The Klown was definitely stoked when Rancid and Dropkick Murphys announced a tour together from coast to coast. The Klown happened to get real giddy once he got word that they would be swinging ‘round town to San Diego’s Petco Park on August 24. Although they didn’t utilize the whole stadium like Metallica did weeks prior, these American punk greats chose to make it a bit more public by choosing the Park in the Park section within the stadium.
For those who’ve never been to Petco Park, the Park in the Park is what it sounds like. It’s a park for both people and pets that opens its doors to the public when it’s not a game day, inclusive event, and has a baseball diamonds for the kids. The park is surrounded by streets, the stadium itself, restaurants and condominiums. Those who happened to passerby on J Street or happened to live or be invited to the fancy shmancy condos got to witness this awesome Punk event.
The event began with 7 Seconds frontman, Kevin Seconds who is currently doing his folk/indie solo project. Seconds got things started rather mildly considering that it’s a major shift from the hardcore punk sounds of 7 Seconds. Yes, peeps it was mellow but powerful. Seconds may have indulged the early birds with some acoustic folk/indie music but the powerful political messages that embody punk music were ever present with songs like “Let’s Be Strong.” In between his breathers, he hyped the crowd and thanked them for coming early to see him perform.
Seconds poked fun at himself by addressing the fact that he was playing slow acoustic songs in, what was “supposed to be a Punk show.” He also indulges us with an anecdote of his illustrious career and reminisced about the time 7 Seconds performed at The Jackie Robinson YMCA Center about 20 years back. Seconds immediately quipped with “don’t say you were there because chance are you were probably a toddler, not born yet or probably as old as I am.” Seconds then finished his set with an acoustic rendition of 7 Seconds’ “Leave A Light On.”
Once Kevin Seconds departed from the stage, he left the light on for the 2 Tone Ska band The Selecter. The minute frontwoman Pauline Black took the stage with a microphone in hand, she announced who they were and that they were British and immediately kicked off their set with “The Avengers Theme.” Sorry Marvel nerd, not those Avengers. Black referred to the British comedic espionage TV show from the 60’s.
The Selecter dedicated “Frontline” to Heather Heyer, a woman who lost her life in the Charlottesville protest that turned awry and is now considered a modern day martyr for Civil Rights. The Selecter also had a theme song for the Klown’s brief moment of sobriety “Breakdown,” which was catchy as hell and harmonic. Black’s vocal counterpart Arthur “Gaps” Hendrickson stood out with his backing spoken word vocals and for adding some more depth and meaning to their message by reading names of Civil Rights martyrs and who’ve suffered injustice in the US such as Trayvon Martin and Sandra Bland.
Before the Klown wraps up on The Selecter, another notable asset in the band was guitarist Will Crewdson. Aside from looking cool as a cucumber, he shredded beautifully, had a couple of sweet solos, and also chimed in vocally when it seemed necessary. The band also covered and added their own twist to the “James Bond Theme” which not only sounded awesome but was amongst the few time Crewdson showed his guitar prowess.
As much as the Klown wanted to keep talking about The Selecter, the Klown has to move on and talk about one of his favorite punk bands of all time. The Dropkick Murphys, far more Irish than Notre Dame University and straight outta Boston, “The Boys Are Back” in San Diego after what seemed like forever. Well… they were back but that’s not the point, the point is actual fans and the Klown were glad to see that “The Gang’s All Here,” at the time.
Ever the showman, frontman Al Barr spread the love and energy throughout the masses by going back and forth on the stage. Lead guitarist/ accordionist/ backing vox Tim Brennan also joined Barr on this energy and spread the power of his riffs, showmanship, infectious accordion play, and voice. Of course a Dropkick show would feel rather curtailed without the mention of the face of the band, bassist/vox Ken Casey.
The man that is the founder of the Murphys added more spark to the electricity in the air. Casey asked his FAQ when touring outside of Massachusetts, by asking if there were any Mass-holes in the crowd. Casey also went back to memory lane and shared the story on the band’s founding. In case you didn’t know, one of bean town’s greatest bands was found on the premise of a bet to prove that Casey and, original lead singer and founding member, Mike McColgan wouldn’t be able to write and perform one song. The anecdote would lead to the opening of “Barroom Hero.”
Casey would also talk about the split EP that they collaborated with Rancid when they were starting out 20 years ago, which was one of the reasons the bands wanted to tour together. The show also included one for the ladies with “Rose Tattoo.” Of course a Dropkick show would feel real incomplete if “The State of Massachusetts” and “Shipping Off to Boston” wouldn’t have been performed. As much as the Klown and other Dropkick faithful didn’t want the fun to end, the band appropriately finished with a song from their latest album 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory with “Until the Next Time.”
As soon as most of us seized to be Irish, all of us donned our Californian pride when Rancid took the stage. The band formerly known as Operation Ivy took the stage and once the opening riffs from Lars Friederickson and frontman/guitarist Tim Armstrong sang his iconic lackadaisical punk vocal hit the mic, the crowd showed immediate signs of excitement and diehards knew that the band was in full force with “Radio.” Rancid would then take us on a “Journey to the End of the East Bay” on “The 11th Hour” to enjoy the “East Bay Night.” See what the Klown did there?
Anyway, it would have been unusual for Rancid to skip out on their freshest album to date. Luckily they didn’t and played a couple of Ugh Metal’s theme songs “Ghost Of A Chance” and “Where I’m Going.” The latter, if you haven’t heard the song, it features Friederickson taking over on vocal duties. Armstrong performed “Buddy” and towards the end, he stood front and center by the guard rails to sing his final verses as a light shined on him before Friederickson took over with the closing solo of the song.
Other things to note about this show were some notables in attendance such as The Interrupter’s own Kevin Bivona on the keys for Rancid and, although he was there to enjoy the show and support Rancid, Friederickson mentioned Machine Head’s Rob Flynn was in the crowd. After he announced Flynn’s presence, Friederickson dedicated a song to him and teased us with the riffs to Judas Priest’s “Breaking The Law” which would be followed by a hard “Nah” and then played “Bloodclot.”
Armstrong and Friederickson then took us back to the past to their humble beginnings and mentioned the moment that inspired the song “Olympia, WA,” the unaware posers now realized why the lyrical content mentions New York City’s 52nd and Broadway.
Rancid also sang the moshing mantra “Fall Back Down” in which Friederickson demanded a bigger pit and remind us that Californians invented and perfected the circle and mosh pits. Of course, poser and fans (sober and drunk), showed a surge of energy once “Time Bomb” and “Ruby Soho” played. Of course for the naïve fans unaware of the anecdotes from Dropkick’s Ken Casey, an encore ensued with both Dropkick and Rancid back on stage for the final send off.
The encore began as soon as it did with a punk classic from the Man in Black himself, “Folsom Prison Blues.” Aside from the moment being a spectacle in and of itself, it felt we were having a once in a lifetime experience. Some of the moments include Al Barr and Friederickson trading off vocal duties when it was their turn to take the lead vocally.
Other moments were that of Casey and Armstrong sharing the same mic for the chorus lines and trading vocals duties as they played their bass and guitar, respectively while Barr spread his ability to share from the both ends of the stage as Tim followed or remained on the opposite side. Just when the Klown and others had figured out the encore, they managed to surprise us once more. How? You may not have asked but probably wondered.
The Selecter was brought on stage to shine amongst these American punk titans and became a manifestation by having Pauline Black and her tambourine, and Arthur “Gaps” Hendrickson join in for their cover of Cock Sparrer’s “Take ’em All.” Part of the song performance would also feature a trinity of guitar solos in the form of Will Crewdson, Tim Brennan and Friederickson! If this show sounded like too much to take in, it was! Imagine the Klown, his sibling and hardcore fans who haven’t seen them in a long time or for the first time.
Yes, the Klown mentioned posers. I’m specifically talking about you, Tinder bro and mistress three-abortions who had no idea what songs were playing and only repeated “Shipping Off to Boston,” “Ruby Soho” and “Time Bomb.” This bunch attempted to make themselves feel like they were the bigger fans and tried to ruin the show for those that had the misfortune to be around them. Tinder Bro, you tried to impress your date with a selfie of you “in the pit” while you were clearly near the rail. Mistress three-abortions, you were drunkenly sharing your abortion stories with the public and was clawing, pinching and petting everyone for the sake of getting of getting to the front.
Special thanks to the Masshole who stood by the Klown and his sister, and who sang along with the Klown for the Dropkick Murphys set. We sang, we drank, we laughed and we rioted. Despite the ups and downs that this show had, it was a once lifetime experience. Hopefully, the punk gods shall smile on us once more and allow it to happen again.