Dropkick Murphys/The Interrupters - Live in Grand Rapids (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Dropkick Murphys / The Interrupters

Live in Grand Rapids (2017)

live show

St. Patrick’s Day came to Grand Rapids almost a month early this year, as Dropkick Murphys stormed into town on Thursday February 23rd. I’ve seen the boys from Boston a number of times over the years, and I was on the fence about going. The deciding factor was that I wanted to check out the new downtown venue, 20 Monroe Live. It’s a newly constructed 2600 capacity concert hall, and it looked to be a little upscale for this punk’s taste. Hopefully it will fill a niche for a midsize venue in the market. We didn’t really have a great place for big punk bands (NOFX for example) or not quite arena sized metal bands (think Slayer). I originally figured that DKM might be the closest thing to a show I really wanted to see. (Meanwhile, I already have tickets for Descendents at the same place.) As much as I’ve got no use for their partner, Live Nation, they’ve got a lot of pull in the industry and the ability to bring some great stuff to town.

Against my better judgement, my friend and I brought our wives with us to the show. Mrs.Trauma is perfectly capable of taking care of herself, but you know those Dropkick Murphys crowds. The audience certainly lived up to its reputation, but we’ll get to that later. As soon as we walked in, I ran into an old friend and former bandmate that I hadn’t seen in the better part of a decade. It was awesome to see him again, and by the time we were done catching up I had completely missed the first band. Blood Or Whiskey is the rare celt-punk band actually from Ireland, and they came highly recommended. Sorry guys, I will try to check you out at some point.

Next up was The Interrupters, a band I was well aware of but never really got into. They are a female fronted, LA based quartet that is signed to Hellcat. The other three guys are brothers and they look eerily similar. It doesn’t help that they also dress the same in white button up shirts and skinny black ties and suspenders. I would describe their sound as mellow Rancid style ska combined with a more polished Distillers. Songs about ‘white noise’ and ‘standing by our crew’ felt a bit cliché, but still managed to be likeable. Overall it didn’t really do much for me, but most of the crowd seemed to love it. Regardless of what this jaded old punk thinks, The Interrupters seem like a band destined to ‘make it’ (at least by punk standards). For me, the highlight of their 45 minute set was their cover of the Operation Ivy classic “Sound System”.

By now I’d had some time to take in the venue, and I’d call it mixed bag. The sound was good, and not unnecessarily loud. The very large, flat main floor could have used some slope. My very average height 5’6” wife could not see very well amongst the sold out crowd. (For those of you keeping track at home, this is the second sellout in a row for me. I can’t imagine the last time that happened. Most of the shows I go to seem to be poorly attended.) All the bathrooms were upstairs which kind of sucked, but I couldn’t really afford the beer anyway. $11 for a draft beer is a new high for this secondary market. Grand Rapids is a wonderful place, but it’s not New York or LA, or even Chicago for that matter.

The show did not really draw a punk audience. The few there were definitely a minority among the relatively well heeled crowd. The tickets started at over $30. Most folks were dressed like they were going to dinner at a nice restaurant. There was also none of the proper etiquette generally observed at punk shows. There were multiple fights, including a cat fight right in front of us. As expensive as beer was, I saw more of them thrown than I could count, including one right in some girl’s face. We all got sprayed at some point. Mrs.Trauma took it in stride when she was shoved back into me. I found myself clenching my fists on multiple occasions. The close quarters definitely seemed to bring out the worst in everyone.

When the lights fell, the Dropkick Murphys logo was projected on the big screen behind the stage as their long and dramatic Enya/Riverdance style intro music played. The crowd was at a fever pitch when they opened the show with two new songs, “The Lonesome Boatman” and “Rebels With a Cause”. Next was the much more familiar “State of Massachusetts”, and things were officially rolling. I thought DKM did a nice job of mixing the old and the new, although stuff from The Gang’s All Here and Sing Loud, Sing Proud was conspicuously absent. For us old timers, they did a three song mini set from the Boys On the Docks EP. “Caps and Bottles”, “In the Streets of Boston” and “Boys On the Docks” were some of my favorite songs of the evening.

Although I wasn’t all that impressed by their last couple of records, Dropkick Murphys still put on a good show. Big, dumb songs like “Blood”, “The Boys are Back” and “Paying My Way” work much better in a live setting. They also use the video screens available at the fancier venues to enhance the experience. DKM closed the show with the last song from the new 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory LP, “Until the Next Time”. It seems like a song specifically written to end shows with. (I miss “Kiss Me I’m Shitfaced” already.) To the band’s credit, they still let fans on the stage for the last song. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a band as big as Dropkick Murphys that still does that. They were also on stage for a good 90 minutes, so they try to give the crowd their money’s worth. When the show was over, I couldn’t help but notice Ken Casey taking the time to hug or shake hands with all the fans on stage. They certainly earned my respect.

Dropkick Murphys Setlist:

The Lonesome Boatman

Rebels With a Cause

State of Massachusetts

The Warrior’s Code

Sunday Hardcore Matinee

I Had a Hat

As One

Caps and Bottles

In the Streets of Boston

Boys On the Docks

Wild Rover

Going Out In Style


Your Spirit’s Alive

Just What I Needed

You’ll Never Walk Alone

First Class Loser

Barroom Hero

Paying My Way

Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya

Citizen CIA

Rose Tattoo

Out of Our Heads

Worker’s Song


The Boys Are Back

I’m Shipping Up to Boston

Until the Next Time