DEAN BIRKHEIMER | Go Venue Magazine
On Thursday, October 5th, 2023, the bands on the bill at The Astro provided all the heat we would need to combat the chill in the night air. The fans assembled, ready to be faced with music ranging from poetic to punk.
Starting things off was the first artist to sign with the Dropkick Murphys new label, Dummy Luck. Jesse Ahern, like the Dropkick Murphys hails from Massachusetts. He is exactly the type of performer you’d expect out of Boston. His new album, Roots Rock Rebel is full of blue collar life with some screw the man moments and is an absolute must-listen. I’m assuming that if you’re reading this, then you must be a Dropkick Murphy fan, and if so, then you know this is not the first time Jesse has opened for them. Just recently, during the This Machine Still Kills Fascist tour, I was introduced to Jesse Ahern and came away a huge fan. His down to earth, every man style is a perfect compliment to what Dropkick Murphys bring. Ahern loves to talk with the crowd, but he does it in a way that makes you feel like you just met in a pub for a beer and a chat. There was a point where he caught himself using some adult language, and he wanted to be sure that he wasn’t offending some of the younger members of the audience. That’s him in a nutshell, a regular guy who cares about others. His soulful story-telling style of music wraps the audience in a nostalgic blanket. Songs like “Sons and Daughters” and “Pray” were especially noteworthy. When he concluded his set, we were left with great anticipation for what was to come.
What was to come was a full throttle, no holds barred set from The Interrupters. The Interrupters have found main stream success on the heels of their hit, “She’s Kerosene” and have headlined many shows. Tonight they played runner-up to Dropkick and I can’t imagine a better support band. From the start to the end, the word of the night was go. And go they did as they blazed their way through song after song. Song of the night was their SKA version of “Bad Guy.” Recently my 10-year-old granddaughter turned me on to Billie Eilish and I must admit that The Interrupters version is much more to my liking. The band consists of vocalist Aimee Interrupter, the Bivona brothers (guitarist Kevin, bassist Justin, and drummer Jesse) along with Billy Kottage, formerly of Reel Big Fish. Together, they can fill any venue with sound and energy. Aimee’s voice is extremely strong and full of personality. She loves engaging with the crowd, even shaking hands with a very young fan. If ever a band had swagger, The Interrupters are it. They are adept at producing attitude and gratitude during their time on stage and if the goal was to entertain and create memories, then I say…goal achieved
Dropkick Murphys are the type of band you have to be prepared for before seeing them. You can’t just show up with a ho-hum attitude. You must be fired up and feeling stoked. Thanks to Jesse Ahern and The Interrupters, we were all more than prepared for the riot-like show we were about to encounter. Back in May, Dropkick released their 12th studio album, Okemah Rising. This was an acoustic LP that featured the words of Woody Guthrie. Tonight, we would hear nothing acoustic, this would be a night of controlled mayhem and bedlam. It began with the lights lowered and the voice of Sinead O’Conner performing “Foggy Dew” drifting amongst the multitude. Then as if shot out of a cannon, the boys from Quincy, Massachusetts invaded and occupied the stage. Lead singer Ken Casey moves across the stage full of vigor and fire. He is a man on a mission and his mission is clear…to lead us all to the punk promised land and like Moses, there were commandments, but not 10, just 2. 1. Thou shalt rejoice and 2. Thou shalt love each other. The entire set would have Ken alternating between the stage and the crowd, and each time he went to the crowd there would be continuous fist bumping and microphone feeding. As the set progressed, we get to the song “Middle Finger” and the crowd responds with the obligatory middle finger aimed right at Casey. Even a little girl, near the front, perched on her father’s shoulders, joined in. This of course caught the eye of Casey, and he proclaimed that “with young fans like this, the future is bright. “Another highlight had Casey tease the VIP area with comments like, “You think your better than the rest”. He did clarify, however, that if he was in the crowd, he’d also be in the V.I.P. area. He then told them that he wants to see the very first mosh pit circle in a V.I.P. area, and sure enough during the very next song, he got his wish. As the end approached we were treated to “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya” and “Rose Tattoo”. The singing produced by the mass of people could be heard throughout Nebraska. The encore produced fan favorites, ending with “I’m Shipping Up To Boston.” I noticed when it was over and the lights came up that many people didn’t leave. They were visiting with each other, talking about what a great show they had seen. To get people to leave, I noticed some of Omaha finest slowly rounding them up and respectfully guiding them to the exits. The Dropkick fans are family, and you can bet your life that the next time Dropkick comes to the area, there will be another family reunion.
Now, a word or two about the venue. The Astro is one of, if not the newest musical facility in the Omaha area. There is still work to be done, but this site appears as if it’s going to be one of Omaha’s hot spots. Easy access in and out, spaced out beautifully, with concessions and merchandise having their own area. Plenty of standing room for those who wish to be a part of the show, and plenty of grassy area raised above the SRO section. There are chairs available in the back, but I’d like to see that turned into ‘bring your own chair’ area like the one at Stir Cove. I had the opportunity to interact with several employees, and they were all accommodating, courteous and highly professional. Most importantly, as a photographer the photo pit is large, and the stage is just the right height, so getting those close-up personal shots are a breeze. Thanks to all involved, it was a rocking night that filled my memory banks with several deposits.