In spite of this year serving as the the 20th anniversary of Rancid‘s landmark album …And Out Come The Wolves, the punk pioneers played only a handful shows from the time the calendar flipped to 2015. Luckily for New England area fans, Boston earned a spot on the exclusive list. The band packed the occasionally cavernous-feeling House Of Blues on Lansdowne Street, in spite of the unseasonably warm mid-September temperatures, and in spite of the fact that the show took place on a Tuesday night.
In somewhat atypical fashion for such a venue on such a night, a genuinely sizable crowd had turned out by the time The Interrupters kicked the evening off at 8 o’clock sharp. Though LA-based ska-punk foursome no doubt gained traction in the scene as proteges of Rancid founder Tim Armstrong (the three Bivona brothers — Jesse, Justin and Kevin — served as frequent collaborators in Armstrong’s Tim Timebomb and Friends project), the band have established themselves as a premier, high-energy live band. Drummer Jesse Bivona provided a solid, rock-steady (partial pun intended) foundation as guitarist Kevin, bassist Justin, and frontwoman Aimee Allen made full use of the venue’s large stage, traversing from side-to-side in almost non-stop fashion. In a particularly special moment that paid homage to the scene’s founding fathers, the band were joined by Big D & The Kids Table frontman Dave McWane for a rousing rendition of the Operation Ivy classic “Sound System.”
New York hardcore vets H2O provided direct support for Rancid on this particular evening. The band celebrated their own 20th anniversary last year, and frontman and bastion of positive energy Toby Morse made repeat mention of the debt of gratitude that he and his bandmates owe to their musical “big brothers.” The band’s set spanned most of their catalog, from 1996’s self-titled album to the title track from their forthcoming Bridge Nine Records release, Use Your Voice. Particular attention was paid to 2008’s Nothing To Prove, as almost a quarter of their thirteen-song set focused on songs from their Bridge Nine debut, a direct nod to the label headquartered a dozen-or-so miles north of the city. In typical ‘don’t forget your roots’ fashion, the band performed an impromptu mini cover set that featured guitarist Rusty Pistachio testing out his pipes on The Police classic “Walking On The Moon.”
As you’d expect, the crowd were champing at the bit by the time the headliners took the stage and ripped in to the …Wolves classic “Roots Radicals.” What followed was a twenty-eight song master class in how to compose a setlist that covered the entirety of their catalog while focusing on their most widely-acclaimed album. While this was not a full …And Out Come The Wolves show, thirteen of the album’s tracks were performed over the course of the evening. Another half-dozen songs were culled from the band’s 1994 release, Let’s Go, giving the evening a definite “old school” vibe. The fully bearded (again) Armstrong acted as a whirling dervish for most of the night, anchored by co-frontman Lars Frederiksen on his right and bassist Matt Freeman on his left. Drummer Branden Steineckert has served as a spark plug since joining the band almost a decade ago, and is somehow able to keep a steady, forward beat while playing as a ball of kinetic energy behind the kit.
Sadly for fans of the band, Rancid have got only one show left on their dance card for the remainder of the calendar year. Here’s hoping for a busier 2016, because their current live show still serves as one of the best in the business. Check out our photo gallery below.
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