Photos by Steve Cross
Apparently nothing bridges the generation gap quite like a good old-fashioned punk-rock show. ‘90s MTV punk-revival faves Rancid put in an appearance at Music City’s premiere all-ages club Rcktwn to a packed crowd that was, oddly enough, all ages. We considered having our moms drop us off just to get the full RCKTWN experience—and had we remembered how hellish it can be to try and park downtown on a weekend, we sure as hell would have.
Once frisked and through the door, we were met by moderate-sized mob of fluorescent-headed pubescent punks, some with mohawks and most with leather jackets (despite the heat) with the occasional old-schooler lurking in the shadows.
First on stage were local punkabillies Hillbilly Casino, who gave us pretty much what we expected from a band of this genre: revved up train track beats, clackity-clack upright bass played by a guy with a tattoo on his neck, distorted blues riffs and the first frontman we’ve seen work the act of combing his hair into his best stage move. It wasn’t until after the first act we noticed a substantial influx of patrons. Boys, girls, moms, dads and probably a few creepy uncles were all filling for some good clean fun.
Next up was even yet another punkabilly act—this time the local legendary Legendary Shack Shakers. With a frontman that invoked a harmonica-shredding incarnation of Iggy Pop, the Shack Shakers rocked the same formula that preceded them, but with a hell of a lot more evil that was much appreciated.
By the time Rancid stepped on stage, the house was packed wall to wall, chanting the band’s name in anticipation. Without uttering a word, the boys launched into “Fall Back Down” from their last album, Indestructible, and proceeded in true economic punk-rock fashion to rip through as many songs as possible during their time on stage with literally no banter in between.
Despite having a new record that drops in September, Rancid made the wise choice not to sacrifice the sing-along momentum and delivered blow after blow of classic hits, drawing heavily from 1994’s Let’s Go and 1995’s ...And Out Come the Wolves. The band eventually broke out some newer tunes, which, like their old stuff, ignores pretty much any musical trend since the late '70s, combining an early Clash vibe with ‘80s hardcore punk and ‘60s ska. Keeping it relatively short and sweet, the band stopped mid-“Ruby Soho” to deliver some thanks, introduce the band members and promote the new record before finishing out the set.
They did grace us with a singular encore—Wolves’ “Time Bomb”--before saying goodnight for good, as a seemingly gapless set of generations reluctantly called it a night.