Friday, March 16, 2007

Shamrock Fest, Washington DC

I got an early start to Saint Patrick's Day celebrations with Washington DC's Shamrock fest last Saturday evening.

Mark Everett and I had traveled by plane from Dallas to Kansas City to Baltimore before catching the Amtrak to Union Station and then a cab to the hotel. The trip took a while, and we were pretty beat. Upon arrival, we kept getting calls from our brother, Tom, to head to RFK Stadium to some event called "Shamrock Fest." We were told the event was some sort of festival with Irish music, and we expected a low-key time.

As we reached the Metro platform, we noticed large numbers of folks wearing green. In fact, it seemed that a ton of folks were headed that way.

We started walking to the stadium after reaching the Armory-Stadium metro stop, and we soon noticed that we would likely encounter something a bit more exciting than just traditional Irish music. The crowd leaving the festival consisted of a mass of stumbling, mumbling, near-comatose individuals . . . and it was 6 PM. We saw guys concentrating hard to stay on their feet while several couples decided that the world needed to participate in their affectionate cuddlings with their drunken escorts. The crowd that had decided to cut themselves off from the party was sloshed, which left us a bit fearful of what the actual festival would hold.

It was like Dante's journey through the Inferno. Except we were encountering deeper circles of drunkenness. Finally, at the eighth circle, we found the festival and the madness it entailed. The ground was littered with cups and food wrappers with several individuals deciding that games of kick-the-cup were wildly entertaining.

The music hardly qualified as Irish traditional as covers of rock songs filtered through the air. Thousands of people rocked on their feet on the verge of unconsciousness as they horded around beer lines and food lines and toilet lines. Needless to say, Mark Everett and I quickly had to shake our exhaustion and wake up fast, even if just for added awareness and self-preservation.

We wandered for the first hours observing the madness around. We partied to a Journey song at one stage, grabbed chicken sandwiches, and listened to the musical brilliance of DJ AM.

Finally, Flogging Molly was set to headline, so we made our way down to the main stage. The crowd, at this point, was rowdy, and Irish punk music lit quite the fire. The front of the crowd immediately became a mosh pit leaving one of Tom's roommates with a hand injury. Folks began streaming out of the center of the crowd with fearful looks on their faces.

After a while, a guy staggered our way being held up by his friend. The friend was gripping the guy by his t-shirt. At one point, the drunken fellow fell to the ground--we assumed he would be out for good, but he rebounded, did a really silly dance, and wandered away.

Immediately behind us, a mosh pit opened as a group of folks decided that this music really required them to smash their bodies into one another on full runs. Occasionally the pushing from behind would shift our group into near collapse, but we escaped unscathed.

Flogging Molly tried to sedate the crowd, imploring them to take it easy and be kind to one another. Their words had no effect, and after a few awesome songs, we decided to head to calmer climes at the Hawk and Dove, a bar near the Capitol.

I decided that the music scene on that particular day suffers from a serious lack of hippies. I could not imagine Austin City Limits turning into such a raucous drunkfest . . . then again, ACL doesn't take place near St. Patrick's Day.

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