Date: August 2, 2017
Opening Bands: Jake Burns (Stiff Little Fingers), The Bouncing Souls
All pictures courtesy of Melissa Haslam
Rancid and the Dropkick Murphys sharing the same stage with the Bouncing Souls and it isn’t Warped Tour 2000? Those were my excited thoughts leading up to the show. When you take three of the top tier punk bands today and put them together on a tour of the United States with a joint encore by Rancid and the Dropkick Murphys…you know that you are going to have a night to remember.
Setting the tone for the night outdoors at Stage AE, which has one of the most scenic views of the Pittsburgh waterfront, was Mr. Jake Burns of Stiff Little Fingers fame with a solo acoustic set. He told some funny tales and stories about his band’s fortunes and misfortunes all while squeezing in about a half dozen acoustic Stiff Little Fingers including “Gotta Gettaway”, “Wasted Life” and “Alternative Ulster”. While it was an acoustic set in a night full of pure electric punk rock, the crowd responded well and had a great time singing along to and laughing with Jake Burns.
Following up the acoustic opening act was none other than the Bouncing Souls. Having seen the Bouncing Souls on many occasions in the past but having too big of a gap since seeing them live, this was the first time in quite a few years that I’ve been able to attend one of their shows. They were still as awesome as I remember. Their set mixed in a few older tunes with new stuff from “Simplicity”, the majority of the songs in the setlist come from “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” and, being my favorite album of theirs, that was fine by me. The started off the night with “Manthem”, ended it with “True Believers” and sprinkled in some “Gone”, “That Song” and my favorite Souls track “The Something Special”. It was a classic Bouncing Souls set and the crowd knew the words to every song and got the mosh pits brewing…and this was just the start of the night!
From what I gathered is that Rancid and the Dropkick Murphys were alternating as the opening band throughout the tour. For Pittsburgh, Rancid was up first and they didn’t waste any time hitting the stage and jumping right into things. Right off of the bat they come out swinging with “Radio”, Roots Radical” and “Journey to the End of the East Bay”. The theme for Rancid’s set would be one heavy on tracks from “…And Out Come the Wolves” and “Let’s Go”. While they also played a handful of songs from their recently released album “Trouble Maker”, they managed to include a song from just about every album of theirs. I definitely recall hearing “Bloodclot” from “Life Won’t Wait”, “Fall Back Down” from “Indestructible” and “Dead Bodies” from Rancid (2000). If anything I can’t recall hearing anything from their first self-titled release.
While Rancid always rips things up, they seemed especially into it that night. The crowd reciprocated with raucous energy and excitement as every song that they played comprised of about 2000 lead singers. Even Tim was speaking into the microphone to the audience on a couple of occasions and for Rancid fans, you know it’s a somewhat rare thing to hear from him outside of his singing vocals. Combine the energy and excitement with a strong setlist with an obvious light focus on their new stuff and you had one of the best Rancid shows outside of them playing Operation Ivy tunes live for the first time.
With two bands that are easily closer material finished up for the night, it was time for Boston’s seminal Irish punk rockers to hit the stage and tear everyone a new asshole in their own kind of way. With about as many members as the Mighty Mighty Bosstones nowadays, the Dropkick Murphys appeared on stage and immediately got the crowd in a frenzy…well, more of a frenzy than before. Also with a recently release album “11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory”, they kicked things off with the opening track from that album titled “The Lonesome Boatman”. Their set was also a mixed bag of tracks from just about every era of the bands including a medley of tracks from “Do or Die” that included “Barroom Hero”, “Do or Die” and “Boys on the Docks”. They also did a great job of switching things up with traditional-style Irish songs combined with crowd sing-a-longs as well as some straightforward, rowdy punk rock. It’s always exciting to hear “The Gang’s All Here” but “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya” was a welcomed surprise.
Having tour through their set and provided enjoyment and entertainment abound, they weren’t quite done yet. After a brief break, the Dropkick Murphys came back on the stage this time joined with Tim, Lars and Matt from Rancid for a joint encore of cover songs. First up on the list was “Cretin Hop” by the Ramones. Having never seen either band play anything by the Ramones live it was a very awesome experience to hear that one kick off the encore. They weren’t done yet as the Ranckick Murphids played an excellent rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” complete with 16 guitarists and bassists onstage. They followed that up with some oi by covering “Take ‘em All” by Cock Sparrer. To finish the night off with the final song of the encore they did a kick ass rendition of “I Fought the Law” by the Crickets.
As I mentioned earlier on, when you take such seminal punk rock bands as the Bouncing Souls, Rancid and the Dropkick Murphys and throw them together on stage for a full night of punk rock and roll…you kind of know what to expect. Any one of the bands on the bill are worth the price of admission alone so when you package them all together and they decide to play a little bit of everything from all eras of their bands you get a diverse setlist full of songs that have their own history and memories associated to them. The Bouncing Souls were as good as ever, Rancid knows how to turn any crowd insane with their stage presence alone and the Dropkick Murphys bridge the gap into a different audience all while never forgetting their punk rock and oi roots. The Boston to Berkeley Tour in Pittsburgh, PA will go down as one of the most memorable punk rock shows in my personal memory bands and I’m sure that the same thing can be said by hundreds of others in attendance. These bands may quite be considered the elder statesman of this era of punk rock but they definitely aren’t your ordinary punk rock uncles. They have no plans of slowing down and I for one and happy for that.
The Bouncing Souls
The Dropkick Murphys