For the veteran Bay Area band, Rancid, punk might be short for punctual. Their two openers, the Interrupters and Tim Timebomb and Friends finished their sets by 9 p.m. with the headliners powering through a twenty song set in an hour and fifteen minutes, wrapping up the humid Friday evening by 10:45.
Many in the crowd at Revolution Live's outdoor patio however were of the opinion punk is short for punk-ass bitch. While most of the audience was there to enjoy a tight four-piece skiff through their twenty-one year catalog, there was a large enough contingent that couldn't hold their liquor to put a damper on things.
I'm not talking about what occurs in the pit by the stage. If you go up there at a punk show all bets are off. Elbows to the face, a full cup of beer thrown in the air splattering on the crown of your head, and being groped while crowd surfing: These are all par for the course. Some would even say they are the highlights of attending a punk show. I'm complaining about the skinhead jerk trying to cut his way toward the ticket window who then tried to pick a fight when someone pointed out there was a line. I'm talking about the drunk who couldn't be bothered to go up to the real pit by the stage and instead tried to mosh with unactive participants most of which were ninety-eight pound girls.
Punk rock, at least according to its mythology was made for the outcasts, the rebels, but I guess at some point, when every fraternity member has a sleeve of tattoos and moms are giving their seven-year-olds mohawks, the scene was coopted by the bullies and jerks punk music once rebelled against. But that's enough of the grumblings of a schmuck who somehow wore sandals to a Rancid concert. How was the show?
Tim Armstrong opened up for his own band as Tim Timebomb with an eclectic group of covers including Operation Ivy songs and the good time oldies staple, "California Sun." It was a ska influenced jam with guest stars like Amy Interrupter from the Interrupters and Elvis Cortez from Left Alone providing support. As they wrapped up their set they told us, "See you in a few minutes."
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Indeed, a few minutes later the four members of Rancid walked on to stage and brought much precision and energy to a set that began with "Roots Radicals," followed by "Journey to the End of the East Bay," and "Maxwell Murders." For "The 11th Hour," lead singer Armstrong looked up at the banner commemorating Rancid's 20th anniversary and said, "We gotta change the sign, it's been 21 years."
The band seemed grateful and appreciative for all the love and support fans embraced them with over the decades. But perhaps they too sensed the presence of evil in the room as bassist Matt Freeman introduced their seventh song as: "perfect for Florida it's called, 'Fuck You.'"
But things settled down as Freeman urged the crowd to sing along to "The War's End." The crowd expressed the camaraderie of those in an Irish pub after a wake. As the night wound down, they went into a long riff for "Time Bomb" to introduce each member of the band, easing that into a pitch-perfect rendition of their catchiest of songs.
After a moments respite, they reentered the stage with versions of "Radio" and "Tenderloin." Then we were warned, "It's your last chance to motherfucking dance." And much of the masses took the warning seriously as they sang "Ruby Soho." The night ended with most people skipping off with a solid high and undoubtedly a few others lurking the streets looking for stray dogs to kick.
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