It’s not an exaggeration to say I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now if it wasn’t for Rancid. Hearing “Roots Radical” from the band’s seminal album …And Out Come the Wolves on the radio in 8th grade led me to the local Blockbuster Music to purchase my first Punk-O-Rama comp and subsequently discovering a plethora of my favorite bands. (Also, how much of an Oldhead does this intro make me?)
The Berkeley punk rock band kicked things off with “Radio.” The song’s refrain of “When I got the music, oh I got a place to go” sounded particularly sublime with the Downtown Events Center (location of the most recent Punk Rock Bowling) packed with punks enthusiastically singing at the top of their lungs with Tim Armstrong and company. From there the focus shifted squarely to Wolves with “Roots Radicals,” “Journey to the End of the East Bay,” “Maxwell Murder” and “The 11th Hour” all back to back and eliciting more drunken sing alongs. It’s obvious that I’m far from the only one introduced to punk through this album and it’s timeless songwriting and the talent of the band means it still holds up to this day.
Often when bands tour on new albums, the setlist tends to favor the new too heavily. Rancid were smart to avoid this, peppering in tracks from their just-released 9th studio album Trouble Maker – “Ghost of a Chance,” “Telegraph Avenue” and “Where I’m Going” – strategically between songs like “Old Friend” and “Salvation,” making them sound like classics already.
Kind of surprising to me was that Rancid weren’t headlining the show. Or at least, they weren’t playing last, as co-headliners Dropkick Murphys (from somewhere in Massachusetts) took the stage shortly after Rancid finished with “Ruby Soho.” Maybe it was the huge influx of lovers of all things Irish to Vegas thanks to the McGregor fight happening the next night?
Either way, it’s cool to see how much the band has grown since Rancid guitarist Lars Frederiksen produced the Celtic punk band’s debut for Armstrong’s Hellcat Records in the late 90s. The energy in the outdoor venue was at its apex when the lights dimmed and Sinéad O’Connor’s “The Foggy Dew” started blaring over the PA, giving way to “The Lonesome Boatman,” the opening track of Dropkick’s new album 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory, coincidentally also the band’s 9th and released earlier this year.
Dropkick had a little more focus on the new, but somewhat interestingly included a “classics medley” featuring “Barroom Hero,” “Do or Die,” “Never Alone,” “Boys on the Docks.” I think the only punk band I’ve ever seen do this is Blink, but with the shorter set time allotted due to the nature of being a co-headliner, it was a nice way to touch on the band’s now 20 year history.
The band ended not with “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” – that song was second to last and received by far the biggest reaction of the night – but new song “Until the Next Time.” This segued into an encore that combined the two headliners and longtime friends into one punk rock cover supergroup, with a mini set featuring “If the Kids Are United” (Sham 69), “I Wanna Be Sedated” (Ramones), “Folsom Prison Blues” (Johnny Cash cover) and “I Fought the Law” (originally by The Crickets but arguably better known for The Clash’s version). This kind of collaboration is fun and something I wish we’d see more of on tours like this.
Photos by Aaron Mattern | https://www.flickr.com/photos/akmofoto/