Last night I was an outcast.
I didn’t grow up with this music. Unlike 99% of the people there, I didn’t know every word, where the fist pumps go, where to say ‘hey!’. My outfit wasn’t entirely right either. But, I had always heard that Rancid puts on killer shows and have amazing fans; so it was necessary to see them on their home turf.
Having The Adolescents open was great. This ’80s punk supergroup is made up of early members of Agent Orange and Social Distortion, and then they have a guitarist who looks like he still might be in high school. Their style of punk, a bit darker and angrier than Rancid, is more my thing. Tony Cadena laughed about being born in the area, before most people here’s parents were born. It was interesting to see the reserved energy of this aging punk band alongside this high school boy’s guitar playing as he jumped around the stage.
Rancid hit the stage a little before 10, to a short opening video that I could no longer see the rest of the night once I moved further to the side to escape the monstrous mosh pit. I also could never see the drummer. My move was also to escape the ‘splash zone’, since Lars kept spitting dangerously close to me. I’m sure the other fans standing there were in the spot for that very reason.
The individual styles of the guys were amusing. The guitarist, Lars Frederickson, is ‘sporty punk’ with his jersey and fading, full body tattoos. Tim Armstrong, vocals and guitar, is ‘homeless punk’ with a trench coat and beanie. When he sings he looks pretty demented, like he’s sucking on something really sour. And his guitar looks like it might fall apart any minute. Matt Freemen, bassist, is ‘mechanic punk’, calm and quiet. I only see them switch out instruments a couple of times over this hour and a half set, which amazes me.
I’m not wired to understand the aggressive reaction to this style of punk music. To me, it sounds upbeat. But everyone on the floor is pushing and shoving, crowd surfers are flying around, clothes are being thrown along with drinks. The fan reaction is admirable- they are having the time of their lives, singing along while they fight to stand up. The band is also very interactive with the fans, reaching out and slapping hands with surfers coming over the barrier and the front row.
A few songs into the set, 2 guys run out from stage left and dive into the audience. This would happen a couple more times throughout the set. Whoever they landed on had to have been injured. I haven’t seen anything like that at the bigger venues here before. It’s amazing the trajectory these guys got from that stage. You know what else is amazing? That mohawks can withstand crowd surfers.
Another interesting yet disturbing thing I saw was a kid crowd surfing. I’m guessing he was 10. I saw him go up and over the barrier so many times I thought there had to be twins in there. He could get passed around so fast since he was so small. The thought of him moshing in there with his aging punk parents was somehow both cool and completely crazy.
I’ve never seen a band introduce almost every song they played, especially to a crowd that didn’t need to know the names of any of the songs. Other than that, there wasn’t a ton of talking, but what was said was very eloquent and meaningful. Lars introduced Olympia WA by saying that they wrote this while sitting on 52nd and Broadway, only having $12.50 between them. Towards the end, Lars also talked about how there was no difference between us and them.
Highlights for me were ‘The Wars End’, ‘Roots Radical’, ‘Salvation’, ‘Ruby Soho’, and ‘Time Bomb’. Yeah, I know- mostly the ‘hits’, but this was my first time. I was surprised that there wasn’t a guest appearance- Billie Joe Armstrong, NOFX, or Jello Biafra seemed like likely candidates.
Seeing Rancid live doesn’t disappoint. As an outsider looking in, I can now understand what all the fuss is about.
Setlist (needs help):
Fall Back Down
Journey To The End of The East Bay
It’s Quite Alright
Knowledge (operation ivy cover)
The Way I Feel
Lock, Step & Gone
Black Derby Jacket
The Wars End
Something In The World Today
Who Would’ve Thought
I Wanna Riot
Rancid performance: 9/10
The Adolescents performance: 8.5/10
value ($21.50/ticket): 9.75/10
rancid entrance from ZNAHM30
finale/time bomb from tonyskapunk