday night in Boston. In 2005, the band released the album Warrior Code, with the song “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” which was used in the Academy Award-winning film The Departed and exploded the Dropkick Murphys into mainstream fame. Their music can be heard regularly blasting through the sound systems of Boston’s sports arenas.

The mandolin and bouzouki, both fretted instruments and related to the lute family, help to distinguish the Dropkick Murphys from other punk bands. Interestingly enough, the mandolin is of Italian origins, and the bouzouki is considered Greek, but they lend a traditional Irish-ballad-feel to the more laid-back songs. The band’s seven-member eclectic lineup plays instruments including the accordion, tin whistle, organ and bodhrán, a traditional Irish drum with a goat skin head. These instruments may not be obscure to Irish folk bands or American Celtic punkers, but in the traditional American punk scene, they are alien.

Emmett Malone, from Galway, Ireland, was visiting relatives in New York, and they took him to the show. “The band was great,” Malone said. “My only problem is there were not enough hot women and too many sweaty shirtless men,” he exclaimed through laughs in a thick Irish accent.

Seamus McSherry was another pleased concertgoer.  McSherry certainly looks the part of an Irish-Catholic punker with the Virgin Mary tattooed on his neck and full tattoo sleeves.  “They never disappoint,” McSherry said.

For many Irish Americans and young punkers, a Dropkick Murphys show signals the start of the Guinness-fueled holiday. Although the New York leg of the tour is over, most Irish bars in New York will play Dropkick Murphys songs on their jukeboxes all weekend long.