As Nirvana died in the mid 90s, punk rock hit the mainstream and three bands were suddenly able to afford caviar and punk rock yachts if they so chose. There was the super catchy pop-punk of Green Day, the adrenaline-rich, sonic punk of Offspring, and the Clash-loving grit of Rancid. Evolving out of the East Bay hardcore band Operation Ivy, Rancid were unlikely candidates for the masses with their liberty spikes, bullet belts, and lead man Tim Armstrong’s squeeky, half-coherent voice. With masterful punk producer Jerry Finn at the recording helm, And Out Come the Wolves (a reference to major labels hounding them in the punk rock boom) became a huge success while maintaining underground ethics on Epitaph Records.
Twenty years later, the album remains a throat-punching, ska-stepping good time. Visiting the House of Blues in Boston on Tuesday, September 15, for a sold out show—Rancid played nearly every song from the album. Trading in his mohawk for an intimidating skull tattoo and burly, hunting beard—Armstrong’s swagger and strum remained forceful. Matt Freeman’s bellowing bass lines kept the crowd hypnotized with smooth, rich rhythm. Proud of their longevity, guitarist Lars Frederiksen gave a flattering compliment to the sweaty masses, “Playing places like this is what makes it all worthwhile.” While it may be a canned expression from rock and roll manners school, it felt genuine as they got into “Last One to Die.” Including tracks like this from their newer albums echoed the sentiment that they continue to progress and not rest on their studded laurels. Check out the photos below and pretend you were there!