In the middle of Thursday’s set, Rancid frontman Tim Armstrong recalled seeing ska band Bad Manners in 1983. The audience was full of “ska kids, punks, skinheads, greasers, freaks” and all kinds of other people, he said.
“I saw it right there: Everyone getting along,” Armstrong said.
Much the same happened at Sokol Auditorium on Thursday night for Rancid and Armstrong’s other band, Tim Timebomb and Friends. A pair of young girls too young to drive stood next to older punks with gray hair, and guys in polo shirts moshed near others with foot-high mohawks and leather jackets.
About 1,000 of those punks heated up Sokol, as the tattooed-up band played hit songs including “Time Bomb” and “Ruby Soho” as well as favorites such as “St. Mary” and “Black Derby Jacket.”
The crowd pressed hard against the barricades that separated the band from its fans. Like audiences before them — I’m amazed Sokol doesn’t have a hole worn in its wood floor — they danced and threw themselves around in a giant mosh pit.
During the songs “The 11th Hour” and “It’s Quite Alright,” guitarist Lars Frederiksen commanded the crowd to turn the moshing into a pit circle where they created a maelstrom of swirling bodies instead of slam dancing into each other.
As Rancid played through its earplugs-required songs, the audience responded by shouting back the words. They did it to every tune. I haven’t seen a crowd sing along to that many songs since the last time I saw Elton John.
Of course, it was expected when the band played its biggest song, “Ruby Soho,” and the building echoed as Armstrong held his microphone stand over the audience and the crowd sang the last verses. But when they sang along with every song — even “Rejected” from the band’s first album — it was easy to see that Rancid has a solid hold on its fans.
During the encore break, they only stopped chanting “Rancid! Rancid! Rancid!” when the band retook the stage.
Thursday’s show was a sort of family night for the punk band. The Interruptors opened the show with a set that sounded like ska music without the horns, and Rancid’s Armstrong also played a set with his band Tim Timebomb and Friends, which plays a mix of originals and covers.
Tim Timebomb included Armstrong and most members of The Interruptors as well as a horn section and guitarist Elvis Cortez, leader of Cali punk band Left Alone.
Familiar songs included a Ramones-style cover of “California Sun,” a ska-styled cover of the Faces’ “Ooh La La” and a version of “Sound System” from Operation Ivy (a late ’80s band that included Armstrong and Rancid bassist Matt Freeman).
Rancid’s best stuff came near the end of the set. Armstrong, with his beat-up black hollow body guitar slung down at his knees, led the audience through the song “Olympia WA.” During “Fall Back Down,” a flood of arms in the air blocked sight of the band for those in the back.
“Time Bomb,” “Tenderloin” and “Ruby Soho” made up the band’s encore, and the building practically shook with the audience jumping and singing.
“Thank you so much, Omaha, Neb.,” Armstrong said. “You guys are the best.”
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