Sunday night the Celtic punk/rock band, Dropkick Murphys, came into town to play at Headliners Music Hall. It was a nice last minute surprise for fans as the band was originally scheduled to play at X-Fest in Dayton, Ohio. The festival was canceled, so the Headliners show replaced it. In our interview with Dropkick Murphys drummer, Matt Kelly, I was told that they had a very energetic crowd, but I didn’t realize just how enthusiastic they really were. The fans were a very diverse mix of people from punked out mohawks to kilts to gothic steampunks to your average joe. Fans were chanting “Let’s go Murphys” before the show had even started. Headliners was definitely packed full.
The show opened with Louisville alternative country band, Quiet Hollers. I was delightfully surprised at such a great opening act. I didn’t realize there was going to be an opening act, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. They were a very unique group. The lead singer/guitarist, Shadwick Wilde, plays a left handed guitar. The bass player, Ryan Scott, played a sick looking six string bass guitar. Then most importantly (slightly biased here) they have a very talented violinist, Aaron West. The other two members include Adam Buntain on guitar and Nick Goldring on drums.
Quiet Hollers aren’t as loud and rowdy as the Dropkick Murphys, but they definitely had a few moments where the Murphys’ influence shined through in “Motorcycle Song” and “Destitution Road.” I personally loved the little violin lick in “Destitution Road.” Wilde’s vocals are versatile and easily transition from being heavy and raspy like in “Destitution Road” to smoother and mellow such as the vocals in “Girls Like You.”
At first glance you would never know West is a classically trained violinist. He’s a burly-looking guy with a big beard and typically someone you would envision as a country fiddler, but after he starts playing it becomes obvious he is classically trained. His playing was smooth and sweet sounding with his finessed vibrato, but at the same time successfully bridging the gap into fiddling by not playing overly virtuosically. West successfully utilized his classical training, but retained that country fiddle feel. I wished the sound mix had a little more violin present. I could usually hear the violin clearly when West was play on the A and E strings, but sometimes when he played in the lower register he would get drowned out by the rest of the band. This is a typical sound mixing problem many violinists face.
A select few in the audience were growing impatient and bordering on rude waiting for the Dropkick Murphys to come on stage. One particular individual kept yelling for Quiet Hollers to hurry up. It was a Sunday night, so I guess people weren’t as eager to stay out all night. For the most part I believe the audience really loved Quiet Hollers.