Rancid @ House Of Blues
Rancid’s a band that’s been close to my heart for the better part of fifteen years, every since I was a young teen sporting chain wallets and getting my band tees at Hot Topic on a regular basis. Well, if you could believe it, it’s been a very long time since I’ve stopped into a Hot Topic, and even longer since Rancid was at the forefront of my playlist, so when the California punkers made their way to Houston’s House of Blues it was a pretty major blast from the past.
Read all about the show after the jump
Tim Timebomb and Friends
The night opened with a set by of mostly covers from Tim Timebomb and Friends. Timebomb, or Armstrong as he’s known in his other band Rancid, led a group of solid players through several old reggae, punk and non-traditional covers in a punk/ska fashion that got the crowd riled up early. With his gruff voice, Timebomb invited guests Matt Freeman and Lars Frederiksen, who make up the other 2/3 of the original Rancid, up for takes on Dire Straits’ “Walk of Life,” Hank Williams’ “My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It” and “Thirty Pieces of Silver,” The Specials’ “Concrete Jungle” and NOFX’s “Bob.” The biggest surprise of the performance was a set-closing version of Operation Ivy’s “Soundsystem” which brought delight to many in the room. To hear Armstrong belting his way through an Op Ivy classic is the closest I’m sure I’ll ever be to seeing the classic punk/ska group live.
Rancid came out hot and heavy to a room full of fans from all walks of life. They had no problem immediately inciting a riot, with beer cups flying through the air over the sweaty circle pit. Being a bit past my years of coming close to any form of moshing, the back of the venue is where I stayed, but I still got the full effect of the show. I’ve seen my fair share of punk rock shows over the years, but this was up there with the best ever. Rancid sounded as good, or better than I ever could’ve imagined them to. They somehow sounded better than their recordings from 20 years ago, which was a first for me from a band in a long while
They started out early with the hits, but that’s a given when you have a cannon of songs as large as they do. I know that this being a 20th anniversary tour, and with the same list of songs being played night to night is a bit less punk rock than it used to be, but the message and the music were both there which was the only thing that mattered at the end of the day. “Radio,” “Roots Radicals” and “Journey to the End of the East Bay” started the show out with fire, making the crowd hunker down even further in anticipation of a long night.
The rest of the set was exactly what you could and would expect. High energy songs from their entire repertoire, including “Blood Clot,” “I Wanna Riot,” “Nihlism,” “East Bay Night” and “Olympia, WA,” hit at a regular pace, never allowing the active crowd to stop sweating it out in the pit. The encore came with their bigger hits, including “Time Bomb” and show-closer “Ruby Soho,” which also brought the biggest sing-a-longs of the night.
While they might not be putting out any truly meaningful new music as of late, they still really have it as a band and that showed with this performance. They are talented musicians and, even though original drummer Brett Reed isn’t with the band anymore, they had no problem wrecking through a set of originals. I’m glad I finally had the opportunity to catch Rancid live, and am somewhat shocked that it’s never happened before. …And Out Come the Wolves was one of my favorite albums of the 90’s, and probably in my top 50 overall to this day. I even finally purchased it on vinyl, despite a hardcore fan next to me at the merch table telling me I could pick it up in any Hot Topic for the same price. Sorry brother, I didn’t know that. He ended up getting the rarities record, which I’m a bit disappointed I missed out on. On another note, Rancid had way more merchandise than any other band I’ve ever seen live.
This is only about a quarter of what they had for sale
Finally, Rancid played a good 100 minutes in front of me, and it felt good. I wasn’t sure going into the show how’d they be as a band, specifically their chops live. Not because I’ve heard bad things, but because I haven’t heard anything. They lived up to the hyped up state I brought myself to before the show, and I couldn’t have been happier with their performance. I see a growing need for, dare I say, “nostalgic” 80’s and 90’s punk rock at festivals, and could see a band like Rancid killing at one like Houston’s Free Press Summer Fest or an even larger scale event like Voodoo or ACL. Hell, Iggy Pop had no problem garnering a huge crowd at either festivals, Social Distortion is a regular on the circuit, and even NOFX has showed up at a major event or two in their day. I think it’s Rancid’s turn.
Rancid @ House Of Blues
Words and photos by Jim “Eggs” Bricker