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The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

Shipping up to Brookings: The Dropkick Murphys Rock the Dacotah Bank Center

Jack McCarty
The Interrupters take the stage as one of the opening acts for The Dropkick Murphys.

he Dropkick Murphys, along with opening acts Jesse Ahern and The Interrupters, brought their famous brand of Celtic Punk right here to Brookings on Oct. 13.

The night was led with Boston based folk rocker, Jesse Ahern, taking the stage sometime around 7 p.m. Wielding nothing but a guitar and a harmonica, Ahern is a one-man band, primarily relying on foot stomps and audience participation for percussion.

He started his set off with a song talking about how it makes no sense how one of the richest countries on the planet can have so many poor people working for “less than minimum wage,” in his own words. He then moved on to a song about his family and then a song about aging. Finally, he rounded out his set with a cover of a Clash song, “Bankrobber.”

His performance was fine. There’s only so much hype one guy with a guitar and a harmonica can muster, so for what it was it was ok. Personally, this kind of politically charged “one man and a guitar” type of folk music really isn’t my cup of tea, but I know for a lot of people it is. If he sounds like your jam give him a listen, he has a new album out right now called “Roots, Rock, Rebel.” To me though, he just kind of sounds like if Bob Dylan smoked as much cigarettes as the Marlboro man.

After Ahern, Los Angeles based ska punk band, The Interrupters, took the stage, and this is where the real party began. They came right out of the gate full of raw energy and intensity that just stuck around for their full set.

They were beyond captivating, and this is mostly due to the lead singer, Aimee Interrupter. She was dancing up and down the stage for about the entire time, often reaching down to the pit to shake people’s hands, giving a stellar vocal performance the entire time.

The instrumentals were also killer, if not a little overbearing. One of the most notable performers was Kevin Bivona, who plays lead guitar and is also the older brother of the bass player and drummer who also happen to be twins. Bivona was able to rock some sick guitar riffs, at one point even playing a part of Eddie Van Halen’s legendary “Eruption” solo. Organ and trombone player, Billy Kottage, also got some time to shine during the set and was able to lay down a rocking trombone solo, which doesn’t sound like it should work, but it totally does.

Finally, the night ended with an incredible performance from the headlining act, The Dropkick Murphys, and I will be honest, I went to this concert not expecting to say that.

I was expecting to show up andwatch a bunch of middle-aged men fruitlessly attempt to hold on to their youth while reminiscing about the good-old-days through half-baked lyrics and meandering instrumentals. Another thing that made me nervous was the fact that their studio albums aren’t the greatest. A lot of it feels derivative, and after a while the songs just began to sound the same. Thankfully, none of this was true of their live performance.

The first thing that I noticed was how lively lead singer Ken Casey was. Even though he’s 54 years old, I think he had way more energy and passion than the relatively younger members of The Interrupters. He was just such a commanding presence that it was almost impossible to look away from him.

My musical expectations were also blown completely out of the water. The Dropkick Murphys are a band that needs to be seen live to fully appreciate. Sure, their standout track “Shipping up to Boston” is a powerful song in its own right, but seeing Casey belt the lyrics out at the top of his lungs, all the while people are singing along and moshing in the circle pit, it is a completely different experience that can’t be replicated by listening to it on your car radio on your drive home from work. And songs like “Rose Tattoo” go from being a mediocre sounding punk style love song, to a heart gripping power ballad of sheer passion and intensity.

The Dropkick Murphys also use a variety of instruments that are unusual for a punk band to have like a banjo, accordion, and my favorite, the bagpipes. These instruments, combined with their heavy punk roots, create a style of music that you rarely get to see anymore, which just makes the experience of seeing them live even more impactful.

I do also have to mention that The Dropkick Murphys are, to an extent, a political band. After their first song, lead singer Casey openly called Donald Trump a “loser” and a “rapist”, then the band proceeded to play a song called “First Class Loser”. I could see how this could feel forced and unnecessarily isolate large portion of their audience, especially in a red state like South Dakota, but I don’t think it was that big of a deal. It was only brought up once during the set, and the band has always been open about their politics, so this shouldn’t be a shock to anyone remotely familiar with the band.

Oct. 13 was a night full of energy and raw talent. From Jesse Aherns salt of the earth persona to The Dropkick Murphys face melting intensity, the entire night was an experience that I will never forget.

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Jack McCarty, Entertainment Editor

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  • M

    MichOct 19, 2023 at 1:39 pm

    I totally agree