The Dropkick Murphys @ Free Bird Cafe, Jacksonville Beach, FL

Live Reviews | Oct 11th, 2003

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Opening Bands: Roger Miret and the Diasters
Date: October 11th 2003
Venue: Free Bird Cafe, Jacksonville Beach, FL

I had just flown in from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba the day before the concert. The whole family was bushed, but I had starry eyes, and a cheeky disposition. For I was going to see Dropkick Murphys. My all time favorite band. Beside’s the ever present step-mother in bitch mode, I knew it was bound to be a good night.

When I approached the venue, Freebird Cafe, there was already a line of punks and skin heads running down either sides of the building. The wait in line was long, but I saw Al Barr, and Matt Kelly skank by.

The inside of the venue was crowded and screened with a smoky haze, and the floors were slick with various brews and body fluids. The crowd was pumped. The seemingly tiny stage was already encircled with writhing, sweaty bodies. A jumble of classic punk/oi songs streamed through the speakers.

It was about 8:00 or 8:30 when the first band took the stage. The Disasters, fronted by the legend himself, Roger Miret, took control of the crowd with high speed licks and power chords. A frenzied mosh pit soon formed, and I got away from it wicked fast. Roger sang his heart out into the microphone. Something that all good musicians should have, heart. They performed about 5 or 7 songs before retiring. Most of them were from their new c.d. With the legend’s time coming to an end, Roger and the boys said their farewells, and left the stage. Soon after this, I had the most incredible experience. Here was Ken Casey, not ten feet away from me. He held in his hand a sweating bottle of beer, the label of which was covered by his hands. I beckoned him over and announced that I was the girl from GTMO. (We had been emailing a few times…) We had a wicked fulfilling conversation, and he left with an invitation backstage after the show, and a signature on my Chucks. (Unfortuneately, I would not meet him or the rest of the band after the show. For reasons solely given by my Dad…)

The crowd’s screams and rants came to a soft hum as anticipation grew for the next band, The Casualties. Before Roger was totally gone, I did manage to get him to sign my pink Chuck Taylor. With a smile on his face, he did. While I was in the area along side the “lounge door”, I called Rick over from the Casualties. He sauntered over, and signed my shoe, while granting some wishes with a small conversation about their newest release. I was pleased. With the roadies setting up on stage, Jorge strolled across it in a slightly lit gate. He took the microphone and yelled something in his native tongue, and withdrew into the shadows along side the stage.

Another five minutes passed, and the band then took the stage, and with much gusto. The crowd joined in once more, with raised fists and extended middle fingers. It was a sight I never could have fathomed living on a rock in the middle of the Caribbean. I too raised my voice to anarchy, and found myself face first into a couple of mosher’s. Ouch… Jorge screamed, and was barely lucid amidst the wailing guitars and pounding drums. The band played a bunch of fan favs such as; “Ulgy Bastard”, “For the Punx”, and “City Life”. They were a wicked large dose of adrenaline for the crowd. As they finished their half-hour set, a chant rose from the crowd. “Let’s Go Murphys!” I knew this call too well to not join in. (My sister stood silently behind me with a glum look on her face. Although she wore a $10 DKM shirt, she did not like them, or the two bands that had played prior.) Their was a rumor floating around that the band would be starting late, so they could watch the Boston Red Sox game. I had little faith in this…

The crowd seemed to grow larger as “The Foggy Dew” cried over the speakers, and the lights of the venue dimmed. As the song ended, Scruffy Wallace broke into “For Boston” with his ear splitting bag-pipes. (Mind you this was a good ear splitting…) The rest of the guys soon marched out like they were gonna kick someone’s ass. Marc Orrel and James Lynch took their places on opposite ends of the stage, while Al Barr and Ken Caseystole away up front, Ryan Foltz took hold of his mandolin, and Matt “Tough Sticks” Kelly sat behind his threatening drum set. As the final bag-pipe note faded out, the boys kicked off their hour long spectacle of Irish delight, and Blue Collar pride. Dropkick Murphys really knew how to throw a party, and while spitting beer, and pouring out distortion through 8 foot tall, towers of amps, the crowd was going crazy. In the more power driven songs, such as “The Gauntlet”, “Pipebomb On Lansdowne”, and “Black Out”, the boys would do anything from, cussing at people in the balcony’s, to crowd surfing in the middle of a guitar solo. Towards the end of their set, the guys were kind enough to let up a monster load of ladies on to the stage, including myself, for the “Spicy McHaggis Jig”, threatening men and boys with violence if they even thought of jumping up. Even with sweaty bodies, and pulsing hearts, the band managed to charge through their massive set of classics, and new material. After a tribute song to our working men and women in Afghanistan, DKM walked off the stage. But they were not over yet… The crowd rallied together again and demanded an encore, which DKM were glad to provide. They ended the concert with “Boys On the Docks”, and “Skinhead On the MBTA”. The night was amazing.

As I was being tugged through the mass of spiky haired punks, and sweating, muscular skin heads, I managed to get a few more autographs. Scruffy Wallace, and Steph Dougherty.

The DKM/Casualties/Disasters show was spectacular. For a band of blue collar boys, they really bring out the fight and conviction in anyone who dares to listen. DKM will always strive for this quality, and to me, that makes them unforgettable. Pictures from the show can be found here:


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