pop-break hangs with Irish punk heroes the Dropkick Murphys …
Words by Bill Bodkin | Photos by Maxwell Barna
The electricity at The Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, N.J., was turned up to 11 as Boston’s favorite sons, The Dropkick Murphys rocked one of Central Jersey’s premier music venue. Pop-Break’s Bill Bodkin, Maxwell Barna and Jeanne Crump attended the show, which also included performances by The Turbo AC’s and The Tossers.
The Opener: The Turbo AC’s, a punk rock band out of New York City, opened up the night for a crowd that was amped for live music. The band was solid, performing an enjoyable, high-energy set of fist in the air anthems. The two members that impressed the most was drummer “Mike-e” and bassist Tim Lozada. The drum work was vintage punk rock with that pounding, immediate sound that always evokes a West Coast surf vibe — as if they were scoring a big wave furiously coming in to form a perfect tube for a surfer. Don’t ask me why, that’s just my imagery. Lozada created a great backbone with his low end antics. His vocals on the anthemic choruses were also a very nice touch.
The Mid-Card: Chicago-based Celtic rockers The Tossers were up next. I was advised by Pop-Break’s senior photographer Maxwell Barna that these guys were “the real deal.” And he couldn’t have been more right. If you are in love with that Celtic-influenced punk sound or just love good Celtic music, put The Tossers at the top of your list of bands you have to listen to. They are up there with Dropkick and Flogging Molly in terms of excellence. They really know how to captivate an audience and on this evening Sayreville gave The Tossers a arousing seal of approval. I’d like to see these guys return to the East Coast on a solo headlining tour.
The Main Event: The Dropkick Murphys might not be headlining stadiums, but they have the same swagger, the same command of the crowd, the same energy and excitement as any mega-touring act I’ve ever seen. Yet even with the immense presence they have, they still create an intimate show. You feel as though you’re in the local pub, pint in hand, taking part in sing-a-longs, clapping hands with furious energy, swaying to the ballads and tapping your toes throughout the set. The set has such an infectious energy that makes you want to move and plasters a smile to your face. “Shipping Up To Boston” brought the house down — to no one’s surprise. It’s such an awesome song, you can’t help but throw your fist in the air and scream “yoooooooo hoooooooo!” Al Barr’s voice is as awesome live as it is on record. Musically, this band couldn’t be tighter. The incorporation of tin whistles, banjos, bagpipes and mandolins were seamless additions to the free-wheeling guitars and motoring bass. In essence, Dropkick Murphys are a consummate live band that delivers a rowdy, fun and memorable live experience.
The Experience: Pop-Break had an absolute blast — it was so good, fish literally fell from the sky! (Well, a seagull dropped it in the parking lot, but seriously, when does that ever happen?) We had a fantastic time having a Budweiser while interviewing guitarist James Lynch — who KILLED IT with his solo on DKM’s cover of AC/DC’s “TNT.” Pop-Break also got into the pit as our own Maxwell Barna and Jeanne Crump brought the ruckus to the floor of Starland. Maxwell was tossed in the air with the greatest of ease (he got serious air) and did us proud with his crowd surfing. His coiffed hair was not damaged. Jeanne, who barely scrapes four feet tall, braved the pit and got on stage with a slew of lassies for Dropkick’s sing-a-long version of “Kiss Me I’m Shit Faced.” A great night and we look forward to covering DKM again real soon.