After cameras zoomed in on the Boston flag, Celtic punk band the Dropkick Murphys launched into “For Boston,” the band’s rowdy, over-before-you-know-it cover of the Boston College fight song. Playing this show at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, said founder Ken Casey, is part of the healing process,
The bassist/singer had earlier confessed that the Boston-bred band had considered canceling its Coachella performance after the Boston Marathon bombings left three dead and scores more injured.
“It’s that fine line,” Casey said. “You can’t change your lives too much. That serves the purpose of the people trying to perpetrate these crimes.”
Instead, Casey and the Dropkick Murphys found a way to help. Once confirming everyone’s immediate family members were OK -- Casey said his wife took his children to the Red Sox game that morning -- the band on Wednesday began selling charity shirts on its website. The shirts, with an image of Boston’s skyline and the words “For Boston,” have helped the band raise more than $150,000 in three days.
The shirts, said Casey, were selling too fast to get enough ready for Coachella, which had been the plan. They were available on Wednesday night at Club Nokia in Los Angeles, where the band also asked fans to join the group for a moment of silence. There was no moment of silence at Coachella, although Casey said the band considered it.
The group did dedicate “Your Spirit’s Alive” to these affected by the bombings, and did thank everyone in attendance for “showing so much support for the people of Boston.” The Dropkick Murphys didn’t have the largest mainstage audience at Coachella on Saturday afternoon, but that may have been the loudest cheer I heard this weekend.
“The only, only, only good thing about these incidents is it makes everyone stop in their tracks and shows you people – people helping each other,” Casey said. ”This puts things in perspective. Spend a little less time on your cellphone checking email and talk to people you care about. This shows you what matters.”
The Dropkick Murphys are as identified with Boston as any band playing today. The band has a larger following than most Celtic punk thanks, thanks in part to having recorded “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” for Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed.”
Few if any other artists at Coachella have acknowledged the bombings. Casey was asked if he’s surprised more bands aren’t speaking out, considering how Major League Baseball instantly showed its support for the city and art can play a pivotal role in the grief process.
“We know people are here to party and we don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade,” he said. “It’s nice, though, if even in a situation like this people can acknowledge the more serious elements of society and how fleeting life can be -- how crazy life can be.”
He stopped there, and admitted that earlier this week he wrote a song inspired by what happened. Casey said Friday night, after he learned that the bombing suspect who was at large had been captured, he slept for the first time in three days. He said the band went into the studio to record the song he wrote this week on Thursday, but he has no plans to release it. The band will release three acoustic songs as part of its fundraising efforts.
“It’s a daunting time,” he said. “If you’re going to write a song that’s about something that is out of the realm of any our possibility of understanding, it’s scary.”
Casey is looking forward to being back in Boston after Coachella. He said the Dropkick Murphys will be playing a hometown show in May, but the group is struggling to find a venue. The band itself has tour dates booked through early 2014, and most of the usual venues in Boston are booked. Casey said he hopes to play outside, and wants it to be a free show, ideally.
Casey said any fundraising show the band could quickly put together wouldn’t raise as much money as the shirts. “Sometimes,” he said, “it’s about healing the spirit.”
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