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Review Mon Feb 28 2011

Review: Dropkick Murphys/Naked Raygun @ Congress Theater

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Al Barr of Dropkick Murphys (Photos by Katie Hovland)

It doesn't take much urging for Chicagoans to boast their Irish pride, love for good music ans appreciation of cold beer. The same can be said for Boston-based punk rockers the Dropkick Murphys. So it's no surprise that these two collectives meshed Saturday night at the Congress Theater. Celebrating the release of their seventh studio album, Going Out In Style, this Tuesday and more than 15 years of being a band, Dropkick Murphys plowed through a 90-minute set with relentless energy.

But before the spectacle that was the Dropkick Murphys took the stage, attendees were graced with a performance from iconic members of the Chicago punk scene Naked Raygun. Since Naked Raygun's official reunion in 2006, fans that first fell in love with the band thirty years ago have been given another chance to see and hear classics like "Surf Combat" and "Wonder Beer" played live.

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Naked Raygun's Jeff Pezzati (Photos by Katie Hovland)

Naked Raygun's performance was, in a word, modest. The band's simple guitars, amps, drum kit stage set-up seemed to be swallowed up on Congress's massive stage. Frontman Jeff Pezzati was incredibly rigid until about four songs into the band's set when he finally ditched his leather jacket and stepped out from behind the mic stand. This was the point at which Pezzati began playing to the crowd rather than simply in front of it.

Naked Raygun's execution of each of their surfer rock via Midwestern punk jams was dead on in a technical and musical sense, however there was a considerable amount of difference between the first two or three songs of their night and the concluding two or three songs of the band's set. The longer Naked Raygun played, the more momentum they gained.

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Jeff DaRosa of Dropkick Murphys (Photos by Katie Hovland)

If Naked Raygun's set could be described as modest, Dropkick Murphys' should be considered anything but. The band exploded onto the stage just after 9:45 complete with its full lineup consisting of traditional punk instrumentation, as well as Celtic additions such as bagpipe player Josh "Scruffy" Wallace and banjoist/mandolin player Jeff DaRosa. The band even welcomed five-piece, Boston-area mates theParkington Sisters to the stage to round out the bands string and vocal areas. The band's rotating cast of musicians, series of gigantic stage banners and impressive light show made for a highly entertaining set indeed.

The band's striking energy was unwavering throughout the entirety of its set. Drummer Matt Kelly kept his bandmates marching along with an intense ferocity and singer Al Barr's unmistakable growl and manic stage antics refused to let audience members take a breather. It's safe to say that no one present at Saturday's show — band and audience members alike — was short on energy. Barr's presence was hardly needed for songs like "Barroom Hero," save for the deafening vocals provided by the crowd.

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Josh "Scruffy" Wallace (Photos by Katie Hovland)

Dropkick Murphys happily showcased new tunes off Going Out In Style including a heartfelt tribute to family ("Cruel") and the album's title track, a woeful lament that begs for a sing-a-long. However, there were still plenty of classics spanning the Murphys' discography that got playtime throughout the night. Songs like "The State of Massachusetts," which featured some impressive banjo riffing on the part of DaRosa, threw the crowd into a frenzy.

"Hail, hail, the gang's all here/Leave your worries at the door, boy. They're not going anywhere," sang Barr during the aptly named "The Gang's All Here" at Saturday night's show. This was the overall sentiment for the night — when you're surrounded by good pals and great music, what is there to worry about?

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
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