As the summer comes to a close, the time for music festivals is winding down as well. On Saturday, radio station The Zone 94.1 squeezed in its annual Scion's Bonzai, a music festival celebrating radio-friendly modern rock.
"Keep in mind that we only came here to have a good fucking time with you!" yelled Kaleo Wassman, vocalist for the band Pepper, as I entered the Main Street Armory. The room felt like a frat house, complete with plastic cups littering the floor, shirtless guys in backwards baseball caps roaming about with done-up girls on their arms, and the stench of cheap beer lingering in the stale, sweat-infused air. It seemed as though everyone in attendance shared Wassman's sentiments: they were only there to have a good time. And with eight hours of acts such as Sick Puppies, Panic! At the Disco, and Crash Kings, that mission was sure to be accomplished.
Following Pepper was Reel Big Fish, a true highlight of the night. The much-celebrated ska band put on an impressive display of musicianship, featuring a solid brass section and an energetic, magnetic frontman. At first listen, the band may appear to be silly or inane. But the lyrical childishness is saved by a clear understanding of the way music works, with structures and melodies that feel as classic as any Phil Spector song and frequent, jazz-influenced trumpet solos from the supremely talented John Christianson.
The main event of the night was Celtic-rock band Dropkick Murphys. The band opened with the relatively new "The Boys Are Back," and I found it impossible not to tap my feet to the beat of the drums, or to move my body in some way. It seemed that my fellow concert-goers felt the same exact way. As I stood in the back of the Armory, a young girl standing next to me pumped her fist in the air, head-banged, and marched in place to the music. Set apart from the rowdy pit, she celebrated her love for the band in her own way. It's easy to peg Murphys as being a Boston-bred tough-guy favorite, but Saturday it was apparent that the music can reach that niche as well as it can reach that dancing teenaged girl or the young kid in the Green Day t-shirt who watched the band, flanked by his parents.
In the end, regardless of age or niche, by the end of the night it seemed that everyone was having a good fucking time. Mission accomplished, Bonzai.