Walking toward Fenway Park to catch The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and The Dropkick Murphys, I couldn’t help but reminisce about my childhood in Boston. I was probably only 9 when I heard my sister playing The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ “Where’d You Go” off the album More Noise and Other Disturbances. In an instant I was hooked, and every time my sister would leave the house, I would sneak into her room and grab the CD. A year or so later I would see The Mighty Mighty Bosstones in the film, Clueless, and I immediately felt pride in their success, (or at least what a kid thought success was.) Now fast forward to the late 90’s, when I used to spend my days in the shadow of Fenway Park, hanging out with my friends and ditching class. Kenmore Sq was a different world back then, dirty, grungy, and real. There used to be an old bowling alley and pool hall DIRECTLY underneath Fenway Park, now the space is used as a dance floor for the bar Game On, one of the more obnoxiously sterilized bars in the area. The Rathskeller was in its last dying days, and while I wasn’t quite old enough to go in, I was old enough to know what I was missing. Kenmore Sq was a second home to the true Boston punks back then, and the one detail I remember most were the Dropkick Murphys pins on backpacks, nylon flight jackets, and suspenders. It was then that I knew something deep was brewing for the Dropkick Murphys. It seemed like every ‘legit’ punk in the area was carrying their banner. It was only a few years later that they had become entangled in Red Sox culture, and everyone in Boston knew them.
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones took the stage with a sold out house at Fenway Park. Dicky Barrett rolled through their set list with a twinkle in his eye the entire night. The crowd, while clearly there to see The Dropkick Murphys, knew every lyric, and soon I found myself singing “Where’d You Go” in my head. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones still have great stage presence, and their passion for ska and punk hasn’t died. There is something very comforting about knowing that while the trend of ska has died, the people who truly love it have stayed true. The Bosstones owned the stage, and I think there was a point where nearly everyone in the audience had that moment where they said to themselves, it doesn’t get more Boston than this. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones finished their set, and exited the stage to a roar.
The crowd had some time to relax and replenish their energy while waiting for the headliner, The Dropkick Murphys. Soon the lights went out, and everyone’s focus was drawn to the Jumbotron in center field, where a small video was being played showing the Dropkick Murphys fraternize humorously with players from the Red Sox. Soon a spotlight blinked on and the Murphys gang appeared above the Green Monster, bagpipes blasting in the background, walking toward the stage. All the lights dimmed, and then it came, a blast of guitar, bass and drums. The crowd was worked into a frenzy, and soon Al Barr came running on stage. Small in frame, but huge in presence, he had the crowd instantly. The crowd knew the songs, and knew the routines. After all, this is the same band that will sell out a week of shows at the Middle East. As the crowd chanted the songs that had become anthems for Boston Red Sox fans, I began to feel very Bostonian. The Dropkick Murphys had become a part of our city’s culture, they became more than just a Celtic inspired punk band, they had become more like the Citgo sign, a clear message to all those venturing toward our fair city: you’re now in Boston. And while the character changes of Kenmore Sq have lead to the doors of the Rathskeller being closed to bands like The Dropkick Murphys, another door was opened at the biggest and most storied venue in Boston, Fenway Park.