BY CHARISSA CHE
Outside, a shirtless man in a kilt walks across the field with the sunset as his backdrop. A drunk couple makes out on the grass as their friend waits patiently to go back in. A few punks have hopped the fence and walk on the salt flats while on their phones.
Inside, things were a lot less mellow. 2-tone vets The Selecter was a pleasant addition to the roster. Their old-school ska, heavily infused with super happy reggae tones, political commentary, and rallying calls to the audience was an unsuspecting hit, considering most of the concertgoers were there to see headliners Dropkick Murphys and Rancid.
Early on, Arthur “Gaps” Hendrickson pauses in the middle of a song to read off a list of African Americans slain at the hands of police officers before looking up at us with a glare: “Who’s next?” he says. The set was a slow-build into chipper fare that still touched on serious subjects. Pauline Black asked us all to loosen up and declared that nowadays, we were all under “too much pressure” before breaking out in a song called just that. A mini mosh pit formed, and the face-tattooed, neon-haired, cut-off vested spectators started low-key bopping their heads to the beat.
The headliners were a sharp transition, but complemented each another impeccably. Dropkick Murphys proved that time hasn’t dulled their live raunchy presence. And what a badass entrance – soundcheck turned into an anticipatory hush, and we watched in suspended time the lights brighten behind a black curtain. When it finally fell to reveal a fiery setup, Al Barr launched himself at the edge of the stage, growling. The energy picked up as the legends rolled through classics and new fare from 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory.
Rancid’s entrance was a little less in-your-face, but it was their set that actually rendered everyone in the venue unsafe from being elbowed. The band’s main crowd appeal seemed to be nostalgic and stemmed from their oldest hits (see 1994’s Let’s Go and their debut that previous year). Apparently, the headliners shared the stage for the encore. Still trying not to kick myself for leaving early to beat the traffic.
To view more pics from the show, go here.