Festival Review: Top 10 Reasons to Attend ShamrockFest

ShamrockFest 2017
(Photo Credit: Danilo Lewis)

ShamrockFest 2018, a fitting way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. There are many reasons why.

Fast and furious fiddles: During an interlude with Irish dancers, your favorite DC band Scythian, went to work on the fiddles and the electric cello, faster and faster until even the crowd was breathless.

Mosh pits and crowd surfing: Whether they broke out during the first band of the day, Kilmaine Saints, or during the headliner, Sum 41, there is nothing quite like a sea of green and kilts frenetically gyrating as the band plays on. And during Sum 41’s set, wave after wave of people surfed the crowd, only to be gently lifted out by the well-used security guards.

Humans in green: ShamrockFest is certainly among your best opportunities to show off in green. See and be seen by those in green hats, green suits, green skirts, green onesies (that’s a solid no), green leprechauns, green beads, green scarves, and green undies (presumably). You get the point.

Toilet paper guns: Less Than Jake, the 1990’s ska punk band from Florida, decided the world needed to be TP’d, so shot roll after roll of unraveling toilet paper into the celebrating hordes. It’s unclear if the crowd came out better or worse for wear.

Guinness for days: If you had the VIP ticket (and really you should have), you had unlimited beers to imbibe inside the VIP area. Whether Guinness or Guinness Blonde or a red ale, you could drink until your heart’s content until the 4:45pm cut-off time. In hindsight the cut-off is smart, less risk of losing revelers to drunkenness, and one had to be strategic to get their money’s worth at the end. They also had free shots of Jameson Irish Whiskey. Oh my! I held firm, and stuck to the tasty beer.

“Zombie” cover: Alice O’Quirke of Barleyjuice, sporting a Russian style furry hat, performed a cover of The Cranberries’ “Zombie”, and it was glorious. They are a celtic rock band from Philadelphia.

More covers: Speaking of which, right before “Zombie” Barleyjuice also rocked a rendition of “Ring of Fire”. Sweet. Scythian did a long segment of quick take covers featuring such classics as “(I Just) Died in Your Arms”, “Billie Jean”, “Call Me Al” and “Come on Eileen”. While Shaggy, over on the Green Stage, gave us “Turn Down For What”. Of course, Sum 41 had to throw in a rollicking version of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”.

Irish dancing: Before Scythian started, a guy with a Baby Bjorn graced us with pop locking the lucky baby into some Irish dance (moves?) while introducing a local Irish dance troupe as they performed their fierce steps. The Irish dancing as a whole flirted with us here and there during many sets, while some of the more bold (inebriated?) from the shameless crowd tried to keep time.

Gold Stage at sunset: As Sum 41 performed on the Gold Stage to close out the full day of music and dancing, the sunset flared into full radiant effect. A giant skeleton (happily giving us the bird) to the right looked pretty cool in the fading light. Almost a perfect moment.*

Music: Okay, okay, the point of ShamrockFest is to have fun, but while listening to your favorite Irish or Celtic bands. The main acts this year seemed a bit odd – as they all emerged during the 1990’s and don’t necessarily have an Irish connection (okay… Vanilla Ice headlined once) – but were actually entertaining and the crowd was quite taken by it all. And I don’t think you can just blame the Guinness.

Bonus: Corn dogs! Your choices were typical fair food, so I had a $9 corn dog with mustard. No regrets.

Scythian’s fast and furious fiddles


Jameson shots!
Shot, shot, shot, shot, shots


Sum 41 at sunset
Sum 41 at sunset


Sum 41 at sunset
A farewell ode to ShamrockFest 2018

*Perfect moments exist with a Guinness in your hand.

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

3 thoughts on “Festival Review: Top 10 Reasons to Attend ShamrockFest”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: