After about 10 minutes of their set, they were done and the Swingin' Utters came on next. I saw them open for Naked Raygun back in Portland a few years ago and they were fantastic. They were a little more subdued this time (by the end of the PDX show the singer was soaked in the beer that the audience had thrown at the stage and he was bleeding all over the place from a shot he took in the nose) but they sounded great. They played a lot of earlier tracks, though I was hoping they'd do some of the Filthy Thieving Bastards material, the more Pogues-ish sort of celt/punk/trad side project that they're all involved in. It wasn't that kind of night, however, and they delivered a pretty blistering 45 minute set, with frontman Johnny 'Peebucks' Bonnell pacing back and forth across the stage like a man possessed.
A few pictures...
One thing they said to the crowed before they went off stage was how appreciative they were of 'a new band starting to get big like the Street Dogs taking an old band like us on the road with them.' It's true. The Swingin' Utters have been around a long time, over twenty-years at this point, and they've never really gotten the recognition that they deserved for influencing the whole street punk scene that labels like Hellcat Records are really pushing right now. It's also cool to note that despite the 'mainstream' success of Me First And The Gimmes Gimmes that Spike Slawson is still playing with them.
The Street Dogs were up next, the evenings headliner. I expected them to be good but figured The Swingin' Utters would be the best band of the night. I was wrong. The Utters were great but The Street Dogs were amazing and it was cool to hear Mike McColgan mention that without The Swingin' Utters there really would be no Street Dogs to speak of. CJ Ramone was in the audience, I probably wouldn't have recognized him if he hadn't been called out from the stage, as he was just standing near the men's room in the dark wearing a baseball cap and a green jacket, not the black leather jacket/ripped jeans uniform of the band he took his last name from. It was cool to see some of the old guard out to support the younger guys.
At any rate, The Street Dogs were, as I said, fantastic. McColgan has such a sincerity and honesty to his singing and the lyrics are pretty inspiring even when the songs are a little on the sad side (Final Transmission, about a young man killed in the Iraq War, makes me tear up a bit and further question the futility of it all... but I digress). He had the crowd all riled up by the end, with pretty much every person in the audience singing along at one point or another. I'm too old to bother with mosh pits and other nonsense but I did go up front a few times (it was funny to see the 'pit' of teenagers get out of the way right quickly - they were all really, really tiny for some reason. Must be something in the water out in Long Island) to pump my fist and sing along. He's a pretty fearless frontman, standing on the barricade and letting the audience hold on to him for balance with the mic extended all the way out as far as his arms could reach into the crowd. You can tell these guys love their audience and they absolutely gave 110%. There was so much positive energy on the stage that it was hard not to get swept up in it just a bit.
I was hoping we might get Bar Room Hero or Skinhead on the MBTA for the encore but I can't blame him for wanting to distance himself from the Dropkick Murphy's a bit. Not only are the Street Dogs a very different band than the DM's are, but they're also not as good at this point. Regardless, they played for just over an hour and covered Black Flag's Rise Above for the encore - amazingly enough, I think they played it faster than Black Flag ever did.
All in all it was a great show. It's reassuring to know that there are still bands out there who appreciate their fans and don't try to rip them off. The cover charge was reasonble, T-Shirts were $12 - $15 which is a very fair price, and the CDs were $10 which is cheaper than the record stores. I had all the Swingin' Utters and Street Dogs albums already but I picked up a shirt from each band to show support. The tour is still going for a few more weeks now, and you really won't find a better deal on the road right now. Just a great night of solid working class punk rock. No condescension, no BS, just raw, well played and refreshingly sincere music.