Rancid House of Blues September 4, 2013
So, I would like to preface this review by addressing the two guys on the escalator Wednesday night outside House of Blues. Hi there. Here's my review -- that phantom one that you were sure couldn't exist -- and by the way, yes, women can in fact be writers. And not only can they be writers, they can write about music.
Mind-blowing, I know. But seeing how this is no longer the fourteenth century, well, anything you can do, I can do better and all that. Oh, and suck my proverbial dick. (Sorry, mom.) Now, on to Rancid.
If the words shortest and best(est) can be used to accurately describe something, they should be used to describe Wednesday's Rancid concert at House of Blues. It was quick, effective, and awesome, even with the beer-launching and moshing that took place. Rancid came in, came out, and took over that bitch in less than two hours.
Okay, so maybe two hours is not really short, but it seemed pretty short, especially when you consider Rancid's massive catalog, and the impact they had on the punk scene during the '90s. And once they got started up there, I could have watched them play all night.
From the moment that Tim "Timebomb" Armstrong and company jumped up onstage, they were completely the Rancid that one would expect. I'm not sure how time hasn't ravaged Armstrong's voice, but his growl is so full of bite that it's impossible to mistake him for anyone else. As he belted out Rancid's first song of the night, "Radio," the crowd reacted as one might expect from a group of mohawked punk rockers -- throwing beers in utter agreement with the choice.
The crowd wasn't the only group of people in agreement; the band members all seemed stoked to be up there playing. After 20 years of punk-rock religion, that these guys really fuckin' enjoy what they do. Even drummer Branden Steineckert was standing up in front of his kit and screaming along with the lyrics. Hell yeah. That's how you do that shit.
Adding fuel to the beer-throwing fire, Rancid quickly busted out the opening notes to "Roots Radical" as soon as they closed out "Radio." If there was ever a beer shower in the House of Blues, it was last night. I suppose if you want to rile up a group of rowdy punk-rock fans, busting out "Roots Radical" is the way to do so.
Not only were the beers a-flyin', but the front half of the crowd morphed into a mosh pit to thrash around and be, well, radical. Fortunately for me (and my face), I knew from the last Rancid concert I saw that standing near to the stage was a dangerous proposition after taking a steel-toed boot to the face, so I stuck to the outskirts. You kids are too rowdy for me.
Review continues on the next page.
I was surprised to hear the band launch into such strong song choices so early in the set list, but really, most of Rancid's albums have been pretty solid, so the rock and roll vets had loads of decent music to choose from. Luckily for us, they pulled quite a bit from 1995's ...And Out Come the Wolves, quite possibly one of the finest punk albums put out by anyone ever. It's also their most mainstream album, since it became MTV's golden child way back when, but that doesn't negate its validity even to this day. It just plain rocks.
As the band ventured further into the 90-minute set, it was clear that whatever these guys are doing to keep up steam, they're doing well. Armstrong appears to be thinner and healthier than he's been in a while, and with the amount of energy it takes to bust out a 29-song set list, it's no surprise. Same goes for Lars Frederiksen, badass guitar player, who often takes over the vocals. A lot of teamwork goes into beating out those punk anthems; even bassist Matt Freeman sings lead at points, while drummer Steineckert helps on backup. It's impressive, to say the least.
Even if you aren't that into punk's "oi-oi-oi!", the band still has a chemistry that just fits so well. It's entertaining to watch Tim and Lars play off each other; they're not just up there passing the time. They're actually into the music, which should probably be a given when you're putting on a concert. Still, these guys have been playing this music for two decades and are still genuinely stoked to be playing these hits, so it's refreshing to see how much they still love the songs and their roles as musicians.
They pulled a bit from each album, which made the show well-rounded in terms of their catalog, but damn, I was hoping for more off Let the Dominoes Fall. Even if it's not their heaviest album to date, it has some great tracks, and I felt it was a little neglected overall. Yes, they played "East Bay Night," but really. More Dominoes, please.
Though the show may have lacked my personal faves, it did touch on Rancid's classic hits, so it's not like the diversity was even bad. And they rocked the hell out of "Old Friend," which basically made up for every missing Dominoes track. And when you've got a room full of spiky, leathered-up kids yelling the lyrics to "Ruby Soho" and "Time Bomb," it's obvious why they made the song choices they did. They're giving the rowdy kids what they want.
The 90 minutes they were onstage flew by; as they finished up their encore and the lights came up, I was genuinely disappointed to see Rancid go. It's been too long since they were here, and they could play tomorrow night and I'm sure it would feel like an entirely new show.
I wish they'd stayed longer, but 29 songs isn't a short-change by any means. It's just that even though these guys have been around for a long damn time, and their music is so raw and real and just good, that somehow it always feels like they're just getting started.
Personal Bias: I still remember being geeked out when I first heard Rancid's album back in the day, so it would take a lot for me to hate their show.
The Crowd: Mainly old-school Rancid fans, so lots of leather, mohawks, and surprisingly not a lot of young kids. A few bros, but not nearly as many as at Celtic punk shows. Also, what's up with that trend?
Overheard In the Crowd: "There is so much bro-punk happiness in this room right now."
Random Notebook Dump: It took a long while to spot the first crowd-surfer to go up. I felt like I was playing a strange game of Where's Waldo.
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