Seeing Rancid this past Saturday at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg made me feel like I was 16 years old again. It’s been a decade since I’ve found myself a willing participant in a circle pit, but there I was… from the first note to the last, getting tossed around, pogoing, and singing along like the skinny indestructible punk I once thought I was. I sang so hard and so long throughout Rancid’s set that I woke up the next morning with a swollen uvula, which isn’t painful but does feel like you’ve got a wad of gum stuck in the back of your throat that you just can’t quite swallow.
Openers The Interrupters — a female-fronted punk/3rd Wave Ska-influenced outfit hailing from Los Angeles — was full of grit and harmony, their sound reminiscent of the Dance Hall Crashers if they’d hooked up with the Street Dogs. Vocalist Aimee "Interrupter" Allen was backed by the smartly-dressed Bivona brothers? on guitar, bass, and drums, and the highlight of their set was, appropriately, “Family.”
Tim Timebomb & Friends — Tim Armstrong plus the Interrupters along with a handful of other musicians — were just plain fun. I mean, Tim Armstrong is basically the modern king of punk-rock and he's probably also a quiet billionaire after purchasing the master rights to his old Operation Ivy back catalog, owning the publishing rights to every Rancid song ever written or Rancid-related side project ever released (The Transplants, Lars Fredrickson & the Bastards, Devils Brigade), owning Machete Merchandise, pulling a royalty off everything ever released on Hellcat (Dropkick Murphy’s, US Bombs, and Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros just to name a few), and co-writing a best-selling album for Pink. What I’m saying is that Tim ain’t hurting for money, he doesn’t need to play two sets in one night, so the fact that he does it shows he really loves what he’s doing. The “Tim Timebomb” banner seems to be Tim’s platform to deliver a bunch of fun obscure cover songs he loves to play to a bunch of people who love to hear him play. Bravo! Success! My crew and I enjoyed it, especially when he offered up an old Op Ivy song, “Sound System,” which I never imagined I'd get to see performed live by Tim himself. Other highlights were “My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It” and me falling down in the pit twice and learning that people are still courteous enough to help a guy back to his feet and shove him back in again, just like the old days.
By the time Rancid took the stage my friends and I were so wired to see a band we’ve loved since we were teenagers we forgot the stiffness in our knees that only standing on concrete and pogoing in Chuck Taylors for three hours can deliver. Honestly, I had every intention to take notes and keep track of their setlist, but I just got excited and lost myself a little bit. My friends and I sang along to every song, every word, and when the surging crowd split us up, even though the only place we were looking was toward the Jannus stage, the tides always seemed to wash us ashore together.
Though I would mix up the sequence if I tried to rattle it off, I do know Rancid hit all the marks. “Roots Radicals,” “St. Mary,” “Salvation,” “Solidarity,” “East Bay Night,” and “Rejected” were all highlights. Heck, every song was a highlight. The night was exactly what I wanted it to be, and Rancid remains solidly validated as the greatest punk n' roll bands of this generation.