Rancid Marquee Theatre Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Seeing a 21-year-old punk band is always kind of a crapshoot. Bands like Social Distortion continue to sell out shows year after year, while groups like The Misfits, Dead Kennedys, and certain iterations of Black Flag would be better off hanging it up for good.
Where does that leave Bay Area punk legends Rancid? The band hasn't released a new album since 2009 and it doesn't tour enough for its shtick to get old. The fact that Rancid hasn't performed a headlining show in the Phoenix area in quite a while was enough for Marquee Theatre to be nearly sold out Wednesday night.
Fortunately, Rancid is more on the Social Distortion/Bad Religion side of the spectrum. The band has three out of four of its original members, which is impressive in its own right (The Used's Branden Steineckert took over on drums in 2006). Like that of most of the more popular bands on Epitaph, Rancid's live show hasn't changed much over the past decade, which for the most part, is a good thing.
Rancid still represents the fundamental punk ethos -- celebrating youth and having problems with authority -- which provides a continued appeal. The band played only two new songs from its forthcoming full-length album, leaving room for plenty of old material in its 28-song set, which spanned 90 minutes.
The band got off to an energetic start, performing four songs from ...And Out Come the Wolves back to back without so much as an introduction. The band didn't need to say hello, hearing "Maxwell Murder" and "The 11th Hour" in sequence, just as they are on the album, was all that the band needed to do. Eighteen years later, these songs still sound great live, even though both Rancid and its fans are starting to show their age.
In Rancid's case, this isn't a problem. Singer/guitarist Tim Armstrong still has a lot of energy, punctuated by his goofy expressions and stage presence. Matt Freeman really is one of the best bassists in punk -- just listen to the "Dead Bodies" intro, and Lars Frederiksen remains the best singer out of the three.
Rancid is showing no signs of slowing down, and I'm sure they'll still be at it on when they celebrate their 30th anniversary as a band.
Any punk that went through a Rancid phase needs to see the band live at some point. The live show hasn't changed that much from what I vaguely recall a good eight to 10 years ago, but that consistency bodes well with nostalgia. Rancid's set isn't bogged down by new and unfamiliar songs, instead, the band favors material from ...And Out Come the Wolves and Let's Go.
The Transplants played a solid set with a few songs from the band's new album, In A Warzone sprinkled in. "Diamonds and Guns" is the group's most recognizable song thanks to a shampoo commercial that was damn near unavoidable about 10 years ago.
Fronted by "Skinhead Rob," who is billed as the band's "rapper," he sounds more like a gruff hardcore singer, which adds dimension to the band, making it sound less like a carbon copy of Rancid, thanks to Tim Armstrong's contributions. Plus, it was great to see Travis Barker play something a bit faster than Blink-182 songs.
How fans of The Transplants responded to the band's cover of Crass' "Do They Owe Us a Living" was very telling. The crowd looked more like the type to attend an ASU football game than a punk show, and while men put their arms around each other to sing along to songs like "Gangsters and Thugs" the fact that they had never heard of Crass discounts any so-called punk credibility they may have had.
I'm not expecting all Rancid fans to dig too deep into the punk canon, but Transplants' oi leanings make them a natural segway into the street punk bands they covered last night--Crass and Blitz. Perhaps some Transplants fans reading this can get turned on to a few new bands.
Check out page two for setlists, more photos, and the critic's notebook.
Rancid Setlist: Roots Radicals Journey to the End of East Bay Maxwell Murder The 11th Hour Last One to Die East Bay Night Dead Bodies Old Friend Hooligans Red Hot Moon Nihilism Black & Blue Fuck You Gunshot Listed MIA The War's End Salvation Bloodclot Rejected It's Quite Alright Fall Back Down St. Mary Olympia, WA Tenderloin Something in the World Today Time Bomb
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Encore: Radio Black Derby Jacket Ruby Soho
Transplants Setlist: In a Warzone One Seventeen D.J. D.J. Not Today See it to Believe It American Guns Gangsters and Thugs Romper Stomper Silence Do They Owe Us a Living (Crass cover) Sad But True Apocalypse Now Back to You Razors in the Night (Blitz cover) Diamonds and Guns Completely Detach Tall Cans in the Air
Critic's Notebook: Last Night: Rancid at Marquee Theatre. Personal Bias: I wore the Rancid skull and crossbones shirt out until it turned gray about 10 years ago. The Crowd: Packed with minimal concert etiquette. Overheard in the Crowd: A story about a guy smacking a 50-year-old woman who was minding her own business at the show. Random Notebook Dump: Why is there a little kid playing guitar stage right during Transplants' set?