WGBH Goes Interactive with Facebook Live Dropkick Murphys Concert

The show was put on through their series, Front Row Boston.

Ken Casey Dropkick Murphys

Photo by Meredith Nierman/WGBH

The beauty of new streaming technologies is that audiences can get a uniquely intimate look at beloved organizations from the comfort of their homes. WGBH Music is joining the fun by launching a broadcasting initiative to use platforms like Facebook Live to foster direct connections between audiences and bands. And what better way to start a service like that than with a concert from local faves the Dropkick Murphys?

The group went live with WGBH via their series Front Row Boston to offer an acoustic set from their new album, 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory. The sold-out show was streamed live on Facebook on January 11, and included questions from the audience, a few stories about the songs, and a chance for the at-home-audience to vote on what song they wanted to hear as the band’s finale. It provided a new way for WGBH and the Dropkick Murphys to engage their fans directly, and over social media.

“What we can promise the winning vote is that we will play that song, but what we can’t promise is a good performance of that song. Keep it loose,” joked singer Ken Casey before the show.

The Facebook live stream involved 1,500 comments and 6,800 final votes. 750 individual pages on Facebook shared the stream, too, suggesting the band reached a total number of viewers even higher than that. Due to the nature of social media sharing, streaming video has the ability to go further than the capacity of venues like WGBH’s classical recording space, Frasier Studio, which hosted a crowd of only 150 people.

The free show started with “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” the song that influenced and sparked the rest of the album. 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory is their ninth record in 21 years together. The album covers some pretty heavy subject matter, as it explores issues related to the opioid epidemic. Casey discussed the heavy subject matter before beginning playing, saying it was a pretty important topic to the band, but reminded the audience that the song is more about hope than anything else.

Other notable songs performed included “Blood,” a song dedicated to the early days of the ban, back when the famed local club the Rathskeller was the only venue that would have them, and “Sandlot,” a song about young kids’ first taste of trouble.

Overall, it was a very Boston love-oriented performance, with Casey telling stories about how the late Mayor Menino was not the band’s biggest fan, or how he’s occasionally barged into Newbury Comics for impromptu acoustic performances. He also dedicated a song, “Rebels with a Cause” to the Gavin Foundation, a Boston-based nonprofit agency that offers substance abuse treatment.

In the end, the band opted to play both songs available in the Facebook Live vote, proving that keeping fans happy is just as important no matter the technology. But the intersection of a traditional media company like WGBH and the new media world of Facebook Live suggests a possible look at how bands will reach their fans in the future. Watch the whole performance below.