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Dropkick Murphys, Swingin' Utters, Lars And The Bastards and Reach The Sky
March 29, 2001
At Fitzgerald's
Houston, TX

by Samuel Barker
April 4, 2001

The greatest punk variety show ever came to Houston on the 29th with Reach The Sky, Lars And The Bastards, Swingin' Utters, and the Dropkick Murphys. This was an amazing show with some of the best punk/hardcore bands around. Despite the show getting off to a late start due to the club's errors, the show was amazing.

The first band up was Boston's Reach The Sky. Reach The Sky got cheated at this show. The only got a 20 minute set and most of their fans were down on the sidewalk waiting to get in.

Despite all the negatives, Reach The Sky pushed all the energy of their full set into the shortened 6 song set. They were immediately sweating and got everyone involved. It was nice to see the kids who were up there got into the action. Everyone was jumping around and moving. It was a great thing to see. Reach The Sky got many new fans with their performance.

The next band up was Lars And The Bastards. Lars Fredrickson's side project put on a great show. They had a lot of energy and Lars talked to everyone throughout the set, so you could feel his love for what he was doing. They played a strong set. Most of the songs off their release were played, so it was a good time for all. The addition of the "Unknown Bastard" gave them an edge of a band like Avail who has someone to hype the crowd up. I was impressed with this set, and even more impressed that Lars put on an amazing show without having to play an Rancid songs.

The Swingin' Utters were awesome, plain and simple. There was no added members, no special hook to get you into them, just pure hard and fast punk rock. The energy of this band was amazing. I totally loved every moment of their set. The opened with "5 Lessons Learned," and tore through a set that included "Pills And Smoke," "Teenage Genocide," and "Eddie." The Swingin' Utters put on a hell of a show and I must say, you'd be sorry to miss them in your town.

At this show I came to a conclusion. A huge conclusion. The Dropkick Murphys are THE best punk band around right now. They have the potential to be something special for a long time to come. With the new addition of a second guitarist, a mandolin player, and a bagpipe player had made this band become something unique in the punk world. The combination of Irish Folk and Street Punk/Oi has given this band a flavor no one else has.

The set flowed so well. I can honestly say now that the addition of Al Barr as the vocalist was a brilliant move by this band. Besides being a gret frontman, Al has a great singing voice which pulls off the barroom ballads perfectly. Ken Casey's added vocals make for a good contrast and a nice Irish flavor.

The best song of the night for me was "The Spicy McHaggis Jig." They had a lot of girls get on the stage to dance along with the song and everyone was having a lot of fun. As always with the Murphys, the song of the night was "Barroom Hero," which I was suprised to learn was the first DKM song ever. Everyone sang along throughout the entire song, and most of the entire set.

This show also saw the return of James Lynch who broke his wrist. It was nice to have him back, but after about 7 songs he was ready to call it a night and Lars Fredrickson came out to finish the set in a fitting "Kiss Me I'm Irish" shirt. It was great to see the community feel on the tour. Everyone had nothing but good things to say about everyone else on the tour. It's what punk rock is all about!

Samuel Barker is Senior Editor. Contact him at suma@rockzone.com.

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