dropkick murphys, 11.3.07

some people use their college degree to get a high-paying job. i plan to be a journalist, so i’ve already come to terms with my low-tax-bracket fate. but even as a mass communications major, i still encounter the occasional cal-related perk. case in point: last saturday evening, under the impression that i had a balcony seat at the warfield in san francisco, i ran out the door in flip flops and my cal sweatshirt and barely made it to bart in time to catch the fremont train. leo, whom i met in the city, had bought his ticket before i did and had the privilege of a spot on the floor. but thanks to my trusty hoodie and trans-bay collegiate/athletic loyalty of the warfield staff, i didn’t have to climb any stairs. go bears.

it’s all about the floor at the warfield, anyway. you can see the stage, the band, and the ceiling from the best angles. and your cell phone pictures come out clearer, too.

so as the bosox fans began to file in, $6 guinnesses in hand, i began to regret my hasty footwear decision. it was time to strategize, lest i be caught in the most WASPy mosh pit of my life. the three openers (the filthy thieving bastards, the briggs, and the tossers) didn’t do much for the audience, who were clearly saving their energy for the murphys. but this time lapse allowed me enough time to solidify a one-foot radius facing center stage, pressed at a right angle between the back wall of the floor and the staircase leading away from the chaos (i.e. to the bar). by the time the murphys came out, i was fortunate enough to stand behind a guy with the physique of a bodyguard and absolutely no motivation to mosh.

i played my cards so well that night that i didn’t even have to play them at all.

the pit was intense. it was a stew of sweat, saliva, tattoos, and testosterone. the guys at these concerts fascinate me. they beat the shit out of each other in the confines of the pit, but they take care of their buddies on the sidelines and protect the more delicate people (apparently i gave off this vibe, but i’m not complaining) from errant moshing and elbowing. they know all the words to the songs, yet nothing of the instrumentation because they concentrate so hard on yelling the lyrics and trying not to get killed in the pit. these shows aren’t even about the music. they’re about noise. i think the band is completely aware of that, too. hell, most of the songs are in the same key with the same chord progression and even with the same basic percussion. i had to plug my ears to hear the notes more clearly. but the concert isn’t about music or melody. it’s a catharsis. a musical fight club. a chance to be with other bosox fans, a chance to drink guinness and be irish and drop a few f-bombs and a few hundred more calories.

i was actually impressed by the briggs – their guitarist gave off a pete townshend vibe in both musical style and physical appearance. and i got my necessary murphys fix. they played my favorite, barroom hero:

sure, the other two openers were mediocre, and i think attending this concert shot my hearing more than it should have, but i really saw something. i saw 40-year-old men chanting with their wives, i saw inked couples with fists in the air, i saw shirtless beefcakes with huge smiles on their faces. i saw a happiness that i never would have seen before. i couldn’t hear myself think, but i was happy, too.