In 1994 I was 15 years old. The summer was dominated by my relationship with my first serious girlfriend. That August I lost my virginity in a supply closet at her job. Right outside that closet there was a small boombox. That entire day, all that boombox did was play my tape of Green Day's Dookie over and over again. The album means a lot to me.
In 1995 I was 16 years old. That summer was dominated by the fact that my first serious girlfriend dumped me for a guy she met online. The day she dumped me, and left me near tears sitting on the steel stairs behind my parents apartment building which led to a CVS parking lot, was the day I bought Rancid's ...And Out Come The Wolves. I listened to it twice before I got off those steps. The album remains to this day my favorite album of all time.
In 2009, at 30 years old, with those preceding events having happened essentially half my life ago, I headed into NYC on back-to-back evenings to see Rancid play the Roseland Ballroom, and to see Green Day play Madison Square Garden.
Rancid was the opening act...for Rise Against....and I don't really understand how that happened. I know they're my favorite band and also I'm probably biased, but still...in 2006 when Rancid played New York, they headlined 4 nights at B.B. Kings, and sold them all out...in 2008 when they came to town they headlined 5 nights at Irving Plaza, and sold them all out....and all 9 of those shows sold out when the band wasn't even touring behind a new album....now they have a new record out (Let The Dominoes Fall) and they come to town for only 1 night...as an opening act?!? Like I said...I don't get it...and I found it a little depressing.
Making matters worse....
When the Rancid/Rise Against tour was announced, it was reported that the bands were "co-headlining" the tour and would both be playing a full set....but after about an hour, and only 16 tunes (from a band that usually gives you around 30)...Tim Armstrong (Rancid's frontman) announced "well we're just getting warmed up and we could play all night for you guys, but they say we're out of time" and they were done...no encore.
Making matters weirder....
As I mentioned, Rancid has a new album...their first in six years...and I for one was really looking forward to hearing the new songs live...but they barley touched the new stuff. In fact, "Last One To Die" and "Civilian Ways," the latter performed entirely acoustic, were the only new songs performed out of the 20 on the new record. I know this band has never wanted to turn into....well, Green Day....but this opening act, one night only, one hour set, no new songs thing seemed to be taking the "we don't want to be big" bit a little too far!
The good news...
When Rancid took the stage the room was packed from front to back, and when the band jumped in behind Tim's solo first verse of "Radio" the place erupted. The song was the first of 11 (remember they only played 16) that the band would play from either 1994's "Let's Go" or 1995's "And Out Come The Wolves". Others included "St. Mary," "Time Bomb," The 11th Hou," "Nihilism" and "Black and Blue," which was dedicated to all the New York Hardcore royalty that was in attendance. Clearly visible in the VIP section were members of Murphy's Law, Madball, Agnostic Front, H2O, and other NYC bands.
When they played "Olympia WA" everyone proudly sang along to the chorus which talks not only about being in New York City, but about being on the corner of 52nd and Broadway...which happens to be where Roseland is. Everyone ignored the fact that the song's lyric is actually..."New York City....I wish I was on the highway...back to Olympia".
The albums "Life Won't Wait" and "Indestructible" saw one song each, and the two self-titled albums were ignored completely. Also not played were any of the Operation Ivy (Tim and Matt's band prior to Rancid) songs that Rancid had been surprising audiences with the last few times they were in town, but the band did have one surprise in store for us, a cover of "Oh Oh I Love Her So" by The Ramones....it stole the show.
Well, since it was clearly Rise Against's show, I feel I need to talk about their set too...so here goes. They sucked. We left after three songs, which was more of a chance than the hundreds of people that left immediately after Rancid finished gave them. The back third of the club was empty as they played...I guess that's what happens when the headliner opens the show.
Ignore that last paragraph...it makes my segue better....
The next night I was sitting in a sold out Madison Square Garden, the lights were out, Green Day was about to take the stage...and blaring over the P.A....The Ramones. While the audience was singing along to "Do You Remember Rock N Roll Radio" I found myself thinking about how the Ramones never played a show like this. They spent their whole career in dingy little clubs, while the bands they inspired took over the world....made me wonder what Chuck Berry thinks when The Rolling Stones play "Carol" to 90,000 people in a football stadium.
Ramones song ends....band hits the stage...place goes crazy.
From past experience, I suspected that Green Day would take a different approach to their new material than what Rancid had done the night before. I was right. The entire first hour of their set, was made up of songs from their new album "21st Century Breakdown" with one or two songs from their previous album "American Idiot" mixed in...nothing from their first fifteen years as a band (five or six albums) was played.
They sounded great, they looked great, the crowd (mostly younger than myself) loved it...yet I found myself feeling a little down. This new material and huge show clearly represented a change that could never be undone. The little punk band that I used to see in small clubs, that wrote songs about jerking off and taking speed, was no more....they were now the biggest band in the world, and showed no signs of turning back or even acknowledging their past.
The next hour of the show was made up entirely of old material! "When I Come Around," "Disappearing Boy," "2000 Light Years From Home," "Basket Case," "She," "Minority," "King For A Day," "Brain Stew," "Welcome to Paradise," "Long View." I sang the whole time.
I understood in that second hour, that the band understood that they had two different audiences in the same room. They have the teens and tweens that discovered them in 2004 when American Idiot was just about everywhere you looked and had never paid for a CD....and they have the twenty/thirtysomethings that found them fifteen years ago when Dookie hit...which they had bought on cassette. It's a unique situation....it's different from when parents take their kids to see The Stones...cause when that happens, EVERYONE wants to hear "Satisfaction"....and no one cares about "Rough Justice." Green Day is now two bands in one....and pull it off brilliantly.
At some point, more than two and half hours after they started, Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day's singer...not related to Rancid's Tim Armstrong) ended their encore with a mini solo acoustic set....and at some point during "Good Riddance" I hit the door, jumped in a cab and thought to myself.... Gabba Gabba Hey!
Printable version | Back to Reviews | e-mail this review