Ahh, a festival. Just the name inspires a sense of adventure and light-heartedness.
The Shindig — held Sept. 14 at Carroll Park and produced by 24-7 Entertainment — delivered on all fronts.
Featuring heavy-hitters like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Clutch, Gaslight Anthem, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and the Dropkick Murphys, the Shindig came through with an eclectic mix of acts for all tastes.
In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that I missed the first four acts: Victims of Experience, Bad Seed Rising, The Glenmont Popes and Larry and His Flask.
I regret missing those performances.
One of the first things I noticed upon entering the festival grounds was the man in a pig suit, spreading the good word about the surrounding Pigtown neighborhood. His get-up included a tee shirt, but it didn't have pants. Well, it had the pink-felt pig-leg pants, but no trousers to speak of. And the arms and legs were really soiled. Not like comically soiled, but actually stained. Had he literally been wallowing in the mud?
Welcome to the Shindig.
(Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for setlists of every band from Jimmie's Chicken Shack on, according to setlist.fm)
Beer. Fair prices ($5 for 20 oz.) and plenty of stands (no long lines, even at peak hours) made getting refreshed a breeze.
The weather. Sunny during the afternoon and cool in the evening. All music festivals should be held in mid-September. As Clutch frontman Neil Fallon put it: "How about a big round of applause for Mother Nature? What a beautiful day!" See, rock and rollers can appreciate a nice day. It's not always about boozing and brawling.
The people watching. Half the fun of any outdoor event is, of course, observing our fellow man in all of his drunken glory. It's always fun to watch an inebriated dude walking upright but impossibly leaning at a 45-degree angle, like in those old V8 commercials. That takes skill. Not to mention the amazing outfits and tee shirts on display (scroll to the bottom for a list of the highlights).
The production. The bands were great, the schedule was tight and there were a lot of good vibes.
Honestly, there was a lot to like about the Shindig.
Lines. From the hour-plus wait to get frisked to the often unbearably long wait for the Porta Potties, not everything at the Shindig ran as smoothly as the beer service. My guest and I were luckily able to bypass said line though, and head straight for the Press entrance. Nice.
Those PBR hats. Everyone was walking around in these cheapo red, white and blue PBR mesh snapback hats. Not that the hats were bad, I thought they were cool. I wanted one and didn't get one. I did get my hands on some free Cover Girl mascara though.
Suns out guns out. Shirtless folks who should have been shirted.
Spills. Brimming cups of beer were oh-so delicately balanced during nerve-wracking traverses, often unsuccesfully. I witnessed one woman attempt the ill-advised "pincher" technique on two full cups of ale. It didn't go well. There were also people taking spills. At first it was kind of funny, but after awhile seeing someone struggling to stay on their feet in public is just kind of sad. Luckily I didn't see any fights, but I did see someone carted off in an ambulance. Party safe, kids.
Onto the music!
Jimmie's Chicken Shack
"Who do we think we are?"
The local favorites wowed the crowd. I swore I would say that, so I did.
Frontman Jimi Haha engaged in some pretty good banter with the audience when he teased all the married men about disappointing their wives.
Jimmie's Chicken Shack threw in a nice mix of covers, taking on Smoke Two Joints by The Toyes/Sublime and Waiting Room by Fugazi. Jimmie's Chicken Shack was the best at covers. Sorry Joan Jett. (Oops! Spolier alert!)
Jimi Haha also made a randy joke about their name being Jimmie's Lickin Sack. Bravo, sir.
Highlights: High, Do Right, Milk
The Hold Steady
"Southtown girls won't blow you away, but you know that they'll stay..."
I'm sorry, I didn't know what their hit was. The Hold Steady isn't really my band, but several people walked by in steampunk outfits while I was spectating them, so there was that.
Highlights: Rock Problems, Southtown Girls, Your Little Hoodrat Friend
Reverend Horton Heat
"Thanks a lot, that makes me feel real good."
Even after more than 25 years, the good Rev is definitely still a draw, and he was very appreciative of his fans. I've never been one for the "big band" scene, but I enjoyed the set. They did a fun cover of Johnny B Good.
Highlights: Jimbo, Spend A Night in the Box, Psychobilly Freakout
Mighty Mighty Bosstones
"This stuff tastes great."
Bucket list! Or just band that I never thought I'd see live, and then I did at the Shindig. Of course we all remember where we were the first time we heard that "knock on wood" song during the ska explosion of the late 1990s.
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones set was a good transition into the final four bands. It came at the point in the day when the sun was starting to go down and it featured some real good color. I want to say that the Mighty Mighty Bosstones were also the first band that featured a dedicated skanker on the stage.
There was the point when the Natty Boh man - who fit right in with his dapper suit - came out and danced with the band during 1-2-8.
It was a little embarassing, though, when singer Dicky Barrett acted bewildered at the presence of Mr. Boh, asking if he was in a Pringles commercial. And that faux pas came shortly after he proclaimed that the band was from Boston, but loved Baltimore. Tsk, tsk.
It was pretty classy of them to dedicate Don't Worry Desmond Dekker to Josh Burdette, the well-known manager and bouncer at the 9:30 Club who died in early September.
Tim Brennan from the Dropkick Murphys joined in on The Daylights.
Highlights: The Rascal King, The Daylights, 1-2-8, Where'd You Go?, You Gotta Go!, The Impression That I Get
The Gaslight Anthem
"Everybody leaves and I'd expect as much from you."
I'm not especially familiar with this The Gaslight Anthem, but I have heard that they are a festival favorite. I liked singer Brian Fallon's throaty vocals. I kind of wanted them to cover Serve the Servants by Nirvana.
This was the time in the festival when my fellow festival-goer Meg and I succumbed to gravity and sat down in the grass. While we sat though, others were just getting warmed up. I began to notice folks skipping, strutting and performing exhibition yoga. There was also a guy with a paisley handkercheif the size of a bathtowel channeling Will Ferrell from Old School.
There was a really touching moment during this set when two injured vets, one in a wheelchair and one on a prosthetic leg, passed each other, exchanged a knowing look and chatted for a moment before hugging and moving on.
Highlights: Great Expectations
"Why you gotta run so hot?"
Truth be told, I'm kind of a metal guy. In fact, I wish I had the foresight to wrangle a press pass for the Maryland Deathfest back in May. That said, Clutch was probably the act that I was most looking forward to seeing. The boys, based out of Germantown, referred to the festival as a neighborhood gig, and satisfied their fans with a representative sampling of their trademark muddy, sludgey, bluesy Southern rock.
Singer Neil Fallon is really good at emoting and gesturing during his performances, at times resembling a preacher or dictator at the podium.
The Clutch set also featured a nice variety of peripheral instruments, such as harmonicas, cowbells and clapping.
Highlights: 50,000 Unstoppable Watts, Cyborg Bette, D.C. Sound Attack!, The Face, The Regulator, The Dragonfly, Electric Worry
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
"I thought we were special."
Double J has still got it! The sultry punk rock veteran is now well into her 50s, but her ability to rock a pair of leather pants and a microphone is without question.
I think that some of the younger set were a bit perplexed by Jett's act, however, as I did overhear one cynic comment: "I don't like Joan Jett enough to stay vertical. I think I might sit down for this set."
Jett at least made an effort to connect with the Millenial Generation, starting her set with a new tune lambasting social media, T.M.I. (Too much information, for those out there unfamiliar with teenage-girl acronyms of the mid-2000s.)
Jett's setlist included a good mix of new stuff, established hits and covers, my favorite being Crimson and Clover.
In between songs, Jett riffed on diverse and compelling topics, from her time spent growing up in Maryland (she's an Orioles fan!), to her desire to be a part of a threesome, to the suckability of brain tumors.
Bonus points for the choreographed fist pumping during Bad Reputation, a song some younger fans might be familiar with since it was used as the intro for Judd Apatow's television series Freaks and Geeks.
There was an awkward moment when Jett's encore ran long and the Dropkick Murphys began drowning her out from across the festival grounds.
I bet there was a fight between them later and someone got their paperboy cap knocked off with a flying leather boot.
Highlights: Bad Reputation, Soulmates to Strangers, I Hate Myself For Loving You
"Sometimes I was so messed up and didn't have a clue."
Time for the show stopper! Perhaps as a result of spending too many years dealing with disrespectful Red Sox fans at Camden Yards, I'm not a huge proponent of the whole Good Will Hunting/Red Sox Nation scene.
Still, I can appreciate a rocking tune, and I stayed around for the entirety of the Dropkick Murphys 20-song set. It's also kind of refreshing to the ear to go from six hours of guitars and drums to a menagerie of bagpipes, accordions, bozoukis and tin leprechaun whistles.
There was also some good dancing up there on the stage. I assume what I was seeing was an Irish jig of some sort. I just know that it looked like the guy was racking up like 10 million points on Dance Dance Revolution.
A highlight was obviously Shipping Off To Boston, which fellow Bostonites the Mighty Mighty Bosstones joined in on, as well as a wounded veteran, who actually removed his prosthetic leg and used it to encourage the raucous crowd. The band also wished a very special happy birthday to eight-year-old Cameron.
During the encore, they did that slightly annoying thing when like 200 people joined the band on the stage. I don't know. I'm sure it's cool for the people that get to go up there, but for everyone else it's just like "umm, security? Hi?"
Highlights: The Boys Are Back, Rose Tattoo, Shipping Off To Boston
Victims of Experience
Bad Seed Rising
The Glenmont Popes
Larry and his Flask
Jimmie's Chicken Shack
1. Do Right
2. Smoke Two Joints (The Toyes cover)
3. One Love (Bob Marley & The Wailers cover)
4. No Woman, No Cry (Bob Marley & The Wailers cover)
5. Waiting Room (Fugazi cover)
7. MilkThe Hold Steady
1. Positive Jam
2. Stuck Between Stations
3. The Swish
4. Rock Problems
6. Wait Awhile
7. Constructive Summer
8. Hot Soft Light
9. Chips Ahoy!
10. Sequestered in Memphis
11. Your Little Hoodrat Friend
12. Southtown GirlsReverend Horton Heat
1. The Devil's Chasing Me
2. Baddest of the Bad
3. It's Martini Time
4. Jimbo Song
5. Spend a Night in the Box
7. Indigo Friends
8. Where in the Hell Did You Go With My Toothbrush
9. Johnny B. Goode (Chuck Berry cover)
10. 400 Bucks
11. Big Little Baby
12. Psychobilly Freakout
13. Big Red Rocket of Love
14. Galaxy 500
15. Honky Tonk Night Time Man (Merle Haggard cover)
16. Galaxy 500Mighty Mighty Bosstones
1. The Old School Off the Bright
2. The Rascal King
3. Kinder Words
4. Graffiti Worth Reading
5. Someday I Suppose
6. The Daylights
7. Dr. D
8. Everybody's Better
9. Like a Shotgun
11. Where'd You Go?
12. Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah
13. Hope I Never Lose My Wallet
14. Hell of a Hat
15. Don't Worry Desmond Dekker
16. They Will Need Music
17. The Impression That I Get
18. You Gotta Go!The Gaslight Anthem
2. The '59 Sound
3. Biloxi Parish
4. Old White Lincoln
5. We Came to Dance
6. Mulholland Drive
8. Blue Dahlia
9. The Queen of Lower Chelsea
11. Too Much Blood
12. Great Expectations
14. American SlangClutch
1. Earth Rocker
2. The Mob Goes Wild
3. Crucial Velocity
4. Cyborg Bette
5. 50,000 Unstoppable Watts
6. D.C. Sound Attack!
7. The Regulator
8. The Face
9. Gravel Road
10. The Wolfman Kindly Requests
11. Electric Worry / One Eye Dollar
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
2. Cherry Bomb (The Runaways cover)
3. Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah) (Gary Glitter cover)
4. Bad Reputation
5. Soulmates to Strangers
6. Make It Back
7. You Drive Me Wild (The Runaways cover)
9. Love Is Pain
10. Hard to Grow Up
11. The French Song
12. Any Weather
13. I Love Rock 'n' Roll (The Arrows cover)
14. Crimson & Clover (Tommy James & the Shondells cover)
15. I Hate Myself for Loving You
16. Reality Mentality
17. A.C.D.C (Sweet cover)
18. Everyday People (Sly & The Family Stone cover)The Dropkick Murphys
1. For Boston
2. The Boys Are Back
3. Prisoner's Song
4. Sunday Hardcore Matinee
5. Rose Tattoo
6. Captain Kelly's Kitchen
7. Fields of Athenry
8. Deeds Not Words
9. The Walking Dead
10. Caught in a Jar
11. Jimmy Collins' Wake
12. Out of Our Heads
13. Bastards on Parade
14. Worker's Song
15. I'm Shipping Up to Boston (with Mighty Mighty Bosstones)
16. Barroom Hero
17. Kiss Me, I'm Shitfaced
18. Skinhead on the MBTA
19. T.N.T. (AC/DC cover)
20. Citizen C.I.A.
Best Shirts Depicting Bands That Weren't At The Festival
Type O Negative ( (I shook his hand and he thanked me. It was awkward.)
Metal Alliance Tour 2013
Corrosion of Conformity
Kill Switch Engage
Dog Fashion Disco
Band of Horses
Minus the Bear
Best Video Game Shirts
The Zelda Triforce
Best shirts, other
Malt Whiskey in the Walt Disney font
Two AT-AT walkers humping
Army of Darkness
Eerie Horror Fest 2008
Guns Out At Sundown in that gothic Sons of Anarchy font
Star Wars tights
Best denim vest
A Danzig denim vest