Rancid & Dropkick Murphys
WaMu Theater, Seattle, WA
Seattle’s WaMu Theater is not hard to find, but I knew I was headed in the right direction by the growing number of bar patrons wandering the adjacent streets in band t-shirts and leather jackets. The hairstyles changed from business casual to mohawks and neckties were swapped out for wallet chains. It was pretty obvious that I, along with 5,000 other Seattle punk rockers, was headed to the Rancid and Dropkick Murphys show.
Dropkick Murphys began their set in the dark, with a black sheet over the front of the stage and a classic Celtic song playing in the background. As the curtain dropped, the band kicked in with the same tune but with the heavy punk rock guts of ‘The Lonesome Boatman,’ the entire theater chanting along.
From the start, it was like a dropkick in the face – upbeatIrishh rock. They started the night with two classic songs: “The Boys are Back” and “The Gang’s All Here.” Every band member had the energy of ten men and lead singer, Al Barr, had the energy of 100. He raced back and forth around the stage, wasting no time jumping right in front of the first row screaming into their faces while holding the mic over their heads. It was this upbeat energy the whole hour long set.
Each song seemed to get faster and faster as the night went on, and in between each, the crowd chanted “Let’s go Murphys! Let’s go Murphys!” Closest to the stage was one large mosh pit with crowd surfers flying over the top. Each song had a beat that was impossible not to Irish jig to. They dedicated a medley of songs from their first album to headlining band Rancid, showing appreciation for giving them their shot in the music business and signing them to Hellcat records.
During the last song, they invited fans from the crowd onto the stage to join in, jumping right along with and singing next to the band. Come the end of the song, there was no space on stage and the band members could not even be picked apart from the fans. The wild and crazy atmosphere was just a little hint of what was to come. The Dropkick Murphys put on intense performance and what followed was even more remarkable.
This perfectly planned tour was an incredible lineup, with Dropkick Murphys followed by the ska punk genius of headlining band Rancid. Between the two, it was absolutely the perfect blend of punk. Rancid’s set was more straightforward, casual, and most notably, more fun. They did not seem to take themselves to seriously, in the best possible way. They were just having fun on stage preforming to a sold out venue.
Lead singer, Tim Armstrong, was visibly enjoying the performance. He pulled his mic stand along with him to sing from all areas on the stage. When passing off singing duties to lead guitarist, Lars Frederiksen, Armstrong would often move onto the raised platform in front of the stage to get closer to the crowd. Many times he jumped off the amplifiers in front of the stage as well.
Literally covered from head to toe in tattoos, both Armstrong and Frederiksen led the vocals to each song. They created catchy ska melodies with their scratchy punk rock voices.
The show ended with a double band encore featuring both Rancid and The Dropkick Murphys on four songs from four different artists. The covered The Ramones’ “Cretin Hop,” Sham 69’s “If The Kids Are United,” and Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” before ending the night with Cock Sparrer’s “Take ‘em All.” It was the perfect end to this incredible show with Dropkick Murphys’ irish punk and Rancid’s ska punk rock.
Photos and review by Logan Westom