Opening Bands: Sick of it All
Date: August 13th 2008
Venue: Irving Plaza, NYC
If the Punk Rock Academy had a 10 year high school reunion, it would look a lot like Irving Plaza did on August 13th. This, the first night of Rancid’s sold out five-evening stint at the club was the epitome of what punk rock is today, “kids” in their late 20’s, still grasping on to their formative years. The band on stage looked pretty much as they did ten years ago (never mind the drummer swap), while the crowd has gotten a little bit older, and a little bit balder. Everyone was pumped at first, with the pit in full swing, toward the end of the evening, however, the crowd was visibly worn out and more sing-along than dance-along.
The set started off with a few lone hi-hat hits from Branden Steineckert (formerly of The Used). Once they launched into their first song, “Radio” the crowd completely erupted. Lars commanded the stage and the mic as he left most of the onstage banter to himself. Th e set list was largely comprised of Lars-fronted songs like “Maxwell Murder”, “The Wars End”, “Bloodclot” and “Roots Radicals”. Lars even sang the vocals for the Op Ivy hit “Knowledge” while Tim (aka Lint) stayed quiet.
Whether he was sick or otherwise impaired, Tim seemed to have a bit of an off night. He came on stage donning an oversized trench coat, which he kept on well into the set. He kept pretty quiet and looked a little dazed, but whatever he was feeling didn’t stop him from still putting on an amazing show. Perhaps there was something going around the tour bus because Matt Freeman , the best darn bassist in the world, sounded (believe it or not) even raspier than usual.
The transplanted Branden Steineckert was solid on drums, but the show just was not the same without Brett Reed. Sure the new guy deserves credit, but Branden didn’t yet seem confident in himself. His performance lacked fluidity, but that will come with time. It must be pretty nerve racking to play the songs you grew up listening to as a fan and it showed, though only slightly. Branden has some big shoes to fill, and still s eems to be looking for the band’s approval with a watchful eye.
At one point, Lars made a mention of unity and solace to be found at punk rock shows, and how misfits had somewhere where they didn’t feel so out of place. Though more fit for a younger crowd, the speech was heartwarming yet slightly depressing at the same time. It’s unfortunate how most “punk” shows today are all about the mainstream and the underground world from which Rancid was able to emerge is now sleeping at best.
The essence of the underground was back for tonight, though, and will linger over the next four nights. With such a catalogue of gems, the band could feasibly play a different set each of the five nights. This quasi high school reunion is a welcomed one and will hopefully pave the way for a rebirth of the scene Rancid helped to create.