Live Review: Tiger Army get their due with the Dropkicks at the House of Blues
It’s redundant and a little boring but also fine to gripe about Dropkick Murphys’ slow-but-sure 20-year evolution into a family friendly operation (unless your family are major dicks). It’s fine to gripe about what you want.
But let’s consider that while 5 Seconds of Summer will introduce more youths to pop-punk than Descendents ever did, 5 Seconds of Summer will only introduce anyone to Descendents if the illuminati lizardman sorcerer who decides how the boy-band dresses arbitrarily decides to put one of them in a Milo Goes To College T-shirt.
By contrast, a small but significant portion of Wednesday’s wall-to-wall House of Blues crowd heard The Clash’s “Career Opportunities” for the first time after Ken Casey introduced it as the work of, in his opinion, arguably the greatest rock and roll band in history. Meanwhile, a fair share of Shane MacGowan’s fanbase only know of the Pogues via Dropkicks’ indirect marketing. Particularly curious new converts might uncover the almost-forgotten amongst Dropkicks’ late-’90s contemporaries. In the latter case, if they happened upon the onetime Avalon/Axis early enough to catch Tiger Army’s first Boston performance in almost a decade that night, they’ve got a head start down the rabbit hole to the skate park that exists in other people’s memories, where the Y2K virus is about to ruin civilization and render our PS2s rectangles of useless plastic.
(The Ducky Boys’ opening set on Thursday could’ve had a similar effect, except Ducky Boys and their handful of affiliated bands have played numerous shows during Tiger Army’s hiatus, therefore Ducky Boys are much closer not-forgotten-at-all, as opposed to half-forgotten.)
Years ago, Nick 13 stepped away from Tiger Army to indulge his classic country impulses — as compiled on his self-titled 2011 solo outing. In recent weeks, he tells Noisey he required the leave of absence to “figure out the next step for the musical evolution” of his longtime marquee project’s signature gothabilly wares. Gauging from “Prisoner of the Night” — the B+ lead single off Tiger Army’s upcoming and confoundingly-titled record V •••–, that next step was adding a piano. How and why did that take 10 years to figure out? I have no idea! But that’s okay! “Prisoner” and “Firefall,” another fresh track that materialized on Wednesday send positive omens for what else unfolds on V •••–.
Everyone knows upright bass players are the most interchangeable musicians on the planet, unless capable suave acrobatic theatrics, in which case they become indispensable. Ex-Lemmy associate Djordje Stijepovic replaced Geoff Kresge sometime last year, and provided the requisite bunca-bunca-dundca-dundca above and beneath his instrument, plus my notes indicate other contortions that I may have exaggerated whilst writing them down. It seems unlikely that Stijepovic truly played upright bass while upside down, but that is what I wrote down.
I do not quite trust my own impressions, but Stijepovic should continue to do exceptionally well alongside longtime drummer James Meza and 13 — who filled out the rest of their set with standbys from the previous four Tiger Army albums, plus “Rumble” by Link Wray and his Ray Men. Ironically, the late ‘50s surf instrumental made famous by its inclusion in Pulp Fiction (and in some of these parts, the source of nomenclature inspiration for Boston’s Rock And Roll Rumble) was the only song in Tiger Army’s arsenal that 85 percent of the House of Blues recognized. However, collective lack of familiarity failed to prevent a circle pit forming in conjunction with “F.T.W.” — which is no slight on unfamiliarity. Scant few abstract concepts in this world can diminish the oomph of that particular tune from 2001’s Power of Moonlite.
Dropkicks destroyed their headlining session as usual, but we are unable to give it a proper review, as their St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans have yet to conclude. They’ll be at the House of Blues once again tonight, Saturday afternoon at Agganis Arena, and once again on Lansdowne on Sunday. As of this writing, the Sunday show is the only one with tickets still for sale — but that may very well no longer be the case by the time anyone can read this.
Follow Barry Thompson on Twitter @barelytomson.