Rancid at House of Blues, 9/4/2013
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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