A line of around 75-100 disgruntled fans tapped their feet nervously as they could hear Rancid playing the opening chords to "Last One to Die" while they waited to enter the show. "Why the hell are they starting so early? C'mon!" one mohawked teen pleaded. I felt his pain.
Upon entering the venue the smell of B.O., stale beer and whiskey singed my nostrils. The floor was slammed, everyone was sweaty and it felt like the downstairs portion of the House of Blues was oversold. Even canned sardines would have had trouble acclimating to the tight confines of the floor.
As "Last One to Die" wound down, Rancid moved seamlessly into "The 11th Hour" followed by "Journey to the End" and crowd favorite, "I Wanna Riot." They worked at a furious pace and the crowd was appreciative that the band didn't waste any time in between songs before the next one was played.
During the rare lulls between songs, Lars Frederiksen, lead guitar and vocals, never wasted an opportunity to thank the crowd while always singing the praises of his bandmates. Frederiksen, Tim Armstrong, guitar and vocals, and Matt Freeman, bass and vocals, are the band's chief songwriters and the most identifiable members of Rancid. They are a tight knit bunch and after nearly 20 years of performing together it really does show.
As the set progressed it became quickly apparent that the crowd was most receptive to the older songs in the band's set list. Before performing "L.A. River" Frederiksen asked: "How many of you bought Let the Dominos Fall?" The sold out house barely responded to which Frederiksen replied, "That's it?"
Another hiccup, if you can call it that, occurred when the guys brought out their acoustic guitars for "St. Mary," "Poison," and "Hoover Street." It's not the songs were played poorly, with the exception of a slightly out of tune mandolin on "St. Mary," its that the energy level of the crowd waned during the acoustic interlude. For my money, I want my Rancid plugged in and loud as opposed to soft and wimpy.
Quite possibly the best song introduction of the night went to Armstrong. Though he is positioned front and center, Armstrong rarely engages the crowd like a regular front man. For the most part, Frederiksen is the crowd conductor. Before hopping into the bass heavy "Rejected" Armstrong walked sheepishly to the mic and said, "This song is about being rejected - it's called Rejected." His intro did elicit a few chuckles, but the mosh pit quickly quieted the laughs.
Toward the end of the show Rancid performed "The Way I Feel" off of the band's third and arguably best record, ...And Out Come the Wolves. Midway through the song the band ceased playing as a fight erupted toward the front. Frederiksen, closely monitoring the situation said, "We're not here to fight. It's not the place. This is a place to get along." The crowd roared in approval.
For a band that encourages "circle pits" during their sets it was nice that they put their collective foot down and reminded everybody that while elbows and fists may fly while moshing it is never ok to throw a punch with ill intent. After the brief melee, the band closed strong with "Olympia, WA," "Fall Back Down," and "Time Bomb."
Though they still had a few encores up their sleeve Rancid's marathon set was winding down. Never before had 40 songs gone so quickly, but as is with anything enjoyable - all good things must come to an end.
Critic's Bias: I am a Rancid fan through and through, but would it be too much to ask for an Op Ivy reunion? C'mon guys!
The Crowd: Punks, Skinheads, Rude Boys and Hooligans.
Random Notebook Dump: Seriously, only in Downtown Disney would they let a headliner go on at 9:05 P.M. Lesson learned. I just hate that I had to learn the hard way, but that is the kind of thing that happens when you go into the Mouse's house.
"Last One to Die"
"The 11th Hour"
"Journey to the End"
"I Wanna Riot"
"Red Hot Moon"
"Rats in the Hallway"
"Outta My Mind"
"St. Mary" - acoustic
"Poison" - acoustic
"Hoover Street" - acoustic
"East Bay Night"
"Something in the World Today"
"Black and Blue"
"It's Quite Alright"
"The Way I Feel"
"Fall Back Down"
"The Wars End"
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