The bands of the original English oi movement -- from the Business to the Gonads -- sought respite from the excesses of late-'70s punk. They celebrated street life and working-class backgrounds with stripped-down chord progressions and down-to-earth lyrics. These days the Dropkick Murphys are the inheritors of that spirit and the premier band in a resurgence of American oi.
The Irish-American outfit started three years ago when ex-singer Mike McColgan, bassist Ken Casey, guitarist Rick Barton, and Matt "Tough Sticks" Kelly began thumping their chests and playing U.S. pub punk in the basement of a barbershop. Within a year, Rancid's Lars Frederiksen had caught a show and produced the band's first full-length, Do or Die. The album -- the musical equivalent of a St. Patrick's Day parade rolling through a Teamsters meeting -- fuels itself with beer, rowdy chants, and traditional song. On "Cadence to Arms," a new arrangement of the bagpipe tune "Scotland the Brave," the band weaves together traditional Celtic instrumentation and punk credibility. It begins with the original bag-pipe melody, slowly blends into a guitar crunch that mimics the bagpipes, then explodes into a full-blown anthem. In one song, it's everything the Murphys do best: The punks can dance, the working man can relate, and the Irish can be proud.
-- Robert Arriaga
The Dropkick Murphys open for Agnostic Front on Friday, Oct. 9, at 9 p.m. at the Maritime Hall, 450 Harrison (at First Street). U.S. Bombs and Maximum Penalty play first. Tickets are $10-12; call 974-0634.