On the Shamrock Fest Post-Mortem

Contrary to recent appearances, allyngibson.com is not an all-music, all-the-time blog. I do listen to music, I do write about music from time to time, but I don’t really have the right vocabulary to write knowingly or critically about music. I really just write about the stuff that I like and the stuff that makes me feel. The only reason for the sense that this has become a music blog is that a number of releases I’m really interested in have come out in a compressed period of time and I’ve felt it necessary to write about them.

That said, let’s talk more music! :)

Over the weekend, I attended Shamrock Fest in Washington, DC. It’s a Celtic Rock/Punk festival that’s been held for about a decade, and this year some of the major headline acts included the Charm City Saints, Carbon Leaf, and the Dropkick Murphys. I’d thought about attending in years past; this year, things just happened to work out in that direction, and I went and spent a lovely (if seriously windy) spring day in DC.

I like the Celtic Rock and Punk genres, though I’m not really an expert on them. (Carbon Leaf, I should note, isn’t Celtic Rock or Punk by any stretch. They’re Brazillian Polka Rock. Or is it Brazillian Polka Funk?) I have CDs from the Pogues, Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly, The Tossers, and a couple of other bands at home, so I’m familiar with the genre and some of the traditional Irish songs.

One band I was most looking forward to seeing live was the Charm City Saints. They’re a Baltimore-based Celtic Punk band, and I bought an EP of theirs, Never Go Home Again, off iTunes a few years ago. They put on an awesome gig. They made an unholy racket, and I went half-deaf in my right ear. (Seriously. It didn’t stop ringing for about two hours.) After their set, I bought their full-length CD, Hooligans & Saints.

Another band I saw was Boston’s The Gobshites. They put on a nice set, and I bought a CD from them, too — a collection of Irish drinking songs entitled Songs My Da Got Pissed To. (Unfortunately, the CD didn’t play in my car stereo on the drive back home from Greenbelt, and it barely played in the stereo at home. Signs of a bad burn, methinks.)

Another band I thought was interesting was Philadelphia’s Barleyjuice; they did a Celtic Punk-ified version of The Clash’s “London Calling.” (You can hear a sample of it here.)

The band I most wanted to see?

Carbon Leaf.

I used to see Carbon Leaf on a regular basis when I was a student at the University of Richmond. They would play the campus bar maybe every other month, or campus parties or a bar down in Shockoe Bottom. After I left Richmond, I didn’t see the band again until an outdoor concert in downtown Raleigh in 2005.

I tried Tweeting the Carbon Leaf setlist Saturday night. Unfortunately, not a single tweet went through, and I can’t recall the exact details of their setlist. But I can tell you they went with some seriously deep cuts — “The Boxer,” “Desperation Song,” and “Toy Soldiers” from 2001’s Echo Echo, “Home” and “American Tale” from 1999’s Ether-Electrified Porch Music. I also remember “Mary Mac” and “Sloop John B.” I also think they played “One Prairie Outpost,” and I’d swear there was a song from How the West Was One, but I don’t remember which one. It was a tight hour of musicianship.

I was a bit far back from the stage, so my pictures are a bit grainy. I’m not sure why, but I found it amusing that Barry Privett, Carbon Leaf’s lead singer, was wearing a white dress shirt and a black necktie. After a day of bands in kilts and thronging crowds of college students drowned in green, he was completely incongruous. :)

That brings me to my thought on Shamrock Fest. It was like a state fair, but with Celtic Rock and Punk music. There was a concession area selling state fair-like food. There was a carnival area with ferris wheels and climbing walls and ball tossing. There were vendor booths selling inflatable unicorns and metal hula hoops. Unlike a state fair, there weren’t livestock shows, and the audience, by and large, was college students. And, by the time Carbon Leaf came on stage, extremely drunk college students. ;)

I had a blast. Yes, it was windy. Yes, the beer choices were few. Yes, there was the wafting odor of pot smoke from time to time. But! It was a fantastic day of music and fun, even if I spent more money on music than I should have. Shamrock Fest was nothing short of awesome, and I’ll have to do it again next year! :h2g2:

3 thoughts on “On the Shamrock Fest Post-Mortem

  1. If you go next year, take me with you! I didn’t want to be the only over-30 rolling through a sea of 22 year olds!

  2. You wouldn’t have been. I saw people there who were in their fifties and sixties.

    I also saw a lot of young kids. Like under tens. Given the level of rough profanity in some of the music, that surprised me.

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