Rancid - House of Blues Anaheim - 9/7/11
Rancid, Agnostic Front
Keith Plocek Tim Armstrong
House of Blues Anaheim
September 7, 2011
Better than: Knocking down brews with your bros at ESPN Zone.
Sing the song of shirtless guy, he's sweating all over you...
The House of Blues is smack-dab in Downtown Disney: no smoking, weed will get you ejected, the bouncers are aggressive. But the shirt comes off at the beginning of Rancid's set, and this guy is bouncing and thrashing to the foursome's unique mix of ska, punk and pop.
This is not a pit of the '90s, as people rush forward with cell-phone cameras raised in the air, but shirtless guy was probably in Kindergarten when Tim Armstrong and Matt Freeman molded the band from the remains of Operation Ivy, so what does he care. Pretty much every generation thinks it was better before, back when shit was real, man.
People are staying out of shirtless guy's way. He's not buff -- this is no disco. But he's got a layer of sweat that no one wants to touch. He's vulnerable yet protected by his own shininess, just like the band he came to see.
When Rancid and the rest of the guys on Epitaph Records brought pop-punk to the radio in the mid-'90s, old-school 'hawk-heads dismissed the sound as commercial crap. Green Day was out front, so they took a lot of the flak. But Rancid had to deal with the long shadow of singer Jesse Michaels leaving Op Ivy, a move that elevated Michaels to the status of real and left Armstrong and Freeman with little choice but to be called sell-outs for making music that just might actually sell CDs.
What would a punk-rocker do? Probably say, "Fuck you," and keep writing songs. Which is the path Armstrong and Freeman took, crafting tracks with somewhat more commercial appeal that helped define the '90s.
Last night at House of Blues, the band played a lot off 1995's ...And Out Come the Wolves, mixing in songs from other albums and even pulling out the acoustic guitars for a few tracks. It was a very fast two hours. This was not real punk rock. But it wasn't trying to be.
Personal Bias: I've almost bought an Op Ivy shirt on at least three different occasions. Almost.
Random Notebook Dump: It's impossible to maintain detached journalistic objectivity in the photo pit when "Roots Radicals" comes on, especially if you haven't heard the song performed live since 1995.
The Crowd: O.C. burnouts; 16- to 18-year-olds with new Operation Ivy t-shirts; doughy dudes with nothing but sweat and tattoos covering their torsos; older, cleaner punk rockers.
Set list below: