25 August 2006

Journey To The End

Uptown tonight to Times Square, a place that doesn’t normally hold much interest for me, but Rancid were playing the first of four shows at B.B. King’s on 42nd Street. Not a bad joint for what it is, though seeing the “B.B. King” emblazoned on the wall behind the stage kept making me think of the time I saw the real B.B. King (no, he was nowhere in evidence tonight) at the Ann Arbor Blues Festival in 1969, and how, when the festival got shut down by the curfew police, he simply packed up his guitar and his side musicians and moved the session over into an unoccupied building on the U of M campus and played on for most of the night. For free, too, I might add.

Anyway, this was the first time I’d seen Rancid in a venue this small (no more than 1,000 capacity, I’d guess, maybe not even that much) since the early 90s. The last two times I’d seen theme were at Roseland up the street, which holds several thousand, and at the Reading Festival, in front of more like 50,000. In a setting like the latter, the spectacle of it all often supersedes the music, so tonight was a twofold revelation, or maybe just reminder of what I probably knew all along: just how great the guys are as musicians and showmen, and what an amazing catalog of songs they’ve compiled over the last – what is it? – 14 or 15 years.

They even threw in an Operation Ivy song, as apparently they’ve been doing at various points during this tour. Tonight it was “Unity,” which sent the crowd absolutely wild, and brought up some intense emotions on the part of yours truly. I mean, I try to act all blasé about having seen Op Ivy however times, about playing with them up at Arcata and at their very last show at Gilman (their last official show, I should point out; not so many people know they played one more show in Eggplant’s backyard the following day for 50 or 100 of their friends), but sometimes it’s kind of exciting to think about. And never so much so as when Rancid blasts into “Journey To The End Of The East Bay,” the musical autobiography of Operation Ivy and the whole amazing, exhilarating, heartbreaking epoch that was (actually, still is) Gilman Street. A thousand people punching the air and singing along with every word, Tim talking about how it was "sacred ground for me," and then socking you with the punch line: “What you gonna do when everybody goes on without you?”

That one hit me hard tonight. Sometimes I feel exactly that way, that everyone else I ever knew has gone on with their lives while I’m stuck in some nostalgic time capsule reminiscing about the good old days or hoping that some new thing will come along that’s sort of enough like the good old days than I can kind of fuzz over the discrepancies and the absences.

But that’s just a feeling, and like all feelings, it passes. Yeah, maybe my life isn’t as glamorous or exciting or as rich or as sensational as I might like to think it should be, but it’s a pretty good life nonetheless. Maybe things seem a little quiet these days, but remembering the chaos I’ve dwelt in for so much of my life, I should be grateful for that. And also remind myself that through all the best and the worst times, the memorable and the eminently forgettable, I seldom had more than the vaguest clue of what was happening or where I was going until it was past and I was somewhere well down the road. No reason things should be any different today. Anyway, good show, Rancid. And when Lars introduced Matt as “the greatest fucking bass player in the world,” I was like, oh yeah, I’d almost forgotten, but yeah, he is.


Nick G. said...

a thought about this rancid tour:
it seems like they are playing southern cal for weeks on end, and are ignoring the east bay, or even any part of northern california! whats up with that do you think?
ive been waiting for them to announce a show in norcal for months, but stil no luck. have we done somthing to upset them or are they simply bored with the east bay? any thoughts, Larry?

Larry Livermore said...

I have here in front of me the official tour schedule and you seem to be right; the tour finishes up a couple weeks from now in Minneapolis and there is nothing listed anywhere in California.

On the other hand, the Southern California dates weren't listed either, so they apparently weren't part of this tour, more like a warm-up or a trial run for it.

Based on that, and based on how much Rancid love the Bay Area, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them announce some dates in San Francisco or thereabouts once they get back from tour. This isn't based on any official or inside info, just my gut feeling.

dt said...

I found this blog entry after listening to the 8-25-06 show from NYC. That must've been a trip to have them dedicate a tune to you!!!