Opening Bands: The Explosion
Date: September 5th 2006
Venue: Club Zoo, Pittsburgh, PA
I have been waiting to see a full Rancid set since the late 90’s. The last time Rancid was supposed to play Pittsburgh was somewhere around 2003.
I bought a ticket early and eagerly anticipated the upcoming show. As the time got near, I became more and more anxious. Past experiences told me to check a band’s website constantly so I would come home every day and see if the show was still on. About a week or so before the show, I got the horrible news. THE SHOW WAS CANCELLED!!! Metropol, the place where Rancid was to play, had suddenly closed its doors for good. I could either return my ticket or it would be accepted at the show in Cleveland. To hell with driving to Cleveland, I might as well have driven to see the New York show. After three long years, I got news that Rancid would finally be playing Pittsburgh again. I bought a ticket early and checked to make sure that the show would go on. Lo and behold, Lars ends up having a seizure on stage and a few shows right before the Pittsburgh show are cancelled. But this time, the Pittsburgh is still on. I wouldn’t believe it until I was at the show and Rancid was on the stage.
Tuesday came, and the show was still on so I made my way to the Burgh. What made this Rancid tour so great was the fact that for the first time ever, Rancid was practicing about 150 or so songs and these songs included some Bastards tracks and….Operation Ivy songs. Frickin’ sweet!!! When I finally got to Club Zoo, I found out that it was actually Metropol with a new name. It’s ironic how it was the same club that Rancid was supposed to play a few years back. I thought that the place was turned into yet another dance club.
I arrived about an hour early and surprisingly the show started on time for once. The opening band was a local band that called themselves the Weekend Warriors. They sounded like a weaker version of the Street Dogs and most of their songs were lackluster. I didn’t get much out of their set list. I wasn’t very impressed with the other opening band, The Explosion. They sounded a lot like Sugarcult and they gave me a headache just as well. Their sound was borderline garage rock with just a little bit of punk with maybe one faster track thrown in the stew. One thing that I noticed was the lack of energy from the crowd. Everyone else seemed bored with the opening bands as well. There were a few small moshpits here and there, but nothing eye opening like I expected at a Rancid show. I wish one of the ska bands that Rancid was playing with before like the Planet Smashers or Big D and the Kids Table was playing instead. After and hour of bleh, it was time for THE band to take the stage. The lights went out and the anxiety was building.
Before the guys in Rancid even picked up their instruments, the entire place erupted. I’m not talking about just cheers and screams, I’m talking about moshpits, crowd surfing and a massive exodus towards that front of the stage. It was insane. In a matter of seconds, the venue was like another world. It didn’t help much that Rancid started the show with Roots Radicals, Journey to the end of the East Bay, and Time Bomb right out of the gate. The set list was indeed very diverse with most of the songs coming off of “Let’s Go”. They played Tenderloin, 7 Years Down, Salvation, Radio, and Nihilism. Tenderloin and Radio were big crowd favorites of course. Thrown into the mix were a few surprises and personal favorites that I didn’t expect to hear like Hoover Street off of “Life Won’t Wait” and the Op Ivy song Big City. Yeah, that got the crowd singing along. Rancid ripped through their set with more energy than any band that I’ve seen since the Mighty Mighty Bosstones were still skankin’ it up. Rats In The Hallway, Rejected, Dead Bodies, Olympia WA, and Django were some of the Rancid songs that I remember as well as Sound System from Operation Ivy. They closed the regular set with Ruby Soho and, with every band, the encore was soon to follow.
Rancid did the usual go away and take a break routine and this time when they came back on stage, they had acoustic guitars instead of electric ones. They strummed the Bastards cover of Billy Bragg’s To Have And To Have Not and Fall Back Down with the acoustics. Usually, I’m not a fan of acoustic anything but the crowd was singing along and the band seemed to respond positively to that and it was a cool change of pace. After those two songs Rancid picked up the electrics and ended the night with Nihilism and with a dedication of Bloodclot to the Ramones that started off like Blitzkrieg Bop. And just as soon as it started, the journey was over.
Having never seen a full Rancid set other than on the Warped Tour, I would instantly rank them as one of the best live bands out there today. Not to beat a dead horse in the face, but the energy was amazing and it was evident in the crowd’s reaction to the band and with their response and interaction with everyone. Even though there were a few hundred people there, the show was very personal and just a great experience. If Rancid is coming to your town on this tour, check them out and expect to be amazed. Oh yeah, and their playing Operation Ivy songs.